The Best Albums of 2016 So Far

  • Publish Date: June 30, 2016
  • Comments: ↓ 7 user comments

The 25 best-reviewed albums of 2016 so far (min. 15 reviews)

With the first half of the year complete, here are the best-reviewed major albums released from January through June, ranked by Metascore. Note that EPs, compilations, and reissues are excluded, as are any albums receiving fewer than 15 reviews from critics.

#1 Album of the Year (So Far)
92 Lemonade
by Beyoncé

BUY IT: Amazon iTunes

It's not all that surprising that Beyoncé would release another surprise album this year. What is a surprise is that it was somehow even better than her previous one, 2013's Beyoncé. Lemonade is just part of a busy 2016 for the pop star, which has also included a one-hour HBO film (which the network is submitting for Emmy consideration), a performance during the Super Bowl halftime show, and a world tour.


Pretty Much Amazing

It’s a rare album that sounds this warm, this easy, this melodic, this fierce, this startling, this unforgettable.

90 Coloring Book
by Chance the Rapper

STREAM IT: Spotify  

The rapper's third mixtape follows his acclaimed 2013 breakthrough Acid Rap and last year's collaboration with Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, Surf. The free album became the first-ever streaming-only release to debut on Billboard's top albums chart, and a change to Grammy eligibility rules earlier this month means that Coloring Book could be among the first streaming albums to contend for major awards next year.



Coloring Book is one of the strongest rap albums released this year, and is destined to be on year-end lists aplenty. It's a more rewarding listen than Drake's recently released VIEWS; it's nearly as adventurous as The Life of Pablo.

... and the rest of the top 25:
Album/Artist Score Stream It Buy It
3CoverA Moon Shaped Pool
by Radiohead
88SpotifyAmazon iTunes
by David Bowie
87SpotifyAmazon iTunes
5CoverPuberty 2
by Mitski
87SpotifyAmazon iTunes
6CoverA Sailor's Guide to Earth
by Sturgill Simpson
86SpotifyAmazon iTunes
7Coveruntitled unmastered.
by Kendrick Lamar
86SpotifyAmazon iTunes
by Anderson .Paak
85SpotifyAmazon iTunes
9CoverStranger to Stranger
by Paul Simon
85SpotifyAmazon iTunes
10CoverSinging Saw
by Kevin Morby
84SpotifyAmazon iTunes
11CoverTeens of Denial
by Car Seat Headrest
84SpotifyAmazon iTunes
12CoverFull Circle
by Loretta Lynn
84SpotifyAmazon iTunes
by Anohni
83SpotifyAmazon iTunes
14CoverPatch the Sky
by Bob Mould
83SpotifyAmazon iTunes
by Kaytranada
83SpotifyAmazon iTunes
16CoverLight Upon the Lake
by Whitney
83SpotifyAmazon iTunes
by Skepta
83SpotifyAmazon iTunes
18CoverThe Ghosts of Highway 20
by Lucinda Williams
83 Amazon iTunes
by School of Seven Bells
83SpotifyAmazon iTunes
20CoverEyes on the Lines
by Steve Gunn
83SpotifyAmazon iTunes
21CoverLove Streams
by Tim Hecker
82SpotifyAmazon iTunes
22CoverThe Waiting Room
by Tindersticks
82SpotifyAmazon iTunes
23CoverThe Glowing Man
by Swans
82SpotifyAmazon iTunes
24CoverOh No
by Jessy Lanza
82SpotifyAmazon iTunes
25CoverJet Plane And Oxbow
by Shearwater
82SpotifyAmazon iTunes

Albums are ranked by Metascore prior to rounding. Only new studio albums released between January 1, 2016 and June 30, 2016 are eligible; EPs, live albums, box sets, reissues, and the like are not included. The first list above includes only those albums with at least 15 reviews from professional critics; all other lists on this page include albums with at least seven reviews. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Scores are from June 30, 2016.

Good albums with fewer reviews

Here is a look at the albums that received extremely positive reviews, but not enough of them to qualify for our list above. (In other words, consider them the year's best under-the-radar releases.) Albums on this list received 7-14 critic reviews. (Titles with fewer than seven reviews are excluded from all high scores charts.)

Album / Artist Score Stream It Buy It
1CoverUpland Stories
by Robbie Fulks
by Ital Tek
by Gojira
by Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld
86 Amazon  
5CoverMidwest Farmer's Daughter
by Margo Price
6CoverThe Impossible Kid
by Aesop Rock
by The Hotelier
8CoverEmily's D+Evolution
by Esperanza Spalding
by Pinegrove
10CoverIn My Mind
by BJ the Chicago Kid

What do you think?

What are your favorite and least favorite albums of the year so far? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (7)

  • back_in_1939  

    where is Blond???

  • vicyamusicgreat  

    I love A Moon Shaped Pool, Little Windows, and Super.

  • strom-z  

    beyoncé's album seems ridiculously overrated to me

  • FightDaGudFight  

    Great list. I'm a huge fan of Hip-Hop and I'm glad Untitled Unmastered made the list. Pretty much ever rap album that good made the list. It's a shame the rest of the rap albums of 2016 were either mediocre or terrible (Looking at you VIEWS).

    Beyonce's Lemonade was a great album as well. The music is deeper than it sounds and down to this day I'm still figuring out what all of it means.

    Anyways great list it's darn near perfect!

  • diana11  

    Dangerous Woman should have defiantly made the cut it is such a fantastic album.

  • oursbyaccident  

    Wow. My top ten has just 1 album from the top 25 and 1 more from list with fewer reviews. I've definitely got plenty of Honorable Mentions that show up on these two lists, though. And some albums here I've been meaning to check out (Hotelier, Mitski).

    For the interested, I wrote some reviews for each of my top 10, including Shearwater and Pinegrove. The latter became my most popular post ever. For the interested:

  • Blanche  

    Flume's Skin should be here but these so called critics don't seem to appreciate albums with much more focus on production. Same goes for James Blake.

    Some of the records here shouldn't be anywhere near the top 25. Generally however, the list is somewhat accurate.

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