Label: Emile Haynie and Nate Ruess
The hip-hop producer has come a long way from remixing old Michael Jackson tracks and bumping beats with Eminem, trading the heavier stuff for this orchestra-laden singer-songwriter baroque statement. Designed around the dissolution of a long-term relationship, Emile calls in tons of favors from the pop world and gets results: Elder statesmen Brian Wilson and Randy Newman gamely bounce through choruses, while It girls Lykke Li and Lana Del Rey get a chance to shine. Sure, it's a little morose and pretty heavy on the ballads, but we're talking heartbreak, after all. A most self-assured debut.