Album review

Greatest hits: album reviews

The top 10 albums of 2016, from the late lamented David Bowie and Leonard Cohen to Radiohead and Savages

Farewell collections from two musical geniuses, haunting work from Radiohead and Nick Cave, and melancholia from James Blake contrast with the energy of Savages, Fat White Family and Wild Beasts

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 December, 2016, 12:03pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 December, 2016, 12:03pm

Album reviewer Mark Peters has spent the year listening to the best – and worst – releases from around the globe. Here are his top 10 albums of the year, in no particular order.

David Bowie


Bowie was always one step ahead of the game, even at his time of death, and Blackstar was his final transformation and the most fitting legacy for an unrivalled musical genius. A chilling goodbye.

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Fat White Family

Songs for Our Mothers

Described as “the most unpleasant album of this year”, the second effort from scuzzball hooligans Fat White Family was a glorious mix of provocative punk and dark grooves that walked the fine line between chaos and control.


A Moon Shaped Pool

After eight albums with wildly different personalities, Radiohead’s ninth proved to be their most personal and transparently beautiful to date. Elegantly haunting, the album is another monumental milestone in their wondrous career.

Wild Beasts

Boy King

Embracing a more primal energy, Boy King saw the art-pop rockers shift from slinky to saucy with an album of beastly late-night sexiness.

A Tribe Called Quest

Thank You 4 For Your Service

On their first album since 1998’s The Love Movement, ATCQ tackle social and political themes that are very much of our times, while the beats and rhymes hark back to the glory days of the legendary hip hop crew without ever sounding dated or derivative.

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Adore Life

The visceral and seductive Adore Life, an album about “every kind of love”, cemented the post-punk Savages as one the most exciting and essential rock bands of the past few years.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Skeleton Tree

Partially written and recorded after the death of Nick Cave’s teenaged son, Skeleton Tree bore a haunting weight of grief and personal struggle, and proved to be a raw and emotional piece of art like no other.

James Blake

The Colour in Anything

The follow-up to 2013’s Mercury-nominated Overgrown saw electronic producer and songwriter James Blake deliver an album of introspection textured with melancholy and positivity, obviously representing a more mature and happier period of his life.

Michael Kiwanuka

Love & Hate

The second album from London-based singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka was the sound of an artist truly finding his voice. A modern-day soul classic.

Leonard Cohen

You Want It Darker

Cohen’s words never seemed as powerful as on You Want It Darker, a stunning masterpiece and a true testament to his inimitable vision. Much like Bowie’s Blackstar, it’s another farewell album that resonates even stronger after the death of its creator.