The Year’s Most Welcome Musical Comebacks

In recent years, reunions of well-regarded bands have become commonplace, occupying regular paths on the touring circuit and inspiring music-blog speculations as to which underground act will be the next to regroup. Rarer are the reunions, like Mission of Burma’s, that yield impressive, new creative output. At their best, albums made after a long absence can be essential: a restatement of what made an artist great, or a revelation of something fresh and unexpected.

What follows is a look at ten of the year’s most notable musical comebacks: some from recently reunited bands, others from long-dormant projects that never really went away, and a few from musicians bringing new outlets into the spotlight. They range from minimalist electronic music to classically-inspired post-rock, from autobiographical ruminations to three-chord punk.

Vaselines: Sex With an X (Sub Pop)

In which the duo of Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly return, joined (as in their recent tours) by members of Belle & Sebastian and the 1990s. Sex With an X comes 21 years after their last recordings, and yet sounds entirely of a piece with them: self-assured, voracious, playful, and unbelievably charming. The relentlessly up-tempo punk rock on Sex With an X goes from agitated (opener “Ruined”) to blissed-out (“Turning it On”), and wins some sort of award for the year’s most memorable song title: “Overweight but Over You.”