Surprises in R&B range from disco nostalgia with a reunited Kool & The Gang to British soul collective SAULT’s mysterious message from the future. The release of Kool’s Perfect Union (Ru-Jac/Omnivore), sadly, came just after the death of founding saxophonist Dennis “D.T.” Thomas.

“Pursuit of Happiness” — a soundtrack for hope and Black empowerment — opens the album with a harmonic jolt. But it’s tracks like “Leave It on the Dance Floor” that bring back Kool’s ’70s brass ensembles and disco beats with an exuberance that will keep fans engaged and dancing.

Those who are curious about anonymous British soul band SAULT can get a free download of their new release, Nine (Forever Living Originals), until Oct. 2 at Other than vocal credits (Cleo Sol and Laurette Josiah) and production duties (inflo), little is known about SAULT, which has used the mystery to its advantage through four albums. The new 10-track, 30-minute download might be considered a sampler, though it’s all new material. Humor takes center stage in tracks like “You From London?” meaning there is more playful dance floor posturing here than in 2020’s two explicitly political albums. Following SAULT can be a bit expensive, so this download gives the uninitiated a chance to sample the work.

Also New & Noteworthy

Martha Wainwright, Love Will Be Reborn (Cooking Vinyl) — In debates regarding her musical family, smart money’s on Martha as superior to brother Rufus or father Loudon. It’s rare she hits the studio, so this new collection of 11 smoldering songs arrives five years after Goodnight City. Even if the mood of the new album isn’t quite as forceful, tracks like “Report Card” will convince most listeners that Martha is the finest Wainwright.

Lorde, Solar Power (Universal Music/Crush) – New Zealand pop singer Lorde deserves credit for abandoning hit singles for a naturalist sound. Her writing in tracks like “Secrets from a Girl” is as sharp as ever and the musical arrangements are more transcendental than boring. The real problem: It’s released only as an expensive LP and a digital “music box.” Her claim that CDs/cassettes are not environmentally sound is partially true, but the tactic seems more elitist than Earth-friendly.