If you released an album this year and thought you could slide by without bringing your -AGame, well, as Chance the Rapper would set it, “Uhahua! “
2016 was stacked with great music. Many of the world’s biggest artist’s put out the best work of their careers, legends blessing us with swan-songs that attain saying goodbye even rougher and fresh acts attaining household name status in record speed.
Here are 10 albums that got us through the rough times, stopped the world and reminded us that joy still exists.
On their latest gem, The 1975 splashes jazz and gospel into their tried and true format of expert pop nostalgia. Matty Healy is settling into his role as an increasingly self-aware heartthrob, calling himself out for being that dude who sometimes quotes Jack Kerouac in the absence of actual insight.
It takes a reformed cynic to properly deliver earnest lines like Im simply with my friends online/ and theres things marriage like to change, that his generation needs. And, like many things he has no business pulling off, Healy does it while oozing charisma.
9. Anohni – Hopelessness
“Drone bomb me/ blow me from the mountains and into the sea, ” challenges Anohni in her first recorded breaths, because there’s no room for subtlety here. Hopelessness is relentlessly dreary to the point that it somehow flips over and becomes inspirational.
8. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
Take a second to consider the people strolling the Earth who aren’t captivated by Chance’s spell. Even the Grammy’s , not a particularly progressive institution, loosened up the rules to let Coloring Book , a streaming-only album, have a chance, and it changed the game for the better.
8. Rihanna – ANTI
This year, we finally found out what happens when we actually let Rihanna take her day and deliver an album that reflects the complex woman she is. The outcome was the best run of her career. Let her do things her own way, darling.
7. David Bowie – Blackstar
Dammit, Bowie. Dammit.
5. Frank Ocean – Blonde
There is only one way to prepare for Frank Ocean music, and that’s yearning. He delivered that in spades. But its a damn disgrace that fuss over Frank Ocean succumbed down a little bit after he released not one, but two phenomenal pieces of run. On Blonde , he reinvents Pavements slacker boulder with the compulsion of a born overachiever who is desperate to figure out a way he can only chill.
4. Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch
Hval weaves Norwegian metal, lush orchestral pop and the otherworldly vocals promised by the album’s Cocteau Twins-inspired title, bookended by panting and laughters. Her pristine art-pop takes us so high up into the clouds that we get dizzy and laugh about it all. The female body continues to be a battleground, Hval reminds us there’s nothing more hardcore then menstrual blood.
3. Beyonc – Lemonade
Lemonade was more than simply a victory as an album as Beyonc established herself as more of a force-out than a pop starring. Fact vs. fiction, country vs. hip hop, love vs. jealousy, film vs. record to a lesser artist, these are dichotomies. But Bey dismantles it all and builds something more powerful from the rubble. And the queen will be eating at Red Lobster whenever she damn pleases.
2. Mitski – Puberty 2
In Mitski Miyawaki’s hands, the tools of indie stone, dulled over the years, are sharper than ever. Clocking in at simply over half an hour, Puberty 2 is an exercise in controlled chaos. Heartbreak isn’t something that’s cured, it’s molten lava disguised under a clean, white shirt. We’re all just trying to keep it together, aren’t we?
1. Solange – A Seat at the Table
In the four years since Solange’s musical rebirth, the excellent True EP, she’s been maintaining her cards close to her chest. She even relocated to New Orleans to reconnect with her family’s history. You know, the real sh* t that went down for decades and centuries before we made a fuss about that ill-fated elevator ride. When she finally let us in, you could hear the twist of a knife in her voice. But there’s a brightness, too, because she doesn’t have to go at it alone.