Suffice to say that this inaugural year of Albumism’s existence has been a blast, and we’re so grateful for all of our fellow music obsessives who have joined and enriched our global community of album lovers. So first and foremost, THANK YOU!
We’re also thankful for all of the amazing new music that has surfaced over the past eleven months, the highlights of which we’ve compiled here in our year-end review of 2016’s best albums. Now we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, but this list—as with most “best of” lists, mind you—inevitably reflects our team’s biased perspectives and critical dispositions, so it’s absolutely and unabashedly a subjective assessment. Hence why we would love to know what YOU consider the best albums of the year to be, whether they appear on this list or not.
And without further ado, here they are in all of their aural glory…Albumism’s 30 Best Albums of 2016.
#30 | PJ HARVEY | The Hope Six Demolition Project
Our Two Cents: Over the past 25 years, few musicians have wielded as powerful of a penchant for leaving enduring impressions on listeners’ ears and minds as the inimitable Polly Jean Harvey. This trend continues on Harvey’s recently released ninth studio album The Hope Six Demolition Project, which includes a handful of tracks that are sure to stick with you.
#29 | BAND OF HORSES | Why Are You OK
Our Two Cents: For the band’s fifth proper LP Why Are You OK, the group enlisted the production chops of Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle who complements their varied, melody-infused songs with a more sprawling, daydream-conjuring sheen. With spring winding down toward its inevitable climax, Why Are You OK promises to be the perfect aural accompaniment to the summer days and evenings ahead, and certainly a fine addition to the ever-evolving Band of Horses canon.
#28 | Róisín Murphy | Take Her Up to Monto
Play It Again Sam
Our Two Cents: Murphy forges into musical worlds by taking fragments here and there from each one to fuse them into her own part of her universe. Take Her Up to Monto signals not the beginning, but the continuation of Murphy’s sonic explorations. Refreshing is her timing during an era where risks are fewer and the rewards are YouTube views, Facebook likes and Twitter verifications.
#27 | BONNIE RAITT | Dig In Deep
Our Two Cents: With her signature mix of sophisticated swagger and raw emotion fully intact, Dig In Deep is arguably one of Raitt’s most rewarding albums to date, replete with buoyant grooves and propulsive stompers, balanced with more stripped-down, evocative fare.
#26 | Låpsley | Long Way Home
Our Two Cents: While some may be inclined to erroneously write off Long Way Home as mood music-by-numbers upon cursory listens, a closer inspection reveals so much more. Låpsley’s brave debut is a sterling collection of songs substantially more intriguing and gratifying than much of the UK-bred female pop out there today, including the comparatively sterile and overwrought compositions that define her XL labelmate Adele’s latest commercial behemoth of an album. Indeed, Long Way Home is a stellar first formal step toward what seems destined to be a fruitful future ahead for the supremely talented Låpsley.
#25 | COMMON | Black America Again
Our Two Cents: There’s no better evidence that [Common’s] penchant for powerful narrative and rhyme is still thrillingly intact than Black America Again, his eleventh studio album and strongest long player since 2007’s Finding Forever. Featuring stellar and provocative collaborations with Stevie Wonder (the impassioned title track), John Legend (“Rain”), Bilal (A Bigger Picture Called Free,” “Letter to the Free”), BJ the Chicago Kid (“The Day Women Took Over”) and The Internet’s Syd (“Red Wine,” “A Bigger Picture Called Free”), Black America Again finds its creator in signature, standout form.
#24 | TEENAGE FANCLUB | Here
Our Two Cents: Though the themes of time and experience govern the subject matter, the now middle-aged band refreshingly avoid sounding jaded or complacent. Instead, the album embodies an endearingly unfettered innocence, sincerity and grace, qualities that enable the band to reconnect with their past, while embracing the present and gazing toward the future, whatever it may hold. Here’s to hoping that another six years won’t pass before we have another Teenage Fanclub long player to enjoy. Though if they match the quality of the revelatory songcraft showcased on Here, we will learn to be patient.
#23 | THE RADIO DEPT. | Running Out of Love
Our Two Cents: More than halfway into this decade, The Radio Dept. finally deliver a new album, bearing all of the consistency, and delightful trademarks, of previous efforts. In titling it Running Out of Love, the band share their struggle against depletion. The question is, how much perseverance remains? Is pressing reset a last-ditch act of defeat? Or a redemptive attempt at renewal?
#22 | THE AVALANCHES | Wildflower
Our Two Cents: One of the year’s most welcome music storylines has been the long overdue return of The Avalanches. In July, the beloved yet elusive Melbourne-based group released their second studio album Wildflower, their first formal effort since their critically acclaimed debut LP Since I Left You arrived in the fall of 2000. Fans and critics alike have been handsomely rewarded for their patience during the group’s decade-and-a-half long hiatus, as the sample-heavy Wildflower runneth over with the irresistibly melodic and kaleidoscopic sounds they’re so well-known for.
#21 | DAUGHTER | Not to Disappear
Our Two Cents: Few bands working today make exorcising one’s demons sound as sublime as Daughter does. It’s refreshing to hear Elena Tonra so eloquently externalize the anguish that so many of us feel deep down inside, but are often too reluctant to divulge. Her introspective ruminations and emotional honesty are reassuring, offering glimmers of hope that solace can indeed be found amidst whatever it is that torments us. Bolstered by her bandmates’ atmospheric, intricately-woven soundscapes, Not To Disappear is a poetically poignant statement from a band that shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon.
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