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Albums Of The Year 2016

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2016 has been a slippery slope, but aren't we all sick of the constant reminders?

Luckily for us, it also churned out some pretty great albums.

From our writer's lists of their personal top ten, here are The National Student's top twenty albums of 2016.

PUP – The Dream Is Over

We hailed it for its ruthlessness, we snarled with its growling lyricism and had its back-to-the-wall riffs gnarl at our ankles.

PUP’s biographical album is littered with frenzied choruses and provides cathartic release, alongside a love song to a chameleon.

The Toronto pop punkers gave a much needed kick up the ass to the bone idle and we love them for it.

 

 

Hinds – Leave Me Alone

¡VIVA HINDS! Here at The National Student we’ve learned everything we need to know about sassy sisterhood from our Spanish friends.

Their debut is fantastically bratty; a turbulent mood swing of purring, fizzling love to reverb drenched attitude, in two types of tongue.

Read our full review here

 

Beyoncé – Lemonade

An unstoppable force to be reckoned with, Beyoncé reclaimed her rightful throne when she dropped her visual album from nowhere.

A statement of all sorts: on womanhood, on racism and on adultery, with contributions from Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, James Blake and Diplo, Lemonade is just as sharp and juicy as its name.

Read more about Beyoncé's Christmas clothing collection here

 

 

David Bowie – Blackstar

A parting gift from Earth’s shining star, Bowie’s 25th album is filled with darkness.

The flickers of hope only nurture the heaviness of the late great’s final chapter.

It’s a work that welcomes interpretation, that acts in the way that you need it to.

 

 

Angel Olsen – My Woman

Taking a step away from her reputation for lo-fi indie-folk, My Woman sees Angel Olsen toy with synths, rock riffs and find a deeper grit.

‘Shut Up Kiss Me’ is hungry with reckless demand. Though never losing the vocals that feed from her name, there’s a comfort in the tones that wash over the album.

With a whole lot of heart, you move through the motions with this work. 

 

The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It

With a name like that, there’s a lot to live up to. But if anybody were to do so, it’d be The 1975.

The shining lights of their confidence break through the heavy fog of their egos, and it really fucking works.

A satire personality mix of echoed self-loathing and bubblegum self-praise act almost as a cautionary tale of big city dreams and rocky lifestyles, but does so with such a coating of gloss that the tease is too tempting to resist. 

 

Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book

Nominated for seven Grammy awards, Chance The Rapper’s third mixtape is close to a masterpiece.

It’s a personal journey of Chicago crime to fatherhood to finding independence in music making, the end destination: a gospel-infused rap album that boldly goes outside of the lines.

 

 

Shura – Nothing’s Real

In the year that we fell in love with Stranger Things and wondered why we hated chords and bomber jackets so much as kids, Shura’s debut album furthered the blast to the past.

A swirling blend of childhood crushes and first heartbreak, no matter who you were in high school you’ll feel nostalgic.

This is brilliant pop, flourished with gorgeous electronics and delivered like a sleepover confession.

Read our full review here 

 

Sia – This Is Acting

The powerhouse returned with an album of songs written for, with, or abandoned by popstars.

From fragile vulnerability to new found strength, Sia expresses and she feels. Wearing vulnerability as a badge of honour, there’s darkness lurking from the hurt of ‘Alive’ to the taunts of ‘Cheap Thrills’.

 

 

Let’s Eat Grandma – I, Gemini

In their dreamlike world, anything goes. Scary in its naivety, exciting in its bemusement and eerie in its delivery, the two young friends cast a mystifying spell.

If you’re invited in, you’ll be rewarded in how much you can endure. High pitched vocals intertwine in honey harmonies spinning modern, trippy fairy tales against inviting, delicate rhythms.

 

 

Glass Animals – How To Be A Human Being

On their second record, the Oxford group could well be soundtracking a future indie cinema hit.

Pulling Lollywood drums, sugar dipped vocals, tribal chants and the sounds of the whirring 90s together, How To Be A Human Being is kooky and confident in its momentary awkwardness.  

 

 

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

It haunts, it swallows and it’s a triumph. Radiohead skip from unsettling to ethereal and conjure up emotions from the very core.

Finally providing recorded versions of songs that hardcore fans have been yearning for for years, A Moon Shaped Pool delights and thrills in its contradictions.

Just like the video for ‘Burn The Witch’, there’s a childlike innocence that keeps the album captivating.

 

 

Bon Iver – 22, A Million

A four year wait that paid off, Justin Vernon and co. pay to their strengths with unforgettable storytelling.

Whilst the addition of electronics and flickering synths are somewhat new to Bon Iver, they only heighten the emotion; done delicately.

A tender touch, the album is moving, and almost unforgivable in doing so.

 

 

James Vincent McMorrow – We Move

It’s his third album, and his strongest. Flowing with a mighty blend of indie-folk tales that are buttered up with sultry RnB movements.

Flawless vocals are caressed by soulful backing that dive to wonderful depth.

One for the darkness of night and the taste of red wine, We Move encourages just that.

Read our interview here 

 

Slaves – Take Control

Biting at the tail of its predecessor, a result of an endless year on the road and in the studio, Take Control is a candid caricature of 21st century Britain.

Loud, brash and amplified, the album roars heavy demands from overheard bus conversations and street observations whilst aiming a tongue-in-cheek skit at the Beastie Boys.

Putting the colourful vibrancy back into punk, it’s sharp and blinding.

Read our interview with Laurie Vincent here 

 

Blossoms – Blossoms

The best-selling debut album of the year is highly deserved by the newcomers that didn’t need to demand to be noticed.

Their dreamlike mixture of laden synth hooks, soothing melodies and quintessentially British lyricism acts as a cure-all medicine.

Washed down with glossy disco moments and a kick of psychedelia, would you hate me if I said it were ‘Honey Sweet’?

 

 

Skepta – Konnichiwa

Grasping this year’s Mercury Prize award, this album is a fiery blaze waving the flag for UK grime; home to the biggest grime anthems around, ‘Shutdown’ and ‘That’s Not Me’.

Sneeringly honest with blunt observations and street aggression, the grime pioneer crafts hidden gems that smash preconceptions and dragged grime into the mainstream.Then ensured it was here to stay.

Read more on the worthy Mercury Win here

 

Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch

A concept album on blood, menstruation and vampires from the Norwegian creative pleasantly surprised this year.

A standout from the sexually frustrated  thrusts of male dominated rock, Blood Bitch steadies bass with ethereal, exquisite vocals and hushed tones before lunging into manic panting that feeds her haunting, but sublime, lyricism.

 

 

Frank Ocean – Blond

After years of teasing and several hours watching a live streams of a woodchopper, Frank Ocean made his highly anticipated return.

Heart breaking and beautiful in equal measures, Blond explores inner-most thoughts and attempts to answer them in rhetorical questions. 9It’s perfect in its imperfections, and the vocal acts as a soother, the subtle RnB arrangements a comforter.

 

Rihanna – Anti

Love it or loathe it, Work was one of the biggest songs of the year. A dancehall anthem, a brilliant slice of pop.

But when slotted in against its companions on Anti, the experimentalism that Rihanna has completed shines through.

It may be confused in parts but above all, it’s a dramatic and brave album, and transcendent with it.

 

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