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Lorde, Kendrick and more best albums of 2017 (so far)

Image: vicky leta/mashable

We’re at the halfway point of 2017, so all this week Mashable entertainment will be rolling out our 8.5 (Get it, half of ’17?) picks for the best of the year – so far! – in movies, TV, music, and more. It’s our eight best picks for you, along with a bonus choice that, while not strictly one of the greats, deserves a guilty pleasure mention. Enjoy.

1. Lorde Melodrama

Image: republic records

Expectations were high for pop’s reigning child prodigy’s long-anticipated followup, but rather than wallowing in a sophomore slump, crashing and and burning is just the pre-game in Melodrama’s world. It’s the sound of an artist putting it all on the line truly finding her voice. Lorde’s looking for a spark, but dancing in the dark suits her, too.

2. Kendrick Lamar DAMN.

It’s sort of a relief those conspiracy theories about Kendrick Lamar releasing another album just after DAMN. turned out to be bogus, because this deserves our full attention.

3. Perfume Genius No Shape

Image: matador

What happens when your heart’s trained to anticipate pain at every turn, but things kinda work out in the end? For Mike Hadreas, the man behind Perfume Genius, the best work of his career so far. And yes, more pain. No Shape is a meditation on sobriety, love, and partnership. They can provide a crucial foundation, but not a panacea. His voice slips into the stratospheres Sade and Enya have invited us into and splinters. Hadreas escapes his tethers, but knows better than to take a second to catch his breath. "Alan," dedicated to his longtime boyfriend and partner in sobriety, is one of the most stirring hymns of devotion this century has seen. Sometimes, just sleeping through the night is an unprecedented miracle.

4. Paramore After Laughter

Image: paramore

The more twists and turns the shape of Paramore takes, the more their purpose is crystallized. They’re not the the sort of band to do ever something halfway, the tropical beats and pure pop they experimented with on their self-titled album are now in full bloom with a hefty dose of pop-punk ferocity. Hayley Williams’ vocals are always a powerhouse, but here, there’s a fresh vulnerability as she tackles her own depression an imagines a world where we’re encouraged to let people in. "Misery Business" has grown up.

5. SZA – Ctrl

Image: SZA

SZA’s full-length debut is he best R&B album of the year so far. CTRL is a jolt of fresh air packed with wry observations and searing takedowns of romance in the modern age. Love is always conditional. and she’s happy to expose the powers struggle.

6. Mount Eerie A Crow Looked at Me

For now, Phil Elverum’s own all-consuming grief is inextricable from the narrative of the piercing masterpiece, A Crow Looked at Me, but his story is familiar to anyone who has to find a way to keep going. Shortly after giving birth to the couple’s first child, his wife, artist and musician Geneviève Castrée, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away in June of 2016. The heartfelt, lo-fi indie rock he’s steadily churned out under the umbrella of The Microphones and, later, Mount Eerie is unflinching as he recounts the tragedy that altered the course of his life and his daughter’s, too. "When real death enters the house, all poetry his dumb," he sings. "When I walk into the room where you were and look into the emptiness instead, all fails."

7. Jay Som Everybody Works

Image: polyvinyl

Here is the soundtrack to your daydreams. The sophomore album from Oakland’s Melina Duterte is an irresistible collection of small moments with big feelings. The lead single, "The Bus Song," digs into___ over a a soft, lush arrangement.

8. Harry Styles Harry Styles

Image: columbia

There are two types of people. Those who are surprised that Harry Styles has chops and those who have been paying attention all along. "Sign of the Times," the Prince-referencing, David Bowie-indebted lead single was a dramatic debut for the graduate of the biggest boy band in the world. Harry Styles, the rock star was born, and he’s not afraid to bare his soul.

8.5. Priests Nothing Feels Natural

Image: sister polygon records

If there’s a single album that delivers the catharsis we’ve so desperately needed to get through this year so far, it’s this one. The D.C. punk band has never sat idly by watching corruption in our government, but the current political climate. The day after the inauguration, the band played their hometown with a handful of other likeminded acts, condemning everything that got us here to begin with.

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