It is a pretty good year when Nick Cave’s intense, deeply emotional – though never easily categorised as “sad” – and wholly satisfying Skeleton Tree has to settle for #11 in the top 20 albums of the year.
It’s keeping good company though, with the gentle but persistent piano work of Sophie Hutchings and the anything but gentle reportage of P J Harvey affecting works in their own way, and Rokia Traore, balancing pointed commentary and elegance, a quiet achiever.
Weirdly, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard won an ARIA for best hard rock album for what was another of their psych rock gems but if you judged life on ARIA awards you’d have missed the mind bending brilliance of the Avalanches and what may be Martin Craft’s masterwork.
Speaking of masterworks may be premature with Rihanna, who has rarely satisfied beyond the four minute mark, but she offered a high quality album that kept intriguing. Much like Rufus offered a high quality album that kept entertaining.
And finally, while compilations, reissues and rarities collections rarely make the best things of the year, Gillian Welch (and Dave Rawlings) found marvellous ways to re-explore the makings of a music-changing album.
Will one of the other albums here get that treatment in 20 years? I hope so.
Here are the best albums of 2016, numbers 11-20. Want to read a review? Click on the title.
Nick Cave – Skeleton Tree
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
M. Craft – Blood Moon
PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project
Gillian Welch – Boots No. 1
Sophie Hutchings – Wide Asleep
Avalanches – Wildflower
Rihanna – Anti
Rufus – Bloom
Rokia Traore – Ne So