TOP 5 ALBUMS OF 2016
The 1975 – ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’
‘I Like It When You Sleep…’ is an overproduced, overwrought and overindulgent mishmash of a thing. So, just how Matt Healey and co. have managed to take such inauspicious ingredients and turn them into the musical equivalent of a moreish Eton mess is all the more mind boggling. Indie-pop has never had it quite so good.
Bon Iver – ‘22, A Million’
Cryptic and convoluted, Bon Iver’s third full-length release may have lacked appeal on paper. However, on ‘22, A Million’ mainman Justin Vernon does what he does best by distilling raw human emotion into a delicate, finely crafted musical experience. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what the bloody hell he’s on about, only that you feel what it is that he’s saying.
Conor Oberst – ‘Ruminations’
Featuring just a guitar, harmonica, piano and, of course, Oberst’s voice, ‘Ruminations’ is easily one of the most sparse records of 2016. Such minimalism completely works in the record’s favour, though, as we are truly able to focus on the carefully-woven tales of heartbreak and tragedy that Oberst so plaintively tells. Sometimes the simplest music really is the best.
Michael Kiwanuka – ‘Love & Hate’
From the epic grandiosity of opener Cold Little Heart, you know you’re in for a treat with Kiwanuka’s second full-length LP. The album certainly doesn’t hold back in terms of its scope, with pretty much everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. But rather than its scale, its Kiwanuka’s increasing ability to blend sentiment with soul that truly sets ‘Love & Hate’ apart.
David Bowie – ‘Blackstar’
A swansong like no other, ‘Blackstar’ is Bowie’s final gift to the world.The record represents the singer’s unparalleled ability to turn even the most lamentable of circumstances into something worth celebrating, while simultaneously bookending what is an incredibly vast and varied body of work. An artist in the true sense of the word.
Honourable mentions: Radiohead – ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’, Teleman – ‘Brilliant Sanity’, Metronomy – ‘Summer 08’, Green Day – ‘Revolution Radio’, C Duncan – ‘The Midnight Sun’.
TOP 5 SINGLES OF 2016
Francis and the Lights – Friends (feat. Bon Iver)
The 1975 – Somebody Else
Two Door Cinema Club – Bad Decisions
Warpaint – New Song
Christine and the Queens – Tilted
Honourable mentions: The xx – On Hold, VANT – PEACE & LOVE, Blossoms – Charlemagne, Mystery Jets – Bubblegum, Creeper – Suzanne