Pitchfork's 50 Best Albums of 2016

Pitchfork's 50 Best Albums of 2016

Original Source

50. 21 Savage - Savage Mode

21 Savage - Savage Mode
July 14, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
71
4 reviews
User Score
56
69 reviews

On Savage Mode, the dry-voiced and deadpan trap rapper 21 Savage recounts a life that has known nothing but violence. It's his strongest release, thanks to sleek production by Metro Boomin. 

Full Review →

49. Porches - Pool

Porches - Pool
February 5, 2016
Synthpop
Critic Score
71
15 reviews
User Score
74
190 reviews

Oceanic synths, wobbly basslines, and precise snare drums cohere into a crisp pop sound, while his high, expressive voice bobs brightly above the surface.

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48. Frankie Cosmos - Next Thing

Frankie Cosmos - Next Thing
April 1, 2016
Indie Pop
Critic Score
77
17 reviews
User Score
77
204 reviews

Her greatest talent remains her ability to transform minute-long songs into experiences that resemble hours of intimate and impressionistic conversation.

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47. 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

Kamaiyah stands out from her peers ... with her appealingly natural presence. Her voice sounds as unaffected and assured singing as it does rapping, and she writes big hooks.

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46. Pinegrove - Cardinal

Pinegrove - Cardinal
February 12, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
80
7 reviews
User Score
76
196 reviews

Cardinal feels like one big determined push outward, an album-length fight against solipsism without losing your sense of self in the process.

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45. William Tyler - Modern Country

William Tyler - Modern Country
June 3, 2016
Folk
Critic Score
80
7 reviews
User Score
78
57 reviews
The beauty of the album lies in the fact that Tyler is able to pay homage to these foundations not with bitterness or cynicism but with awe, appreciation, and even hope.
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44. Kevin Gates - Islah

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

It's by far the best single release of his career: It's more melodic and more focused; fiercer and more playful; funnier and sadder.  It's also probably the best pure rap release of the first quarter, and the best-case scenario for how a locally famous rapper can make a great album for a wider audience without getting lost in a corporate ledger.

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43. Weyes Blood - Front Row Seat to Earth

Weyes Blood - Front Row Seat to Earth
October 21, 2016
Psychedelic Folk
Critic Score
82
9 reviews
User Score
79
129 reviews

She commits more fully to the world she’s building here, though 2014’s sprawling rock rumination The Innocents is not without its highlights.

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42. Vince Staples - Prima Donna

Vince Staples - Prima Donna
August 25, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
81
13 reviews
User Score
76
209 reviews

Pushing his versatility, ear for production, and lyricism in new directions, Vince Staples' hot streak continues.

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41. Huerco S. - For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)

Huerco S. - For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)
June 10, 2016
Ambient
Critic Score
82
7 reviews
User Score
79
75 reviews

Part of the album's magic is the way that Huerco S., after the fashion of William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops, has captured a feeling of fragility, of things flaking to dust before our very eyes and ears.

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40. 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

No matter its track-to-track variance, Cosmic always sounds harmonious as an album-length statement.

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39. Moodymann - DJ-Kicks

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

38. Schoolboy Q - Blank Face LP

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

Blank Face turns away from the ambitious fusion of To Pimp a Butterfly, instead doubling down on a smoked-out atmosphere that points the listener’s focus toward rapping. That puts the onus on Q to hold attention for the duration of the record’s hour-plus running time, and he does so with a wide array of tricks.

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37. King - We Are King

King - We Are King
February 5, 2016
R&B
Critic Score
80
9 reviews
User Score
74
75 reviews

KING harkens back to a time when there were clearer distinctions between R&B, pop, and hip-hop, when acts like Jodeci and SWV ruled the airwaves, and the music was lighter and more sensuous. We Are KING recalls the best of that era without completely rehashing it.

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36. Jamila Woods - HEAVN

Jamila Woods - HEAVN
July 7, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
83
4 reviews
User Score
80
61 reviews
With the assistance of fellow Chicagoans Chance the Rapper, Saba, and Kweku Collins, R&B artist Jamila Woods makes vital, resonant protest music that sounds like a children’s playground.
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35. 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
118 reviews
It’s rare for collaborative albums between known entities to feel like equal reflections of both parties, but RostHam find a middle-ground in mutual longing for the past.
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34. Kevin Morby - Singing Saw

Kevin Morby - Singing Saw
April 15, 2016
Folk Rock
Critic Score
82
17 reviews
User Score
78
211 reviews

Singing Saw is his strongest album because it shows a process of refinement, and because Morby’s songwriting has become less referential and more grounded. The basic ingredients haven’t changed, but Morby is figuring out how to retain and amplify his strongest points—his weary and wise voice, his understanding of how the musical pieces fit together—and leave everything else behind.

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33. Maxwell - blackSUMMERS'night

Maxwell - blackSUMMERS'night
July 1, 2016
Neo-Soul
Critic Score
82
10 reviews
User Score
77
100 reviews

With forever-sophisticated lyrics sung in his still-creamy voice over a band so tight they sound loose, blackSUMMERS’night is probably Maxwell’s most cohesive effort since his sublime (critics panned it; they were wrong) sophomore album, Embrya—and the first since then with no skippable tracks.

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32. Elza Soares - A Mulher do Fim do Mundo

Elza Soares - A Mulher do Fim do Mundo
October 3, 2015
MPB
Critic Score
87
3 reviews
User Score
85
50 reviews
79-year-old samba icon and Brazilian national hero Elza Soares offers a searing, surging fusion that combines Afro-Brazilian styles with wiry, dissonant strands of punk and noise-rock.
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31. 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
Whitney might not reinvent anything, but they sound perfect right now, and it’s hard to argue with being in the right place at the right time.
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30. 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

Spalding has once again redefined an already singular career, dictating a vision entirely on her own terms.

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29. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - EARS

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - EARS
April 1, 2016
Folktronica
Critic Score
80
7 reviews
User Score
77
69 reviews
In her hands, acoustic instruments sound like electronic ones, synthetic sounds reference nature, and human voices sound like the creation of machines. The defining characteristics of each instrument ... are turned inside out and re-defined, giving the record a pleasingly alien mood that also feels oddly familiar.
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28. NxWorries - Yes Lawd!

NxWorries - Yes Lawd!
October 21, 2016
Neo-Soul
Critic Score
79
17 reviews
User Score
76
119 reviews
It’s another major accomplishment in .Paak’s continued rise.
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27. Noname - Telefone

Noname - Telefone
July 31, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
81
8 reviews
User Score
80
180 reviews

On Telefone, she pours all the joy and devastation we glimpsed in her various guest spots with artists like Chance, Mick Jenkins, and Saba into a rich, somber, and incredibly intimate album.

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26. Parquet Courts - Human Performance

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

You'd be hard pressed to find a contemporary rock band honoring the classic Rough Trade legacy as well as Parquet Courts, in both sound and spirit, while doing something audacious and new.

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25. KAYTRANADA - 99.9%

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

The genre-defying stew of funk, soul, R&B, and beat and dance music that Kaytranada has cooked up on 99.9% nods back at that heritage of percussion-driven synthesis.

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24. 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
458 reviews

Teens of Style was already great, but Teens of Denial is such a leap forward that it still manages to surprise.

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23. Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch

Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch
September 30, 2016
Art Pop
Critic Score
82
20 reviews
User Score
77
181 reviews
The Norwegian avant-gardist’s most atmospheric and filmic album draws on several traditions: vampire movies, the cross-hairs of art and pop, and the lineage of artwork made of menstrual blood.
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22. YG - Still Brazy

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

Still Brazy solidifies YG as a torch-bearer for west coast gangster rap.

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21. Young Thug - Jeffery

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

The rap iconoclast returns with his best album since Barter 6, daring and chameleonic, filled with hooks about identity, love, and that undefinable future swag.

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20. Nicolas Jaar - Sirens

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

He doesn't reveal many new tricks, but his knowledge of his own palette is masterful in every moment. More poetic and thoughtful than ever before, Jaar maintains an ability to fit seemingly disparate sounds together as if they were always meant to find each other.

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19. Rihanna - ANTI

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

ANTI is a rich and conflicted pop record, at its most interesting when it’s at its most idiosyncratic. It’s not crammed with bloodthirsty, dance-oriented jams and feels distinctly smaller, more inward-facing than her previous records, as if it were intended as a kind of spiritual stock-taking, a moment of reckoning for both Rihanna and her fans.

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18. Mitski - Puberty 2

Mitski - Puberty 2
June 17, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
86
24 reviews
User Score
80
402 reviews
On her fourth album, Mitski makes a resounding personal statement and stakes out her territory as one of the most compelling voices in the sphere of indie rock.
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17. 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
218 reviews

Leonard Cohen's 14th studio album feels like a pristine, piously crafted last testament, the informed conclusion of a lifetime of inquiry.

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16. Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered.

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

Its author tempts deeper reading, but his choices and the lack of entry points—no directional song titles, no grand proclamations, no promotion—leaving nothing to deal with but the music.

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15. 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
447 reviews
This is a record that exists in the headspace and guts of someone who’s endured an unspeakable, inconsolable trauma.
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14. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
June 27, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
81
27 reviews
User Score
80
319 reviews

Dev Hynes' third album as Blood Orange is a searing and soothing personal document, striking the same resonant chords as Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly or D’Angelo’s Black Messiah.

Full Review →

13. Anderson .Paak - Malibu

Anderson .Paak - Malibu
January 15, 2016
Neo-Soul
Critic Score
79
15 reviews
User Score
81
580 reviews

This is powerful art, not only for people of color, but for everyone who exists beyond societal constraints. It’s for those who’ve been told they don’t quite fit, those viewed through a different lens because of their circumstances.

Full Review →

12. Bon Iver - 22, A Million

Bon Iver - 22, A Million
September 30, 2016
Art Pop
Critic Score
88
33 reviews
User Score
81
671 reviews
Bon Iver’s first album in five years takes an unexpected turn toward the strange and experimental. But behind the arranged glitches and processed voices are deeply felt songs about uncertainty.
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11. Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition

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

No matter what's going on with the music, Brown’s acute emotional writing is once again on full display. Where XXX seemed to promise a way out, Old reflected (and sometimes reveled in) the lifestyle afforded him through his breakout success. This record, as dark, dingy, and uncomfortable as it is, continues to suggest something deeper is haunting Brown.

Full Review →

10. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
May 8, 2016
Art Rock
Critic Score
87
34 reviews
User Score
86
996 reviews

It’s a sound that Radiohead has spent the last decade honing, but the payoff here is deeper and more gratifying than it has been in a while. The added dimension comes from Yorke, who pumps fresh oxygen into these songs, many of which have existed in sketch-like forms for years.

Full Review →

9. Angel Olsen - My Woman

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

My Woman walks a tightrope of love to figure out what it is—how to find it, how to allow it in, how to feel it, how to fight for it, how to let it go—by a person who does not lose herself in the process.

Full Review →

8. ANOHNI - Hopelessness

ANOHNI - Hopelessness
May 6, 2016
Art Pop
Critic Score
81
27 reviews
User Score
78
422 reviews

HOPELESSNESS represents a new level of collaboration. The subject matter is daunting, but this is some of the most accessible and pristinely infectious music that any of these people have made. With that, HOPELESSNESS simultaneously broadens Anohni's appeal and brings that appeal into focus.

Full Review →

7. 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
389 reviews
It can’t be said enough how simply good this record sounds and feels. Everyone here shows themselves to be a better rapper than they have ever been before, but that still doesn't capture the ease and exuberance of it all.
Full Review →

6. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book

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

Chance the Rapper's Coloring Book is one of the strongest rap albums released this year, an uplifting mix of spiritual and grounded that even an atheist can catch the Spirit to.

Full Review →

5. 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
916 reviews

A madcap sense of humor animates all his best work, and The Life of Pablo has a freewheeling energy that is infectious and unique to his discography. Somehow, it comes off as both his most labored-over and unfinished album, full of asterisks and corrections and footnotes.

Full Review →

4. David Bowie - Blackstar

David Bowie - Blackstar
January 8, 2016
Art Rock
Critic Score
85
33 reviews
User Score
85
861 reviews
He’s making the most of his latest reawakening, adding to the myth while the myth is his to hold.
Full Review →

3. Beyoncé - Lemonade

Beyoncé - Lemonade
April 23, 2016
R&B
Critic Score
89
30 reviews
User Score
80
756 reviews

Lemonade is a stunning album, one that sees her exploring sounds she never has before. It also voices a rarely seen concept, that of the album-length ode to infidelity.

Full Review →

2. Frank Ocean - Blonde

Frank Ocean - Blonde
August 20, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
86
33 reviews
User Score
85
781 reviews
Frank is 28 now, and his voice has grown stronger and more dexterous, while some of his tales have become more abstract.
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
459 reviews
Even though it’s been out less than a week, it already seems like a document of historical significance, not just for its formidable musical achievements but for the way it encapsulates black cultural and social history with such richness, generosity, and truth.
Full Review →
Original Source: http://pitchfork.com/features/lists-and-guides/9980-the-50-best-albums-of-2016/

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