The album is almost workmanlike, a reflection of the artistic process of its creator rather than a grand statement of intent.
It’s unsettling, affecting and compelling in a way that few pieces of music have been this year.
Teens of Denial is a generous record bursting with so many ideas that Toledo seems like he’s rushing to get them out, trying to connect and willing to share personal stories of failure.
On A Seat at the Table, Solange with an expansive mix of features and co-producers, continues a legacy of Black cultural production that is not just self-referentially critical, but peaks in spiritual and emotional transcendence.
A Moon Shaped Pool is not the best Radiohead album, but it is still striking in its intimacy and introspection. It’s a step forward and further evidence of just how thoroughly the band has mastered their craft.
Like this year’s other great death-infused masterpiece, David Bowie’s Blackstar, Cave’s latest is both an avant-garde benediction and a striking push forward for a constantly advancing artist.
The multiplicity of spins and perspectives Ocean draws out of love stories, social commentary and self-reflection is payoff enough to return to the album again and again.
This is Beyoncé’s best album yet and one of the most compelling cases ever made for the pop album as confessional art form.
Blackstar will go down as one of the great Bowie albums, not simply for emerging on his deathbed but for the strength of its focus, the scale of its ambition and the clarity with which he incorporates swooning, sinister jazz with contemporary production and emerges with a quintessential statement.