May’s best new albums

By in Features





Featuring iridescent dance-pop, investigations of the psyche, and the return of two twinkling French-Cuban twins.

All the records to keep an eye out for this month, selected by VF’s Lazlo Rugoff and Will Pritchard.

Leyla McCalla

Breaking The Thermometer


Due: 6th May

Multi-instrumentalist and singer Leyla McCalla’s latest record, Breaking The Thermometer, first took life as she worked her way through 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 unrest during the late 20th century. — LR


Spell 31

(XL Recordings)

Due: 6th May

Five years since their absorbing last album, Beyoncé-tipped French-Cuban twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz return having pulled even more of the world into their orbit. On Spell 31, the pair’s organic, textural sound and the spiritual lean of their lyrics has been honed, and collaborations with Pa Salieu, Jorja Smith, and BERWYN evidence an evolving movement within this welcoming alt-pop sphere. – WP

Hüma Utku

The Psychologist

(Editions Mego)

Due: 6th May

Combining her background in psychology with her current work in conceptual compositions, Hüma Utku presents The Psychologist as a collection of sonic essays exploring psychological phenomena. This investigation of the psyche leads Utku through various shades of techno, industrial, spoken word, electroacoustic, and piano compositions. — LR

The Smile

A Light For Attracting Attention

(XL Recordings)

Due: 13th May

Good news for Radiohead fans is that The Smile write songs that sound quite a lot like Radiohead songs. The new group comprises Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, the band’s longtime producer Nigel Godrich, and Sons Of Kemet sticksmith Tom Skinner. Light For Attracting Attention, a debut effort cooked up in fits and starts since the lockdown days of 2020, is awash with the kind of unfurling big-screen melodies and minute details that have proven so alluring over the past three-plus decades. The addition of the odd jazzy lick courtesy of Skinner only makes the whole project more indulgent. – WP


Some Nights I Dream of Doors

(The Orchard)

Due: 13th May

Following a string of potent EPs, and a run of collabs with the likes of Little Simz, Pa Salieu, and Sarz, London-based Nigerian neo-soul star Obongjayar turns in an album of iridescent dance-pop to turn heads and hips. His patented, fine-gravel vocals have a timeless quality, and the silky songwriting here is custom-built to make space for his soaring, silt-filtered melodies. – WP

Park Jiha & Roy Claire Potter

To Call Out Into The Night


Due: 20th May

Korean multi-instrumentalist Park Jiha and writer and performer Roy Claire Potter’s live performance for the BBC’s Late Junction series in 2020 gets a much-deserved vinyl release this month. Across the record’s five tracks, Jiha’s serene piri, yanggeum and saenghwang improvisations flitter around Potter’s readings. — LR

Zola Jesus


(Sacred Bones)

Due: 20th May

A true experimentalist, Zola Jesus’ new album is designed to unearth “buried tools for bearing grief, loss, and disappointment.” Breaking away from her previous solo outings, Arkhon sees Jesus collaborating with producer Randall Dunn and drummer and percussionist Matt Chamberlain to craft the album’s 10 tracks. — LR

Various Artists

Spring Snow

(Mirae Arts)

Due: 27th May

Eight artists from different cultures and musical backgrounds come together to reflect on ‘nostalgia’ for this journeying compilation from Mirae Arts. Leaning on the ancient Greek etymology of nostos (‘return home’) and algos (‘pain’), the record breaks broadly into two parts – delivering endorphin rushes and old delight (as on ‘Euphoria) in balance with more introspective, searching moments (see South Korean Jiyoung Wi’s up-close spoken-word whispers and blackboard-scratch synths on ‘White on White’). This is much more than cosy and rosy reminiscence. – WP

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Emile Mosseri

I Could Be Your Dog / I Could Be Your Moon


Due: 27th May

Having first begun working together in 2019, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Emile Mosser’s collaborative album I COULD BE YOUR DOG / I COULD BE YOUR MOON gets an awaited vinyl release this month. Described as “a celebration of the human spirit and its will to surrender to the currents of life”, the LP sees the pair combining synths, piano, electronics, and vocals. — LR


Baby, We’re Ascending


Due: 27th May

Teneil Throssell, better known as HAAi, has spent long enough in clubs to know what a good record sounds like. Those years grafting behind the decks and joining dots on her radio residences all feed in to a debut full-length that dredges dance staples of techno, house, electro and drum ‘n’ bass to beguiling effect. With contributions from the likes of Jon Hopkins, Alexis Taylor and Moxie, Baby We’re Ascending forms an early capstone on Throssell’s still-blossoming career. – WP