We asked our readers to name their favorite albums this year and what made them so special. after over 30 responses, we compiled the data to find popscure’s definitive top 5.
5) King Krule “the OOZ”
Artist/producer Archy Marshall has worn many hats and made music under many names in front and behind the scenes. He merges jazz, punk, and trip hop with this one. Despite a catalog of solemn songs, this may be his most melancholy lyrics to date. “The complete package from a talented lyricist, poetic, ambitious, beautiful and ugly at the same time,” said Tony Walters, “The best album this unique voice has made so far.”
4) Thundercat “Drunk”
Bassist Stephen Bruner’s songs have always had a goofy ting, but this record shows a more morbid side. Songs featuring a wide variety of acts from Kenny Loggins to Pharrell tackle the struggles of living life in a narrative that’s sporadic but cohesive. “An epic ride that runs a multitude of emotions, a bunch of breezy goofy tunes but also some potent sadness and profound jams about being an aimless adult,” Tony said, “As always, the bass playing is simply insane.”
3) The War on Drugs “A Deeper Understanding”
Adam Granduciel takes his quintessential dad rock vibes to a more dynamic level. With double the instruments, he’s added layers to a no-nonsense sound. “Immaculately written and produced classic sounding rock music,” said Ryan Bright. “The synth-driven album was a stylistic risk that landed firmly on it’s two feet and will go down as one of the greatest pop albums of this decade,” contributor Chris Craighead claims boldly.
2) SZA “CTRL”
While she’s offered her unique R&B sound on features throughout the years, SZA truly came into her own on her second full length. Really blunt, unapologetic lyrics and strange vocal choices are reminiscent of the late, great Amy Winehouse. “Take all your feels, drop them in the eye of a tornado, and glaze it with napalm,” writer Davey Jones said, “like Rihanna lilting diary excerpts as Björk crafts ekphrastic beats.”
1) Kendrick Lamar “DAMN.”
Unsurprising, this was on nearly half of our participant’s lists for best records. Kung Fu Kenny showcases a spectrum of emotions in this one, from anger to doubt to fear to sadness. Another well-thought-out, cohesive masterpiece that refreshes with each listen and unveils layers to pick apart each time. “I always love his concept albums and I love the stream of consciousness feel in this one,” said London Perry aka Dazeases, “playful and subtly surreal production…like a dream where you sense more of the details than explicitly happen.”
Summer bangers from Drake, Migos and 2 Chainz nearly hit the top spots with three votes each. Among them were R&B debuts from Sampha and Daniel Ceaser, indie sure things from Mac DeMarco and St. Vincent, and a brash third record from Vince Staples. “Sharp, emotional rhymes paired with experimental, energetic production,” London said.
With two votes each, 90s pioneers Bjork and Slowdive didn’t garner quite the enthusiasm as established artists from the 2000s such as Dirty Projectors and Land of Talk. “An intense take on life after a serious relationship, the industrial sounds layered with haunting vocals strangely exude a sense of humanity,” Chris said of the former. “This album feels like a confession I’m privileged to hear,” Frances G. said of the latter. Even though technically released the end of 2016, Run the Jewels still made enough lists to garter a mention. “More high energy bangers with incisive rapping from the best duo in rap today,” said Tony.