PopMatters' 70 Best Albums of 2016

PopMatters' 70 Best Albums of 2016

Original Source

70. Eluvium - False Readings On

Eluvium - False Readings On
September 2, 2016
Ambient
Critic Score
77
7 reviews
User Score
77
19 reviews

69. Alice Bag - Alice Bag

Alice Bag - Alice Bag
June 24, 2016
Punk Rock
Critic Score
77
3 reviews
User Score
69
7 reviews

68. St. Lenox - Ten Hymns from My American Gothic

St. Lenox - Ten Hymns from My American Gothic
October 21, 2016
Indie Pop
Critic Score
85
2 reviews
User Score
83
2 reviews

67. Suuns - Hold/Still

Suuns - Hold/Still
April 15, 2016
Art Rock
Critic Score
71
13 reviews
User Score
72
42 reviews

Suuns have created a record which doesn’t thumb its nose at the existential problems of listener in enjoying and listening to music, but identifies with it and mounts the only truly acceptable response: make music reflective of, and worthy of, our scattered brains.

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66. Nels Cline - Lovers

Nels Cline - Lovers
August 5, 2016
Avant-Garde Jazz
Critic Score
79
8 reviews
User Score
72
11 reviews

It’s that sense of timelessness—and, yes, mood—that makes Lovers such an essential collection both for Nels Cline fans and anyone who believes in the beauty and power of jazz.

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65. Paul Simon - Stranger to Stranger

Paul Simon - Stranger to Stranger
June 3, 2016
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
79
17 reviews
User Score
75
74 reviews
Nobody can do what he does. In fact it’s hard to even imagine anyone attempting to try.
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64. Ian William Craig - Centres

Ian William Craig - Centres
July 8, 2016
Ambient
Critic Score
84
6 reviews
User Score
77
64 reviews

63. James Blake - The Colour in Anything

James Blake - The Colour in Anything
May 6, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
79
25 reviews
User Score
78
496 reviews

The rest is, as mentioned, colorless and tedious, with Blake’s typical lugubriousness added in.

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62. Explosions in the Sky - The Wilderness

Explosions in the Sky - The Wilderness
April 1, 2016
Post-Rock
Critic Score
75
19 reviews
User Score
72
131 reviews

There aren’t many explosions here, but there’s plenty of dynamic songwriting, which is more than enough for a rewarding listening experience.

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61. Kate Tempest - Let Them Eat Chaos

Kate Tempest - Let Them Eat Chaos
October 7, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
84
12 reviews
User Score
78
57 reviews

60. Ngaiire - Blastoma

Ngaiire - Blastoma
June 10, 2016
R&B
Critic Score
90
1 review
User Score
87
2 reviews

59. Lydia Loveless - Real

Lydia Loveless - Real
August 19, 2016
Alt-Country
Critic Score
78
12 reviews
User Score
73
22 reviews

She never bends or clouds her feelings in a barrage of words. Lyrical economy and an air of emotional realism work best in her regard.

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58. Descendents - Hypercaffium Spazzinate

Descendents - Hypercaffium Spazzinate
July 29, 2016
Punk Rock
Critic Score
72
17 reviews
User Score
66
23 reviews

The way all these elements of self-reference and anxiety and nostalgia and celebration come together make the album strikingly complex, but there’s also the simple joy of these riffs, these choruses, the sheer, unstoppable, catchy speed of these songs.

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57. Bombino - Azel

Bombino - Azel
April 1, 2016
World
Critic Score
77
7 reviews
User Score
72
17 reviews

56. clipping. - Splendor & Misery

clipping. - Splendor & Misery
September 9, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
71
13 reviews
User Score
72
87 reviews

It’s the high-concept eclecticism, however, that makes this record so cumbersome. Amidst unprecedented stylistic leaps and machine-gun rapping, comprehending the meaning of Splendor & Misery is a true challenge.

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55. Jessy Lanza - Oh No

Jessy Lanza - Oh No
May 13, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
79
19 reviews
User Score
76
135 reviews

Oh No aims for pop and hits it squarely. This might not be usual top-40 fodder, but any song will seamlessly fit into the rotation of music whose primary aim is to be as appealing as possible.

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54. Young Thug - Jeffery

Young Thug - Jeffery
August 26, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
78
11 reviews
User Score
76
193 reviews

That he keeps getting better is just frightening, as he’s had a song that’s suggested a peak every year since 2011. And yet, here we are, continually marking the progress of Young Thug.

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53. PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project

PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project
April 15, 2016
Alternative Rock
Critic Score
76
32 reviews
User Score
73
221 reviews

The album just sometimes sounds flat uncomfortable with its focus. And that, finally, is what drags the record down. When it fails, Harvey isn’t living in a world. She’s just a tourist.

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52. Venetian Snares - Traditional Synthesizer Music

Venetian Snares - Traditional Synthesizer Music
February 19, 2016
IDM
Critic Score
76
8 reviews
User Score
69
39 reviews

51. Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate

Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate
July 15, 2016
Soul
Critic Score
83
17 reviews
User Score
79
160 reviews

50. The Avett Brothers - True Sadness

The Avett Brothers - True Sadness
June 24, 2016
Folk
Critic Score
61
11 reviews
User Score
60
18 reviews

Some have labeled True Sadness as the Avett Brothers’ worst album ever, while others have labeled it as their very best. While there is room for such polarization in such a varied overall career as the brothers have perpetuated thus far, what matters is that they are still finding ways to reinvent themselves while remaining true to the values that have made their music theirs since 2002’s Country Was.

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49. The Radio Dept. - Running Out of Love

The Radio Dept. - Running Out of Love
October 21, 2016
Synthpop
Critic Score
80
15 reviews
User Score
71
103 reviews

Hearing the duo’s take on megalithic electronic epics not only makes for a worthy listen, it helps to illuminate other parts of their catalogue and adds nuance to our notion of who the Radio Dept. are and what they can be.

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48. KAYTRANADA - 99.9%

KAYTRANADA - 99.9%
May 6, 2016
Electronic
Critic Score
78
19 reviews
User Score
77
281 reviews

Even though he doesn’t do every genre he attempts equally skillfully, there’s a pop music core to most of these songs that keeps 99.9% listenable throughout.

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47. YG - Still Brazy

YG - Still Brazy
June 17, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
81
12 reviews
User Score
76
201 reviews

No one out there is crafting visceral street tales like he is, and if he could just trim his track lists a bit, he has the talent to make a gangster rap classic in the future.

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46. Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression
March 18, 2016
Alternative Rock
Critic Score
75
28 reviews
User Score
74
182 reviews

45. De La Soul - and the Anonymous Nobody...

De La Soul - and the Anonymous Nobody...
August 26, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
72
23 reviews
User Score
72
51 reviews

There are enough highlights to make And the Anonymous Nobody worth revisiting, but as a whole, the album is just barely above average.

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44. Isaiah Rashad - The Sun's Tirade

Isaiah Rashad - The Sun's Tirade
September 2, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
75
12 reviews
User Score
79
182 reviews

Rashad’s wheelhouse has expanded since his understated 2014 masterpiece Cilvia Demo, and he tries things on The Sun’s Tirade that show he’s learned from his TDE brethren about stretching the boundaries of hip-hop.

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43. Beach Slang - A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings

Beach Slang - A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings
September 23, 2016
Punk Rock
Critic Score
78
16 reviews
User Score
76
45 reviews

A musical success, Teenage Feelings sits alongside artier predecessors as well as bottled lightning like the Exploding Hearts or the Shackletons’ under-appreciated debut.

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42. Cymbals Eat Guitars - Pretty Years

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Pretty Years
September 16, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
83
11 reviews
User Score
77
94 reviews

Pretty Years is a document of Cymbals Eat Guitars’ most accessible music, D’Agostino’s richest vocal performances, and his ever-deepening lyrical acuity. It’s the best release yet from one of America’s most promising bands.

Full Review →

41. Charles Bradley - Changes

Charles Bradley - Changes
April 1, 2016
Soul
Critic Score
76
16 reviews
User Score
75
48 reviews
Times are tough, but we have each other. We should let our good feelings conquer the negative ones. That’s the only way to make positive changes in the world. Bradley sings of his aches and pleasures with such conviction that he makes one believe this is possible.
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40. Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch

Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch
September 30, 2016
Art Pop
Critic Score
82
20 reviews
User Score
77
181 reviews

Blood Bitch is a record that doesn’t try to be anything. Whereas Apocalypse, Girl was contrived and Viscera was uneventful, this record is dreamy and memorable, both through its illusion of simplicity and its gentle invitation to listeners.

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39. Esperanza Spalding - Emily's D+Evolution

Esperanza Spalding - Emily's D+Evolution
March 4, 2016
Jazz Fusion
Critic Score
83
10 reviews
User Score
75
186 reviews

Esperanza has now proven, five recordings into her career without one dud and without a single one that seems like treading water, that she is the exception: a critical and potent force in modern music.

Full Review →

38. Mitski - Puberty 2

Mitski - Puberty 2
June 17, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
86
24 reviews
User Score
80
402 reviews
The progression is so drastic, it at once insists that this is an artist not done growing, and a surefire source of future classics. This album may very well turn out to be one, after we’ve all spent some well-deserved months of listening.
Full Review →

37. Rihanna - ANTI

Rihanna - ANTI
January 27, 2016
R&B
Critic Score
70
28 reviews
User Score
72
464 reviews

Sadly, with Anti the intent and promise is more admirable than the end result. There’s a certain dreary joylessness to it that saps any energy the songs might possess.

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36. Field Music - commontime

Field Music - commontime
February 5, 2016
Progressive Pop
Critic Score
73
18 reviews
User Score
70
44 reviews

Field Music have always brought a kind of regional dialect to the rock, pop and, on Commontime more than ever, R&B they so dexterously bend to fit them, and that remains one of their greatest assets.

Full Review →

35. Tim Hecker - Love Streams

Tim Hecker - Love Streams
April 8, 2016
Ambient
Critic Score
79
20 reviews
User Score
73
159 reviews

It makes perfect sense that Love Streams is Hecker’s first record with label 4AD, as it sort of sounds like the Cocteau Twins if they decided to live inside a glacier, communing with Old Norse land spirits and subsisting exclusively on psychedelic mushrooms. Love Streams is at once familiar and totally alien; a work of art that reminds us why we need art in the first place.

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34. Laura Mvula - The Dreaming Room

Laura Mvula - The Dreaming Room
June 17, 2016
Art Pop
Critic Score
77
9 reviews
User Score
74
41 reviews

33. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam - I Had A Dream That You Were Mine

Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam - I Had A Dream That You Were Mine
September 23, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
80
19 reviews
User Score
78
119 reviews

There are moments on I Had a Dream when their perspectives lock together and strike you in the gut.

Full Review →

32. Whitney - Light Upon The Lake

Whitney - Light Upon The Lake
June 3, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
80
17 reviews
User Score
79
296 reviews
A welcome presence in the story of summer 2016, Whitney will be an underdog I’ll be rooting for well into their sophomore release.
Full Review →

31. Autechre - elseq 1–5

Autechre - elseq 1–5
May 19, 2016
IDM
Critic Score
73
4 reviews
User Score
75
17 reviews

30. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter

Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
March 25, 2016
Country
Critic Score
80
10 reviews
User Score
76
72 reviews
Her bold delivery and fresh take on classic tropes show she’s a master of detailing the chaos of life. She’s a double threat who can write ‘em and sing ‘em.
Full Review →

29. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
June 27, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
81
27 reviews
User Score
80
320 reviews
For the record, it is his best and I have a feeling his next one—if he tightens up the sprawl—will be even better.
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28. Preoccupations - Preoccupations

Preoccupations - Preoccupations
September 16, 2016
Post-Punk
Critic Score
79
19 reviews
User Score
77
185 reviews

Preoccupations makes strides to shore up Preoccupations’ identity without losing the crucial spontaneity of their debut.

Full Review →

27. Pantha Du Prince - The Triad

Pantha Du Prince - The Triad
May 20, 2016
Minimal Techno
Critic Score
71
14 reviews
User Score
69
32 reviews

The Triad is not the type of album that holds up to any enthusiastic hype. It’s tone is quiet and tender, reserved beyond the point of typical downtempo standards, and its 10 long songs are agonizingly, excruciatingly tranquil. It’s a record that mutes listeners’ excitement by design.

Full Review →

26. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth

Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth
April 15, 2016
Alt-Country
Critic Score
83
16 reviews
User Score
79
232 reviews

Afforded creative freedom many felt would be stifled, Simpson’s latest musical offspring is a love letter we can all cherish.

Full Review →

25. Angel Olsen - My Woman

Angel Olsen - My Woman
September 2, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
86
30 reviews
User Score
82
496 reviews

Not only are all her greatest idiosyncrasies on flattering display throughout My Woman, but the album offers dozens of new reasons to fall deeply, unreasonably in love with her music.

Full Review →

24. Lucinda Williams - The Ghosts of Highway 20

Lucinda Williams - The Ghosts of Highway 20
February 5, 2016
Americana
Critic Score
81
14 reviews
User Score
74
58 reviews
It’s defiantly, proudly, and gorgeously organic, in a different universe from today’s processed digital pop.
Full Review →

23. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree
September 9, 2016
Art Rock
Critic Score
90
27 reviews
User Score
84
450 reviews

Skeleton Tree offers little solace, but as the Bad Seeds’ 16th album, it gives the listener an experience that is unshakable.

Full Review →

22. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial

Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
May 20, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
82
20 reviews
User Score
82
459 reviews

To anoint Toledo the voice of a generation is premature; Teens of Denial looks no further forward than the next update to Cards Against Humanity with the First World problems of album opener “Fill in the Blank”.

Full Review →

21. Nicolas Jaar - Sirens

Nicolas Jaar - Sirens
September 30, 2016
Ambient Pop
Critic Score
79
15 reviews
User Score
80
241 reviews

Jaar has been a formidable producer since releasing his earliest singles, but Sirens, more than any other previous release, proves that he is every bit as capable as all the artists mentioned above in creating a true masterpiece. 

Full Review →
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Original Source: http://www.popmatters.com/feature/the-70-best-albums-of-2016/

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Check out our 2016 Year End Summary.