The best new albums released in May – The Vinyl Factory

With iridescent dance-pop, investigations into the psyche and the return of two scintillating Franco-Cuban twins.

All records to watch this month, selected by Lazlo Rugoff and Will Pritchard of VF.

Leyla McCalla

break the thermometer


Due: May 6

The latest album from multi-instrumentalist and singer Leyla McCalla, break the thermometer, first came to life while browsing the archives of Radio Haiti in collaboration with Duke University. Subsequently combining these historic broadcasts with original compositions and traditional Haitian tunes, McCalla uses the LP to chart a journey through Haiti’s political and social turmoil at the end of the 20th century. – L/R


Spell 31

(XL Recordings)

Due: May 6

Five years after their last absorbing album, Franco-Cuban twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz are back after dragging even more people into their orbit. On Spell 31, the duo’s organic, textural sound and spiritual focus of their lyrics have been honed, and collaborations with Pa Salieu, Jorja Smith and BERWYN testify to an evolving movement within this welcoming alt-pop sphere. –WP

Huma Utku

The psychologist

(Mego Editions)

Due: May 6

Combining her training in psychology with her current work on conceptual compositions, Hüma Utku presents The psychologist as a collection of sound essays exploring psychological phenomena. This investigation of the psyche leads Utku through various nuances of techno, industrial, spoken word, electroacoustic and piano compositions. – L/R


A light to attract attention

(XL recordings)

Due: May 13

The good news for Radiohead fans is that The Smile writes songs that sound a lot like Radiohead songs. The new band includes Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, the band’s longtime producer Nigel Godrich and Sons Of Kemet stick maker Tom Skinner. Light to attract attention, a first effort churned out in spurts since the lockdown days of 2020, is awash with the kind of big-screen melodies and painstaking detail that have proven so alluring over the past three decades. Adding the odd jazzy lick courtesy of Skinner only makes the whole project more forgiving. –WP


Some nights I dream of doors

(The orchard)

Due: May 13

After a series of powerful EPs and a string of collaborations with the likes of Little Simz, Pa Salieu and Sarz, London-based Nigerian neo-soul star Obongjayar turns in an iridescent dance-pop album to turn heads and the hips. His patented fine-gravel voice has a timeless quality to it, and the silky-smooth songwriting here is tailor-made to make room for his soaring, silt-filtered melodies. –WP

Park Jiha & Roy Claire Potter

call in the night


Due: May 20

Korean multi-instrumentalist Park Jiha and writer and performer Roy Claire Potter perform live for the BBC Late join The 2020 series is getting a well-deserved vinyl release this month. Across the disc’s five tracks, Jiha’s serene piri, yanggeum and saenghwang improvisations float around Potter’s readings. – L/R

Zola Jesus


(Sacred Bones)

Due: May 20

A true experimenter, Zola Jesus’ new album is designed to unearth “buried tools for enduring grief, loss and disappointment”. Breaking with his previous solo releases, Arkhon sees Jesus collaborating with producer Randall Dunn and drummer and percussionist Matt Chamberlain to craft all 10 tracks on the album. – L/R

various artists

spring snow

(Mirae Arts)

Due: May 27

Eight artists from different cultures and musical backgrounds come together to reflect on the “nostalgia” of this traveling compilation from Mirae Arts. Drawing on the ancient Greek etymology of nostos (“coming home”) and algos (“pain”), the record roughly splits into two parts – offering endorphin rushes and ancient delight (as on “Euphoria) in balance with more introspective and sought-after moments. (See South Korean Jiyoung Wi’s word-of-mouth whispers and blackboard synths on “White on White”). It is much more than a cozy and pink reminiscence. –WP

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Emile Mosseri

I could be your dog / I could be your moon


Due: May 27

Having started working together in 2019, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Emile Mosser’s collaborative album I COULD BE YOUR DOG / I COULD BE YOUR MOON is getting an expected vinyl release this month. Described as “a celebration of the human spirit and its willingness to surrender to the currents of life”, the LP sees the duo combine synths, piano, electronics and vocals. – L/R


Baby we ride


Due: May 27

Teneil Throssell, better known as HAAi, has spent enough time in clubs to know what a good record looks like. These years of grafting themselves behind the decks and joining the dots on his radio residencies all fuel a first feature film that dredges the essentials of dance from techno, house, electro and drum ‘n’ bass. for a seductive effect. With contributions from Jon Hopkins, Alexis Taylor and Moxie, Baby we ride forms a first cornerstone of Throssell’s still flourishing career. –WP

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