1. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
The genius that is Justin Vernon has done it again. He’s written the most original songs I’ve heard in years and pieced them into this stunning album which flows effortlessly between tracks. This latest offering is one of the most boundary-pushing, experimental and exciting sounds I’ve heard in a long time. Instrument upon instrument is cleverly layered together to create chilling melodies, most of which are odd on first listen, but transform over time into something heavenly. 22, A Million feels impossible to explain but to put it simply, Justin Vernon is the king of pulling off huge experiments, and this album is the latest phenomenon.
Best songs: 33 “God”, 8 (circle), 666 ʇ, 00000 Million
Best lyrics: “Not sure what forgiveness is, we’ve galvanized the squall of it all, I can leave behind the harbour.” – 8 (circle)
Best time to listen: While relaxing at home.
2. Glass Animals – How to be a Human Being
When I want to go to a happy place I listen to this album. It is upbeat, creative, fresh and unique. Every song has a funky base line and lyrics that make you giggle. Without a doubt my soundtrack of summer for 2016. If you’re not too sure on your first few listens, persevere. This album and every song on it is worth a lot of your time. Glass Animals have to be one of the most talented indie groups around today and after two outstanding albums in a short few years, I’m bloody excited for what’s to come next.
Best songs: Agnes, Season 2 Episode 3, Youth, Pork Soda
Best lyrics: “Lazy, and lyin’ on your belly, with a super pump cola, lookin’ at your folded clothes, you’ve worn for three days over, with a cookie as a coaster” – Season 1, Episode 2
Best time to listen: On a sunny summer day with the stereo blasting.
3. Adele – 25
As one of the most anticipated albums of 2016, 25 was something everyone expected to be great, especially following the release of Hello as the lead single. Luckily for all involved, this album is actually better than great, it’s superb. Adele is renowned for her song writing, her powerhouse voice and her ability to bring most people to tears. She delivered this on previous albums 19 and 21, but 25 has a new quality to it which the record names (based on her age) symbolise well – maturity. Adele has managed to move on from the heartbreak ballads of her earlier work and create songs which are still moving and thoughtful but also have a bit more gusto behind them. Even my boyfriend, a previous critic of her ‘sad and soppy music’ likes 25. Add in the fact this album is produced to a supremely high quality with fantastic backing band and it could never fail.
Best songs: When We Were Young, All I Ask, Love in the Dark, Water Under the Bridge
Best lyrics: “Don’t come any closer, don’t try to change my mind, I’m being cruel to be kind” –Love in the Dark
Best time to listen: On a Saturday night in, with your girlfriends/sisters. Singing with strong hand actions and facial expressions while standing on the couch also recommended.
4. James Vincent McMorrow – We Move
This man speaks to me. His music is an eclectic and modern take on soul and it’s produced and performed to perfection. McMorrow’s distinctive falsetto is showcased against gentle beats and electronic base melodies. Each song is a builder. They each start slowly before the crescendo hits you and brings with it a wave of emotion. This album will take you on a journey you can lose yourself in.
Best songs: Rising Water, Get Low, I Lie Awake Every Night, Evil, Lost Angles
Best lyrics: “Ever since there’ve been weeds growing in my mind, like a scene for the weekend, I descend into weakness.” I Lie Awake Every Night
Best time to listen: Alone, while going for a walk (or run in the case of Rising Water).
5. Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams
I am a Coldplay fan girl, there’s no denying that but it’s for a reason. This band is never afraid to try new things, is always coming up with different ideas and oodles of songs, and each album is a work on its own yet their followers still remain satisfied and happy. There aren’t many acts that have songs as contrasting as The Scientist and Adventure of a Lifetime, yet I love both of these tunes a lot! Perhaps Coldplay has taken on board the advice of all their critics who say they’re too depressing, because A Head Full of Dreams is about as uplifting as a record can get. At the first few listens I wasn’t convinced, but all of a sudden these bouncy pop tracks started winning me over and I love them. Not only that, but I’ve been listening to this album for a full year now and never tired of it. So admit it Coldplay haters, these guys are bloody good at what they do and after 16 years making music and seven number one albums it’s time you realised that! (I know technically this was released in December 2015 but shhhh)
Best songs: Everglow, Fun, Amazing Day, Up&Up
Best lyrics: With the changing of winds, and the way waters flow, life is shortest in fall, in the snow.” – Everglow
Best time to listen: In the car on a road trip when you can appreciate the album in its entirety and singalong to every word.