PressPLAYLIST: The Top 50 Albums of 2016

Some people say the album is dead – to those people we say bore off, because there’s still nothing more satisfying than hearing a cohesive record, start to finish, that truly imparts something. As always, some of our choices may feel a bit leftfield, but if there’s a chance to shine more of a spotlight on an overlooked marvel then that’s what we’re here for. (And of course, you’ll find all the key tracks compiled into a handy playlist at the end.)

Image result for the 1975 i like it when you sleep50. The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

What we said“There are genuine moments of brilliance on The 1975’s new album – If I Believe You feels almost near unquantifiable, a leap of madness that pays off in remarkably inventive style, a song called Please Be Naked eschews the laddish expectation for a cosmic instrumental – but there’s just so much in the pot here (most of it good, mind you) that the band could really do with some refinement. Keep The Sound, keep Somebody Else, and lose guff like Paris, Loving Someone, and NanaWithout these self-indulgent frills The 1975 could have set a benchmark for indie, but it’s pretty fair to say that even with them they still have one of the most barmy and characterful records the year is likely to see.”

Image result for luh spiritual songs for lovers to sing49. LUH – Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing

What we said:By the Christ, there’s something hypnotic about it all. The sudden change in pace on Future Blues – led by the unbridled and effortless charm of Ebony Hoorn – feels like a different band altogether, but somehow the balance of fragile and visceral actually works. It’s in moments like these and Someday Come, sadly all too few, where the album does touch notions of a higher plane; and certainly there’s gusto and a gut-wrenching ache in the rest of it.”

Image result for robyn sherwell48. Robyn Sherwell – Robyn Sherwell

What we said: “A self-titled album often feels like it could be biographical, though with most of that ilk we never really feel like we get under the skin of an artist. Not the case here, as Robyn Sherwell very much gives us Robyn Sherwell, full of fears and pain, and she turns out to be one of the most heartwarming, loveable newcomers we could hope to know.”

Image result for the life of pablo47. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

What we said“This is a mellower Kanye, one with a dulled fire, perhaps so complacent in his own greatness that he seems content to take a pointless detour during Waves or phone it in on FML. There’s a degree of reclamation in the record’s final stretch, with Real Friends, 30 Hours, and No More Parties In LA (in which Kendrick Lamar steals the damn show) but for a Kanye West album, it all feels disappointingly subdued. If Yeezus was a self-penned hagiography, The Life of Pablo is a portrait of a Kanye West we don’t really recognise.”

Image result for vaults caught in still life46. Vaults – Caught In Still Life

What we said: “Of the newer songs, there are still more hits than misses. Bloodflow and Bodies are two of their finest to date, the latter a haunting piano-driven ballad that sings “I’m afraid that I’ve built myself so tall, no one will see me when I fall”. Keeping that level of grounding is what makes this first attempt register, and what makes that twee cover tacked on the end even more disappointing. Vaults don’t need that kind of commercial exposure to make them shine, but if it pole-vaults this album to success then it’s certainly a sacrifice we can tolerate.”

Image result for rufus bloom45. RÜFÜS – Bloom

What we said: “Of course, like any record of this ilk, there’s a certain element of fatigue towards the final act – anyone’s feet would get tired by the end of the night – but RÜFÜS do so much right that it’s hard to hold it against them. Even the lower-tempo Daylight and Hypnotised (which refreshingly drafts in a female vocal to tremendous effect) bring a level of depth that you wouldn’t find in anything that purports to be a commercial dance record. In the end, that’s their biggest credit: they take something seemingly simple, water it with their immaculate sensibilities, and make a staid genre, well, bloom.”

Image result for zayn mind44. ZAYN – Mind Of Mine

What we said: “In essence, that pretty much sums up a rather admirable first record – the lines are at times trite, the tropes reductive, but it’s layered amid so many impressive flourishes of form and revelations of character that it’s hard to disagree with the star quality on display here. We’re not talking Timberlake standard by any means, but Malik has a charm that surpasses his admittedly thin vocals, making the whole very much more the sum of its magpied parts.

Image result for swet shop boys cashmere43. Swet Shop Boys – Cashmere

What we said: “We could write a thesis on the brilliant moments of code-switching and endless references that need reams of whitesplaining (highlights: Madhuri Dixit, goris, tawaaf, Gujjis, jalebi, sloppy saag at the Gurdwara, missing namaaz… the list feels endless). It’s a record that not only works as an insight from the outside for those of us caught between two disparate macrocosms, but one that also addresses the original intersection of being two ‘different’ types of Punjabi. The truth is they’re both essentially the same, united once more to break down a new sort of Partition, and unrelentingly determined to make you realise we’re just as much a fabric of the same society.”

Related image42. The Naked And Famous – Simple Forms

What we said… Well, we didn’t because we were on us hols, weren’t we? No matter. This one is an absolute joy of a record, a sister to CHVRCHES in spirit as the NZ band nail both soaring choruses and irresistible hooks. It’s synth-pop with an indie edge, full of vigour and an ethos that really ought to give them the mainstream success they deserve.

Related image41. Glass Animals – How To Be A Human Being

What we said“They wouldn’t really be committing to the eccentricity without lyrics to match. So there are lines that stick out, such as a diatribe detailing “pineapples are in my head” or “she said I look fat but I look fantastic”. It’s backed up with sublime flecks of unusual instrumentation, flitting between 8-bit glitches, two-step vibes on Cane Shuga and even barmy humanised woofs on The Other Side Of Paradise. Whatever they do, though, they do it well and with enough charm to make us buy into it completely.”

Image result for kristin kontrol x communicate40. Kristin Kontrol – X-Communicate

What we said“At times it is hard to ignore the Bowie influence or the Bush vibe (Drive The Night) but Kristin Kontrol has enough charisma to take complete, well, control over her material. More importantly, these are songs so immaculately crafted that they’d happily sit on radio waves or hipster mixtapes. If X-Communicate is about saying goodbye to the past and carving individuality, then there’s no doubt that Kristin Kontrol has bright new future ahead of her.”

Image result for niki dove everybody39. Niki & The Dove – Everybody’s Heart Is Broken Now

What we said“There’s homage but never at the cost of being reductive, though the relentless mid-tempo occasionally threatens to flatline over an indulgent length. Regardless, this is a stunningly crafted pop album, unafraid to wear its heart as brazenly on its sleeve as that title. Everybody’s heart may be broken at this party, but Niki & The Dove still feel like pop’s much-needed restorative.”

Image result for raleigh ritchie you're a man now boy38. Raleigh Ritchie – You’re a Man Now, Boy

What we said“Even though it essentially seems like a long letter to himself, Raleigh Ritchie is a voice that we’ve all been able to relate to at some point, whether it’s on Cowards (with it’s quirky “hi – hello – ok” punctuation) or the quotable one-liners of A Moor. To be able to capture the joy and strife of youth is quite an accomplishment in itself; to do so on a bed of immaculate beats and arena-sized choruses is just plain ridiculous.”

37. Tkay Maidza – TKAY

What we said“Maidza comes out guns blazing, like an artist who has never once compromised and would shoot you down for even suggesting such a notion. The result? A fierce and wholly idiosyncratic debut album that ought to send ripples through the pop scene, and one that really shouldn’t escape your notice.”

Image result for thomston topograph36. Thomston – Topograph

What we said“The mood is generally this sort of melancholic, both in vocal tone and sound. Thomston is by turns apologetic (“don’t wanna love you just ‘cos I’m lonely,” he sings on Broken Skin (Outlines)), darkly sensual, and occasionally even a little bit heartbroken. But his moods are reflective of that wonderful thing we miss these days, especially with male-driven pop acts.”

Image result for dawn redemption35. Dawn – Redemption

What we said“Ambition is certainly something that Dawn has never been short of, and with each successive release it feels like she not only achieves it but also reveals it to be just a fraction of what she still hopes to deliver. As she closes the album with a political stride, she’s gifted us a dark and bluesy Hey Nikki that writhes in epic guitar before The Louvre, her own little masterpiece whose denouement takes in swirls of classical string that lift her sound to celestial heights.”

Image result for until the hunter34. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions – Until the Hunter

What we said“Here we see a few more facets of her personality, and if she is drawn towards the macabre then it feels very much like her own choice, exploring emotions with different approaches. Of course, tracks like Treasure still play to the Fade Into You crowd, but when even your biggest hits still inspire new songs it’s hard to find much fault in that, and Until The Hunter still delivers the freshest meat.”

Image result for laura mvula the dreaming room33. Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room

What we said“Ultimately The Dreaming Room is a collection that bursts with all manner of life. It tackles both the heaviness of her recent past and the hopefulness of her future with remarkable aplomb; if both the dark and sweet dreams of Laura Mvula are made of this then, really, who are we to disagree?”

Image result for lady wood32. Tove Lo – Lady Wood

What we said“If Tove Lo has become synonymous with sex – which never feels like its gratuitous or irrelevant as incidental context – then she certainly delights in the foreplay of it all, the anticipation that each of her tracks builds before giving way to multiple hits of pop’s sweet spot. Best of all, she does it without ever trading on what feels like her very distinctive personality, using songs as therapy and catharsis rather than shock value. For that reason, Lady Wood is the pop record a generation of both men and women need right now: it’s the underbelly of millennials, but an exercise in self-pleasure that takes control of every aspect of a rounded personality without giving a single thought to judgement. What could be more empowering than that?”

Image result for yumi zouma yoncalla31. Yumi Zouma – Yoncalla

What we said“The band make an effortless but very tangible progression from their previous EPs. The sound filters out from the fuzzed blinds of their origins, almost straight-up pop on Short Truth while mining the more emotional sides of dreamwave on Keep It Close To Me. Layers of vocals swathe songs like Yesterday, wrapping things up like a the softest cloud as Yumi Zouma continue their skyward journey.”

Image result for jordan rakei cloak30. Jordan Rakei – Cloak

What we said“For a debut, Cloak is a remarkable body of work. Even in quieter moments such as Rooftop, Rakei takes his journey at a leisurely pace but never feels uninviting. There’s a slight detour toward experimentation in the final leg, but it’s all forgiven for the richness of everything that’s gone before. There’s no room for Rakei to be a featured vocalist any more – this is a record that displays so much international-standard talent that to associate him with anything else from now on would be a massive disservice.”

Image result for you and i29. ALA.NI – You & I

What we said“By all rights, it’s a record that shouldn’t work in 2016. But it does because of its ALA.NI’s earnestness and evergreen delivery. Most of the songs clock under the three-minute mark and seem so authentic that it’s hard to believe they’re not cover versions. But that’s the beauty ALA.NI brings to the game, in that she’s not playing it at all – instead we come to a fully-formed artist immersed in her own dreamlike world. We buy into the stories of One Heart, we allow ourselves to be swathed in the charm of Darkness At Noon. If you’re suckers for the Doris Day era like we are, there’s so much to love in You & I; even if you’re not, you’ll certainly find that time-travelling with ALA.NI delivers the richest rewards of a simpler time.”

Image result for kiwanuka love and hate28. Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate

What we said“There’s poetry, poise and purpose to this record – something that can’t be said for every guitar-playing singer-songwriter. “Somethings just seem to take so long… There’s so much more I can be,” Kiwanuka sings on the penultimate song. Where this new age Bill Withers will go next is anybody’s guess. This humble songwriter has wrestled with, and overcome, his personal demons, and, organically, made an album for our time. Love & Hate will get you lifted.”

Image result for chairlift moth27. Chairlift – Moth

What we said“In an interview recently, Chairlift said that this was their New York record. In some ways they’re not wrong; listening to Moth runs the gamut of emotions one feels in any big city, from the initial wonder to settled joy, the charm of discovering it with someone and the sense of isolation when it all disappears. A lot of that also rests on Polachek’s cut-loose vocals, carefree and an absolute powerhouse on Show U Off, which quite easily sums up why Moth is the first essential record of 2016: it flutters, it floats, it’s speedy enough to be everywhere, and it ends up higher than any of us could ever hope to reach.”

Image result for rihanna anti26. Rihanna – ANTI

What we said“So does it justify the investment? Absolutely, and then some. It’s not hard to be the best album in Rihanna’s back catalogue (FYI – Rated R, until now), but Anti sets a standard that even she might find hard to beat. It’s got spike, sass, and layers of heart behind overt abrasion – in that respect, it’s probably the album that’s closest to Rihanna’s own personality, so it’s no surprise that it also has no trouble telling those who expected an anticlimax to fuck right off.”

Image result for badbadnotgood iv25. BADBADNOTGOOD – IV

What we said“Building on the momentum from 2015’s Sour Soul with Ghostface Killah, BADBADNOTGOOD have evolved beyond their initial novelty and become a versatile and effortlessly enjoyable group. While jazz continues its steady return to the forefront of popular music, this lot are seeking a seat at an ever more crowded table; but through the continued development of their already unique sound, and their increasingly deft use of features, it seems their place in the canon is very much secure.”

Image result for nao for all we know24. NAO – For All We Know

What we said“At the centre of it all, though, is the woman herself. Nao drifts between featherlight princess to seductive temptress within moments, soaked in a charisma and confidence that can’t be taught. There’s no strain to enjoy her music, no force to help enjoy her voice, and for that reason our initial trepidation of track length is dashed rather quickly – 18 songs pass by so quickly, we could easily do with 18 more. And, for all we know, this lady’s only just getting started.”

Image result for banks the altar23. Banks – The Altar

What we said: “It’s a shame this new album hasn’t had much lead-up fanfare, then, because not only does it mark Banks out as an indelible talent but also makes for a supreme exercise in being self-positive, even in its lashings of melancholic monochrome and ownership of fault. We could maybe do without the campfire singalong of Mother Earth, but it’s still important to recognise what The Altar truly is: this isn’t about devotion to a higher power or an ideology so much as a shrine to the self. In today’s landscape of female pop, that alone makes it an essential record… but yes, the banging tunes more than help the case for it being the best of its kind in 2016.”

Image result for psychopomp22. Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp

What we said“That this record was written soon after Zauner discovered her mother’s diagnosis almost feels somewhat moot – songs like Everybody Wants To Love You feel almost celebratory, defiant in the face of life’s travails. It all serves to make the devastation – when it comes – almost too much to bear, as it does on Jane Cum. It’s subdued and hides its vulnerability behind layers of punky bravado, but it’s more than enough to make sure you recognise this Breakfast as the most important meal of the week.”

Image result for if you see me say yes21. Flock of Dimes – If You See Me, Say Yes

What we said“Comparisons are no one’s friend, but the way this record delivers on so many levels is a reminder of another great contemporary American songwriter, Jenny Lewis – the pithy, memorable statements ensconced in singalong melodies, the dramatic production on songs like Ida Glow never compromising either message or personality. In that respect, Wasner graduates to an even more accomplished level than her parent band allows, and Flock of Dimes is full of golden quarters to savour.”

Image result for daughter not to disappear20. Daughter – Not to Disappear

What we said: “Sure, angst plays a large part of Daughter’s oeuvre – as lead single Doing The Right Thing will testify – and the tone of atmospheric grunge (no, really) is pretty consistent. But the beauty with this lot comes from the way they mine that space, eking out new shades and giving Tonra’s voice room to stretch like a prolonged, captivating elegy.”

Image result for beyonce lemonade19. Beyonce – Lemonade

What we said“Essentially, it’s a record that takes the sentiment of Irreplaceable, cranks it past 10, rips the knob off, and uses it to start a fire the size of a neighbourhood. Whether it’s about Knowles Sr or Mr Carter is irrelevant – by placing them central to the discussion of Lemonade devalues the way Beyoncé is choosing to deal with things and emerging as a renegade, much in the vein of her ‘middle-fingers-up’ anthem Sorry (“suck on my balls, pause” – well, quite).”

Image result for lapsley long way home18. Lapsley – Long Way Home

What we said“The album keeps delivering till its closing breath. Tell Me The Truth is a ridiculously inventive trap-led jam, with Fletcher eschewing ego to manipulate her own vocals to great effect. It’s that kind of risk-taking, balanced with her perfect execution of more traditional elements, that makes this an absolute must-listen. It may be a Long Way Home for Låpsley, but this is certainly where her heart is.”

Image result for a moon shaped pool17. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

What we said“Whether it’s the pointed pain of Decks Dark (“it was just a lie, just a lie”) or the frantic demolition of ‘truth’ notions on Ful Stop, whether it’s the cinematic Glass Eyes (dear God those strings again) or the more traditional structure of The Numbers, Yorke and co have never sounded more immediate or indeed more bare. In a way, that’s what sets them apart from any other band of our generation – they remain concerned with the intricacies of the personal and political, but they do so with such earnestness that it’s hard not to continue applauding their presences after decades.”

Image result for arthur beatrice keeping the peace16. Arthur Beatrice – Keeping The Peace

What we said“Keeping The Peace takes in all meanings of the phrase in two-party strife but also that ongoing war within, seeking balance in a world that’s constantly trying to throw it off. Funnily enough, Girardot sings it best on Who Returned when she tells us “all I have is this emotion”. That’s certainly true, and it’s a privilege to share all of it with Arthur Beatrice.”

Image result for tegan and sara love you to death15. Tegan & Sara – Love You To Death

What we said“The album certainly reminds us that heartbreak makes for much better material than happy-clap joy, but even on a ballad like White Knuckles there’s such pointed confidence in the delivery that a victim’s flaccid warbling just isn’t an option. In that respect, Love You To Death is the empowering break-up album we’ve all deserved for a very long time – that title sounds just about right, because death is probably the only thing that will separate us from this wonderful record.”

Image result for sviib14. School Of Seven Bells – SVIIB

What we said“The success to this final record is that sonically it remains celebratory – even on the airy and low-tempo vibe of Elias, Deheza seems to be nestling in the clouds; on the sparse Confusion, sunrise synths make it feel like the break of dawn rather than a heavy farewell. Appropriately, the album ends with a track called This Is Our Time. “Our time is indestructible,” Deheza sings, and she’s 100% correct. Everything that SVIIB stood for is crystallised in one impeccable album that Curtis would be proud of, and their legacy remains completely untouchable.”

Image result for marked for death emma ruth rundle13. Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked for Death

What we said“There may be accusations of there being perhaps too much overblown drama on Marked For Death, but Rundle keeps it level even as waves of production crash around her on Hand of God and Heaven. By the time Furious Angel closes in, it feels like there’s nothing else left for Rundle to bare – in the wake of devastation behind her, she’s not only exorcised a great deal to repurpose as strength, she’s also held a mirror up to every failed relationship and every dark moment we’ve all had.”

Image result for coloring book chance12. Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book

What we said… Well, again, we were off on hols so we didn’t. But what an explosive, energetic, and exasperating collection of the game’s most hyperactive proponent. All Night is the drinks-flowing highlight, but Chance goes outside the lines on the rest of his Coloring Book, making it so kaleidoscopic it’s hard not to stare in wonder.

Image result for kaytranada 99.911. Kaytranada – 99.9%

What we said“The great thing about Celstin is that, barring this notable foot in soul sounds, his chameleonic nature makes it hard to recognise what might be a Kaytranada production. It reflects in his sound too, with the tremendous You’re The One (featuring The Internets Syd) working as a party-starter, late-night club jam, turn down, and bonk-soundtrack all at once. There are few people who can make even the simplest parts of 99.9% sound so damn exciting, and there are even fewer keeping it 100 the way Kaytra does.”

Image result for angel olsen my woman10. Angel Olsen – My Woman

What we said“It’s in those different styles, in tracks like Sister and Woman, that Olsen paints the complex portrait of her personality, one that can be confident yet defeated, a temptress yet demure and gleefully scale everything in between. My Woman is your woman, and the flawed, brazen, no-fucks character that every woman deserves to be.”

Image result for frank ocean blonde9. Frank Ocean – Blonde

What we said“Is Blonde the masterpiece we were all expecting? No, but it’s just Frank Ocean doing Frank Ocean, as is his wont, and as will always be. There’s also no denying that this record is an exceptional piece of work from an important voice, and a worthy addition to the canon. But in one revelation on album closer Futura Free, the whole thing takes a rather sinister shade: “Jay hit me on the email,” he says, referring of course to Jay-Z, “Said I oughta act my net worth/ Dog this is chess now.” With that it’s hard to ignore – for better or worse – how much of this feels calculated, stories and emotion placed with clinical precision. This is his beautiful game, and Frank Ocean just played the fuck out of it.”

Image result for farewell starlite8. Francis and the Lights – Farewell, Starlite!

What we said“It’s a rare admission on our part, but it is hard to find a weak link in Farewell, Starlite!– even the star-studded centrepiece Friends feels like the perfect crowd-pleasing climax to a cinematic self-portrait. Which is kind of what this album comes down to really, and the reason it feels like such an essential success: here’s someone who’s not only taking his brushstrokes outside the lines, but doing so in a way that creates a unique yet sympathetic character study. In a world of musical monochrome, this parade of flashing Lights can only ever be a blessing.”

Image result for puberty 27. Mitski – Puberty 2

What we said“It’s obvious that Miyawaki has been hurt, and that the dance of ups and downs has been an exhausting one. But like the title of the record suggests, she seems to have found a transitional middle ground. Arguably we’re all going through a delayed maturity, with breakups and setbacks sending us back to the rollercoaster of emotions we thought we’d dispensed with. Miyawaki takes an unapologetic ownership of Puberty 2, and her truths are something we can all take home.”

Image result for nothings real6. Shura – Nothing’s Real

What we said“Looking at Denton’s interviews and social media, it’s clear she has charisma even before setting foot in a studio, something that doesn’t lack from this effervescent debut. Political opinions, music recommendations, hell even her football analysis makes for a refreshing change from the PR-sanded starlets we’re mostly subjected to. But as we take a cosmic walk in the stars hand-in-hand with her, there’s an unshakeable, somewhat delightful innocence that elevates her to a different plain. Nothing’s Real, then, except Shura’s claim as the modern popstar we all deserve.”

Image result for jessy lanza oh no5. Jessy Lanza – Oh No

What we said“It comes together as a tremendous collection, robust yet fragile and full of the sort of inventive R&B-pop melodies that a post-FKA Twigs world is ready for (not to mention a bat-shit brilliant coda of hyperactive beats at the end of It Means I Love You). “I say it to your face, but it doesn’t mean a thing,” she yelps at the head of VV Violence. That would be the tragedy here: a proper crossover star right in front of us, and we’re all too distracted to give Jessy Lanza the importance she deserves.”

Image result for 22 a million4. Bon Iver – 22, A Million

What we said“With all these shades and tangents, it’s no surprise that 22, A Million feels like the work of a lost soul, spiritually and artistically. Words seem otherworldly, structures are almost non-existent, and tone flickers with no real degree of consistency, like Vernon himself is paving a path with gorgeous detail and not quite knowing where it leads. It’s frustrating at times, even pretentious on first listen, and yet we haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for weeks, to stop this urge to return to a labyrinthine record to try decipher an additional layer of what oftentimes feels like a long voice-memo monologue committed to studio. It might not be the Bon Iver record we expected but it feels like the richest one to date and certainly, we sense, it’ll be this work of skewed genius that stays in everybody’s consciousness for years to come.”

3. Billie Marten – Writing of Blues and Yellows

What we said“Marten has come as close to perfection as it is possible to get with a debut folk album from a contemporary singer-songwriter – and that’s before you consider the fact that she is 17 years old. The most demanding of folk followers may find Marten’s music too close to her influences, Laura Marling and John Martyn. Purists could argue the assistance of producers Rich Cooper and Cam Blackwood means she cannot be called a virtuoso yet – but this no more than can be said for others in her position. The songs on Writing of Blues and Yellows never overstay their welcome: it is an album of veracious expression and cursive patterns. Safe to say, then that this young Ms Marten, with her enchanting words and rustic guitar riffs, will leave you in awe.”

Image result for the colour in anything2. James Blake – The Colour In Anything

What we said“What works in Blake’s favour – barring the Frank Ocean and Bon Iver co-writes, not that he really needed them – is his ability, comfort, and willingness to play the downtrodden lost soul. It occasionally has a tendency to become wearing over 17 tracks but there aren’t many people who can mine this sort of pain so convincingly, making us disregard any millions they might have in the bank to deliver earnest sentiment like Waves Know Shores. It’s hard to levy accusations of wallowing and self-pity when it feels so genuine.”

Image result for a seat at the table1. Solange – A Seat at the Table

What we said“For everyone expecting Solange to live up to this “angry” persona on a political record, this is a massive middle finger, raised gracefully and dipped in a varnish so glossy it forces a reflection. And sure, if you want immaculately produced radio jams then you can have the beats of Don’t You Wait or Borderline (An Ode To Self-Care) as well, or the slow-bloom of the Sampha-feature Don’t Touch My Hair. “They don’t understand what it means to me, where we chose to go, where we’ve been to know,” are lines that will strike a chord with any person of colour or any outsider in any country; it’s a blanket-wrapped demand of humanity that simply wonders who or why anyone else is qualified to lessen the experience of those who have already striven to fight for a place in society. At that damn table.

These are just a handful of examples of a record that doesn’t feel urgent so much as the self-assured drawing of a line that says we deserve to be here. “As long as you find peace in what you doing, then you successful,” says one interlude early on. That’s what Solange has found on this album: peace in her message, peace in her sound, and peace in the knowledge that people like us have every right to belong in this world just as much as anyone else, and we’ll be reminding you of that in the most beautiful way possible.”

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PressPLAYLIST: The Top 50 Albums of 2016
PressPLAYLIST: The Top 50 Albums of 2016