Simon Vozick-Levinson
January 06, 2009 AT 12:00 PM EST

Every 12 months or so, I get a kind of list-making hangover. After frantically tweaking my year-end top 10 albums throughout December, I find myself unable to stop filing everything I hear in the first weeks of January into an ever-shifting rank and order for the new year. So while Antony and the Johnsons’ The Crying Light doesn’t officially come out for another two weeks, it’s already my presumptive top album of 2009 so far. And starting today, if you pre-order a CD copy from the band’s website you’ll be able to instantly download The Crying Light in MP3 form as a little courtesy. They’ll even give you a bonus track titled “My Lord, My Love.” I can’t recommend highly enough that you take them up on that offer. 

The Crying Light expands on the band’s Mercury Prize-winning 2005 breakout, I Am a Bird Now, with stronger songwriting all around and lovely swirling string arrangements created in collaboration with classical wunderkind Nico Muhly. Check out A and the Js’ recent single “Another World” below for an idea of what you’re getting into — and once you’ve done that, go buy this album A.S.A.P. and report back here if you’re feeling it as much as I am. Favorite tracks, anyone? Mine’s changing by the day, but at the moment it’s the righteously rocking “Aeon.”

More on Antony and the Johnsons:
Antony Hegarty sang on Hercules and Love Affair’s “Blind,” one of EW’s 10 Best Singles of 2008
The band’s Another World EP made it onto our Must List
EW liked I Am a Bird Now in 2005
Antony did not make it onto Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, but he totally should have

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