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The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016

We could be in for quite the docket of heavy hitters next year

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    Artwork by Cap Blackard

    By now, you are probably sick of recapping 2015. But looking back at the year, one thing that sticks out is how many of Consequence of Sound’s Most Anticipated Albums of 2015 didn’t actually come out. Some, like Rihanna’s Anti and Kanye West’s Swish, could be dropping at any moment. Others, like ChromaticsDear Tommy and Frank Ocean’s next album, seem just as far away now as they did this time last year. And still others, like the long-anticipated return of The Wrens, seem destined to keep us waiting forever.

    Will this year’s crop of 50 Most Anticipated Albums see more hits and fewer misses? Who knows, but if we get a majority of the 50 albums listed below, we will be in for quite the docket of heavy hitters in 2016.
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    David BowieDavid Bowie –

    Release Date: January 8th via Columbia/RCA Company

    Why We’re Excited: David Bowie is back in full effect. His reemergence with 2013’s The Next Day picked up where his 1970s experimentation left off and quickly earned a high-ranking place within the Bowie pantheon. Now we have ★, an even more unconventional record, steeped in jazz and eerie production. From what we’ve heard of the record so far, including the stunning 10-minute-long title track, ★ appears to be cut from the same cloth as Bowie’s other most creatively fertile era: Outside. While ★ might not be the long-awaited sequel to his “non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-cycle,” what we’ve heard so far is all the noir and genre-fusion dynamism of Outside with the cyberpunk traded for Aleister Crowley and Stanley Kubrick. ★ promises to showcase Bowie fully unrestrained and following his creative whims into truly alien territory. It might serve to be the most “Bowie” Bowie record of all time. –Cap Blackard

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    Hinds - Leave Me Alone albumHinds – Leave Me Alone

    Release Date: January 8th via Mom+Pop Records

    Why We’re Excited: The “lo-fi garage rock” label gets thrown around so much that it gets exhausting. But groups like Hinds are a great reminder of why it’s become such an autonomous genre over the last half-decade. The Madrid band’s hollow arrangements create vivid images of burnout days and wild nights. There’s a nonchalantness with their music that makes it so inviting. It’s like sitting in on your friend’s band practice, and your friend’s band is actually great. So far we’ve only gotten glimpses of their clashing harmonies and eluding sneer. Now we’ll get to indulge in it unashamedly with their debut, Leave Me Alone. –Dusty Henry

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    ChairliftSingleChairlift – Moth

    Release Date: January 20th via Columbia Records

    Why We’re Excited: Coming out in January, Chairlift’s long-awaited third album has the potential to be the first great record of 2016. In the four years since the vibrant ‘80s pop of their breakout album, Something, songwriter Caroline Polachek kept busy, releasing an experimental pop solo record under the name Ramona Lisa, guest starring on tracks with contemporaries like Blood Orange, and having a writing credit on “No Angel” from Beyoncé’s self-titled 2013 album. Both singles released from Moth, “Ch-Ching” and “Romeo” consistently showed the duo’s strengths at crafting bright and energetic songs with swooning vocals that capture the rush of falling in love. In an interview with Pitchfork, Polachek described the record as a tribute to New York, contrasting the futuristic and horrifying aspects of the city within their dance-focused songs. At the very least, the record should provide a joyful soundtrack for late winter gloom. –David Sackllah

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    eleanor friedberger new view albumEleanor Friedberger – New View

    Release Date: January 20th via Frenchkiss Records

    Why We’re Excited: There’s no telling how long we should expect to wait — if at all — for new material from indie-pop duo Fiery Furnaces, on hiatus since 2011, but luckily we haven’t ever had to wait long for something from one half in the meantime. Co-bandleader Eleanor Friedberger will release her third solo album (each released since her band went on pause), New View, next month, which is preceded by the single “He Didn’t Mention His Mother”: a textbook example of her more traditionally structured and melody-focused songs, which once again sounds like it would not be out of place on a list of the year’s best. –Steven Arroyo

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    savages adore life new album The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Savages – Adore Life

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    Release Date: January 22nd via Matador Records

    Why We’re Excited: When Savages stormed into our hearts and minds in 2013 with their debut, Silence Yourself, it was stunning how fully formed the young band was, so confident was their sound and so complete their selfhood. The cohesion of their identity awed listeners and critics, but it also raised the question: where will Savages go from here? Thankfully, the answer – their second album, Adore Life – is just weeks away. Some things have stayed the same: close collaborator Johnny Hostile stays on as a producer, and the band have picked a commanding imperative for the album title. But some are thrillingly different, like how Savages road-tested and fine-tuned Adore Life through a three-week residency at various New York venues last January (the crowd-centric music video for first single “The Answer” is probably a nod to that experience). The result is an album fueled by a furious lust for life. “It’s aggressive,” Beth said of the record. “Words of hope in a world of doom.” If 2015 has showed us anything, it’s the fact that the world is bleak, and so Savages are necessary. –Karen Gwee

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    ben kaye wet 5 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Wet – Don’t You

    Release Date: January 29th via Columbia Records

    Why We’re Excited:  Fans of Wet have been waiting nearly three years for the CoSigned trio to drop a full-length LP. Finally, followers will get what they’ve been wishing for with the impending release of the band’s major label debut. With just one EP in 2013, the previously Brooklyn-based Western Massachusetts outfit endeared listeners with their R&B-tinged synthpop on tracks like “You’re the Best” and “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl”. That latter track resurfaces on Don’t You, but has been reworked to reflect the band’s lusher atmospheres. Minimalism still plays a role in Wet’s sound, but so does intricate layering.

    The undeniably lovely “Dead Water” was the first track to introduce their expanding sound, followed by the achingly beautiful “Weak”. Loss is still as much of a theme as ever, as evident on “It’s All in Vain”. It turns out all that time between EP and LP has given the band time to let their music become fully formed so that, as frontwoman Kelly Zutrau put it, they could “feel good about these songs and not finish until they were perfect.” We’ll see how perfect they can make it when Don’t You drops in late January. –Ben Kaye

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    sviib The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016School of Seven Bells – SVIIB

    Release Date: February 12th via Vagrant Records

    Why We’re Excited: School of Seven Bells co-founder Benjamin Curtis (formerly of Secret Machines) tragically passed away in 2013 after being diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. Though it comes as only a slight silver lining on a massive storm cloud, Alejandra Deheza announced that she would release one last album under the band’s name, fusing material Curtis had recorded prior to his death with her own new recordings. SVIIB will be the first School of Seven Bells album since 2012’s Ghostory, a divisive record that dripped dream pop gloss over a haunting narrative. Lead SVIIB single “Open Your Eyes” sounds inherently driven by Curtis’ passing — Deheza’s chopped, florid vocals piece together what sounds like the phrase “moving on,” and all the talk about waking up feels extra desperate and tragic. Deheza told Noisey that she only included tracks on which she and Curtis worked together, and the resulting album surely carries all the weight and depth of her loss, working through her pain and without her other half. But she also insists that the album has a joyous side, celebrating his life. Surely, SVIIB will be an immensely cathartic and emotionally powerful album. –Adam Kivel

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    animal collective painting with new album avey The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Animal Collective – Painting With

    Release Date: February 19th via Domino

    Unless you were one of the fortunate few to be traveling through Baltimore Washington International Airport on Thanksgiving weekend, odds are you have yet to hear Painting With, the new album from Animal Collective. Lead single “FloriDada” has been made available to the non-airport masses, and its rapid, joyous tempo, bolstered as always by infectious harmonies, is a promising indication of what listeners can expect from Animal Collective’s first full-length album since 2012’s Centipede Hz. While sometime member Deakin is once again in absentia, Collective regulars Panda Bear, Avey Tare, and Geologist have welcomed musicians like John Cale and Colin Stetson to help fill the gap. Inspired by Cubism, Dadaism, and various other art modes, and featuring what Tare describes as “really short songs: no B.S.,” Painting With should be the latest opus from one of music’s most original forces. –Zack Ruskin

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    Santigold-99-Cents-560x560Santigold – 99¢

    Release Date: February 26th via Atlantic Records 

    Why We’re Excited: It’s been three whole years with only a handful of singles and soundtrack contributions, so it’s about time Santigold (aka Santi White) got back in the groove and gave us an album. 99¢ rolls out in late February, and from what we’ve heard so far, the thing sound likes like a funky, starry, bassy comeback (thanks in no small part to kicky contributions from TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Sam Dew, Hit-Boy, Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, and a fiesta of other folks). According to White last November, the album’s a meditation on how we negotiate our own realities, all the while playing with those realities through personality development and identity. So, an album that is simultaneously self-aware and subwoofer thumping? If the crunchy-good first singles, “Who Be Lovin’ Me” and “Can’t Get Enough of Myself”, are any indicator, we are down with some elevated me time. –Blake Goble

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    The-1975-CoverThe 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It

    Release Date: February 26th via Vagrant Records

    Why We’re Excited: Everything we know about The 1975’s forthcoming album hints at nigh-unprecedented levels of excess, from the verbosity of the title (I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It) to the neon-drenched music video for lead single “Love Me”. Right now, “Love Me” is our best indication of what the follow-up to The 1975’s self-titled debut will actually sound like, and there’s plenty to get excited about if you overlook the blatant ripping off of David Bowie’s “Fame”. This brave new version of the band comes across like a fever dream of the 1980s — especially singer Matt Healy, who seems to have ditched nuance for something more flamboyant and potentially more interesting. Is 2016 the year of The 1975? That sentence isn’t easy to read, and neither is the band itself. In a few weeks, we’ll see if they aspire to save pop music or merely join its rank and file. –Collin Brennan

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    pusha t1 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Pusha T – King Push

    Release Date: June 30th via Def Jam Records

    Why We’re Excited: As an intoxicated Kanye West once said, “Everything is a Pusha T.” While that may have been a funny statement in the moment, it feels prophetic for the year Pusha T is about to have. Last month, G.O.O.D. Music announced that Pusha T would be taking over as president. This also came with the revelation that his previously announced album, King Push, would be delayed until 2016. In the meantime, he decided to release Darkest Before the Dawn: The Prelude. If that record was the opening act, King Push promises to be one of the biggest rap albums of the year. DBTD showed just how mean Pusha T can be with the right slick beats. He’s been rapping about selling cocaine since his Clipse days, yet he still makes it feel fresh. With his current presidential position, it’s safe to say that he’s not going to stop grinding for the top of the heap. If everything wasn’t a Pusha T already, it’s sure as hell going to be. –Dusty Henry

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    ANOHNIAnohni – Hopelessness

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited:  ANOHNI’s previous work with Antony and the Johnsons was marked by an icy quiet. With her first single from Hopelessness, “4 Degrees”, she immediately shakes off that old cast. The song marries big band brass with complex, rolling drumbeats, elevating her singularly recognizable voice to a level of urgency and desperation we’ve yet to hear from her. “4 Degrees” scans as a climate change protest song, but one that positions its singer as ultimately responsible for the devastation of the planet. If Hopelessness is a political record, it sounds like it’ll parse this century’s political quandaries with the same intimacy and empathy that ANOHNI’s songwriting has always carried. Sometimes there’s more comfort in being joined in your hopelessness than in being shaken out of it. –Sasha Geffen

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    band of horsesBand of Horses – TBA

    Release Date: TBA 

    Why We’re Excited: Band of Horses have, in recent years, seemed like one of those groups whose career is regressing instead of moving forward: they followed up the lush, rewarding, and fully conceived works that were Funeral (2006) and Cease to Begin (2007) with the clunkers Infinite Arms (2010) and Mirage Rock (2012). The je ne sais quoi (which could very well be attributed to Ben Bridwell’s high-pitched croon or those happy guitars that could be both gentle and loud) that made Band of Horses distinguishable from the rest of the late-aughts indie rock ilk seemed to have dissipated into thin air, leaving behind a residue that just wasn’t going to cut it for all but the most dedicated fans.

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    So, the question is: dare we hope for a return to the Cease to Begin heyday with this new album, slated to be released sometime in the spring of 2016? Bridwell has said that sonically, it shares more in common with Infinite Arms, but we can choose to be optimistic, right? It’s being produced by Jason Lytle of the band Grandaddy, known for their big-scale cinematic tendencies, so maybe the joy inherent in the group’s earliest work will come rushing back to fill our ears with the unique brand of euphoria that only a crescendoing Band of Horses tune can bring. –Katherine Flynn

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    beyonce naughty boy runnin lose it all The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Beyoncé – TBA

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited:  Almost exactly two years ago, Beyoncé unleashed a landmark pop record she had been working on in secret. Beyoncé was her best, boldest, and least single-indebted album yet, and by releasing it in mid-December without a hint of advance warning, she went out of her way to prove she didn’t need any aid from advance promotion or year-end accolades to re-sign her lease on pop’s throne, uncontested. So now that that’s settled, what comes next? Aside from the occasional hint of a possible collaboration in the works — including ones involving Future and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony — we have very little to go on. We should expect nothing more from a Beyoncé album cycle at this point, and given how it played out last time around, we should prefer it that way. –Steven Arroyo


    james blake mix bbc The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016James Blake – Radio Silence

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Over a year ago, a rumor started floating around that both Kanye West and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon would appear on James Blake’s next studio album, Radio Silence. The UK crooner finally cut to the chase this July in an interview with Esquire: “If it doesn’t end up on the album, you know it hasn’t worked.” Let that sink in. If Vernon and West’s samples drag down an album, well, the songwriting on said album must be pretty dang solid. Live renditions of the title track suggest it’s full of moody piano, thick dub, and nightmarish vocals that linger (as usual). Until a studio version pops up, we’ll keep spinning his cover of “The Sound of Silence”, an obvious album teaser by title alone. –Nina Corcoran


    01-Blink-182-2Blink-182 – TBA

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    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: The biggest story of Blink-182’s recent history was the messy, bizarre split between Tom Delonge and Travis Barker/Mark Hoppus, who have since recruited Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba to take over vocal and guitar duties. The new incarnation of the band took the stage for the first time last March, and Skiba proved a solid addition to the crew. Apparently, the new trio liked hanging out with each other enough to pursue a new record, with Barker recently telling NME that they have five songs, including one called “Punk Rock Cliché”, in the books. (After completing their last LP, 2011’s Neighborhoods, the band left Interscope, but have not since announced any signing.) While we know that Skiba can hold his own while performing Blink-182 classics, it’ll be interesting to hear what he brings to the table in terms of the sound he’s been known for with Alkaline Trio, and whether this will be a worthy new chapter for the pop-punk forefathers. –Killian Young


    blood orange dev hynes The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Blood Orange – TBA

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Issues like inequality, race, sex, and poverty are inexorably linked, but the mainstream citizen seems to only have just recognized this potent connection. Part of this awakening is due to artists like Dev Hynes, who is a man with the ability to deliver a spoonful of synthpop sugar to help the social awareness medicine go down. The Essex-born extraordinaire used Blood Orange’s 2013 release — Cupid Deluxe — to give a voice to the downtrodden and marginalized in many communities without being pedantic or preachy.

    Unfortunately, the years since that record dropped have birthed a renewed sense of concern and confusion, especially in the realm of widespread police brutality. Fans should expect a passionate response from Hynes, who has already released a mourning track, “Sandra’s Smile”, in honor of Sandra Bland, who was killed in police custody after a frivolous and patently racist traffic stop in Texas. Other demoed tracks, such as the understated “Delancey”, have found Hynes experimenting with strings and cellos to great effect, leading many to look forward to this record’s release, not just for its social impact but its sheer beauty as well. –Dan Pfleegor

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    boniver.new_.3-581x391Bon Iver – TBA

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: While it’s hard to argue with the vision and seamless execution that Justin Vernon brought to his previous two releases (plus an EP) as Bon Iver, what really makes those works so precious is their rarity. The self-released For Emma, Forever Ago came out almost nine years ago, and its deceptive instrumental simplicity coupled with intense emotional depth, followed by the album’s considerable impact, was a game-changer for the genre. Vernon’s next release, Bon Iver, pushed his sonic limits even further, making us all reconsider everything we previously knew about folk music, Auto-Tune, and bearded dudes in flannel.

    In more recent years, Vernon has stayed busy with side projects, the occasional casual Kanye West collaboration and now the annual Eaux Claires summer music festival in his hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. While he has announced a string of tour dates for 2016 and debuted two new songs (neither of which currently seem to have titles) this past summer, he’s been reticent about announcing any plans for a new full-length. As a public persona, Vernon is characteristically low-key and mysterious. Will he pull a Beyoncé and drop a fully formed album into the iTunes store, unannounced, on some blessed early morning in 2016? Only time will tell. –Katherine Flynn


    Chromatics - 2015Chromatics – Dear Tommy

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: When Chromatics said earlier this year that Dear Tommy would be out in time for Valentine’s Day, they never specified which year. Nevertheless, they’ve been tiding fans over. Singles like “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around” and “Shadow” have shown consistency in quality and growth in style for the band. Still, the album is largely a mystery. Producer Johnny Jewel has referred to Dear Tommy as the most rebellious album he’s ever made. That’s a bold statement with the meticulousness that’s gone into masterworks like Kill for Love and Night Call. But the band does have oft forgotten punk rock roots. Channeling that sense of anarchy with slick hooks sounds inticing. If there’s any band bold enough to pull it off, it’s Chromatics. –Dusty Henry

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    screen shot 2014 10 08 at 7 57 33 am The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Crystal Castles – TBA

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Despite the dramatic 2014 exit of vocalist Alice Glass, Crystal Castles is not dead! Bred amidst darkness and electronic distortion in Toronto’s eclectic music culture, the 2016 Crystal Castles’ aesthetic holds tight to the original incarnation. Ethan Kath was quick to recruit another female vocalist — the enigmatically named Edith. Like the true identity of Kath’s new co-conspirator, the upcoming album’s title remains a mystery. However, Edith’s haunting ambiance has been showcased on both “Frail” and “Deicide”, each satiating the spirits who burn up a post-industrial dance floor. –Derek Staples

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