DUA LIPA - CLUB FUTURE NOSTALGIA
It's been three years since Dua Lipa's genre-redefining New Rules topped the singles chart, and since then she's all but entered the mainstream, as is confirmed by the smorgasbord of collaborators on this album, each offering a remix of a track on last year's Mercury-nominated Future Nostalgia.
She chooses Jacques Lu Cont to work his magic on That Kind of Woman, gets Horse Meat Disco in for Love Again, while Zach Witness and J-Pop producer Gen Hoshino both have a crack at Good in Bed.
The tracks are sequenced to capture the spirit of a live concert, with snippets of dialogue from showbiz pals in between songs. Mark Ronson, for instance, leaves a voicemail requesting Neneh Cherry's Buffalo Stance, and Lipa duly obliges.
It's all fairly coherent as we move from one remix to another, but there's little in the way of variety. It's all good clean fun but inessential for all but the most dedicated fan.
6/10, Rachel Farrow
KATY PERRY - SMILE
In the two years she's been making Smile, Katy Perry has experienced a number of major life events, such as a spell of depression, her break-up and reconciliation with fiance Orlando Bloom and pregnancy.
All have a strong hold over the upbeat, poppy tracks that in different circumstances would have been dancefloor classics.
Perry doesn't shy away from being honest, with lyrics such as "I'll cry about it later, tonight I'm having fun", and "Just keep on dancing with those teary eyes", flowing over disco beats and electronic sounds.
But there's a triumphant edge to the album, and Perry brings her light-hearted sound to the proceedings.
While Smile isn't 100% cohesive as an album, it's a collection of singles that were made to be sure-fire number ones, and if they can't pack a dancefloor because of social distancing, they'll have you singing along, revelling in their message.
7/10, Sophie Goodall
PVRIS - USE ME
Use Me is the album that sees PVRIS step out of the shadows while retaining the darkness that surrounds them.
"Wide awake, just cut the head off of a snake", Lynn Gunn sings on opener Gimme A Minute to dramatic synth chords.
The Massachusetts band have come a long way from their metalcore beginnings, with their third full album completing the journey into stadium electropop. That's not the only change, as Gunn this year found the confidence to step out as the sole creative force behind PVRIS - pronounced Paris, the original name before being changed for legal reasons.
Drummer Justin Nace left in January, with guitarist Alex Babinski and bassist Brian Macdonald fading into the background on videos and merch.
Use Me is delayed from May, and while its release at the end of summer fits the goth elements, PVRIS missed out on a summer of touring and festivals that would have surely lifted them to the next level.
The tour is delayed to spring, but Gunn is a star in waiting, and there is no reason why PVRIS should not be huge after this confident album.
They embrace pop fully on Stay Gold, Hallucinations and Wish You Well, while the title track has an alternate version featuring rising New Jersey rapper 070 Shake, hinting at future new directions. The shadows remain, and on Good To Be Alive, Gunn sings "feels good to be alive, but I hate my life".
Other highlights include Death of Me, Old Wounds and Loveless, an acoustic ballad, all of which never sound miserable, saved by panache and some jet-propelled choruses.
This year may have been a washout for live music, but thanks to Use Me, we'll always have PVRIS.
8/10, Matthew George
METALLICA - S&M2
The trend for artists and acts reinventing their songs with the help of an orchestra has produced a mixed bag.
However, thrash metal titans Metallica's 1999 concert with the San Francisco Symphony at the Berkeley Community Theatre stands as a benchmark of vibrant, madcap quality.
Two decades on, the proud San Franciscans have reunited with the orchestra for another performance, this time to mark the grand opening of the city's Chase Centre.
James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich's band of merry men remain total strangers to subtlety.
Their music worships at the altar of maximalism, and this is perhaps why their never-ending riffs and pattering, machine gun drums fit so well with the bombast of the San Francisco Symphony.
Opening with The Ecstasy Of Gold, the simmering energy of the room is almost audible.
And from The Call Of Ktulu, which takes on the pomp of a James Bond theme, it is full pelt, with the band working their way through their heaving back catalogue, ending with Enter Sandman, of course.
7/10, Alex Green