Top 10 album disappointments of 2016

I realize November is jumping the gun for a year-end list, but now that I’ve listened to Metallica’s new album on their site, which was ok, there basically isn’t anything else in music I’m personally anticipating for the rest of 2016. I can always update this post, if there is a surprise release.
Below I’m only counting albums I actually listened to from start to finish. Included are albums that either were hyped, or I was familiar with the artists previous work. In no particular order:

Atrocity Exhibition by Danny Brown 
I don’t understand the love for this album. Granted some of his writing is brilliant(“Bought a nightmare, sold a dream”, ”Don’t know opposite of sin”, ”Bought hope, can’t get change”, “Thought process so immature, can’t make it up, up out the sewer” , “Sin is such a work of art”)
Although I find it tiresome so many of the songs concern themselves with hip hop clichés: drugs, fame, hookers and sex.
There are beats which I liked, for example on Hell For It. Unfortunately Danny Brown’s whiny vocals ruin it for me.
The words are spoken at such a frantic pace, making it difficult to keep up, unless the lyric sheet is in front of me. Ain’t It Funny and Golddust are examples from the album which are incomprehensible. Is he just showing off that his delivery is super fast? I guess I learned speed rap is not my thing.

Remember Us to Life by Regina Spektor 
The singles “Bleeding Heart”, “Small Bill$” & “Older and Taller” have some enjoyable melodies.
The non-singles didn’t hold my attention, I found my mind constantly wandering due to boredom. I prefer her earlier work.

The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey 
I respect her for shining a light on pressing issues rather than just singing about herself. Unfortunately the album itself I didn’t want to listen to more than a couple of times. I didn’t have an emotional connection. In fact I was a little bored and wouldn’t go back to except the opening track The Community of Hope. Not yet listened to PJ Harvey’s other work, I imagine there are far better albums in her discography.

Love You to Death by Tegan and Sara
For fans of radio-friendly electropop, just wasn’t for me. The single “Boyfriend” is moderately good, but most of the songs sound the same and the autotune strips away personality and emotion from their vocals. “100x” tries a different approach using piano instead of synths. “BWU” has a beautiful intro and reminded me of the synthwave band College. “Stop Desire” starts well in its opening 60 seconds, even though I find the song too repetitive. I didn’t love their last album Heartthrob either, although “Closer” was pretty catchy.

Stranger to Stranger by Paul Simon
I love Paul Simon’s music and he has reached great heights both with Garfunkel and as a solo artist. To me, his latest is just very average and the songs sound like B-side leftovers. If he still enjoys making music then he should keep doing it, although I would prefer concerts of his old hits. Cool Papa Bell is the only new song I kinda liked. The enthusiastic reviews in the press are baffling. I’ll stick to the classic stuff.

The Bride by Bat for Lashes 
A couple of good singles, In God’s House and Sunday Love. The rest of the album had a minimalistic approach which failed to captivate me. I was bored and it left me emotionally cold.

Let It Be You by Joan as Police Woman / Benjamin Lazar 
I’m a fan of Joan and I admire her willingness to change sound and collaborators, but I don’t particularly like the direction she took with this record.
Admittedly the first half has a few ok moments (Broke Me In Two, Magic Lamp). However these are hardly as good as her previous material.
I didn’t like the production choices quite a lot of the time, lacking beauty, cheap-sounding, as if homemade.

Two Vines by Empire of the Sun
First Crush is pretty good, but the album is weak. A step backwards compared to the vibrant Ice on the Dune (2013)



Oh No by Jessy Lanza
I really liked the hyped single It Means I Love You. Sadly I couldn’t find any other tracks I responded to. With all the autotuning and effects, the music became too impersonal. The second single VV Violence sounds like a Grimes impersonation.






The Getaway by Red Hot Chili Peppers
It’s listenable, but I didn’t expect the album to be bland and forgettable. Only highlights for me are Encore and The Longest Wave, which at least are a little memorable. I hope they return to rock. They can do better.

Other 2016 albums that had one song I liked but otherwise underwhelmed me:
Adore Life by Savages
Everybody’s Heart Is Broken Now by Niki & the Dove
Not to Disappear by Daughter
Malibu by Anderson .Paak
X-Communicate by Kristin Kontrol
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth by Sturgill Simpson
The Lexicon of Love II by ABC

This is just an opinion and I’m sure there will be people who disagree with me. I welcome a defence of an album in the comments. I’m also curious which album(s) disappointed YOU this year? In my next post, I promise to be more positive!

12 thoughts on “Top 10 album disappointments of 2016

  1. Totally agree with you on Bat for Lashes and Regina Spector. I was SO AMPED for those albums, but they were so…underwhelming. I'm not even sure that is the right word. I just…wanted so much more.

    Tegan and Sara on the other hand…that album is aces!

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  2. @Fisti: Bat for Lashes and Regina Spektor albums have gotten praise in some quarters, but I only enjoyed the singles.

    I tend to like specific Tegan and Sara songs, have only listened to three of their albums though.

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  3. Can't really comment on these except the Tegan and Sara, because of my wife who loves them, but it left us cold added to that they canceled their show on us in October.

    My biggest disappointement would be the new Animal Collective. It was a caricature of themselves.

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  4. @Michaël Parent: Tegan and Sara’s latest two synth pop albums are a big departure from the indie rock they are known on earlier albums. A pity they cancelled the concert ):
    I’ve often heard references to Animal Collective, but not actively followed their career.

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  5. Wow, I guess I'm one of the few that really likes the Bat for Lashes album. For me, the new Animal Collective was the disappointment of the year even though I haven't really heard a lot of albums since June/July. I kind of tuned out. I know about the new Metallica but I'm not really sure if I want to hear it. I'll download but I'm probably going to be indifferent about it even though I did like Death Magnetic a lot.

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  6. @thevoid99: The Bat For Lashes singles are in my top 100 songs of 2016.
    You’re right Metallica’s reputation post-Black Album is not great. I did consider whether the new album was a disappointment, as it’s VERY patchy with too much filler. If you are looking for a great full-length album you won't find it, but does has strong individual cuts. Particularly good are Moth Into Flame, Spit Out The Bone and to a lesser extent Halo on Fire and Confusion. The animated video for “Murder One” which pays tribute to Lemmy is a fun watch, even if the song itself is average.

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  7. Wow, that's a lot of disappointment. I've heard some Danny Brown in the past, which I liked. Haven't listened to his latest, yet. I'm with you on Tegan and Sara. It's just so generic. Can't really speak on anything else, yet.

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  8. @Wendell: I figured you’d know Danny Brown with your interest in hip hop, unfortunately I pretty much hated his vocal, but I’d be open to reading your opinion on Atrocity Exhibition if/when you get to it.
    Yeah, the Tegan and Sara album didn’t make an impression on me either.

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  9. I was similarly disappointed with the PJ Harvey album. Some good songs, a worthy project, but not enough to justify a whole album and some of the tracks just annoyed me. But yes, she has done FAR better work.

    Paul Simon, on the other hand, will be in my year end Top Ten. Quite high, probably.

    I've been disappointed by a LOT of records this year by artists who in the past I've relied on 100%. I think this is partly due to my tastes changing and them staying the same and partly due to the weight of expectation / desperation that comes with getting older and trying to find new things that excited you more than the old-new things you discover (i.e. new records to me that have been around for donkey's years).

    BTW, welcome back. Sorry I hadn't noticed your return earlier but my blogroll was deleted by blogger about a month ago and I've not been able to rebuild it quite the way it was before. You're back on there now though.

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  10. @Rol: Thanks for the comment. I’m curious to check out PJ Harvey’s best work. Her new album just fell flat for me, besides 1-2 stand outs.
    I look forward to your annual top 10.
    I’ve recently been more excited about older albums as well. The highest rating I gave a 2016 album was 4 out of 5, while some of the older classic discoveries got higher praise.
    In 2017 I’ve decided I’ll only listen to maybe 5-10 anticipated albums and not bother with the rest of the new releases. Old music when there was an actual music industry is just of a slightly better quality. (I know I'm generalizing and there are exceptions)
    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll again, it seems quite a lot of my old readers haven’t realized I’m back, so I think one of these days I’ll remind them on twitter I’m writing again.

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