The 5 Best Albums Of February

Including the top tracks, ready to listen to

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February

Sampha – Process (3 February)

Sampha Sisay's warm and soothing vocals have an unmistakable sound, and listening to his debut album you'll recognise it from his appearances on tracks by Drake, SBTRKT and Solange. But Process demonstrates his talents go beyond guest appearances, whether it's the glitchy effects and beats on 'Reverse Fault' or the layered vocals and experimental trap beats in 'Under' which echo James Blake and Jamie XX.

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Skip to: '(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano' - the first single off the album is a beautiful stripped back piano melody that manages to show off with seemingly little effort.

Ryan Adams – Prisoner (17 February)

Having spent 2015 covering Taylor Swift's 1989 with much more angst than the blonde starlet managed herself, Adams has continued this emo thread with his latest release, Prisoner. It's a classic Ryan Adams heartbreak record - likely something to do with his recent divorce from Mandy Moore - complete with crashing guitars, crooning vocals and well articulated lyrics of despair.

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Skip to: 'Do You Still Love Me?' - Heavy guitars reign here and the chorus repeats "Do you still love me, babe?" Straight to the point and surprisingly moving.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Tourist (24 February)

2017 looks to be the year of the indie rock return having already seen awaited releases from Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors. The Tourist, like previous CYHSY albums, nods to musical inspirations like Tom Waits , Paul Simon and Nick Cave and is the perfect dose of nostalgia. 'Better Off' and 'The Vanity Of Trying' illustrate the mixture of complicated keyboard and tight drumming that make the album so hypnotic.

Skip to: 'Down (is where I want to be)' - marches forward madly with wailing vocals and rising guitar riffs. Think Talking Heads meets The Walkmen.

Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer (24 February)

With the praise Stormzy has rapidly garnered within the grime scene, you'd be forgiven for assuming that he would look to fit some big names on suitably big tracks. Quite the contrary, collaborations with MNEK and Wretch 32 are slightly middle of the road slow jams and Stormzy is the main man for the album's stand-out moments. Having said that, 'Don't Cry For Me' with Game of Throne's Raleigh Ritchie is a soulful highlight.

Skip to: 'Blinded By Your Grace' - sublime and simple vocal harmonies shine in this ballad which despite its short length really shows his range of talent.

Future – Hndrxx (24 February)

The second of two albums released within a week last month, you certainly can't question the output of the Atlanta rapper. The latter of the two, Hndrxx, features tracks with The Weeknd and Rihanna which complement the dark swaying hip-hop beats rather than turning it into a pop album. The 17 track release is hard to pin down but features rapid glitchy tracks like 'Incredible' which echoes recent Kendrick Lamar and slow soulful laments like opening track 'My Collection.'

Skip to: 'Solo' - here Future's experimental use of auto-tune, which has won over critics, offers a truly unique sound.

January

Bonobo – Migration (11 January)

January saw the sixth album release for English DJ Bonobo whose skill at blending ambient and electronic music has earned him critical acclaim beyond East London hipsters - much to their annoyance. Migration doesn't stray from his failsafe formula of intricate instrumentals and haunting vocals but improves upon the occasional elevator music meandering of his previous album, The North Borders. The title track is impressive with its mounting percussion and piano, as are the glitchy looping strings on 'Kerala'.

Skip to: 'No Reason' - the best collaboration and longest track on the record are where his most stirring melodies are found.

The XX – I See You (13 January)

The third album was always going to be a big test for the English trio who enjoyed wild - and unpredicted - global success with previous albums XX and Coexist. I See You breaks from their stripped back and muted tracks and adds some more uplifting melodic flourishes, but you can still see their original DNA on 'On Hold', reminiscent of warmer tracks like 'Islands' and 'Basic Space'. The tearjerkers are there too, if you look hard enough.

Skip to: 'Lips' - The angelic opening chorus pairs surprisingly well with the trademark moody vocals to create a more sophisticated single than their earlier work.

The Flaming Lips - Oczly Modly (13 January)

The title might sound like the name for a Turkish internet café but the Oakland psychedelic rock band's new release proves, 14 albums later, they're still capable of reinventing themselves. Tracks on the extreme end of the experimental spectrum like 'Galaxy I Sink' feature wobbling guitars, reverberating synths and echoed chanting to brilliant overall effect. Having recently made some strange music with Miley Cyrus you can see their ever-broadening sound on Oczly Modly, but it works.

Skip to: 'We A Famly'- the slow beat, glitchy sound effects and longer lyrics are a highlight of the release.

Wiley - Godfather (13 January)

With the recent wildfire success of Stormzy and Skepta's Mercury Prize it's easy to forget that Wiley, "The godfather of Grime", has been pulling the strings of the scene for 20 years. His 17 track release earlier this month feels like a mixtape with its stack of short explosive tracks and video game sounds rippling through them. The rapping stands out on 'Name Brand' where he's joined by Roll Deep's JME and Boy Better Know's Frisco.

Skip to: 'Pattern Up Properly' - another collaboration, this time with grime stalwart Flowdan, packs frenzied beats and bars into 3 brilliant minutes.

Austra – Future Politics (20 January)

Despite not straying far from their previous material, Canadian group Austra's third album is captivating with dreamy melodies and anthemic beats. Katie Stelmanis' vocals are high and delicate without grating (think Kate Bush or Florence and The Machine). Tracks like 'Freepower' sound like a softer and sweeter Banks without the annoying commercial R'n'B echoes thrown over the top.

Skip to: 'We Were Alive' - The opening track of the record features synths, broken piano chords and elegant drawn out vocals.