Here are the 100 greatest LPs of 2016, according to Crack Magazine. Visit 2016.crackmagazine.net for more end of year coverage over the coming weeks.
Powell was up to his usual antics while promoting Sport, and the album itself exuded a sneering smugness and charming sarcasm, with track titles like Fuck You, Oscar, Gone a Bit Bendy (NTS Chatroom Version) and Gettin’ Paid to Be Yourself’ [Al’s Kick Ass’ Mix]. The music was a hurricane of dissonance, a hot mess of scrap yard electronics and gnarly punk guitar samples. Powell never once compromised his jarring structures or his antagonistic humour, and in an industry common for stone-faced, throw-away producers, you have to love the guy’s audacity.
Car Seat HeadrestTeens of Denial Matador
Teens of Denial was a record built on songwriter Will Toledo’s droll introspection. His candid lyrics were anchored by musical influences that ranged from subtle nods to the scratchy pop of Guided By Voices to a full blown interpolation of Dido’s White Flag. The result was an album that was direct, relatable, smartly funny and technically brilliant. Toledo is a commanding songwriter whose self-deprecating sense of humour elevates him beyond flocks of merely adequate contemporaries. Teens of Denial is, thus far, his masterpiece.
BITCHIN BAJAS AND BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLYEpic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties Drag City
Recorded in just one day at the home of Will Oldham, aka Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, this free-spirited jam session with Chicago trio Bitchin Bajas conjured up majestical results. Coasting along at a meditative pace, you visualised the musicians gallantly nodding to each other to allow organ, Oldham’s hushed lyrical rambling or Gamelan instrumentation to take lead. ‘May life throw you a pleasant curve,’ Oldham sang endearingly during the record’s opener. A consoling aural anaesthetic for the painful malady of present life.
21 SAVAGE & METROBOOMINSavage Mode Self-released
Having established himself as one of Atlanta’s greatest producers, Metro Boomin teamed up with 21 Savage, widely considered to be the city’s hardest up-and-coming rapper, for this nine track mixtape. The key to Savage Mode’s success was Metro’s commitment to a sad and paranoid mood which provided a powerful palette for 21’s croaky, deceivingly disaffected delivery. Having convinced us that he has “no heart”, that he’s a “bad guy”, 21 Savage revealed his other side on the unlikely love ballad Feel It: “These streets so dirty I just want someone who really there/ Can’t fake love, just want someone who really care”. A melancholy masterpiece.
RADIOHEADA Moon Shaped Pool XL
While many of the nuances of A Moon Shaped Pool were pure Godrich/Greenwood, the majesty that oversaw the album was Thom Yorke. A gnarling Yorke this was not. This was a man whose 23 year relationship had ended and who was pondering, restarting and relearning. Daydreaming was Yorke at his most ponderous, and one of Radiohead’s most poignant pieces since Pyramid Song, and the lyrical content on Present Tense was either a barbed commentary, or unbearably sad. Throughout A Moon Shaped Pool, the music arrangements were often soft, dreamlike almost, with the music sedating the anxiety of Yorke’s lyrics as if the reality itself would be too painful.
YOUNG THUGJeffrey 300 / Atlantic
2016 was yet another banner year for Young Thug. And of the three projects he released, JEFFREY was the deemed the most significant, partly due to the content-generating eccentricity of the track titles and the stunning beauty of the cover art, for which he wore an androgynous by Italian designer Alessandro Trincone. Most important, however, was the way Thug rose to the occasion in the project’s second half, contorting pop melodies to create some of the strangest sounding odes to love and sex ever performed with human vocal chords.
DVSNSept 5th OVO
The introspective, between-the-sheets RnB on Sept 5th was as enigmatic as the duo behind it. The debut release from OVO’s mysterious dvsn, its most intimate moments were crafted from restraint, with an intricate sparseness that pierced like daylight through blinds. Humbly indebted to 90s slow jams, it carried the flavour of Ginuwine while avoiding teeth-clenching brassiness – the slick production by Paul Jefferies (Nineteen85) felt like a gentle, deep lip bite, while Daniel Daley’s vocal crescendos on Hallucinations and Too Deep traced every single goosebump. Dvsn’s narrative is defined by sex that’s soul-searching and existential, respectful and breathtakingly carnal.
Parquet CourtsHuman Performance Rough Trade
Parquet Courts have been outsmarting us since their inception. Many found the band’s 2015 experimental EP Monastic Living almost obnoxiously obtuse, but hindsight reveals it to be the creative reset they needed ahead Human Performance – Parquet Courts’ fifth and arguably greatest album to date. Human Performance was an anxious and energetic record, one that was alternatively silly and strangely profound. Take I Was Just Here – a song that documented the feeling of finding out a fast food restaurant has closed while also capturing the terrifying transience of our existence on this mad, bad planet.
BEYONCÉLemonade Parkwood / Columbia
A politically-charged audio-visual project, Lemonade was so much more than an album – it was iconography for black women, a pictorial novel of strength and salvation illustrating the grieving process after heartache. Freedom celebrated the significance of feminine strength (“I break chains all by myself/ Won’t let my freedom rot in hell”) while the visuals paired the lyrics with appearances from the mothers of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. Aside from peering into Beyoncé’s personal affairs, Lemonade allowed the listener to dig deep and appreciate the journey of black women who advocate the idea of community and the ultimate power of salvation.
FRANK OCEANBlond[e] Boys Don't Cry
It wouldn’t be much of an overstatement to call Blond[e] the most anticipated record of the last five years. Symbolic of Frank Ocean’s eternal magnetism, what existed at the centre of all the attention was an unassuming kind of genius. With abstract, impressionistic lyrics and a small cosmos of neo-RnB styles, the album played out like a quiet finale to the hype that went before it. More captivating on every listen, Ocean’s exploration of unfound romance and 21st century identity is underpinned by an essential curiosity – demonstrating a childlike worldview that contradicts the ‘wise-beyond-his-years’ narrative which is so often assigned to his artistry. As he sings on the final line of White Ferrari, Ocean’s long awaited comeback finds him defiantly “free to roam”.