The best pop CDs of 2016

Every year our staff vote for their favourite books, albums, films and TV shows of the past 12 months. Here are our top 10 pop CDs of the year, voted for by Readings' staff, and displayed in no particular order.

(You can find all our best picks for books, CDs & DVDs of 2016 here.)


bestpoplemonade

Lemonade by Beyoncé

Lemonade, another visual concept album, is as fierce and sexy as we’ve come to expect from the queen of pop/the world. But it also enters new territory, borrowing samples and styles from pop to post-punk to alt-country to psychedelia to soul. Described as a ‘post-genre’ artist, with this album Beyoncé gives us so much more to love about her.


bestpopangel

My Woman by Angel Olsen

Hailing from Asheville North Carolina, Angel Olsen’s sound is a little north and a little south; she has an old-timey reediness that is also loud and bold with a modern alt-rock’n’roll punch. With songs that move from epic to cute to heartbreaking, Olsen’s eagerly awaited new album will have you dancing and singing along and you won’t want to stop.

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bestpopmoon

A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead

From the panicked strings of opener ‘Burn the Witch’ to the plaintive keys of closing lament ‘True Love Waits’, Radiohead’s ninth album showcases some of the band’s finest songcraft to date. Here, Jonny Greenwood’s orchestral arrangements take the spotlight like never before to lend a lush, cinematic sweep to the band’s ever-evolving sonic palette. Favouring acoustic instrumentation over electronic twitches and burbles, A Moon Shaped Pool is Radiohead’s most humane statement yet.

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bestpopcase

case/lang/ veirs by Neko Case, K.D. Lang and Laura Veirs

It’s somehow surprising that this album, from three rather different-sounding musicians, should sound exactly like each of them, all at once. The album combines Laura Veirs’ oceanic melodies, Neko Case’s road-tripping alt-rock, and k.d. lang’s country-infused love songs together to create an album of exquisite lyrical scope and sonic depth.

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bestpopskeleton

Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Skeleton Tree is a thing of gaunt beauty. Ghostly atmospherics, atypical song structures and a palpable sense of devastation make it one of the best Bad Seeds albums, with a home stretch that’s especially sublime. Over an insistent synth, Cave gives his most harrowed vocal performance ever in ‘I Need You’, while the new-age daydream ‘Distant Sky’ offers a consoling vision of impossible flight. It all culminates with the title track – both a vigil for someone lost, and a moving expression of acceptance from an artist who has endured great personal tragedy, and chosen to persevere.

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bestpopkids

Don’t Let the Kids Win by Julia Jacklin

Julia Jacklin has taken a lot of us by surprise, and her debut album has been playing on high rotation in store since its release. From gentle solo acoustic pieces to full band alt-country tracks, Don’t Let the Kids Win sways, waltzes and rocks. The lyrics are the true driving force of this album, full of nostalgic longing and desire. It’s hard to choose a favourite, but look out for ‘Motherland’, ‘Hay Plain’, and the title track.

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bestpopmillion

22, A Million by Bon Iver

Justin Vernon’s friendship with Kanye West seems to have influenced his songwriting: Bon Iver’s new album is a sharp swerve into left field, which finds Vernon and co integrating their signature neo-folk sound with bold studio-as-instrument experimentation to disarming, disruptive effect. Even behind a vocoder haze, Vernon’s voice is capable of piercing the heart, a fact this skittish, wispy new album amply demonstrates.

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bestpopharvey

The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey

You won’t hear a PJ Harvey album that doesn’t seek to get right in under your skin and to change your mind somehow. The Hope Six Demolition Project is as revolutionary, epic and political as her previous albums, and as lyrically, melodically and artistically powerful. Harvey wails and snarls and sweetly croons and, as always, she does it with rocking feminine ferocity.

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bestpopsolange

A Seat at the Table by Solange

Funky and loose and soulful and sharp, each track on Solange Knowles’ third album will move you. That is to say, the songs take you on a journey with their instrumentation (piano, guitar, beats, synth, and voice, voice, voice) and their lyrics, narrating the artist’s experience and identity as a young black woman today. A powerful and utterly beautiful album.


bestpopschmilco

Schmilco by Wilco

Wilco and frontman Jeff Tweedy have been trying to break our hearts since 2002, and they seem to have succeeded with their latest album. With its heartbeat-steady lyrical pace and country guitar riffs, Schmilco jangles and twangs, creeping up on you with its alt-country-pop tunes, before letting loose, like the very best of early-2000s Wilco.

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My Woman

My Woman

Angel Olsen

$24.95Buy now

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