12 Days of Christmas: Albums of 2016 Writers’ Poll

albums of 2016It's been said often enough, but we'll say it again anyway: 2016 has been a terrible year for everyone involved. From political blunders to catastrophes, illness to deaths, it's felt as though wave after wave of awfulness has hit us square in the face, only to pick itself up, turn around and hit us again.

Defying the laws of physics aside, we can say that the past twelve months have - with a big sigh of relief - produced some stellar records against the odds. Our Editor Tiffany Daniels and Deputy Editor Matthew Neale have already weighed in with their choices for albums of 2016.

Below, we look at the best albums of 2016 as voted for by the whole team.

20// Esme Patterson - We Were Wild


"The world could use a few more Esmé Pattersons. On her last outing, 2014's Woman To Woman, the Denver songwriter built a record around one simple concept: the right-to-reply of some of pop's most iconic (yet slandered) female characters, from Billie Jean to Jolene. It's one of those ideas that's so simple and radical at the same time, you immediately wonder how it hadn't already been done to death. Supposedly, the whole thing was recorded in a day. For new record We Were Wild, Patterson's own voice returns to centre stage, and the results carry an insidious charm of their own."

Read our full review..

19// Rihanna - ANTI


17// Jessy Lanza - Oh No

.16// Slaves - Take Control


"With the release of their second album, Tunbridge Wells duo Slaves are back. Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent return with their punk revival second album, Take Control, which develops on their debut Are You Satisfied? Their punk sound is continued, however, they have spiced things up by inserting three songs which are under one minute long, helping to break up the album and giving an easier listen."

Read our full review..

15// Skepta - Konnichiwa

14// C Duncan - The Midnight Sun

13// Happy Accidents - You Might Be Right

.12// Field Mouse - Episodic


"Like an S Club 7 song, this review is pure and simple: Field Mouse have produced a stellar record. The part-Philadelphia, part-Brooklyn band encapsulate the drama of youth on their new album Episodic, using a variety of styles of music that call to mind multiple DrunkenWerewolf favourites. If this record were a plate of food, it'd be a chocolate popcorn pie topped by popping candy, with added yogurted raisins in a desperate though probably futile attempt to avoid a heart attack induced by sheer bliss."

Read our review here..

11// Okkervil River - Away


"Okkervil River's Will Sheff was going through a confusing, even difficult, time of transition as Away was being put together. He'd started to feel a disconnect from the music industry, as some members of the Okkervil River band moved away to live their own lives. He'd lost his grandfather. As he puts it, "Eventually, I realized I was writing a death story for a part of my life that had, buried inside of it, a path I could follow that might let me go somewhere new." The album was even recorded with an entirely new group of musicians."

Read our full review.

.10// Solange - A Seat At The Table

.9// Angel Olsen - My Woman


"Angel Olsen’s first two records established her as one of the most talented songwriters of this decade. Olsen is an extremely gifted singer with an equally great talent for writing poignant lyrics, but she quickly became tired of people encapsulating her as yet another singer songwriter making intimate, stripped-down music. Her third studio album My Woman finds the Illinois songwriter stepping away from every label previously attached to her name. My Woman is a really big rock album that draws influences from 60s and 70s rock music, and it’s also the riskiest move of Olsen's career."

Read our review..

8// Bastille - Wild World

.7// James Blake - The Colour in Anything

.6// Swet Shop Boys - Cashmere

 5// Shura - Nothing's Real


"Shyness, as a young man once mused, is nice. It's always a submissive play, and therefore a source of enormous power in any romantic encounter, regardless of whether it arrives as a conduit of blushing anxiety or professional coquetry. For Shura, another coy Mancunian, it's the emotional bedrock of her work, stitched together from a young lifetime's archive of rom-com cliché: hair nervously swept out of faces; stolen glances across classrooms and lockers; awkward smiles exchanged over the protagonist's frankly bizarre refusal to carry her books in a goddamn bag like everyone else. Now she's roped in pop ubiquity Greg Kurstin to co-write some bangers for her debut album, Nothing's Real, is the 25-year-old about to start using her outside voice?"

Read our full review.

4// David Bowie - Blackstar

3// Martha - Blisters in the Pit of My Heart


"The events that make up Blisters in the Pit of My Heart primarily take place in transitory places: buses, shopping aisles, streets, school corridors, low-paid jobs, gender-neutral toilets. It's a record that wonders where it is you're supposed to be going, what you're supposed to be waiting for, and when might be reasonable to expect its arrival. It's a record that celebrates life's sharp edges, while recognising that they're often just four isolated incidents on an otherwise uninterrupted expanse of white photocopy paper. It's a record that could only have been written by a group of vegan, straight-edge anarchists who genuinely hail from an old pitting village in County Durham called Pity Me. Which is to say, it could only belong to Martha."

Read our full review.

2// Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree

.1// Mitski - Puberty 2


"A few days after the plaudits started rolling in for "Your Best American Girl", Mitski decided to post a little exposition of the song on Facebook. She'd noticed that a lot of reviews had "agreed on a narrative that "she wrote this song to stick it to 'the white boy indie rock world'!" but I wasn't thinking about any of that when I was writing it..." Of course she acknowledges the borrowed tropes, the nods to Orientalism, the male gaze, and so on. She understands that writers have to "decide on a theme" from which to hang their own ideas. She gets it. It's just that "Your Best American Girl" is a love song, and every reference to gender and race and nationality is a single drop of rain beating a path to the ocean of that person will not ever love you the way that you love them. It comes from a place of unadulterated hurt, the kind that you start to couch in terms of a bereavement, because the lexicon of love is too pitifully inane to capture its spread. It is not a calculated sleight against cultural mores. This is a useful primer for Puberty 2."

Read our full review here.


3 Responses to “12 Days of Christmas: Albums of 2016 Writers’ Poll”

  1. Tabitha 20/12/2016 at 4:02 pm #

    Surprising that Anohni’s so far down on this list, but Blisters in the Pit of My Heart is perhaps the most representative of everyday contemporary life. Blackstar’s been popping up all over these lists and there’s little wonder – there’s nothing morbid about it, this album is simply a masterpiece.

  2. Matthew Neale 08/01/2017 at 2:20 pm #

    ANOHNI took the runner-up spot on my list, Tabitha: http://www.drunkenwerewolf.com/features/albums-2016-matthew-neale/


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