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Electronic music has so many categories (EDM, house, electro, etc) and subcategories (nu-disco, bro-step, chillwave, etc) that compiling a “best album list” is something I wouldn’t wish on Diplo.
The genre, which was written off or mislabeled as a fad, is now arguably the most progressive and influential music art form out there in terms of breaking new acts, taking over main stages, and dominating the charts.
Thus, my initial list went on longer than a David Mancuso set (RIP). For the sake of this article, I’ve whittled my Best Electronic Music Albums of 2016 down to a half-dozen that I think brought “it,” whether that be by making something familiar fresh again or elevating the art form… or at the very least just made me dance my face off.
The Avalanches – Wildflower
In the sixteen years between The Avalanches debut album Since I Left You, and this follow-up, Drake‘s claim to fame was Degrassi: The Next Generation. Wildflower is not so much a comeback, but a reintroduction of why music heads fell in love with the Australian electronic music act in the first place. The sample-rich audible art pieces slice and dice the past, present, and future of music in a way that we haven’t heard since the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique.
Rufus Du Sol – Bloom
Following in the chart-topping footsteps of their Australian compatriots Sia, Tame Impala, and Flume, the next big thing to come from the land down under made a splash on the 2016 music festival circuit and their third album, Bloom, is the closest thing to an out-of-body experience you can have without the help of pharmaceuticals.
Kygo – Cloud Nine
The Norwegian prodigy accomplished more in a year than most musicians do in a VH-1 Special. Not only did the 25 year old DJ/producer release a platinum debut album, Cloud Nine and headline the Rio Olympics’ closing ceremonies, but he somehow made the words “tropical house” a real thing and not a punchline.
Sofi Tukker – Soft Animals
Sofi Tukker is one of those groups you brag about being “into” before anyone else to sound cool at downtown rooftop parties when one of their infectious songs like “Drinkee” come up on the playlist. Speaking of, did I mention I did a feature on them way, way back in July?
Jessy Lanza – Oh No
With television shows like Broad City, Search Party, and Insecure, 2016 seems to be the year of the oft-kilter girl with nervous energy who channels her insecurities into a calling. Jessy Lanza’s “Oh No” is the perfect soundtrack to that “thing” with a downtempo, electro-white girl R&B album that’s creative and catchy, retro and cool in a wonky mom jeans kind of way.
Flume “Skin” and EP
Although there are some great tracks on Skin (“Never Be Like You” and “Tiny Cities” with Beck), this was a borderline pick until the Australian wunderkind released a companion EP last week that solidified the original album, which I felt catered to what he thought his fans wanted to hear instead of raising the bar to the glitchy melodies that he had wowed us with on his debut. Plus, the more Isabella Manfredi in our lives the better.