It’s that time of year again where every single music mag (what’s left of them), website, and pub-bore comes up with what they consider to be the very best musical statement of the year, despite there still being almost an entire month left before the end of 2016.
I can’t say for sure what the best album of 2016 is. But then, neither can anyone else.
I have a fair idea that on account of being dead and making something of a phenomenal art project about that deadness, David Bowie will be universally applauded.
Blackstar is a fine piece of work. The sheer level of detail is phenomenal, all the little nuances and smart-arse tricks with the sleeve, the typeface, the labels and the songs, that briefly hid his impending extinction in plain-sight were the work of a genius. That said, there were far too many shit sax solos on the album for my liking. So, close but no cigar.
I heard a lot of people saying how Blackstar was almost impossible to listen to in light of Bowie’s death. I found that kind of strange, particularly because nobody said “it’s impossible to listen to because those sax solos are shocking”. It was too raw, too emotional…too much for many. I can understand the sadness that lingered after the passing of David Bowie, but to not find solace in his final work, or to back track to Station To Station, Ziggy Stardust et al is a mistake. Yes it’s a shame he’s gone, but look at what he’s left behind. There’s plenty to celebrate in the Bowie back catalogue.
Let’s be honest 2016 has been a shocking year in terms of celebri-geddon. As soon as the scab on the collective consciousness started to harden following a VIP turning RIP, another leading light would swiftly go tits up. Frankly it’s all been quite depressing.
How to deal with that absence though? When someone is no longer in your life, it’s hard to deal with it. Getting upset about a celebrity popping their clogs is all well and good, but it’s nothing compared to losing someone really close. Bowie, Prince, and Erik Bauersfield might have had a massive impact on your lives, but unless you’re related to Bowie, Prince and Admiral Ackbar, you should probably be able to cope with the loss fairly swifly. Incidentally, how much must it suck that when you die, you’re remembered in a column with a photo of the muppet you played and your ACTUAL face doesn’t even get a smaller image? Unless Bauersfield actually looked like Admiral Ackbar, in which case, I take it all back.
Anyway, I’m drifting off the point. My album of the year is School Of Seven Bells – SVIIB. It’s an absolutely beautiful and outstanding record that deals with personal loss, mourning and love. It is elegant, poignant, and it has shed load of amazing hooks. It was practically impossible to listen to without getting a little misty-eyed. This is how you deal with loss. There have been a lot of phenomenal records this year, but SVIIB connected to my emotions more than anything else and that’s all you can ask from a record or any piece of art. These lists are entirely subjective, so that’s mine. A list of one is plenty, although a nod to A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (which deals with similar themes) is entirely justified too.