Best albums of 2016 (so far)

By Managing Editor

From the abrupt release of Rihanna’s boundary-pushing Anti to the rocky rollout of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, 2016 has already gifted music fans with plenty of high-quality releases from major and rising artists. With the first quarter of 2016 coming to an end, below are my picks, in order of the best releases of the year thus far.


5. Charli XCX

Vroom Vroom EP

Ranked fifth on my list is Charli XCX’s Vroom Vroom EP, a collaboration between the bubblegum pop songstress and producers Sophie and Jodie Harsh. The EP is sure to turn up any party with Charli’s aggressively feel-good lyrics layered over Sophie’s signature high BPM and glitch-pop instrumentals.


4. Kendrick Lamar

untitled unmastered.

Kendrick Lamar surprised fans with the release of his LP of outtakes created throughout the past three years. It’s a collection of B-sides from his sophomore album, To Pimp a Butterfly‘s sessions, but the tracks are so well thought-out and original it would have been a shame for the rapper not to release them.


3. Kanye West

The Life of Pablo

Although The Life of Pablo is seemingly far from complete (‘Ye continues to alter the tracklist and remaster certain songs since its release), TLOP is still one of the most original releases from early 2016. The highly personal album contains an unlikely mix of gospel, pop and hip-hop influences, but the execution is strong and something only Kanye could accomplish. Highlights include Chance the Rapper’s guest verse on the opening track, “Ultralight Beam.”


2. Daughter

Not to Disappear

Indie-folk trio Daughter’s sophomore album is dark and introspective. “I feel numb in this kingdom,” singer Elena Tonra laments during the album’s lead track, “Numbers,” setting the somber tone that haunts the remainder of the album. Not to Disappear is often pessimistic, exploring themes of loneliness, insecurity and manipulation that can often plague unhealthy relationships. My personal favorite track is “Alone / With You,” a pulsing ballad that explores feelings of loneliness from all angles.


1. Rihanna


Rihanna’s eighth and most polarizing album yet, Anti, takes the crown as my personal favorite release from early 2016. The album is the singer’s most cohesive work yet, and in it Rihanna wears her heart on her sleeve. From the doo-wop ballad “Love On the Brain,” in which Rihanna confesses to feelings of addiction to a seemingly abusive relationship, to the future classic “Kiss It Better,” in which Rihanna finds herself begging for her lover’s affection, Anti is definitely her most personal work yet.