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Editor’s picks: The best music of 2019

As 2019 comes to a close, it’s time to look back on the year in music. As always, it’s nearly impossible to condense 12 months of releases into an exhaustive list, and major albums from Lana Del Rey, Solange, Angel Olsen, Bon Iver and more made 2019 especially difficult to narrow down — much less to rank. 

This year I’ve chosen five releases that I found especially enjoyable or thought-provoking. Consider this an entry point to the albums, artists and songs that stood out in 2019:

Cate Le Bon, “Reward”

Apparently, Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon spent a year in near-isolation prior to the release of her fifth album “Reward,” splitting her days between writing the album and getting really good at woodworking, and it fits: There’s such an immense attention to detail in these songs, such a precise architecture, that it’s not a stretch to assume the craft bled into her approach to the music. Her songs are constructed like cubist edifices — guitars sound like percussion, saxophones sound like guitars, measures move along like oblong shapes.

For Le Bon, “Reward” feels like the culmination of a quiet but steady development that has spanned a decade. Sonically, it picks up where 2016’s “Crab Day” left off; that record found Le Bon beginning to exploit the percussive potential of saxophone and marimba alongside her distinctive guitar work. The new album reins in some of the more rock-leaning impulses of its predecessor, though, favoring soundscapes that patiently unfold over the course of a song. The scope of influences here is greater, too: “Mother’s Mother’s Magazines” and “Magnificent Gestures” sound like they’d fit right in with Lizzy Mercier Descloux on a “New York Noise” compilation, while “The Light” and “Home to You” hint at the reggae

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