As 2016 draws to a close, it’s easy to look back on this weird and quite frankly frightening year through dismayed eyes. Besides all of the other chaos currently bestowed on us, we also lost some greats from the music world, Prince and Bowie topping the list. But despite what many of you may think 2016 was a great year for music, even if some of it did slip under the somewhat melancholy radar. So whack on those headphones and make sure a Spotify subscription is on your list to Santa because here are 5 albums from 2016 you need to listen to.
How To Be A Human Being- Glass Animals
Glass Animals had a tough job on their hands following on from their groovy yet chilled out 2014 release ZABA, but they did not disappoint. The Oxford four-piece pumped up the volume and the energy this time around with catchier choruses, hard hitting bass lines and some of the best use of synth in a rock band you’ll ever hear. Plus it maintains a few laid back moments like the ones that drew us to them in the first place.
Top Tracks: Youth, Season 2 Episode 3, Pork Soda.
My Love is Cool (Deluxe Edition)-Wolf Alice
Yes I’m cheating here a little bit. My love is Cool was released in June of 2015 … but honestly it’s amazing. So when Wolf Alice dropped the deluxe edition this year things only got better. Featuring songs from early EPs, B-sides and previously unreleased content, My Love Is Cool is somewhere between an indie ode to friendship and an angry grunge throwback with a distinct Smashing Pumpkins feel to it. Yet front woman Ellie Rosewell offers something more with her visceral energy and at times heartbreaking vocals. Their song Silk also features in the Trainspotting 2 trailer and it’s a weirdly sombre tone that couldn’t have been put to better use.
Top Tracks: Blush, Silk, Nosedive, Bros.
Loose Friends- The Academic
Okay I’m cheating again here, but there was no way I could do this list without mentioning these guys. New additions to the Irish music scene The Academic released their first EP Loose Friends this year and for an EP with just 4 songs it really leaves an impression. There’s an innocence to the young Mullingar men’s approach to just blasting out some great tunes that we can all sing and dance to, which is something I think we all needed this year more than ever. And if you’re going to check these guys out, also give their summer single Mixtape 2003 a listen if you somehow haven’t already heard it on the radio.
Top Tracks: Northern Boy, Different
Falling Into Place- Home
This is a weird choice, even I must admit considering I’m not normally a fan of strange sub-genres, but there’s something about vaporwave that keeps drawing me back. A perplexing synth driven genre, vaporwave doesn’t have a lengthy history, although when you hear it you’ll instantly be hit with some of manufactured nostalgia that is synonymous with this kind of music. Falling Into Place is that bit more melodic and fast paced than Home’s previous releases. It’s hard to see where this album stands in the world of vaporwave considering how new the genre is, but I guess that’s part of the excitement. What I will say is this is an extremely easy listen with a few heartfelt moments that might just warrant some melancholy tears, even if you don’t know why.
Top Tracks: Head First, Billiards, Falling into Place
Chaleur Humaine-Christine and the Queens
And last but not least, the masterpiece that is Chaleur Humaine. This French singer/songwriter is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The 28 year old had a hit this year with her unique and captivating single Tilted (translated from the French version Christine) which is accompanied by one of the most stunningly choreographed dance routines I have ever come across. The rest of the album is heartfelt and truly majestic in its presentation of what she calls freak-pop songs with a personal touch unlike so much of the hollow music we hear on the charts. Her blend 80’s style synth pop and experimental choice to mesh both the French and English languages in her albums doesn’t sound like it works on paper, but after one listen it’s impossible not to be hooked. Christine is the definition of a real artist and evidently has a real passion for what she does and I personally can’t wait to see what she does next.
Top Tracks: iT, Science Fiction, Paradis Perdus