Albums of the year so far part 1

The VH Albums of 2016 (So Far): Part 1

With the first 6 months (and a bit) of 2016 behind us, the VH Music team got together to pick out some of the highlights of the year so far…

VH Albums of 2016 (So Far): Part I

Bowie

David Bowie – Blackstar
There can be no albums of the quarter/year list without featuring this album. Not simply because it was gifted to us by David Bowie, or even because of the sentimentality of it being his final record. This album shows that Bowie could – even after decades in the biz – push everyone’s backs against the grain and metamorph into something else. Track after track is of transcendental experimentalism, swirling seamlessly from drum n bass to future jazz. The artistic sentiment of this album will not be equalled in our lifetime. (Thomas Roden – Music Editor)

Kanye
Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo
TLOP may not have received been praised as much as Yeezus, but it’s still a tight release. Bringing back the soul samples and skits from his early days, Kanye blends his musical repertoire into one coherent release that is still – even when seeped in nostalgia – is hotter than anything else in the game.

Any album with ‘I Love Kanye’ deserves recognition. Not just for his tongue-in-cheek stance on his own public image, but by underlining the method to his maddening artistry: he made Kanye. The persona is crafted and designed by Yeezy, and TLOP channels that. (Thomas Roden – Music Editor)

ZaynZAYN – Mind Of Mine
It takes guts to drop a world-beating band to find your own musical direction, but Zayn Malik did that and it paid off wonderfully. Mind of Mine is the right blend of mature themes and immature approaches, embracing his existing fan base while also drawing in a new one. Malik might have a long way to go before shaking off the ‘kids artist’ image of his 1D days, but his brand of midnight R&B and tracks like ‘iT’s YoU’ and ‘TiO’ certainly helps.

Though, seriously Zayn, sort out the spelling. (Thomas Roden – Music Editor)

kendrickKendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered
Kendrick’s surprise drop, untitled unmastered, a collection of nearly-ran’s from TPAB, has slowly developed its own endlessly parroted cliche: that it’s better than everyone else’s A-sides. While that’s true to a point, it’s a misleading assessment – there simply are better albums in the genre this year, namely, Anderson PAAK’s Malibu and Schoolboy’s Blank Face LP. Crucially, though, and here’s the distinction, the thing that makes untitled unmastered so remarkable (or unremarkable, depending on how much you know KDot) is that he is better on it than anyone living right now. The king at his most nonchalant, his most prescient — his most Kendrick. (Cayle Hotene – Contributor)

Animal CollectiveAnimal Collective – Painting With
It’s nice hearing Animal Collective having fun again. After the mess that was Centipede Hz I was worried about Animal Collective would bring to the follow up, those worries squashed after the first single ‘FloriDada” came out. It’s bouncy drums and beautiful vocals brought me back to the bands peaks of Merriweather Post Pavilion and Strawberry Jam. The rest of Painting With follows ‘FloriDada’ with the same sense of levity that has made every listen an absolute joy. (Jake Doolin – Contributor)

Lil Boat
Lil Yachty – Lil Boat
It’s a testament to how good Lil Boat is that after only a month of being out it become my most listened to release this year. Lil Yachty has emerged as one of the most unique voices in rap with breakout singles like ‘Wanna Be Us’ and ‘One Night’ showcasing his mix of auto-tuned croons and aggressive flows. The real star of Lil Boat though is the production from the like of Burberry Perry, Grandfero and other Atlanta producers who give Lil Boat a summer ready sound. (Jake Doolin – Contributor)

1975
The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It
I’ve never really listened to the 1975 before I Like It When You Sleep… came out, but something about this newest album intrigued me enough to give it a chance.Thankfully I let curiosity get the best of me because I Like When You Sleep… is one of the best pop albums I’ve heard since Robyn’s Body Talk. Matthew Healy’s lyrics find a sweet spot between longing teenager and forlorned adult confronting the consequences of their actions. It makes for the type of album that could soundtrack a prom comfortably, with all the heightened emotions of that night boiled down to a stellar 17 tracks. (Jake Doolin – Contributor)

Milk TeethMilk Teeth – Vile Child
Milk Teeth’s debut album Vile Child was one of the most anticipated of 2016 and it certainly didn’t let us down. Tracks “Brickwork” and “Burger Drop” cement the vibe for the release as catchy choruses with crafted song writing mixed in with swirling guitar lines. Now frontwoman of the band Becky Blomfield excels vocally, captivating every ounce of attention with twists and turns throughout. Reworked “Swear Jar” takes this release to the next level allowing Milk Teeth’s unique and refreshing sound to shine. An album which could very easily become a classic to be created has been created with ease. (Nicola Craig – Contributor)

Black QueenThe Black Queen – Fever Daydream
When I first found out Greg Puciato had formed a synthpop band my excitement boarded on epileptic. The vocal range he’s displayed on his four Dillinger Escape Plan albums has been phenomenal; to my mind Fever Daydream couldn’t possibly fail. It’s dark, gothic and incredibly seductive. Puciato’s voice has never sounded more soulful. Parallels to Nine Inch Nails have been drawn, but for my money Puciato would out croon Trent Reznor, any time. Side projects come and go, often gimmicky and soulless but here we have a carefully crafted labour of love. This isn’t just an 80’s revival cash-in. (Daniel Withey – Music Editor)

SVIIBSchool of Seven Bells – SVIIB
One of the joys of hearing SVIIB for the first time was the realisation that, no – it hadn’t been squashed by the huge weight of expectation surrounding its release, Alejandra Deheza hadn’t produced a tombstone, a mourning, sorrowful epitaph to her late band mate Benjamin Curtis. Instead SVIIB is an album of truths, stories about the joys, pain and stupidities of love. Not only is the sentiment beautiful, the music borders on electro-pop perfection. The opening three track run, in particular, is so addictive that it takes a lot of self-discipline to not reach for the repeat button. (Daniel Withey – Music Editor)

Solomon GreySolomon Grey – Solomon Grey
On first listen, Solomon Grey’s self-titled debut will grab you. The tracks ‘Electric Baby’ and ‘Sweet 84’ would satisfy most electro-pop enthusiasts, but it’s moments like ‘Choir To The Wild’, ‘Hidden Places’ and ‘Epitaph’ that make this album more than just your standard electro-pop fare. The instrumentation is, at times mesmerising, effortlessly fusing classical composition with contemporary production techniques. If Broken Bells ever decide to do a track-by-track cover of Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile, the result would still be some distance away from this cinematic electro-orchestral delight. (Daniel Withey – Music Editor)

Max RaptorMax Raptor – Max Raptor
Political punk is more relevant in 2016 than ever before and Max Raptor’s self-titled has provided the perfect dose of it. This release rolls together the best of the quartet with ‘Great Discovery’ bringing hypnotic guitar lines, ‘Old Romantics’ rousing the biggest singalong of the release and chaotic ‘Torch Led’ aggressive drum lines ready to erupt in a moshpit. Max Raptor get better by age with us unable to tear ourselves away from the release due to ferocious melodies and topical tongue in cheek lyrics. It’s a musical punch in the face, but you can’t help but love it. (Nicola Craig – Contributor)

NothingNothing – Tired of Tomorrow
Nothing know a few things about bad luck. Not only was Dominic Palermo violently attacked and hospitalised in 2015, the band also had to bypass a shit-wall by the name of Martin Shkreli to get their latest album out. On the surface, Tired of Tomorrow is a dream like album of 90’s shoegaze and melodic post-hardcore. The ‘noise’ is reverberant, yet calming and Palermo’s voice is gentle. However, if you’re looking for some grit, darkness and a whole load of existential conflict, just dig a little deeper – there’s a fuck-ton of it here. Lyrical themes of anxiety (‘Vertico Flowers’), fear (‘Tired of Tomorrow’), anti-love (‘ACD Abcessive Compulsive Disorder’) and regret (‘Fever Queen’) make Tired of Tomorrow both a devastatingly bleak and breathtakingly gorgeous experience. (Daniel Withey – Music Editor)

TLSPThe Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect
The Last Shadow Puppets released their sophomore album Everything You’ve Come To Expect back at the beginning of April, their first album in eight years, and it didn’t disappoint. Still laced with the dreamy nostalgia of eras gone by, ‘Everything…’ is all we’d been waiting for from Alex Turner and Miles Kane, bursting at the seams with serenading guitars and beautifully alluring lyricism. A sexually infused collection of songs that croon and seduce, Everything… is truly the best work in Miles Kane’s arsenal and certainly competes for the same title in Alex Turner’s impressive and acclaimed back catalogue of genius. (Sarah Carter – Contributor)

radiohead moonRadiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
Perhaps the most highly anticipated album of the year, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool is proof of why Radiohead are perhaps the most consistently acclaimed act of the past two decades. The songwriting on this record is a work of stunning maturity. Standout tracks such as ‘Daydreaming’ and ‘The Numbers’, showcase some of Yorke’s most fragile and emotive vocal performances to date, while Jonny Greenwood soaks the arrangements in orchestral, cinematic grandeur. As Radiohead approach the 25th anniversary of their debut, they have delivered a truly classic album; emotive, bold and sublime in a manner that rekindles the glory of their illustrious past while striding confidently into the unknown. (Toby Fountain – Contributor)

Check back tomorrow for The VH Albums of 2016 (So Far) Part II.