Thursday, December 29, 2016

My 20 Favorite Albums of 2016

There were two prevailing narratives in 2016.  The first one, obviously, was the amount of deaths we had from legendary musicians.  David Bowie, Prince, Phife Dawg, Leonard Cohen -- the list goes on.  2016 was a rough year all around, and these deaths didn't help matters, but at least there was comfort in knowing that many of these artists left behind terrific final albums.

The second trend from 2016 is how much consensus there seems to be when it comes to top 10 lists.  Year-end lists can sometimes be a useful tool for finding interesting albums that you may have overlooked in the last 12 months, but take a look at the best-of lists from every major publication and you'll see the same 10-12 albums on almost every single list.  Once you scroll down on this post you'll see that even I fell victim to that, which is a little disappointing, but hey, you can't help what you like.  Still, it's a shame that there were so few surprises in 2016.  From January 1st, it could've been predicted that people like Beyonce, Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, and Radiohead would take the top spots on critics' lists at the end of the year if you were told that they were releasing albums. The only album from a big name artist that seems to be considered a disappointment is Drake's underrated Views.  Poor Drake.

But let's not breeze by the most important bit of news from this year: despite dominating the political sphere, white people are losing when it comes to music.  The last few years have been marked by the larger music community declaring the death of indie rock, and while that hand-wringing feels a little too paranoid, it's hard not to notice that rap and R&B artists are beginning to occupy the critical conversation more and more.  After all, six of the seven artists at the top of Pitchfork's Best of Albums of 2016 list are black, something that would've been unheard of 10 years ago. Eight of the albums on my list are by black artists as well (11 if you count honorable mentions).  So shout out to black people for now.  You've got to imagine the dudes in The National are sitting around plotting their revenge though.

The rules: Due to the constant changing of the way music gets released, anything can be an album for the sake of this list.  You especially have to play fast and loose given the fact that many rap mixtapes function as albums anyway.  So LPs, mixtapes, 40-minute songs, EPs if they're good enough -- they're all albums to me!  If something got released in another country in a previous year, but got an American release this year, it works on a case-by-case basis (although there are no examples of that this year).  Otherwise, the eligibility window is that the album has to have been released between January 1, 2016 and today.  So now with that bit of business out of the way, on to the actual list...

Honorable Mentions (25-21)
We Are KING, the debut album from R&B trio King, spent a long time gestating, but it was well worth the wait for the lush and breathtaking gems it contains.  Kendrick Lamar used unfinished tracks from recording sessions in the last three years to make up untitled unmastered., but despite some sound quality issues, all of the songs are fantastic.  On paper, Crying sound terrible -- chiptune music meets 80s guitar pyrotechnics -- but Beyond the Fleeting Gales is a fun, dazzling, and surprisingly wise album.  Anderson .Paak owned the keys to 2016 and Malibu, his excellent coming out party, showed his deft ability to balance many different subgenres under the rap and R&B umbrella (bonus pick: Don't sleep on Yes Lawd!, his collaboration with producer Knxwledge, either).  I've never been a Radiohead superfan, but A Moon Shaped Pool is a beautiful onion of an album, revealing more nuance with each layer you peel back.

20. Beyonce - Lemonade
If I'm being honest, The Cult of Beyonce is a little strange and scary to me.  She's talented, but I've always found it a little hard to love her when faced with all of the "BEYONCE IS THE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING" hyperbole.  And with her smash hit visual album Lemonade, that frothing adulation reached a level that previously seemed impossible, making casual fans like me feel even more alienated.  But grumpiness aside, Lemonade is a good album, a very good one at that.  It pretty much picks up where she left off with her stratosphere-launching self-titled album, but accrues two extra strengths: it's shorter and comes packaged with a narrative that makes it more cohesive.  Much of the internet was going nuts about the idea that this was a scorched Earth tell-all about Jay Z's infidelity, but for as much as it's about the strength it takes to confront such betrayal (real or imagined), it's also about the greater strength it takes to forgive. If we're going to have anyone be the overlord of popular culture, I'm glad it's at least someone who can make songs this good.

Highlight Songs
1. All Night
2. Sorry
3. Don't Hurt Yourself

19. Mothers - When You Walk a Long Distance, You Are Tired
The debut album from Athens, Georgia band Mothers is one that's made for staring into the middle distance.  That's how I imagine lead singer Kristine Leschper when I hear the eight heavy songs on When You Walk, her yowling voice drawing you in closer as she sings of self-doubt and pain.  This record is just an intense listen all around, from the neck-snapping guitar crunch on "Lockjaw" to the dirge-like "Nesting Behavior."  Even tracks like "It Hurts Until It Doesn't" and "Copper Mines" feel harrowing despite their quicker tempos.  That focused attack of the music allows the ear to pick up on Leschper's carefully constructed lyrics, which offer up twisty little phrases of self-immolation like "Everything you touch turns to gold / Everything I touch turns away."  Mothers have many familiar elements to their sound -- Leschper's warble is reminiscent of early Angel Olsen, and their instrumental interplay leans toward post-rock at times -- but they bring them together for a unique and energizing experience.

Highlight Songs
1. Lockjaw
2. It Hurts Until It Doesn't
3. Copper Mines

18. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam - I Had a Dream That You Were Mine
I usually tend to have no interest when members of bands I love release a solo album, because it tends to never be able to capture the magic of the full band experience.  There was definitely shades of that in Hamilton Leithauser's first album, which was solid but couldn't quite match up to the height of his work with The Walkmen.  This time around he does a full teamup with another former member of a popular indie band, Rostam Batmanglij (who produced a handful of tracks on the last album), and together they made an album that stands as a tremendous work in its own right.  Leithauser's voice has always been an unstoppable force, his slightly scratchy croon bends songs like "1000 Times" and "The Morning Stars" to its will.  And when it's meshed with Batmanglij's production, which sounds like bedroom pop made in the most lush bedroom ever, it makes for some gorgeous, emotionally affecting music.  I Had a Dream is a classic case of two great tastes coming together to make an even better flavor.

Highlight Songs
1. When the Truth Is...
2. 1000 Times
3. The Morning Stars

17. Solange - A Seat at the Table
To be black in America is to be constantly angry at the injustices we're forced bear witness to and personally face.  That's one of the central ideas driving Solange's A Seat at the Table, which features songs with titles like "Don't Touch My Hair," "Mad," and "For Us By Us."  But her method of delivery isn't a fiery screed -- that's what makes it so great.  Instead, she gives us these elegant R&B songs, sung with calmness, clarity, and beauty.  That she uses honey instead of vinegar as she sings about the weariness of black America, cultural appropriation, gentrification, and self-care makes it even more powerful.  A Seat at the Table is one of the best offerings in a year full of albums that are meant for healing just as much as they are for musical pleasure.  I've been a huge Solange booster for a few years now, and with this album she proves that she absolutely deserves, see the title.

Highlight Songs
1. Cranes in the Sky
2. Mad
3. Junie

16. Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
Danny Brown has been making cries for help in the form of rap songs for his past couple of albums, but that notion could've been missed if you were lost in the hedonistic vibe or his flurry of rhymes.  It's hard to imagine missing it on Atrocity Exhibition, his bleakest, most punishing listen yet.  Usually when you hear rappers get emotional, it's about a dead homie or their mother, and it tends to be cordoned off to one song on the album.  Atrocity is full dark stuff on every single track, and it's grim and isolating in ways that you don't really hear from the genre.  He's still dazzling from a musical standpoint too, rapping over odd, abrasive beats that other emcees wouldn't dare touching.  UK producer Paul White produces most of the album, and his clanking sound just adds to the bad trip sensation that's being conveyed here.  It's a pretty harrowing, enervating listen but ultimately a journey that's well worth taking.

Highlight Songs
1. White Lines
2. Ain't It Funny
3. Really Doe (ft. Kendrick Lamar, Ab Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt)

15. Pinegrove - Cardinal
Pinegrove used to be affiliated with Topshelf Records, so they tend to get grouped in primarily with emo revival bands.  Honestly, I don't hear a hint of emo in their music on Cardinal, which sounds exactly like what would happen if you merged Castaway & Cutouts-era Decemberists with Wilco circa Summerteeth.  Despite those lofty comparisons, they come off as an everyman's band all throughout this record.  Front and center, there's Evan Stephens Hall's nasally vocals, which he uses to spin his conversational lyrics in a slightly slurred voice, like a friend would after a couple of beers.  But the difference between him and your soused buddy is that he's capable of startling clarity of thought, as shown on wonderfully efficient lines like "I saw Leah on a bus a few months ago / I saw some old friends at her funeral."  Whenever it gets too heady or poetic, there's always that warm, inviting instrumentation to wrap itself around you.  Cardinal is a house you'll never want to leave once it welcomes you in.

Highlight Songs
1. Then Again
2. Size of the Moon
3. New Friends

14. Wye Oak - Tween / Flock of Dimes - If You See Me, Say Yes
Tween is more of a gift to Wye Oak fans than it is an actual album, consisting of scraps recorded in between 2011 and 2014 that didn't make it onto Civilian or Shriek.  And it exists nicely in that middle space to form the perfect compromise between the sounds of those albums.  Songs like "If You Should See" and "Too Right" have that dynamic, guitar-driven sound akin to Civilian while the dreamy sound of Shriek can be found on "Out of Nowhere," but both approaches yield mesmerizing results.  This album of outtakes is better than what most bands dream of putting on an official release.  And if that wasn't enough, Jenn Wasner also released an album later in the year under her solo project Flock of Dimes, and it's just as great.  While it doesn't have the tension of her work with Andy Stack, it makes up for it in sheer beauty.  If You See Me is a collection of haunting, crystalline songs that prove her vocals are just as engaging as her guitar work.  Together, these albums reinforce the fact that Jenn Wasner is one of indie rock's greatest talents.

Highlight Songs
1. Better (For Esther) [Wye Oak]
2. On Luxury [Wye Oak]
3. The Joke [Flock of Dimes]

13. Young Thug - I'm Up / JEFFERY / Slime Season 3
If you're measuring Young Thug's worth through the outdated method of judging the content of his lyrics, then it's easy to come up disappointed.  (Though I think there's merit to just how odd and amusing his bars can be).  But that doesn't change the fact that he's one of the most gifted rappers in the world, simply on technique alone.  Dismiss him all you want, but he's a pure technician through and through, and he displayed that all throughout his prolific 2016, which saw him once again putting out three releases.  There's "Hercules," where he uses four different flows in a 16-bar verse.  There's "With Them," bar none the best song of the year, where he adopts the Migos flow and does it better than them in a percussive fusillade of syllables.  There's him going nuts and sounding like he's having a breakdown on "Harambe" or "Drippin'."  There's the dozens of songs where he slips in and out of sly sing-song and rubbery rapping.  He's like a fighting game character that constantly switches styles, and it feels like we still haven't seen his final form.

Highlight Songs
1. With Them (Slime Season 3)
3. Hercules (I'm Up)

12. Cymbals Eat Guitars - Pretty Years
Cymbals Eat Guitars appear to be a band destined to never hit it as big as they should, simply because there's no hooky narrative to ascribe to them.  In 2016, there's just not much room for bands making this kind of crashing rock music with a big emotional core.  Pretty Years follows up where the band left off with 2013's instant classic LOSE, while adding a few drops of classic rock and Springsteen to the mixture (most notably on the sax-skronk strut of "Wish").  And while it may not be as loss-focused as its predecessor, it's still full of aching, deeply felt tunes.  The obvious standout here is "4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)," a rich and vibrant song about a scary incident that happened to lead singer Joseph D'Agonstino last Independence Day.  But everywhere you turn there's something to tug at your insides on this album, from the childhood nostalgia of "Mallwalking" to the band's first pure love song in "Have a Heart."  The maelstrom of emotions are backed by massive hooks that wriggle their way into your head with little effort. Pretty Years is an unshakable record.  The band may never get the recognition they deserve, but they should find comfort in the fact that few artists are able to deliver the goods with this level of consistency.

Highlight Songs
1. 4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)
2. Mallwalking
3. Have a Heart

11. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
The narrative around the release of The Life of Pablo, even amongst its biggest supporters, was that it was a mess.  That consensus always felt more like a product of Kanye's wayward release strategy than the music itself, and with more distance from it, the album is clearly a cohesive artistic statement.  Like all Kanye West albums, it serves as a fascinating snapshot of his state of mind at the point of making it.  Even back in February, its melancholy throughline about the exhaustion of fame was clear to see, but the way things progressed for West in 2016 makes that theme even more striking.  Still, Pablo makes it obvious that no matter much anguish he may be experiencing, the man still knows how to make music that sounds incredible.  From the raw dissonance of "Feedback," to the cloud-parting exuberance of "Waves," to the eerie cry of "Wolves," everything rings in the ears and rattles in the brain.  This is a maximalist feast, so scattered with ideas and sonics that it can give off the impression that there's no form to the way they're smashed together.  It's a shame that the beauty of this record is undercut by the tragedy surrounding it.  But would it be a Kanye West album if it didn't inspire conflicting feelings?

Highlight Songs
1. Ultralight Beam
2. 30 Hours
3. Waves

10. Shura - Nothing's Real
Shura once described her music as "anxiety pop," which is pretty much the perfect descriptor for her debut album Nothing's Real.  It's a record that's full of worrying, anguish, and hesitance. So many songs are devoted to excavating past failures.  Where did I go wrong?  What could I have done differently?  These are the questions Shura examines with such clarity and poignancy.  On "Kidz 'n' Stuff" she ruminates on an unexpected breakup with a simple yet painful "How can I not be everything that you need?"  Then there's the title track, which chronicles an actual panic attack she recently had in vivid, surreal detail.  But she never forgets the second part of that "anxiety pop" label, laying these nail-biters over pristine, 80s-inflected pop structures.  Single "What's It Gonna Be?" even recruits Greg Kurstin for its buoyant, Madonna-esque stylings.  Nothing's Real is a bountiful album, every crack packed with a little frill or speckle of sound.  And it ends on "White Light," a 10-minute scorcher with an extended guitar break in the middle and an outro about death.  It's pretty much everything I've ever wanted from a pop album.

Highlight Songs
1. Tongue Tied
2. White Light
3. Touch

9. Parquet Courts - Human Performance
Parquet Courts are incredibly prolific, having released an album or EP every year since 2011, and as a result Human Performance feels like the product of a band that has honed their skills for a long time.  It's a tight, laser-focused album, one where every time I return to it I'm surprised by just how many good songs there are, not to mention their variation.  They show off their laconic humor on "Dust," a song about, well, dust.  (But it's also a metaphor for the inevitability of our demise.  This is Parquet Courts we're talking about.)  The ultra catchy "Outside" sounds like it could be a Kinks song.  Then there's the loud, bashing "Paraphrased" for fans of the band's punk leanings.  The title track is more affecting than anyone could've imagined.  They even try out something resembling rapping on "Captive of the Sun," only to follow it up with their most beautiful balladry yet on "Steady on My Mind."  "Berlin Got Blurry" contains what might be their most indelible guitar riff, and they've got some great ones in their catalog.  Basically, this album is an embarrassment of riches, easily Parquet Courts' best work yet.

Highlight Songs
1. Paraphrased
2. Outside
3. Pathos Prairie

8. A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service
What's amazing about this album is that it could have just been a frozen in amber record that sounds like we never moved past 1993.  It could have been a bunch of aging rappers howling at the dying light.  But it's not that, not at all.  We Got It From Here is a great conversation between the new and the old, like A Tribe Called Quest shaking hands with the modern age.  It's a joyous, generous album, inviting guests like Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak to the party and constantly paying lip service to the younger generation.  At the same time, it proves that Q-Tip is still a better rapper and producer than almost anybody out there, regardless of age.  He raps nimbly all over his rich production that's littered with snaky guitars and deep basslines.  And while the late Phife Dawg doesn't get to be on every song, his appearances make up the best parts of the record.  It's just so good to hear him one last time, whether it's locking in with Q-Tip or trading patois with Busta Rhymes.  In a year full of farewell albums, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Highlight Songs
1. Dis Generation
2. Movin Backwards
3. Solid Wall of Sound

7. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
I've been very resistant of Car Seat Headrest since day one.  It just felt like music that was a little too focus grouped to appeal to me, given Will Toledo's penchant for penning wit-stained songs about twentysomething malaise and depression.  But I finally got fully on board with Teens of Denial, which marks a huge leap forward from Toledo's Bandcamp days.  The music is markedly beefed up here -- where last year's Teens of Style had a lo-fi quality that buried the clever lyrics, here he's learned how to make genuine indie rock jams, sounding like Spoon's restless younger brother.  What was once sloppy is now scrappy.  And there's a considerable leap in ambition too, whether it's stuffing a mini-epic about having a bad time at a party into the five-minute "Drugs With Friends" or genuinely sprawling out, as he does in the titanic 11 minutes of "The Ballad of Costa Concordia."  I hate that I love this album so much, but sometimes when it seems like something is tailor-made for you, it's because it actually is.

Highlight Songs
1. Destroyed By Hippie Powers
2. (Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn't a Problem)
3. 1937 State Park

6. Angel Olsen - My Woman
When we heard first single "Intern" back in June, it was a real curveball that seemed to signified that we might be getting a radically different, more synthy Angel Olsen.  That's the trend these days, of artists and bands deciding to add synthesizers or "go pop."  And while I'm sure she would've done a good job, I'm glad Olsen didn't go that route with My Woman.  That's not to say she doesn't pick up new sounds here -- there's the 60s girl group influences on "Never Be Mine" and the late night soul of "Those Were the Days" -- but for the most part this feels like a more natural progression.  That is to say that the album is full of Olsen's signature bold, wrenching songs about love and womanhood, just with more crisp production.  My Woman even feels traditional in its structure too, with side A being occupied by the rollicking, sonically adventurous songs and the side B songs stretching out and getting softer with towering 8-minute epics like "Woman" and "Sister."  But no matter the tempo, Olsen is always a commanding force.  She's got a voice and a presence that can drill deep into you, causing all kinds of complicated emotions to come pouring out.

Highlight Songs
1. Woman
2. Those Were the Days
3. Shut Up Kiss Me

5. Frank Ocean - Blonde
For a second there, it seemed like maybe Frank Ocean would never make music again after his breakthrough Channel Orange shook the world in 2012.  He even said so himself at one point, and when the mythical Boys Don't Cry was finally announced it was followed with constant pushbacks that felt like a troll job of massive proportions.  Judging from Blonde, the final product of his time away, he's spent the better part of the last four years stuck in his own head, particularly the feedback loop of past events.  A swirling meditation of objects in the rearview mirror presides over the whole record, from the remembrance of a type of love that could only exist in youth ("Ivy") to a time when he neglected to say how he felt to a person he cared about ("White Ferrari").  Blonde is a shattering experience, and the pieces form a mosaic of lost love, identity struggles, and hazy nostalgia.  It all works so well because Ocean is one of the most underrated lyricists around, lacing his ruminations with such vivid, delicate language.  While Blonde may not be as immediately satisfying as Channel Orange, it's playing a longer game, slowly revealing more of its richness with every new listen.

Highlight Songs
1. Ivy
2. Nights
3. Self Control

4. Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book
After the burgeoning stardom he's been granted since the release of his breakthrough mixtape Acid Rap in 2013, Chance the Rapper could have easily flamed out.  (And it certainly seemed like he was going in an unexpected direction with his appearances on last year's Surf.)  Instead what he actually did was just follow his bliss, which led him to the joyous, resplendent Coloring Book.  This is a generous album, one full of big name guests like Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Kanye West, and Young Thug.  Yet at all times Chance is at the center, the enlightened ringleader in this carnival of sound.  He gets many opportunities to remind everyone who might've forgotten that he's one of the best rappers right now, spitting clever and thoughtful rhymes with such a nimble effortlessness that it doesn't even feel like rapping.  But he also manages to span a whole slew of genres -- gospel, children's lullabies, slow jamz, dance music -- and accomplishes each new one with the same amount of success as the last.  Listening to Coloring Book is always an instant mood-lifter.  It feels like a party, and everyone is invited.

Highlight Songs
1. Angels
2. Juke Jam
3. Summer Friends

3. IAN SWEET - Shapeshifter
"I get so nervous that I grit my teeth / They get so loose and fall out / Now I don't have any / When you finally want mouth is too bloody."  That's a line Jilian Medford sings in the middle of "2soft2chew," but it feels like a perfect encapsulation of all of Shapeshifter: a weird, queasy, beautiful album about intrusive thoughts, depression, unhealthy affection, and processing pain.  It functions like a 10-song anxiety dream, mixing Medford's squeaky voice and the rest of the band's clamoring instrumentation to create an effect that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.  But somehow, it also captures that feeling of waking up from that dream, knowing that you might be okay after all.  It's quite a rare gift that an album can read as despairing or hopeful depending on the mood you're in when you approach it.  Shapeshifter is just that: it's there for you when you want to soak in your bad feelings and scary thoughts, but it's also there for you when you're ready to heal.

Highlight Songs
1. 2soft2chew
2. Quietly Streaming
3. #23

2. Pity Sex - White Hot Moon
A few months ago, Pity Sex co-lead singer Britty Drake announced that she was leaving the band for unexplained reasons.  Shortly after, the rest of the band tweeted that they were going on a hiatus.  Whatever the reason may be for all of this to happen, it's unfortunate news because White Hot Moon feels like the starting point of a band who's really hitting their stride.  All liquid, searing guitar lines and surging rhythms, Pity Sex sound like a band that grew up on equal servings of My Bloody Valentine and 90s emo music, backed by the sublime tradeoff between Brennan Greaves' disaffected groan and Britty Drake's comforting coo.  They use it to great effect on cannonball blast songs like "Bonhomie" and "A Satisfactory World For Reasonable People."  But they can also slow things down too, as they do on "Plum," a stunning ballad about a dying parent that ends up being one of the highlights of the album.  The band may be back in some form in the future, but it's hard to imagine them recapturing this magical chemistry.

Highlight Songs
1. Orange and Red
2. White Hot Moon
3. Plum

1. Frankie Cosmos - Next Thing
I try to approach these blurbs from an impassive lens, but sometimes you have to throw that out of the window for albums that you adore.  Next Thing, the second official album from Greta Kline under the moniker Frankie Cosmos, is an album that I find satisfying and meaningful on such a deep level that it makes me lose all critical faculties.  If you want to see an example of me talking about this album in a formal way, you can read the review linked at the end of the paragraph, but for now I'll just talk about gut feelings.  These 15 tracks are in keeping with Kline's style: short songs full of small observations that come together to form a vast emotional framework.  One or two listens might give the impression that this is your run-of-the-mill bedroom twee, but it's only after repeat listens that this really starts to burrow into you.  From Kline's inward but emotive voice to her plucky instrumentation, there's a swirl of melancholy and joy and wonder that washes over you.  This isn't an album so much as an entire world of emotions to get lost in -- I love it with all my heart.  There are some albums that you never want to not be listening to.  I can't think of many better examples of that than Next Thing. [Read the original review]

Highlight Songs
1. Too Dark
2. Is It Possible/Sleep Song
3. I'm 20

Well, that wraps things up for my best albums of 2016 list.  I love reading other lists, so feel free to share yours in the comments.  Or if you want to share your thoughts on my list, then you can do that too!  Most of the highlight songs contain Youtube links if you want to listen to them, but I've also tried something new this year and created a Spotify playlist if that's your preferred method.  You can find it below.

Previous lists


  1. I've got to say I'm relieved that someone shares my feelings about Beyonce. You pin down exactly how I feel about her fandom (and what I liked about Lemonade). Glad you wrote what you did.

    Also I dig the top three picks. What you said about music lists being so consistent this year has bugged me (even as I did the same), so to read high praise for records I hadn't listened to and only vaguely were aware existed, or listened to once and put away without a second thought (specifically Next Thing, but I'm going to revisit it for sure) is refreshing.

    My Top 10:

    1. We Got it From Here, ATCQ
    2. Blackstar, David Bowie
    3. Puberty 2, Mitski
    4. Untitled Unmastered, Kendrick
    5. Goodness, The Hotelier
    6. My Woman, Angel Olsen
    7. Malibu, Anderson .Paak
    8. III, Sheer Mag
    9. Teens of Denial, CSH
    10. Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper

    1. Yeah I always feel so conflicted about Beyonce. I've mostly liked her music in the past, but the internet hyperbole makes me resist it more. But then I feel bad for being a contrarian and resisting her just because she's beloved. It's all very complicated haha.

      Nice list! I like the choice of putting Mitski so high. That's a record I have to circle back to. It just missed making my honorable mentions but it feels like something I can really grow to love with some more time.