Album of the Year 2016

2016 saw the release of many great albums. In this section we give you the countdown of our 50 favourite albums released in 2016 including reviews of the top 20. Even though we weren’t able to review all the albums, we strongly encourage you to have a listen to as many as possible.

The Longlist – Albums 50 – 21

50. The Avalanches

Wildflower

the-avalanches

 

 

49. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

The Skeleton Tree

nick-cave

 

 

48. Miike Snow

!!!

miike-snow

 

 

47. Frank Ocean

Blonde

frank-ocean

 

 

46. Seratones

Get Gone

seratones-album

 

 

45. Kano

Made In The Manner

kano

 

 

44. Slaves

Take Control

slaves

 

 

43. The Kills

Ash & Ice

the-kills

 

 

42. Pete Doherty

Hamburg Demonstrations

pete-doherty

 

 

41. Sunflower Bean

Human Ceremony

sunflower-bean-hc

 

 

40. Jake Bugg

On My One

jake-bugg

 

 

39. Angel Olsen

My Woman

angel-olsen

38. A Tribe Called Quest

We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service

atcq

 

 

37. Mystery Jets

Curve of the Earth

mystery-jets

 

 

36. Beyoncé

Lemonade

beyonce

 

 

35. Bat For Lashes

The Bride

bat-for-lashes

 

 

34. Blossoms

Blossoms

blossoms-blossoms

 

 

33. Sia

This is Acting

sia

 

 

32. Catfish & The Bottlemen

The Ride

catfish-the-bottlemen

 

 

31. Warpaint

Heads Up

warpaint-album

 

 

30. Billie Marten

Writing of Blues and Yellows

billie-marten

 

 

29. Kendrick Lamar

Untitled Unmastered

kendrick-lamar

 

 

28. BANKS

The Alter

banks

 

 

27. Anderson .Paak

Malibu

anderson-paak

 

 

26. Kygo

Cloud Nine

kygo

 

 

25. Kanye West

The Life of Pablo

kanye

 

 

24. The Last Shadow Puppets

Everything You’ve Come To Expect

tlsp

 

 

23. Childish Gambino

“Awaken, My Love!”

childish-gambino

 

 

22. Michael Kiwanuka

Love & Hate

michael-kiwanuka-album

 

 

21. Kaytranda

99.9%

kaytranda

 

 

 


The Shortlist – Albums 20-1

20. Chance The Rapper

Coloring Book

chance-the-rapper

Gospel inspired third LP from Chicago rapper Chance the Rapper brings together a collection of inspiring and infectious songs alongside big guest appearances from Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Justin Bieber, 2 Chainz and Anderson .Paak.

 

 

19. Bastille

Wild World

bastille

Dan Smith and co return with beautifully crafted pop record Wild World. Filled with stadium anthems Good Grief, Send Them Off! and Fake It, the band tackle pop culture, grief and 90’s R&B to establish them as one of the most popular bands in the country.

 

 

18. DNCE

DNCE

dnce-album

Child star Joe Jonas’ new band debut a funk-pop album filled with cheesiness, sex and humour. A surprise pleasure to listen to, it’s a no shame, infectious pop triumph.

 

 

17. Two Door Cinema Club

Gameshow

two-door-cinema-club

Comeback album from past indie giants sees a more disco influenced collection of songs combined with electronic beats. It’s not traditional Two Door Cinema Club, but it is catchy.

 

 

16. Hinds

Leave Me Alone

hinds-album

Gangly, debut album from garage-rock Madrid quartet, Leave Me Alone is a childlike joy, dancing to its own rhythm in an unpolished, wonderful racket.

 

 

15. David Bowie

Blackstar

david-bowie

We saw the departure of one of the greatest artists ever in January, just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of 25th studio album Blackstar. It’s an incredible exploration fusing Jazz and Rock in which Bowie tackles the subject of death before anyone releases the true extent of the message. Producer Toni Visconti called the album a “parting gift” to Bowie’s fans. He was a true legend and will be greatly missed.

 

 

14. Biffy Clyro

Ellipsis

biffy-clyro-album

Scottish rock giants create a powerful, explorative album filled with urgency and anger yet keeping some parts calmer and intimate. This album shows Biffy at their most confident and after headline shows at Reading & Leeds it’s clear to see why.

 

 

13. PJ Harvey

The Hope Six Demolition Project

pj-harvey-album

The unsettling yet infectious ninth album by two time Mercury Prize winning artist Polly Jean Harvey tackle a wide range of issues from conflict in the Middle East to the housing crisis in America.

 

 

12. Bon Iver

22, A Million

bon-iver-album

Justin Vernon’s band dramatically shift away from their folk roots to create a synth-heavy and sample loving electronic third album with one of the weirdest track listings in history.

 

 

11. Iggy Pop

Post Pop Depression

iggy-pop-album

Stunning seventeenth studio album by the rock legend who enlists Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme on guitar and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders. With snarling, rasping vocals, this is one of the best rock records in years.

 

 

10. The Weeknd

Starboy

the-weeknd

Previous album Beauty Behind the Madness, made Canadian Abel Tesfaye a pop superstar. New album Starboy manages to further this statement with collaborations from Daft Punk, Lana Del Rey and Kendrick Lamar amongst many. Lead single Starboy is an addictive, synth filled R&B masterpiece co-produced with Daft Punk. The repetitive Party Monster keeps listeners in a flowing, seductive trance whilst Sidewalks is a jazz infused recollection to the artist’s roots. At 18 songs long, the album is ambitious but there’s enough quality to keep it all together.

 

 

9. Green Day

Revolution Radio

green-day

Green Day have certainly had their fair share of criticisms in the past, not least for 2012’s underwhelming and confusing ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! albums. However in a year of political turmoil, it seems fitting that the world’s biggest punk band return with an album full of straightforward punk classics. Bang Bang is a ferocious lead single highlighting singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s support for the Black Lives Matter campaign. Still Breathing documents the perils soldiers face at war whereas Outlaws is the band’s stadium anthem for outsiders. American Idiot was a key album in response to the chaos of George Bush’s tenure as President and now it seems Revolution Radio could mirror that success in the coming tenure of President Trump.

 

 

8. Radiohead

A Moon Shaped Pool

radiohead

The genre spanning Oxford band, returned with the eerie and orchestra heavy A Moon Shaped Pool. Chilling opener Burn the Witch mixes staccato violins with the paranoia and anxiety of singer Them Yorke, whilst Daydreaming is a lengthy isolated dream, flowing through space in such a way you can only lie back and admire the sheer beauty of it. The album concludes with fan favourite, True Love Waits – a song that’s been performed live since the mid-90’s but only just recorded. The ripping piano concludes a startlingly beautiful album which highlights Radiohead’s position as the most important UK band of the last twenty years.

 

 

7. Christine and the Queens

Chaleur Humaine

chrsitine-album

The debut from French synth-pop artist Christine & The Queens is a bold, youthful statement on sexuality and personality which has provoked opinions and led to a meteoric rise of an artist so original she’s been compared to the likes of Michael Jackson and Prince. Standout track Tilted is a beautiful expression of sexuality and nature whereas Paradis Perdus samples Kanye West’s Heartless mixed with French vocals. The decision to keep half of the vocals in her native French, is a vital part to the album with Héloïse Letissier’s occasional French whispers adding another dimension to an album of extensive layers.

 

 

6. Kings of Leon

WALLS

kings-of-leon

The last few Kings of Leon albums have seen the band struggle to maintain momentum from 2008 world beating album Only by the Night. 2016 sees the Followill clan finally regain control with an album of anthemic choruses and stadium filled rock. Waste A Moment is a pure crowd pleaser, gaining many comparisons to Sex on Fire. Around the World and Reverend shows Caleb Followill at his most confident whereas WALLS is a blissful closer. The American cult-favourites are finally back to their best and with dates in 2017, now is a great time to see them.

 

 

5. Spring King

Tell Me If You Like To

spring-king-album

The debut album from Mancunian four-piece Spring King is a collection of fast paced, distorted chaos. Singer/ drummer Tarek Musa thrashes his way through an album born for sweaty venues. City and Detroit are indie-rock at its simplest, straightforward and born for mosh pits. The Summer and Mumma are heavily influenced by The Beach Boys and Arcade Fire to provide a slightly more enriched tone to an album from one of the biggest upcoming bands in the country.

 

 

4. Lady Gaga

Joanne

lady-gaga

Gaga returned in 2016 with country influence album Joanne, a collection of genre spanning songs written with the help of Florence Welch, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and Father John Misty. Perfect Illusion, produced by Kevin Parker, is a natural bridge from past album Born This Way, whereas John Wayne is a delightfully crazy headbanger. Million Reasons, Angel Down and Joanne, a tribute to her late aunt, provide delicately soft moments on a well-crafted and matured album from one of pop’s most eccentric artists.

 

 

3. Glass Animals

How To Be A Human Being

glass-animals

The surprise joy of 2016, How to be a Human Being is an intensely witty and quick flowing collection of songs which combines synths, large drum beats and eccentric lyrics. Opener Youth is a beautiful tale of a mother who left their child whilst Season 2 Episode 3 sounds like it’s been taken from a Super Mario Bros game. Pork Soda provides one of the best lines ever written with “Pineapples are in my head,” but it is the collective flow of the album that makes it special. Each song fits perfectly together making an album that begs to be heard from beginning to end.

 

 

2. Skepta

Konnichiwa

skepta

The album that saved grime and brought it into the mainstream, Konnichiwa is the most important album for UK rap since Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner released in 2003. Skepta, alongside grime collective Boy Better Know and guest collaborators Pharrell Williams and A$AP Nast, brings forward issues of police brutality, gang life and family whilst remaining true to his independent roots. The deserving winner of the Mercury Music Prize and containing massive singles Shutdown, Man and That’s Not Me, this is the breakthrough album for the 34 year old and has established Skepta as the leading figure in an ever-expanding genre.

 

 

1. The 1975

I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

the-1975

At the end of 2015, The 1975’s lead singer Matt Healy said that the world needed their upcoming album. Looking back at the end of 2016, it’s easy to see why. The ambitious 17 track album is nearly 75 minutes long and covers a range of topics from fame, celebrity culture, family, drugs and individuality. First single Love Me, is narcissistic brilliance, highlighting the sheer genius of Healy as a frontman. A Change Of Heart is wittingly spiteful, If I Believe You is enhanced with gospel backed vocals but it is The Sound, a pop-rock anthem, that shows the band at their loosest and most fun. The album is more than just a collection of great music, it is great art and a masterpiece which has made The 1975 the most sought after band in the world right now.

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