AOTY 2017
The Guardian's Best Albums of 2016

The Guardian's Best Albums of 2016

Original Source →

40. Shura - Nothing's Real

July 8, 2016
Critic Score
79
16 reviews
This feels like a time capsule of Shura’s life up to 2016, amorphous former internet genres and all.

39. Nao - For All We Know

July 29, 2016
Critic Score
79
14 reviews

The Londoner’s debut, featuring funk enigma AK Paul and a series of voice memos, combines the honeyed with the industrial, her contorted grooves veering between Dam Funk’s scratchy sonics and Stevie Wonder’s spiritual soul.

38. Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression

March 18, 2016
Critic Score
75
28 reviews
It’s never poor, but never quite scales the heights you want. It’s a shrug, and Iggy Pop should never incite shrugging.

37. case/lang/veirs - case/lang/veirs

June 17, 2016
Critic Score
80
20 reviews
Their pure, alternating voices compliment each other perfectly, and when they come together in harmony, the results are glorious. The lush arrangements echo the classy, classic 60s pop of Burt Bacharach and Dusty Springfield, and the songs ooze with romance and stunning imagery.

35. Tegan and Sara - Love You to Death

June 3, 2016
Critic Score
76
22 reviews

Indeed, for all Tegan and Sara’s adoption by the queens of teen pop, Love You to Death feels like a distinctly grownup album, unafraid to explore nuanced, mature themes.

34. Lambchop - FLOTUS

November 4, 2016
Critic Score
81
20 reviews

It plays out like a counterpoint to the wracked alienation of Bon Iver’s recent Auto-Tune-heavy 22, A Million, filled with warmth, wistful nostalgia and soft, autumnal light.

33. Whitney - Light Upon The Lake

June 3, 2016
Critic Score
80
17 reviews
Those with a low tolerance for winsome male falsettos may wish to steer clear, but anyone who loves the strain of American pop that began when the Byrds started branching out in 1966 and 1967 should rush to hear this delightful confection.

32. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter

March 25, 2016
Critic Score
80
10 reviews

It’s an album for whom “authenticity” is crucial, but it’s all the better for it.

29. Sunflower Bean - Human Ceremony

February 5, 2016
Critic Score
73
15 reviews

This is not a lazily retrogressive record however: its melodies burst with the fidgety energy of youth and ambition.

28. James Blake - The Colour in Anything

May 6, 2016
Critic Score
79
25 reviews

This album of digital anxiety and millennial unease is wrapped in something that feels both toweringly accomplished and heart-wrenchingly frail – and for that reason it should be treasured. 

27. Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate

July 15, 2016
Critic Score
83
17 reviews

Unlike his own debut, Love & Hate never feels like an album screwing its eyes shut and trying to make believe that it’s 1971. The retro affectations are bound up with stuff that sounds very modern.

26. Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch

September 30, 2016
Critic Score
82
20 reviews

25. Young Thug - Jeffery

August 26, 2016
Critic Score
78
11 reviews

Whether he’s going by Young Thug or Jeffery, the artist formerly known as Thugger has carried on his run with a mixtape that features gems among run-of-the-mill trap fodder.

24. The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

February 26, 2016
Critic Score
71
21 reviews
You’re left with an album that fancies itself as a challenging work of art, but turns out to be a collection of fantastic pop songs full of interesting, smart lyrics, but also peppered with self-conscious lunges for a gravitas it doesn’t really need.

23. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

June 27, 2016
Critic Score
81
27 reviews

Perhaps it’s almost too personal a project: in fact, listening to Freetown Sound feels not unlike reading someone’s diary. It’s often passionate, illuminating and fascinating, it frequently bears the hallmarks of self-indulgence, and some of it, you get the feeling, might only make sense to its author.

22. Anderson .Paak - Malibu

January 15, 2016
Critic Score
79
15 reviews

Sunny yet substantive, Anderson .Paak’s second studio album shows he is as at home settling into a breezy club groove over euphoric brass or unleashing James Brown-esque funk yelps as he is waxing autobiographical tales of family hardship.

21. Angel Olsen - My Woman

September 2, 2016
Critic Score
86
30 reviews
Angel Olsen’s third album is immediately and enormously enjoyable, but also one that might take a long time to fully absorb.

20. Drake - VIEWS

April 29, 2016
Critic Score
67
28 reviews

Views isn’t a perfect album – some judicious pruning of the less impactful tracks would make it more easily digestible, and there are certainly moments when you start to wish Drake would cast his gaze a little further afield than his own navel.

19. A Tribe Called Quest - We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service

November 11, 2016
Critic Score
86
23 reviews
For those who value Tribe’s contribution to music, this is a record to be grateful for.

18. Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker

October 21, 2016
Critic Score
87
19 reviews

You could never describe You Want It Darker as merely more of the same. As striking as the sense that its themes are of a piece with the rest of Cohen’s oeuvre is the sense of an artist willing to move forward.

17. Mitski - Puberty 2

June 17, 2016
Critic Score
86
24 reviews
Bright Eyes-esque confessional folk, riot grrrl and the quiet-loud dynamics of the Pixies are all present, but Mitski updates these reference points with a modernist twist.

16. King - We Are King

February 5, 2016
Critic Score
80
9 reviews

Every track on We Are King putters and glides by quite smoothly. It’s only gradually you notice how complex this dream state actually is.

15. The Avalanches - Wildflower

July 8, 2016
Critic Score
79
30 reviews
It’s testament to the power of their original vision that it all still sounds so fresh.

14. Bon Iver - 22, A Million

September 30, 2016
Critic Score
88
33 reviews

His music has always had what you might call its Kid A side. His third album represents the point where the thinking behind something like 2009’s Babys, an abstract assemblage of keening harmonies, icy electronics and crashing cymbals, takes over his music completely.

13. Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition

September 27, 2016
Critic Score
83
29 reviews
The snaggle-toothed Detroit rapper has previously dabbled in grime, ghettotech and other esoteric styles, but his new LP goes further still – sketching out uncharted territory for hip-hop with the gonzo penmanship of Robert Crumb or Ralph Steadman.

11. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree

September 9, 2016
Critic Score
90
27 reviews

On Skeleton Tree, the Bad Seeds sound shattered, barely capable of holding themselves together.

10. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

May 8, 2016
Critic Score
87
34 reviews

You’d hesitate to call it more poppy – this is still an album on which standard verse-chorus structures are very much subject to subsidence, and on which the instruments buried deep in the mix frequently seem to be playing an entirely different song to those in the foreground – but it’s certainly sharper and more focused.

9. Skepta - Konnichiwa

May 6, 2016
Critic Score
80
16 reviews
It’s not just that the lyrics throughout are dextrous and sharp and funny, although they are. It’s that even his most virulent braggadocio is underscored by a very winning, very British kind of bathos.

8. Christine and the Queens - Chaleur Humaine

May 19, 2014
Critic Score
85
6 reviews

If you want to take it as an extended musical treatise on queer identity and non-binary sexual orientation, there’s plenty here to keep you occupied ... If you just want to treat it as a collection of beautifully wrought pop music, then it functions fantastically as that, too.

7. Rihanna - ANTI

January 27, 2016
Critic Score
70
28 reviews

Sometimes you get the frustrating sense that strong ideas are being deliberately short-circuited in the pursuit of a slightly self-conscious weirdness.

6. ANOHNI - Hopelessness

May 6, 2016
Critic Score
81
27 reviews
As profound a protest record as anyone has made in decades, brimming with anger, and yet, somehow, oddly accessible.

5. Solange - A Seat at the Table

September 30, 2016
Critic Score
86
23 reviews
Its delicate anger and the measured way it unpacks a host of issues means you want to give it the time it deserves rather than demanding it reveal itself immediately. There’s a unique brilliance to that.

4. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo

February 14, 2016
Critic Score
79
32 reviews

When The Life of Pablo is good, it’s very good indeed. What it isn’t is consistent. Perhaps it’s the sound of a man over-reaching himself. Perhaps it’s a document of a mind coming increasingly unglued.

3. David Bowie - Blackstar

January 8, 2016
Critic Score
85
33 reviews
It’s a rich, deep and strange album that feels like Bowie moving restlessly forward, his eyes fixed ahead: the position in which he’s always made his greatest music.

2. Frank Ocean - Blonde

August 20, 2016
Critic Score
86
33 reviews
Realign your expectations, and what gradually emerges is a record of enigmatic beauty, intoxicating depth and intense emotion.

1. Beyoncé - Lemonade

April 23, 2016
Critic Score
89
30 reviews

Lemonade ... feels like a success, made by someone very much in control ... Beyonce sounds very much like a woman not to be messed with. 

Original Source: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/nov/30/the-best-albums-of-2016
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