The Guardian's Best Albums of 2016

The Guardian's Best Albums of 2016

Original Source

40. Shura - Nothing's Real

Shura - Nothing's Real
July 8, 2016
Synthpop
Critic Score
79
16 reviews
User Score
77
158 reviews
This feels like a time capsule of Shura’s life up to 2016, amorphous former internet genres and all.
Full Review →

39. Nao - For All We Know

Nao - For All We Know
July 29, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
79
14 reviews
User Score
76
122 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.

Full Review →

38. 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
It’s never poor, but never quite scales the heights you want. It’s a shrug, and Iggy Pop should never incite shrugging.
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37. case/lang/veirs - case/lang/veirs

case/lang/veirs - case/lang/veirs
June 17, 2016
Folk
Critic Score
80
20 reviews
User Score
77
107 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.
Full Review →

36. KAYTRANADA - 99.9%

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

35. Tegan and Sara - Love You to Death

Tegan and Sara - Love You to Death
June 3, 2016
Synthpop
Critic Score
76
22 reviews
User Score
68
95 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.

Full Review →

34. Lambchop - FLOTUS

Lambchop - FLOTUS
November 4, 2016
Indietronica
Critic Score
81
20 reviews
User Score
72
67 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.

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33. 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
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.
Full Review →

32. 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

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

Full Review →

31. Kano - Made in the Manor

Kano - Made in the Manor
March 4, 2016
Grime
Critic Score
67
6 reviews
User Score
72
17 reviews

30. Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman

Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman
May 20, 2016
Pop
Critic Score
72
11 reviews
User Score
74
269 reviews

29. Sunflower Bean - Human Ceremony

Sunflower Bean - Human Ceremony
February 5, 2016
Neo-Psychedelia
Critic Score
73
15 reviews
User Score
74
58 reviews

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

Full Review →

28. 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
494 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. 

Full Review →

27. Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate

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

Full Review →

26. Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch

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

25. Young Thug - Jeffery

Young Thug - Jeffery
August 26, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
78
11 reviews
User Score
76
192 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.

Full Review →

24. 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
178 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.
Full Review →

23. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

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

Full Review →

22. Anderson .Paak - Malibu

Anderson .Paak - Malibu
January 15, 2016
Neo-Soul
Critic Score
79
15 reviews
User Score
81
578 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.

Full Review →

21. Angel Olsen - My Woman

Angel Olsen - My Woman
September 2, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
86
30 reviews
User Score
82
493 reviews
Angel Olsen’s third album is immediately and enormously enjoyable, but also one that might take a long time to fully absorb.
Full Review →

20. Drake - VIEWS

Drake - VIEWS
April 29, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
67
28 reviews
User Score
60
361 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.

Full Review →

19. 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
388 reviews
For those who value Tribe’s contribution to music, this is a record to be grateful for.
Full Review →

18. 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
217 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.

Full Review →

17. Mitski - Puberty 2

Mitski - Puberty 2
June 17, 2016
Indie Rock
Critic Score
86
24 reviews
User Score
80
401 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.
Full Review →

16. King - We Are King

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

Full Review →

15. The Avalanches - Wildflower

The Avalanches - Wildflower
July 8, 2016
Electronic
Critic Score
79
30 reviews
User Score
78
361 reviews
It’s testament to the power of their original vision that it all still sounds so fresh.
Full Review →

14. Bon Iver - 22, A Million

Bon Iver - 22, A Million
September 30, 2016
Art Pop
Critic Score
88
33 reviews
User Score
81
670 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.

Full Review →

13. Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition

Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
September 27, 2016
Hip Hop
Critic Score
83
29 reviews
User Score
85
464 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.
Full Review →

12. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book

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

11. 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
446 reviews

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

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
993 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.

Full Review →

9. Skepta - Konnichiwa

Skepta - Konnichiwa
May 6, 2016
Grime
Critic Score
80
16 reviews
User Score
74
179 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.
Full Review →

8. Christine and the Queens - Chaleur Humaine

Christine and the Queens - Chaleur Humaine
May 19, 2014
Electropop
Critic Score
85
6 reviews
User Score
78
61 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.

Full Review →

7. Rihanna - ANTI

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

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

Full Review →

6. ANOHNI - Hopelessness

ANOHNI - Hopelessness
May 6, 2016
Art Pop
Critic Score
81
27 reviews
User Score
78
420 reviews
As profound a protest record as anyone has made in decades, brimming with anger, and yet, somehow, oddly accessible.
Full Review →

5. 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
458 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.
Full Review →

4. 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
913 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.

Full Review →

3. David Bowie - Blackstar

David Bowie - Blackstar
January 8, 2016
Art Rock
Critic Score
85
33 reviews
User Score
85
859 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.
Full Review →

2. Frank Ocean - Blonde

Frank Ocean - Blonde
August 20, 2016
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
86
33 reviews
User Score
85
780 reviews
Realign your expectations, and what gradually emerges is a record of enigmatic beauty, intoxicating depth and intense emotion.
Full Review →

1. Beyoncé - Lemonade

Beyoncé - Lemonade
April 23, 2016
R&B
Critic Score
89
30 reviews
User Score
80
755 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. 

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

MORE 2016 YEAR END LISTS:


MORE YEAR END LISTS FROM THE GUARDIAN:


Check out our 2016 Year End Summary.