As the year draws to a close, we asked staff here at Ticketmaster UK to tell us their favourite albums of 2016.
Tis the season for end of year lists, and we sure didn’t want to be left out. With a huge team dedicated to all things live entertainment, we rounded up the troops to pull together some of our UK office’s favourite albums of the year. The top 10 was democratically compiled through votes by members of Ticketmaster UK staff.
Here’s some great listening suggestions to keep you busy during the festivities.
#1 Beyoncé – Lemonade
Accompanied by a full visual album, Beyoncé comparably unexpected release sees her continue to fully embrace her heritage, whilst combining a visceral anger that merely bubbled under the surface on previous records. Both gritty and immeasurably sassy, Lemonade celebrates a poignant urgency and welcome commentary, something that dominates many key releases in 2016.
Whether the overlying tale of relationship strife is sourced from a true place, or whether it’s a piece of extremely clever storytelling, one thing is clear: When life gives Beyoncé lemons, she goes and makes the best album of the year.
#2 Solange – A Seat At The Table
The second Knowles sister at the very top of our list, Solange (that’s Beyoncé’s sister, in case you were unaware), took an altogether more soulful tact. Gliding through a narrative of contemporary black womanhood, the means in which it is delivered sits between understated beauty and reserved ferocity. Its pop subtleties lie quietly under the surface, giving A Seat At The Table a minimalist edge despite its complex themes.
#3 Blood Orange – Freetown Sound
Opening with a powerful spoken word poem by Ashlee Haze tackling the under-representation of black women in popular culture, Blood Orange, AKA British singer-songwriter and producer Dev Hynes, builds Freetown Sound around empowerment. The attitude is mirrored in the sound, which employs heavy funk influences and groove-laden R&B to create a truly dynamic record. From the sheer beauty of Best To You to the unashamed 80s vibe on E.V.P., Hynes uses retro sounds to push a particularly current message.
#4 Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway
The eleventh studio album by American rock icons and this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Getaway sees the band take a subtle change in direction by employing producer Danger Mouse over their long-time collaborator Rick Rubin. The result is more complex than much of what has come before, continuing their clear understanding of funk and their obvious musical prowess.
#5 Bon Iver – 22, A Million
When Bon Iver dropped the extended versions of album openers 22 (OVER S∞∞N) and 10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠, it signaled a drastic new direction for the former stripped back singer-songwriter. As his sophomore album Bon Iver, Bon Iver occasionally played with experimental sounds, 22, A Million dives head first into unpredictability. The record is deliberately jarring, laying down heavy industrial sounds over Justin Vernon’s angelic tones, and the result is anything but messy.
#6 Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo
It’s been a complicated year for hip-hop maestro Kanye West. Ending in suspected exhaustion, 2016 started with the release of his huge The Life Of Pablo. Continuing to display West’s notorious candour, the record deliberately shocks in its lyrical content and inspires in its soaring sounds. Opener Ultralight Beam is widely regarded as one of the best tracks of the year, and sits alongside the spiteful Famous and the gritty Real Friends.
#7 Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
Perhaps the Radiohead album many have been waiting for, A Moon Shaped Pool takes a step away from the electronic sounds of 2011’s The King Of Limbs in favour of grandiose orchestral tones and vocalist Thom Yorke’s haunting sways. Bookended by the stunning Burn The Witch and the long-existing yet finally released studio version of True Love Waits, the band’s ninth studio album places them firmly at the top of the British scene.
#8 James Blake – The Colour In Anything
Originally titled Radio Silence, James Blake’s third full-length The Colour In Anything hones his haunting mixture of unsettling electronics and lyrics with his distinctively gentle vocals. The album’s opener sets the often macabre tone for the rest of the record, ones which sees support from the likes of Bon Iver and Frank Ocean. Standouts Timeless and the Vernon featuring I Need A Forest Fire surpass all of what Blake has created before.
#9 Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love”
It’s been a busy year for actor and musician Donald Glover. The former Community funnyman has celebrated considerable praise for his role in Atlanta, has been confirmed to star in a Star Wars spin-off, and still has found the time to drop his third studio album, “Awaken, My Love”. Adding another brick into the wall of funk built during 2016, it’s a considerable step away from his former rap sounds and one that has brought him notable acclaim for channeling the likes of the recently departed Prince.
#10 Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
Penciled as Iggy Pop’s final album, Post Pop Depression sees the punk icon team up with Josh Homme and Dean Fertita of Queens Of The Stone Age, and Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys. Recorded in the US desert, the record carries the sparse and desolate atmosphere of its creative surroundings, an apt result for the post-Iggy Pop sound. It strips right back to Pop’s increasingly raspy vocals, a more than fitting end to an illustrious career – should it be so.
For all our end of year coverage as it comes, looking back on 2016 and forward into 2017, head here.