Yo La Tengo, Billy Nomates, Låpsley and Paramore have hotly anticipated albums due out – while the BBCSO puts on an Everest opera and Simon Rattle waves goodbye to the Barbican
Pop teams up with superproducer Andrew Watt – who’s recently worked with everyone from Miley Cyrus to Morrissey to Elton John – and promises “music that will beat the shit out of you … made the old-fashioned way”. Contributions come from Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan.
Tor Maries’ follow-up to her acclaimed eponymous debut as Billy Nomates has been trailed by a succession of great singles, the sound of which has ranged from electronic to growling pop-punk, their eclecticism held together by the sharpness of her writing and the power of her voice.
An array of younger guest stars populate Cale’s first album of original songs in a decade: Animal Collective, Sylvan Esso, Laurel Halo, Actress and Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering among them. The warped funk of Bowie tribute Night Crawling and the epic, disorienting electronica of Mering’s star turn on Story of Blood suggest an impressive degree of invention within.
Låpsley’s last album, Through Water, had the misfortune to be released three days before the UK’s first lockdown was announced. Låpsley, meanwhile, found herself stuck in South Africa, an experience that inspired its follow-up, an album that also features contributions from Jessy Lanza.
Has rock music in recent years offered a more unlikely success story than that of Måneskin, Italian hard rockers with a distinct hint of glam about their sound, propelled to huge pop success by their victory in Eurovision and a four-year-old cover of Frankie Valli’s nothern soul classic Beggin’? Whether their current arena-packing, insane-streaming-stats status is a novelty or something more lasting should be revealed by their next album, produced by Swedish pop overlord Max Martin.
“Sex, lies, passion, self-expression and imperfection,” are apparently the themes of Sam Smith’s fourth studio album, which reunites them with longstanding collaborator Jimmy Napes. The Kim Petras-featuring single Unholy was a glorious, faintly gothic dance track – at the other extreme, Gloria also features a cameo from Ed Sheeran.
The saga of singer-songwriter Raye’s debut album is a turbulent one: in 2021, she accused her then label Polydor of deliberately withholding its release, and they swiftly parted. Despite her obvious talent, Raye has thus far been more successful as a guest on other artists’ tracks than in her own right: the sharp-sounding advance singles suggest that her debut will change that.
Thus far, three tracks have been released from Young Fathers’ first new album since 2018’s Cocoa Sugar: the slow-building and anthemic Geronimo, the defiantly odd electro-glam stomp of I Saw and the virtually beatless electronic gusts of Tell Somebody. All three suggest the Edinburgh trio’s approach to left-field hip-hop remains as thrillingly unpredictable and inventive as ever.
A return to guitars after the synth-pop textures of 2017’s After Laughter, the pop-punk band’s first album in six years (and the first in their career to feature the same band lineup as its predecessor) took Bloc Party as its “number one reference”, although there’s definitely a hint of Foals in the sonic mix too.
A sharp left turn from the ambient instrumentals of predecessor We Have Amnesia Sometimes (an album recorded while adhering to social-distancing protocols), This Stupid World is heralded as “the most live-sounding album in years” from the New York indie perennials. Single Fallout sounded as warm and smart as ever.
The LA jazz experimentalist’s positively torrential release schedule – he released three albums and a live EP in 2022 – continues apace with a selection of radically rearranged interpretations of late 90s/early 00s R&B tracks. Ginuwine, Beyoncé, Aaliyah and SWV are among those whose work gets transformed into a suitably abstract flow of intriguing weirdness.
Over the course of a lengthy string of singles and EPs, Lacey has emerged as one of the UK’s most distinctive singer-songwriters. On her debut album, two years in the making, her sound encompasses jazz, drum’n’bass, reggae, soul and funk, all as warped as you might expect given the presence of the Invisible’s Dave Okumu in the producer’s seat.
Hyperpop duo 100 Gecs’ sound can be divisive – you either find its attention-deficit sugar-rush of noisy guitars, computer noises, heavily Auto-Tuned pop melodies hugely original and of the moment or irritating beyond belief – but their 2019 debut topped many critics’ best-of lists and its follow-up is eagerly awaited.
The return of Eddie Chacon – once one half of 90s hitmakers Charles & Eddie – to music after 20 years is one of the more unexpected stories of recent years, not least because he has pursued a fascinating, defiantly left-field brand of modern soul since resuming business, as evidenced by recent single Holy Hell.
The first Everything But the Girl album for 24 years was quietly announced on social media in November. What it will sound like remains a mystery, but if the unerringly high quality of the Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt solo albums in recent years is anything to go by, it should be special.
Inspired by a visit to the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang in western China, Tan Dun’s huge choral work uses the form of a Bach passion and texts in Sanskrit and Chinese to present the foundational legends of Buddhism. The composer conducts the UK premiere with six soloists and the London Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra.
Royal Festival Hall, London, 22 January
The London Sinfonietta presents its memorial to the great British composer, who died in April 2022. Conducted by Martyn Brabbins, it will include works from all phases in Birtwistle’s career, from his first Sinfonietta commission, Verses for Ensembles of 1969, to his last, In Broken Images, first performed in 2011.
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 5 March
A complete staging of all three of Puccini’s one-act operas is something of a rarity. Scottish Opera’s new production of Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi is directed by David McVicar, and conducted by Stuart Stratford; the casts include Roland Wood, Sunyoung Seo, Karen Cargill and Francesca Chiejina.
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 11, 15 and 18 March; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 22 and 25 March
The Royal Opera gives the UK premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s latest opera; it’s her fifth and the first to have a contemporary setting – at a wedding in present-day Finland. The text, mainly in English but with passages in eight other languages, is by Aleksi Barrière (the composer’s son), and the production is directed by Simon Stone and conducted by Susanna Malkki.
Royal Opera House, London, 17 April-4 May
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla completes her single season as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s principal guest conductor with Mahler’s final masterpiece, which was left unfinished at his death in 1911. She conducts what has become the standard performing edition of the score, by the musicologist Deryck Cooke.
Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 18 May
Mark Elder has made Elgar’s three great oratorios, The Dream of Gerontius, The Apostles and The Kingdom, signature works of his years as the Hallé’s music director. For his final appearances in the 2022-23 season he conducts all three works in eight days; soloists include Michael Spyres, Alice Coote, Sarah Connolly, Ed Lyon and Roderick Williams.
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 4, 10 and 11 June
Glyndebourne follows last summer’s double-bill of Poulenc’s one-act operas with his only full-length stage work. Barrie Kosky’s staging of Dialogue des Carmélites was originally scheduled for the 2020 season; Robin Ticciati conducts and the cast is headed by Danielle de Niese as Blanche and Katarina Dalayman as the Prioress.
Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes, 10 June-29 July
At the end of this season Simon Rattle leaves his post as the London Symphony Orchestra’s music director. For his final Barbican concerts he has chosen Messiaen’s Turangalîla, and conducts the gigantic symphony with pianist Peter Donohoe and ondes martenot player Cynthia Miller as the soloists, alongside a world premiere by Betsy Jolas.
Barbican, London, 14-15 June
The music of the Icelandic composer features prominently at this summer’s Aldeburgh festival. The Danish Quartet gives the first performance of a work specially composed for them, based on Schubert’s Rosamunde music, and there are UK premieres of Thorvaldsdóttir’s music from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the pianist George Xiaoyuan Fu, and a string ensemble assembled from quartets performing at the festival.
Various venues, Aldeburgh, 12-24 June
Welsh National Opera closes its season with Leonard Bernstein’s sprawling, touching take on Voltaire’s satirical novel. The cast isn’t finalised yet, but Ed Lyon will take the title role, with Vuvu Mpofu as Cunégonde; James Bonas directs, with video and animation by Grégoire Pont and Karen Kamensek is the conductor.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, 22-24 June, then touring until 12 July