The 50 Best Tracks of 2016…So Far
#40 DJDS – I Don’t Love You
Another year, another entry from power duo Samo Sound Boy and Jerome Potter. Their name might have changed – DJ Dodger Stadium quietly became DJDS sometime last year for reasons still unexplained – but the themes of hometown and heartbreak have not. On I Don’t Love You, the Body Higher founders are still making songs about breakups and videos about Los Angeles. The end result is, as ever, excellent. [Katie Cunningham]
#39 Lindstrom – Closing Shot
Lindstrøm returned to the clubs this year with Closing Shot, keeping one foot in the psychedelic prog-rock sound he’s been exploring lately and coming out with a record that’s all the better because of it. He unleashes his arrangements one after the other over the course of eight and a half minutes, with the track’s early synth flourishes followed by a rubbery bassline, then a gorgeous chord progression, which in turn is followed by lush string arrangement, before it all peaks with a serotonin rush of a psychedelic synth swirl. Much musicality. [Angus Paterson]
#38 Martin Solveig & Tkay Maidza – Do It Right
It looks like this could be the year that Tkay Maidza graduates from darling of the Australian industry to the rising star the rest of of the world is obsessed with. She’s already scored a BET nomination – just like little known names Beyonce, Rihanna and Drake – and now French hitmaker Martin Solveig has tapped her for a collaboration. Together, they make magic: Do It Right is pure dance-pop joy and the sort of tune you would have to be straight up dead inside not to enjoy. Keep killing it, Tkay. [Katie Cunningham]
#37 Deadmau5 – Snowcone
While he’s shared many a production experiment in 2016, so far dance music’s serial antagoniser has given us just one official single. Snowcone is Deadmau5 in downtempo mode – there’s no vocal, there’s no drop and the Boards of Canada influence is strong – but it’s a side of Joel Zimmerman we thoroughly endorse. [Katie Cunningham]
#36 Flume – Pika
There’s plenty to love on Harley Streten’s long-awaited second album Skin but for our money, it’s the two-minute instrumental Pika that towers above the rest. It may be brief, but Pika is the perfect encapsulation of the direction we’re so glad Flume took on this LP: it’s icy, forward-thinking and a little bit experimental, but it retains the melody and emotion the Future Classic star built his name on. [Katie Cunningham]
#35 Digitalism – Go Time
If anyone had assumed German electro duo Digitalism were a spent creative force, the pair’s surprisingly epic comeback album Mirage would have set the record straight. Go Time proudly stepped up as the album’s lead single, a piece of crossover radio-pop perfection that channelled – and possibly even exceeded – the exhilaration of Digitalism’s biggest ever hit Pogo. [Angus Paterson]
#34 Classixx – Just Let Go
For their second full length album, Faraway Reach, Los Angelinos Classixx called in guest spots from famous friends including Holy Ghost!’s Alex Frankel, Passion Pit, T-Pain and Future Classic outfit Panama, cooking up another set of tasty and slickly-produced dance music.
Standing out from the LP is the How To Dress Well collaboration Just Let Go, a track that plays to the strengths of both artists – you’ve got the glimmering production that has become Classixx’s trademark, while How To Dress Well delivers a typically emotive and whispy vocal. It doesn’t really matter that Just Let Go arrived after the Australian summer had waved goodbye, this tune is a pop-up poolside getaway all in itself. [Dave Ruby Howe]
#33 Midland – Final Credits
Not only is Harry Agius one of the most consistent producers knocking about, he’s also one of the most versatile. Just look at the contrast between his two releases so far this year. While the Blush EP boasts three cuts of heads-down, sci-fi techno, the aptly titled Final Credits is a hands-in-the-air summer anthem that just wants to plant a big silly grin across your stupid face.
It’s not exactly wheel re-inventing stuff, but what Final Credits does show off is expert crate-digging chops and a knack for editing, with Agius speeding up the unassuming funk of Lee Alfred’s 1980 cut Rockin-Poppin Full Tilting and marrying it with a bittersweet diva vocal sample. Make no mistake – this one is destroying a dancefloor somewhere in Europe as we speak. [Henry Johnstone]
#32 Cassius ft. Cat Power & Mike D – Action
While the modern age of music listening places a lot of currency on the discovery of brand new talents, there’s a rewarding thrill to watching a couple of old timers bounce back with a reminder of what made them so celebrated in the past. So it was when French icons Cassius broke a six year drought and dropped the undeniably fun and groove-struck Action.
Fittingly, Action comes with the featured talents of a couple of other old hands, including vocals from Cat Power and Mike D of The Beastie Boys. The tune’s accompanying video, overrun with kitsch props and effects, gold body suits and synchronised boner thrusts, is obtuse but totally hypnotic – with is a pretty good way of thinking of Action, really. [Dave Ruby Howe]
#31 James Blake – Modern Soul
By now it’s standard to describe James Blake’s music as ghostly, angelic or ethereal, but there’s no denying the primal impressions it evokes. Perhaps the original concept of soul music meant something this spooky and transcendent. And from the cheeky but perfect title of this song, the first single from his third album, The Colour in Anything, clearly Blake ponders these things.
Despite the control he’s gained over his voice, his crooning and pleading is still so ragged and raw – still as astonishing as it was five years ago. And he is, of course, still an awesome producer and composer, still at the peak of his powers with the spare beauty and shimmering weirdness of this one. Not fair how talented some people are. [Jim Poe]