SPIN's 50 Best Albums of 2016

SPIN's 50 Best Albums of 2016

Original Source

50. 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

On Earth, Simpson continues to have fun flipping the genre’s tropes on their head.

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49. Moodymann - DJ-Kicks

Moodymann - DJ-Kicks
February 19, 2016
Deep House
Critic Score
80
11 reviews
User Score
77
38 reviews

48. Pinegrove - Cardinal

Pinegrove - Cardinal
February 12, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
80
7 reviews
User Score
76
197 reviews
In another place and time, Pinegrove could have ridden a self-assured record like this to widespread indie acclaim. Instead, it feels like an act of generosity, a record lovingly crafted and intimately written, full of sounds, observations, and emotional realizations that you didn’t know you wanted in 2016, but, in fact, needed desperately.
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47. Maren Morris - Hero

Maren Morris - Hero
June 3, 2016
Country
Critic Score
75
3 reviews
User Score
70
32 reviews
Her debut album, Hero, showcases her honeyed vocals and preternatural sense of melody, with early singles like “80s Mercedes” and “My Church” as hook-laden as anything in Top 40 rotation.
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46. Bat For Lashes - The Bride

Bat For Lashes - The Bride
July 1, 2016
Art Pop
Critic Score
76
31 reviews
User Score
73
154 reviews
She’s flipped the script on us, and in doing so has created her most cohesive work — and maybe even her happiest ending yet.
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45. Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä

Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä
February 26, 2016
Psychedelic Rock
Critic Score
78
4 reviews
User Score
79
35 reviews
There’s inky blackness to be found out there in the universe, and endless possibility to be found in nihilistic isolation; Oranssi Pazuzu are discovering new worlds by searching both inward and outward at the same time.
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44. Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith - A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke

Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith - A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke
March 11, 2016
Avant-Garde Jazz
Critic Score
83
3 reviews
User Score
73
16 reviews

43. Marissa Nadler - Strangers

Marissa Nadler - Strangers
May 20, 2016
Folk
Critic Score
76
19 reviews
User Score
73
98 reviews

She’s the sort of artist that you couldn’t imagine ever making a bad album, and her newest is more proof.

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42. Bruno Mars - 24K Magic

Bruno Mars - 24K Magic
November 18, 2016
Funk
Critic Score
70
13 reviews
User Score
66
162 reviews

41. 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

40. Miranda Lambert - The Weight of These Wings

Miranda Lambert - The Weight of These Wings
November 18, 2016
Country
Critic Score
80
9 reviews
User Score
78
34 reviews

39. YG - Still Brazy

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

Whereas My Krazy Life offered a fairly straightforward narrative about a haphazard 24 hours of YG’s Compton exploits, Still Brazy starts by focusing inwards and widens its lens to the outside world, linking the scrutiny around YG’s personal life to the universal horror of being persecuted simply because of what you look like.

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38. Maxwell - blackSUMMERS'night

Maxwell - blackSUMMERS'night
July 1, 2016
Neo-Soul
Critic Score
82
10 reviews
User Score
77
100 reviews
Evolving from an inchoate and rhythmically lethargic R&B simulacrum to structures that, like a good poet’s command of the sonnet, gave him liberties within the affirmations of form, Maxwell has nevertheless sculpted an aqueous and often androgynous sound.
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37. White Lung - Paradise

White Lung - Paradise
May 6, 2016
Noise Rock
Critic Score
77
20 reviews
User Score
75
159 reviews

Paradise lands closer to technical brilliance than emotional resonance, but you can feel the band reaching.

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36. The Avalanches - Wildflower

The Avalanches - Wildflower
July 8, 2016
Electronic
Critic Score
79
30 reviews
User Score
78
362 reviews

Wildflower feels as though it was made for the Avalanches rather than a patient public. Where Since I Left You mapped a plaintive longing onto a travel agency’s idea of heaven, Wildflower is designed for comforts of no special ambition.

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35. 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
460 reviews

It’s hard not to find Teens of Denial at least a little bit exhilarating, because Toledo’s now-fully-formed voice is such a new and powerful one, and because it’s easy to see how young listeners will find an entire universe to behold within.

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34. dvsn - Sept. 5th

dvsn - Sept. 5th
April 1, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
74
6 reviews
User Score
75
158 reviews

33. Kamaiyah - A Good Night in the Ghetto

Kamaiyah - A Good Night in the Ghetto
March 14, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
85
3 reviews
User Score
73
68 reviews

32. Parquet Courts - Human Performance

Parquet Courts - Human Performance
April 8, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
82
27 reviews
User Score
77
326 reviews

What makes Human Performance a narrowly great record is that it bucks narrative. It’s not their most sensitive record or politically astute or least dissonant but all of these things — their most convincing performance as humans to date.

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31. The Hotelier - Goodness

The Hotelier - Goodness
May 27, 2016
Emo
Critic Score
83
10 reviews
User Score
76
178 reviews

Goodness is a spiritually rich listen, but none of it would matter much if it weren’t such a goddamn great rock album.

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30. Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch

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

29. 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

28. KAYTRANADA - 99.9%

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

The LP’s sunset pastels and recurring elastic bass lines at times threaten to rob the tracks of their singularities. But 99.9% is a success because Kaytranada fosters an environment where every guest shines.

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27. 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
451 reviews

26. Schoolboy Q - Blank Face LP

Schoolboy Q - Blank Face LP
July 8, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
77
18 reviews
User Score
76
245 reviews

It’s not easy to homogenize the opposing forces at play, but everything here feels like a genuine rumble through a mind scarred and inebriated by the reality of gang life and chasing the American dream while the room spins. Like the title hints, Blank Face LP is dark and full of stone-grilled stares that lay things out in plain terms, and there’s very little, if any, glamorization at play.

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25. Nicolas Jaar - Sirens

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

24. Anderson .Paak - Malibu

Anderson .Paak - Malibu
January 15, 2016
Neo-Soul
Critic Score
79
15 reviews
User Score
81
583 reviews
Songs weave together, spilling the details of his tumultuous upbringing and forging his prospective future path with scintillating soul jams.
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23. Joyce Manor - Cody

Joyce Manor - Cody
October 7, 2016
Power Pop
Critic Score
74
13 reviews
User Score
73
36 reviews

22. Kevin Gates - Islah

Kevin Gates - Islah
January 29, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
79
7 reviews
User Score
62
115 reviews

While it’s refreshing that a major label, in 2016, has enough faith in a regional star to let him do what brought him to the dance in the first place, Islah also happens to be the most-balanced Kevin Gates project to date, discovering an equilibrium between his pummelers and his caressers we didn’t previously know was possible.

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21. King - We Are King

King - We Are King
February 5, 2016
R&B
Critic Score
80
9 reviews
User Score
74
75 reviews
Committed to sonic pleasure, KING regard themselves as another set of instruments, absorbed and projected through speakers. It’s like hearing a full Fela album side as female R&B.
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20. Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered.

Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered.
March 4, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
84
26 reviews
User Score
81
646 reviews

untitled unmastered. can feel like the clearing of a table, rather than a feast. But in this lies its power and greatest asset: With the stakes low, Lamar can air out his demons, have some fun, bask in the afterglow of the Grammys.

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19. ANOHNI - Hopelessness

ANOHNI - Hopelessness
May 6, 2016
Art Pop
Critic Score
81
27 reviews
User Score
78
425 reviews
It’s both a thrilling record and an occasionally confounding one; a statement that often invokes tightly controlled rage as a means of slapping the listener out of what one imagines has become our collective stupor. In short, it’s a protest record.
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18. 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

Her fifth album is indeed one of the most alt-friendly jazz cycles you’ve ever heard, pivoting constantly on tight, proggy arrangements.

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17. Young Thug - Jeffery

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

16. Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition

Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
September 27, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
83
29 reviews
User Score
85
472 reviews

15. Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker

Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker
October 21, 2016
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
87
19 reviews
User Score
82
220 reviews

14. Mitski - Puberty 2

Mitski - Puberty 2
June 17, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
86
24 reviews
User Score
80
402 reviews

It’s a high-watermark of post-irony indie, a cracked safe of perspectives previously unheard in lump-throated punk. It plays like a sketchbook, but you’ll grow to hum every Sharpie stroke.

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13. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo

Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
February 14, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
79
32 reviews
User Score
76
921 reviews

As glacially paced, mood-enhancing music, Pablo is a hypnotic slam-dunk and this reviewer will be among those first online if an all-instrumental edition finally surfaces on Vocaroo, because over the long haul ‘Ye the MC here proves as elusive as the proverbial Cheshire Cat.

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12. Rihanna - ANTI

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

ANTI is Rihanna’s first aesthetically personal album, and throughout its disorderly roaming, it remains revelatory in a strict sense; it’s a musical step sideways but an artistic step up.

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11. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
June 27, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
81
27 reviews
User Score
80
320 reviews
Where others with grave ideas to communicate — like, say, D’Angelo, Kendrick Lamar, or even punk acts like Downtown Boys — make their political aims pointed, insistent, and repetitive, Hynes’ message instead radiates outward. He sees problems and recounts them, tells his own story, and weighs the significance of narratives like his in the face of an oppressive world outside.
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10. Bon Iver - 22, A Million

Bon Iver - 22, A Million
September 30, 2016
Art Pop
Critic Score
88
33 reviews
User Score
81
675 reviews

9. Angel Olsen - My Woman

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

8. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
May 8, 2016
Art Rock
Critic Score
87
34 reviews
User Score
86
1003 reviews
Radiohead — a quintet made up of the same five musicians through a long, accomplished career — truly feel like equals here, during what history may validate as one of the band’s finest hours.
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7. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book

Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book
May 13, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
85
22 reviews
User Score
77
532 reviews

On Coloring Book, he displays the most joyful part of his universe, and invites listeners across the globe to share in the festivities.

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6. Beyoncé - Lemonade

Beyoncé - Lemonade
April 23, 2016
R&B
Critic Score
89
30 reviews
User Score
80
760 reviews
Not since MJ have we gotten to witness a former teen star evolve into a grown-ass one with so much state-of-the-art pop currency, pantheonic ambition, and craft of song.
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5. The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
February 26, 2016
Synthpop
Critic Score
71
21 reviews
User Score
63
180 reviews
These songs have strong, familiar features, but they build off of one another; every one of them is full of hyperactive, bats**t detail that makes it immediately attributable to this band alone. Sit through the whole of this Homeric effort — for which the qualification “messy” seems too stern and reductive — and try not to come crawling back.
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4. A Tribe Called Quest - We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service

A Tribe Called Quest - We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service
November 11, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
86
23 reviews
User Score
84
394 reviews

3. David Bowie - Blackstar

David Bowie - Blackstar
January 8, 2016
Art Rock
Critic Score
85
33 reviews
User Score
85
866 reviews

★ finds Bowie and longtime producer Tony Visconti as hungry as they ever were, and with no modern context into which the artist can insert himself (including rock) he’s free to do what he likes.

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2. Frank Ocean - Blonde

Frank Ocean - Blonde
August 20, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
86
33 reviews
User Score
85
786 reviews

The first half of Blonde is astonishing, sustained beauty. The second is more distant, closer to the shower improvs of Friday’s sounds-like-a-soundtrack-and-it-is Endless.

Full Review →

1. Solange - A Seat at the Table

Solange - A Seat at the Table
September 30, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
86
23 reviews
User Score
83
462 reviews
Original Source: http://www.spin.com/featured/the-50-best-albums-of-2016/

MORE 2016 YEAR END LISTS:


MORE YEAR END LISTS FROM SPIN:


Check out our 2016 Year End Summary.