Music

The 50 best albums of 2016

For all 2016’s general shortcomings, it must be said: It’s made the case to be a contender for an all-time great year for albums. The prognosis for the form hasn’t been good in recent times, yet artists doubled-down to create full-lengths that continue to challenge and inspire in wonderful ways.

We had some new acts arrive fully formed with exquisite debuts. Top-tier pop stars pushing boundaries more than ever. We had some drought-breaking releases that were almost as welcome as the Western Bulldogs’ premiership.

2016, you’ve been quite special when it comes to albums. Here are our picks for the 50 best of the year, in order.

50-41

50. Shura – Nothing’s Real
49. Young Thug – JEFFERY
48. Luca Brasi – If This Is All We’re Going To Be
47. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
46. YG – Still Brazy
45. PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project
44. Hellions – Opera Oblivia
43. Parquet Courts – Human Performance
42. Death Grips – Bottomless Pit
41. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker

40-30

40. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
39. The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect

38. Tegan And Sara – Love You To Death
37. Broods – Conscious
36. Julia Jacklin – Don’t Let The Kids Win
35. Drake – Views
34. James Blake – The Colour In Anything
33. Olympia – Self Talk
32. Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us
31. Ngaiire – Blastoma

30. NO ZU – Afterlife

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We said: “The hereafter conceived by NO ZU is one in which loincloth-garbed deities participate in bodybuilding contests, and rough sex is simply de rigueur. The group traffic with a certain pagan zeal, a force which allows those who wield it to turn any discotheque into a sadomasochist pleasure-dome. Because – council regulations notwithstanding – isn’t that what every nightclub really aspires to be?”

29. Mitski – Puberty 2

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We said: “Puberty 2 represents an emotional growth spurt for Miyawaki, who now sings of acceptance, of melancholy, feelings of isolation, and of lost endeavours in love. Puberty 2captures the sense of frustration, resignation and self-awareness that can only come from years of grappling with emotional demons: now, she holds her vulnerability with confidence, in anthemic and improbably striking songs, for all to see.”

28. The Jezabels – Synthia

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The Jezabels’ Hayley Mary said: “It was a rebirth, a survival, and a re-embracing of life. We all hit rock bottom during The Brink for personal reasons that I’m not really at liberty to discuss at this moment and I hit rock bottom for my own personal reasons because of a family history with depression. And we just overcame it. When we had a break I overcame depression and wanted to write music again. I was happy – not vacuous happy, but I saw the beauty in the world again. So it was just falling in love with life again was the spirit behind the album for me.”

27. Flume – Skin

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Inthemix said: “’Tiny Cities’ is really interesting. To end an album with a collaboration with Beck, when the core audiences of both artists don’t really overlap. (Have Beck’s older fans even heard of Flume?) It doesn’t seem like a cynical marketing ploy; sounds like they were honestly just having fun working together. And it’s actually a really haunting and lovely way to end it.”

26. Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo

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We said: “You can say virtually anything you want about The Life of Pablo, and it’ll be true. He’s progressed musically, but not emotionally. He’s too misogynistic, too ironic, too earnest. He’s gone off the deep end; he’s more lucid than ever. He’s hyper-aware of his faults, but gives less of a shit about them. The purest version of this album would be an hour-long version of ‘I Love Kanye’, or a remake of Being John Malkovich where Kanye crawls into his own brain and sees an entire world of Kanyes looking back at him, saying “Kanye” repeatedly.”

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