A Seat at the Table (Columbia)
Extensive psych-soul feast from Beyoncé’s cooler, stranger sister. Her first album since 2008.
The Dreaming Room (RCA)
Wondrous arranger-singer-producer-choirmistress continues to tweak the nose of conventional song structure.
Christine and the Queens
Chaleur humaine (Because Music)
Cerebral pop from the moonwalking, suit-wearing Frenchwoman.
The Lemon Twigs
Do Hollywood (4AD)
The twigs are two prog-pop geniuses from Long Island aged 17 and 19. Their sumptuous debut sounds like 1973.
The Rolling Stones
Blue & Lonesome (Polydor)
Who’d have thought that an album of old blues standards from the Stones would be so exciting? Not us.
Dark, spartan and beautifully economical, the Dame’s last tunes were haunting even before we knew what he was trying to say.
Beyond Now (Motema)
The esteemed New York jazz band who played on Blackstar wrote this album about their experience. Mark Guiliana is the world’s best drummer.
Hopelessness (Rough Trade)
Cheerily titled, socially conscious pop bangers from the figure who was formerly Antony of the Johnsons.
Icy cool neo-soul tunes from this year’s comeback queen. Shades of Neneh Cherry and Erykah Badu.
The Hamilton Mixtape (Atlantic)
Busta Rhymes, Alicia Keys, K’naan and more re-record the soundtrack of Lin Miranda’s world-beating musical.
Video: The Hamilton cast perform at the White House
This article appears in the 13 Dec 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas and New Year special 2016