2016 has been another great year for album releases. There’s been a whole range of brilliant and noteworthy albums released this year, as well as a surge in the interest in older music. This year, again, whittling it down to five albums has been hard, but here are my top five.
5) Biffy Clyro- Ellipsis
This may be a bit of a wild one, but the Scottish band’s latest album is quite something. It’s big, bold and brilliant. It was a number one album for the band and saw the band co-headline this year’s Reading and Leeds festival, along side Fall Out Boy. It’s full of loud, raucous tracks, such as ‘Wolves of Winter’ and ‘Animal Style’. It’s filled with rocky guitar riffs, but intertwined with softer (actually quite beautiful) songs, such as ‘Re-Arrange’ and ‘People’. I love the album. It’s very easy to listen to and a reminder of just how brilliant Biffy Clyro are. The band headline Download Festival next year, which I’m sure will be massive.
4) Jake Bugg- On My One
On My One was Jake Bugg’s third studio album, which followed Jake Bugg and Shangri La. It received mixed reviews across the board, however I personally loved the album. I felt songs like ‘Hold On You’, ‘Put Out The Fire’ and ‘Livin’ Up Country’ managed to encapsulate what makes Bugg’s voice attractive with their bluesy, country-esque undertones. Yet songs like ‘Gimme The Love’ were refreshingly new and somewhat adventurous for Bugg. The album has it’s fair share of noteworthy songs, too, from the poignant ‘Love, Hope and Misery’ to triumphant ‘Bitter Salt’ and the stunningly beautiful ‘All That’- it even saw Bugg rapping during ‘Ain’t No Rhyme’ (although this is arguably best forgotten)! This album made me fall in love with Jake Bugg again. He’s been a significant artist over the last few years of my life- one of the main reasons behind this blog actually- and so this album rekindles that 2014 love for him.
3) Catfish and the Bottlemen- The Ride
I wasn’t expecting a Catfish record so early on in the year. I’d come home from seeing Wolf Alice at the Brighton Dome in March to news that Catfish and the Bottlemen would be releasing a new album- The Ride– in May, which was shortly followed by an April tour announcement and the release of the album’s first single, ‘Soundcheck’. 2014’s The Balcony was iconic and, no, I don’t think The Ride is as good, but there’s something about it that proves Catfish are here to stay and cements their status as potential headliners. The album got to number one in the UK, too. I love the record and think it has more than its fair share of absolute bangers, such as ‘Twice’ and ‘Oxygen’. I love the way that ‘Outside’ leaves you craving more with its abrupt ending which leads seamlessly into the first track, ‘7’, as fade in. I especially love the song ‘Glasgow’. After I’d properly agreed to going on tour with Black Grape I found out the Glasgow venue was on Sauchiehall Street, which I knew mainly from the Catfish song, and I was so excited to go there. In fact, I *believe* the song is actually written about the O2 ABC venue they played and I fell in love with the song and the city whilst I was there and so the song was on repeat for days. Of course, there’s other reasons why this album is so significant to the soundtrack of 2016, such as it’s the album that saw the band play to a sold out crowd at Wembley Arena. Their Wembley show was phenomenal. It felt like a celebration of how far they’ve come and how much they have to offer. I fully expect Catfish to headline festivals in the near future and I can’t wait.
2) Blossoms- Blossoms
Debut albums don’t get a lot better than Blossom’s brilliant self-titled, number one debut album. In fact, it was unsurprisingly the highest selling debut album of the year. The album itself is filled with huge songs, such as the anthemic ‘Charlemagne’, ‘Blown Rose’ and ‘Smashed Pianos’, and it’s all killer and most definitely no filler. Every single track is brilliant and, if you thought it couldn’t get any better, they re-released the album this December as an extended edition featuring more songs! Blossoms are, undoubtedly, one of the most hardworking bands around at the moment. They’ve played pretty much every festival you can name, toured pretty much non-stop all year and managed to release a number one album. I tipped them for success last year on my ‘artists and bands to look for in 2016’ list and it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come. It’s been a long time coming for Blossoms and it’s so, so deserved. I spent a good part of my summer listening to this album on repeat and I can’t wait to see them play next year at the Brighton Dome on their March 2017 UK tour. I’ve been lucky enough to see the band play a few times this year and hearing the album tracks on tour and at festivals has been incredible. It’s just good, simple indie-rock and I love it. It’s classic and it most definitely works.
1) The 1975- I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It
I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It is the second album released by The 1975 (and manages to have the most impossible name to type quickly). It received a UK (the second for the band) and US number 1 (and became the longest album title to top the Billboard charts ever, with 71 characters) and topped various album of the year polls. It’s 75 minutes of pure masterpiece. There’s been a lot of noteworthy albums this year, but this album by far exceeds anything released this year. It’s on a totally different level. There’s something so unique about it. You can’t listen to ‘a’ song, you have to listen to the whole album because it works so beautifully collectively as a whole. Every song seems to have a purpose. It has everything from stunning instrumentals (with songs like ‘Please Be Naked’, ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’ and, arguably, ‘LostMyHead’) to acoustic tracks that are far from obligatory (such as the beautiful, yet poignant ‘Nana’, which always makes me cry, to the tragic ‘She Lays Down’, written about Healy’s mother’s post natal depression) to some of the biggest songs of the year (see ‘The Sound’). Not only this, but songs such as ‘Loving Someone’ seem so currently relevant to today’s crazy society and remain thought provoking and significant. We see personal insights into Healy’s head, too, with tracks like ‘The Ballad of Me and My Brain’ and ‘If I Believe You’. It goes without saying that songs such as ‘A Change of Heart’ and ‘Love Me’ have been a pretty big part of the year for me and have been a staple on a lot of my monthly playlists. I also love how the band’s debut album, The 1975, and their second album start with the same song. It feels more mature here though. The album was a risk. Every song is wildly different, mad even, but it all works so well collectively to become something brilliant. I was told we’re in a battle for culture and I think The 1975 may be at the forefront of it. Watch this space.
This was my top five albums of 2016, but the list is far from exhaustive. Albums that narrowly missed the list include: Jamie T’s Trick, Glass Animals’ How To Be A Human Being, Viola Beach’s Viola Beach, Spring King’s Tell Me If You Like To, Tom Odell’s Wrong Crowd, The Last Shadow Puppet’s Everything You’ve Come To Expect, Courteener’s Mapping The Rendezvous, Two Door Cinema Club’s Mapping The Rendezvous, Bastille’s Wild World and Mystery Jet’s Curve of the Earth.