The TimeOut Entertainment take stock of the best albums of the year so far - from Lizzo's exuberant funk-pop to Sharon Van Etten's contemplative indie-electronica.

1. Lizzo - Cuz I Love You

Lizzo finally fulfilled her potential with an album that channels the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna but delivers more attitude than both. Cuz I Love You is filled with wall-to-wall bangers and even the slower songs have just as much impact, making up for what they lose in tempo with pure soul and vocal talent. Lizzo serves technical skill in the realms of rap, soul and pop, and life lessons in self love, positivity and acceptance, and relationships. After years of finding her feet, Lizzo has arrived and made an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. - Siena Yates

2. Aldous Harding - Designer

From the moment the first guitar strum sounds on Fixture Picture, the opening track on Designer, you know you're in for something completely different from anything Aldous Harding has released before. Most noticeably, Designer is happier – but there remains a mysterious and beguiling aura to Harding's tales of introspection and relationships past and present. From the contemplative-but-theatrical Zoo Eyes to the devastatingly minimal Damn, Harding is exploring new worlds and extending her songwriting in surprising and beautiful ways. With extraordinary lyrics at every turn, Designer feels like the next step in Harding's ascension as one of New Zealand's most formidable artists today. - George Fenwick

3. Billie Eilish - When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go

Billie Eilish's debut album plays out like a party gone wrong - kicking off with blistering swagger before stumbling home and falling into bed, thinking too much about things it can't take back. It is a stunning concept album, exploring the monsters under the bed in the teen icon's mind. Billie Eilish's stories are beautifully raw and emotional, and her breathy falsetto portrays a unique kind of heartache far beyond her years. On When We All Fall Asleep, she plays with pop, hip-hop and the classical choral style in which she was trained, with enviable clarity, control and confidence. SY

4. Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow

Folk singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten struck gold when she picked up a synthesiser for Remind Me Tomorrow, a record that brilliantly blends indie rock and electronica. Her songwriting is more potent than ever; on I Told You Everything, she pours her heart out to a friend at a bar, and I'll be damned if anyone can listen to the song without feeling as though they're right there, crying along with them. Remind Me Tomorrow stirs the anxious cacophony of life into delicate tales of reflection and hope, as Van Etten takes stock of new motherhood and past trauma. The resulting songs are intensely emotional, and absolutely outstanding. GF

5. Ariana Grande - Thank U, Next

Thank U, Next saw Ariana reeling from the loss of Mac Miller and her breakup with Pete Davidson all at once. While on Sweetener she was full of hope and love, the events between albums forced her to reflect on her misplaced optimism, the what-ifs and the true extent of her suffering and struggle to cope, while perfectly wrapping it all in pristine pop packages, laced with trap and hip-hop. It is an exercise in honesty, vulnerability and healing, told with some beautifully controlled vocals, a tonne of swagger and admirable resilience. SY

6. Solange - When I Get Home

Sometimes an idea knows its own lifetime and sometimes that doesn't fit the framework of a three-minute pop song. Solange knows this, and on her fourth studio album When I Get Home, her ideas come and go as they please; she shows extraordinary restraint as some of her best songs – such as Things I Imagined and Binz – burn bright in less than two minutes. Packed into this smorgasbord of sound is a tribute to Solange's home city of Houston, and the artists and geographical touchstones that have informed her as a performer. The city sounds richly alive via Solange's innovative, singular voice. - GF

7. Tyler The Creator - Igor

Tyler, the Creator rode the wave of success created by Flower Boy to create the concept album that is Igor, which firmly landed him in the same space as the likes of Solange and Frank Ocean with its experimental production, vocals and exploration of ideas. Igor doesn't have any obvious radio bangers, but it is a beautiful piece as a whole, on which Tyler navigates love, heartache and recovery, from a space more self-aware and honest than he's ever been before. It's a slower, more winding ride than we're used to, but the scenery is gorgeous. - SY

8. Flying Lotus - Flamagra

On his sixth album, FlyLo's usual conceptual ambition is dampened in favour of a blazing creativity. Sparks fly in every direction and while some fizzle out, others catch light and burn with a mind-expanding ferocity. Hip-hop beats, cosmic jazz, frantic instrumental noodlings, street funk, electronica and an array of guest vocalists, including Anderson . Paak, Solange and, bizarrely David Lynch, are all cohesively glued together by the producer's hazy shuffle, detailed production and innate sense of groove. It's a busy album, overflowing with ideas and songs that veer unusually close to being almost straight forward. But at more than an hour there's still plenty of weird and wondrous fuelling of the flame. - Karl Puschmann

9. Tiny Ruins - Olympic Girls

Do not underestimate this quiet and unassuming record for it has the power of lulling you gently into its singular world, slowing time to a crawl and accompanying your mind on a contemplative walkabout that leaves you sitting in your chair staring blankly into space. The psychedelia-tinged folk here is meditative and melancholic as Holly Fullbrook and her band dress up her delicate songs with inventive instrumentation that sweeps you up with their subtle sonic details. The songs are deceptively complex but never showy about it. Olympic Girls is a rich album that you'll return to escape into time and time again. KP

10. Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride

After six years away, Vampire Weekend returned sounding relaxed, loose – chill even. Their lyrical concerns can be heavy or reflective, but the best songs here breeze past on a bouncy wave of playful instrumentation and fun pop sensibilities. Sounding more "Paul Simon" than they have since their debut, albeit not as Graceland-obsessed, they instead lean into a widescreen Americana sound that they wear well. At 18 songs, it's eight songs too long, but no matter which style they dabble in they never lose their sense of earworm melody that sticks the songs in your head and leaves them there. KP