PopMatters' 70 Best Albums of 2016

PopMatters' 70 Best Albums of 2016

Original Source →

70. Eluvium - False Readings On

Eluvium - False Readings On
September 2, 2016
Critic Score
78
7 reviews

69. Alice Bag - Alice Bag

Alice Bag - Alice Bag
June 24, 2016
Critic Score
78
3 reviews

67. Suuns - Hold/Still

April 15, 2016
Critic Score
71
13 reviews

Suuns have created a record which doesn’t thumb its nose at the existential problems of listener in enjoying and listening to music, but identifies with it and mounts the only truly acceptable response: make music reflective of, and worthy of, our scattered brains.

66. Nels Cline - Lovers

Nels Cline - Lovers
August 5, 2016
Critic Score
79
9 reviews

It’s that sense of timelessness—and, yes, mood—that makes Lovers such an essential collection both for Nels Cline fans and anyone who believes in the beauty and power of jazz.

65. Paul Simon - Stranger to Stranger

June 3, 2016
Critic Score
81
18 reviews
Nobody can do what he does. In fact it’s hard to even imagine anyone attempting to try.

63. James Blake - The Colour in Anything

May 6, 2016
Critic Score
79
26 reviews

The rest is, as mentioned, colorless and tedious, with Blake’s typical lugubriousness added in.

62. Explosions in the Sky - The Wilderness

April 1, 2016
Critic Score
74
20 reviews

There aren’t many explosions here, but there’s plenty of dynamic songwriting, which is more than enough for a rewarding listening experience.

60. Ngaiire - Blastoma

June 10, 2016
Critic Score
90
1 review

59. Lydia Loveless - Real

August 19, 2016
Critic Score
77
12 reviews

She never bends or clouds her feelings in a barrage of words. Lyrical economy and an air of emotional realism work best in her regard.

58. Descendents - Hypercaffium Spazzinate

July 29, 2016
Critic Score
71
18 reviews

The way all these elements of self-reference and anxiety and nostalgia and celebration come together make the album strikingly complex, but there’s also the simple joy of these riffs, these choruses, the sheer, unstoppable, catchy speed of these songs.

57. Bombino - Azel

Bombino - Azel
April 1, 2016
Critic Score
76
7 reviews

56. clipping. - Splendor & Misery

September 9, 2016
Critic Score
73
14 reviews

It’s the high-concept eclecticism, however, that makes this record so cumbersome. Amidst unprecedented stylistic leaps and machine-gun rapping, comprehending the meaning of Splendor & Misery is a true challenge.

55. Jessy Lanza - Oh No

May 13, 2016
Critic Score
79
19 reviews

Oh No aims for pop and hits it squarely. This might not be usual top-40 fodder, but any song will seamlessly fit into the rotation of music whose primary aim is to be as appealing as possible.

54. Young Thug - Jeffery

August 26, 2016
Critic Score
77
11 reviews

That he keeps getting better is just frightening, as he’s had a song that’s suggested a peak every year since 2011. And yet, here we are, continually marking the progress of Young Thug.

53. PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project

April 15, 2016
Critic Score
76
33 reviews

The album just sometimes sounds flat uncomfortable with its focus. And that, finally, is what drags the record down. When it fails, Harvey isn’t living in a world. She’s just a tourist.

51. Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate

July 15, 2016
Critic Score
82
18 reviews

50. The Avett Brothers - True Sadness

The Avett Brothers - True Sadness
June 24, 2016
Critic Score
66
11 reviews

Some have labeled True Sadness as the Avett Brothers’ worst album ever, while others have labeled it as their very best. While there is room for such polarization in such a varied overall career as the brothers have perpetuated thus far, what matters is that they are still finding ways to reinvent themselves while remaining true to the values that have made their music theirs since 2002’s Country Was.

49. The Radio Dept. - Running Out of Love

October 21, 2016
Critic Score
77
17 reviews

Hearing the duo’s take on megalithic electronic epics not only makes for a worthy listen, it helps to illuminate other parts of their catalogue and adds nuance to our notion of who the Radio Dept. are and what they can be.

48. KAYTRANADA - 99.9%

May 6, 2016
Critic Score
76
21 reviews

Even though he doesn’t do every genre he attempts equally skillfully, there’s a pop music core to most of these songs that keeps 99.9% listenable throughout.

47. YG - Still Brazy

June 17, 2016
Critic Score
81
13 reviews

No one out there is crafting visceral street tales like he is, and if he could just trim his track lists a bit, he has the talent to make a gangster rap classic in the future.

45. De La Soul - and the Anonymous Nobody...

August 26, 2016
Critic Score
71
24 reviews

There are enough highlights to make And the Anonymous Nobody worth revisiting, but as a whole, the album is just barely above average.

44. Isaiah Rashad - The Sun's Tirade

September 2, 2016
Critic Score
73
12 reviews

Rashad’s wheelhouse has expanded since his understated 2014 masterpiece Cilvia Demo, and he tries things on The Sun’s Tirade that show he’s learned from his TDE brethren about stretching the boundaries of hip-hop.

43. Beach Slang - A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings

September 23, 2016
Critic Score
78
19 reviews

A musical success, Teenage Feelings sits alongside artier predecessors as well as bottled lightning like the Exploding Hearts or the Shackletons’ under-appreciated debut.

42. Cymbals Eat Guitars - Pretty Years

September 16, 2016
Critic Score
82
12 reviews

Pretty Years is a document of Cymbals Eat Guitars’ most accessible music, D’Agostino’s richest vocal performances, and his ever-deepening lyrical acuity. It’s the best release yet from one of America’s most promising bands.

41. Charles Bradley - Changes

April 1, 2016
Critic Score
75
17 reviews
Times are tough, but we have each other. We should let our good feelings conquer the negative ones. That’s the only way to make positive changes in the world. Bradley sings of his aches and pleasures with such conviction that he makes one believe this is possible.

40. Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch

September 30, 2016
Critic Score
82
21 reviews

Blood Bitch is a record that doesn’t try to be anything. Whereas Apocalypse, Girl was contrived and Viscera was uneventful, this record is dreamy and memorable, both through its illusion of simplicity and its gentle invitation to listeners.

39. Esperanza Spalding - Emily's D+Evolution

March 4, 2016
Critic Score
82
10 reviews

Esperanza has now proven, five recordings into her career without one dud and without a single one that seems like treading water, that she is the exception: a critical and potent force in modern music.

38. Mitski - Puberty 2

June 17, 2016
Critic Score
85
26 reviews
The progression is so drastic, it at once insists that this is an artist not done growing, and a surefire source of future classics. This album may very well turn out to be one, after we’ve all spent some well-deserved months of listening.

37. Rihanna - ANTI

January 27, 2016
Critic Score
69
30 reviews

Sadly, with Anti the intent and promise is more admirable than the end result. There’s a certain dreary joylessness to it that saps any energy the songs might possess.

36. Field Music - commontime

February 5, 2016
Critic Score
72
19 reviews

Field Music have always brought a kind of regional dialect to the rock, pop and, on Commontime more than ever, R&B they so dexterously bend to fit them, and that remains one of their greatest assets.

35. Tim Hecker - Love Streams

April 8, 2016
Critic Score
79
23 reviews

It makes perfect sense that Love Streams is Hecker’s first record with label 4AD, as it sort of sounds like the Cocteau Twins if they decided to live inside a glacier, communing with Old Norse land spirits and subsisting exclusively on psychedelic mushrooms. Love Streams is at once familiar and totally alien; a work of art that reminds us why we need art in the first place.

33. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam - I Had A Dream That You Were Mine

September 23, 2016
Critic Score
81
21 reviews

There are moments on I Had a Dream when their perspectives lock together and strike you in the gut.

32. Whitney - Light Upon The Lake

June 3, 2016
Critic Score
80
18 reviews
A welcome presence in the story of summer 2016, Whitney will be an underdog I’ll be rooting for well into their sophomore release.

31. Autechre - elseq 1–5

May 19, 2016
Critic Score
74
4 reviews

30. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter

March 25, 2016
Critic Score
82
12 reviews
Her bold delivery and fresh take on classic tropes show she’s a master of detailing the chaos of life. She’s a double threat who can write ‘em and sing ‘em.

29. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

June 27, 2016
Critic Score
79
30 reviews
For the record, it is his best and I have a feeling his next one—if he tightens up the sprawl—will be even better.

28. Preoccupations - Preoccupations

September 16, 2016
Critic Score
79
21 reviews

Preoccupations makes strides to shore up Preoccupations’ identity without losing the crucial spontaneity of their debut.

27. Pantha Du Prince - The Triad

May 20, 2016
Critic Score
69
15 reviews

The Triad is not the type of album that holds up to any enthusiastic hype. It’s tone is quiet and tender, reserved beyond the point of typical downtempo standards, and its 10 long songs are agonizingly, excruciatingly tranquil. It’s a record that mutes listeners’ excitement by design.

26. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth

April 15, 2016
Critic Score
83
19 reviews

Afforded creative freedom many felt would be stifled, Simpson’s latest musical offspring is a love letter we can all cherish.

25. Angel Olsen - My Woman

September 2, 2016
Critic Score
86
33 reviews

Not only are all her greatest idiosyncrasies on flattering display throughout My Woman, but the album offers dozens of new reasons to fall deeply, unreasonably in love with her music.

24. Lucinda Williams - The Ghosts of Highway 20

February 5, 2016
Critic Score
81
15 reviews
It’s defiantly, proudly, and gorgeously organic, in a different universe from today’s processed digital pop.

23. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree

September 9, 2016
Critic Score
89
30 reviews

Skeleton Tree offers little solace, but as the Bad Seeds’ 16th album, it gives the listener an experience that is unshakable.

22. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial

May 20, 2016
Critic Score
82
23 reviews

To anoint Toledo the voice of a generation is premature; Teens of Denial looks no further forward than the next update to Cards Against Humanity with the First World problems of album opener “Fill in the Blank”.

21. Nicolas Jaar - Sirens

September 30, 2016
Critic Score
77
16 reviews

Jaar has been a formidable producer since releasing his earliest singles, but Sirens, more than any other previous release, proves that he is every bit as capable as all the artists mentioned above in creating a true masterpiece. 

Original Source: http://www.popmatters.com/feature/the-70-best-albums-of-2016/
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