Albums to watch


Julia Holter


Fifth studio album by Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter inspired by a 2009 short story by Lebanese-American poet and essayist Etel Adnan

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  1. 9.0 |   Exclaim

    Sweeping and intimate all at once, Aviary never settles for comforting platitudes or dour resignation. It's honest, it's hopeful, and it's surely among Holter's finest achievements
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  2. 9.0 |   Tiny Mix Tapes

    Together, its 15 tracks form an intimidating but coherent whole that serves as Holter’s most sophisticated and engaging release to date. For a composer of Holter’s rapidly increasing stature, that is high praise indeed
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  3. 9.0 |   PopMatters

    With her new record, Aviary, Julia Holter expands her scope to include elements of free improvisation, neo-classical leanings, and folk-induced hallucinations, thereby producing a substantial work of art
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  4. 9.0 |   Sputnik Music (staff)

    This is a complex, stunning, and challenging record that will undoubtedly alienate some. But if you’ve enjoyed Holter to this point, it is worth investing the necessary time. Aviary touches every corner of her sound, resulting in an enchanting, if slightly dizzying, fifth album
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  5. 8.6 |   Resident Advisor

    Cinematic avant-pop inspired by the din of modern life
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  6. 8.5 |   The Line Of Best Fit

    A veritable choral cacophony, Julia Holter’s fifth outing invites you in to get lost in a world that can seem chaotic on the surface, but once you delve beneath the waves, possesses a peaceful serenity
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  7. 8.5 |   Under The Radar

    While the world may appear to be on fire, it has always been so, and the everyday emergency in which we find ourselves is not the exception: it's the rule. And surrounded by all this noise, this eternal series of accidents, Holter the poet chooses to process it all and create something beautiful. She chooses to love. Because she must.
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  8. 8.3 |   Consequence Of Sound

    The ambitious songwriter delivers a series of shifting moods that coalesce into a rich tapestry
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  9. 8.2 |   Pitchfork

    The Los Angeles musician’s fifth studio album is the most joyous, daring realization of her experimental tendencies yet: a sprawling, 90-minute search for meaning in a dehumanizing age
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  10. 8.0 |   Spectrum Culture

    This isn’t an album to solve, it’s meant to get lost in
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  11. 8.0 |   Earbuddy

    Holter nearly breaks her winning streak by swinging for the fences. Aviary is a home-run that hits the foul pole
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  12. 8.0 |   The Guardian

    Sonic beauty and brains in a 90-minute epic
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  13. 8.0 |   All Music

    The multifaceted artist's sixth album responds to the chaos of 21st century life with some of her most challenging and beguiling music
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  14. 8.0 |   Drowned In Sound

    Aviary will be a challenging listen for many, but its message needs to be heard
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  15. 8.0 |   Clash

    Grand in scope, bold in execution, and replete with jagged edges
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  16. 8.0 |   No Ripcord

    Despite Holter's all-around meticulousness, Aviary never comes across as careful or rigorous. She engages in artful replication, seeking to understand those voices she successfully reconstructs with a feeling of apprehension and anticipation. And in the process, leaving her own imprint for others to also discover in centuries to come
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  17. 8.0 |   The Skinny

    A challenging but rewarding album, Aviary continually grasps towards communication, exulting in common humanity amid societal ruptures
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  18. 8.0 |   The Music

    Focusing less on conventional songs, 'Aviary' is a 90-minute journey through ornate aural labyrinths, majestically constructed with harps, pipes and Holter's cool, crystalline piano
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  19. 8.0 |   Uncut

    There are jarring moments but Holter's quest to channel the clatter of the universe produces transcendent beauty too. Print edition only

  20. 8.0 |   Q

    It's not always easy, but it is frequently brilliant. Print edition only

  21. 7.5 |   The 405

    To say listeners will be challenged by the sophistication and length of this album is an understatement. In spite of its demanding length and level of weirdness, Aviary is an incredibly immersive voyage and arguably her greatest achievement
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  22. 7.0 |   music OMH

    Aviary is not a great album--it’s too much of an ordeal for that accolade, requiring multiple listens to even start to engage with meaningfully. But it is, in its own idiosyncratic way, a towering artistic accomplishment. Just be prepared for a hard slog scaling the summit
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  23. 7.0 |   God Is In The TV

    In the end this isn’t an album that’s been made to please fans or critics. She sings in the record’s best track, the crescendo avalanche ‘I Shall Love 2‘: “Who cares what people say?”
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  24. 6.0 |   DIY

    Just as you feel you’ve got the album figured out, it throws a curveball
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  25. 6.0 |   Mojo

    It's all so sad, and surrounded by 80-plus minutes of restless, questing uncertainty. Print edition only

  26. 6.0 |   Loud And Quiet

    ‘Aviary’ is a job well done, and in the present era of buttoned-up no-risk pop, too, it’s encouraging to encounter an album as sprawling and idiosyncratic as this. Whether its very existence is enough to justify its virtues beyond the bagpipe enthusiasts, however, is harder to discern
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  27. 6.0 |   The FT

    The album unfolds at a leisurely pace, revealing an engaged intelligence and a dreamlike sense of drift
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