Is your ‘surprise album’ really a surprise?

It’s becoming harder and harder to make it through a week of new releases without an album being deemed a “surprise.” In its purest form, a surprise release occurs when an artist takes their new music and unleashes it on the internet without so much as a warning or a single. You look up at the iTunes store and there’s a bunch of new material from an artist you like, waiting to be purchased. Beyoncé is often credited with popularizing the trend with the release of her eponymous 2013 LP, the one that went on to sell almost a million copies in three days of digital sale; My Bloody Valentine pulled a similar trick almost a year earlier with their comeback effort m b v. (Kevin Shields had talked about mastering the LP a few months earlier,…

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