The 16 best albums of 2016 so far, according to critics


Summer 16 is almost at it’s halfway point, so we know there’s only a limited amount of time to get those cookouts and pool parties. Here are some great choices for tunes at those events.

To get a full picture of 2016’s critical landscape in music, we turned to Metacritic — which aggregates critic and fan reviews — for a comprehensive ranking of the top 20 albums of the year.

See which are the top-ranked albums of the year so far according to critics:




16. Big Sean and Jhene Aiko- “Twenty 88”

Average Critic Score: 75/100

Average Fan Score: 7.8

Description: The debut collaboration between Big Sean and Jhene Aiko features guest appearances from Detail, K-Ci and JoJo.

15. YG — “Still Brazy”

Def Jam

Average critic score: 84/100

Average fan score: 8.7

Description:  The second full-length studio release for the Compton rapper features guest appearances from Bricc Baby, Burnt Out, Drake, The Homegirl, Kamaiyah, Lil Wayne, Joe Moses, Nipsey Hussle, Sad Boy, and Slim 400.

14. Kevin Morby — “Singing Saw”

17. Kevin Morby — "Singing Saw"

Dead Oceans Records

Average critic score: 84/100

Average fan score: 7.9

Description: “Singing Saw,” the third solo release for singer-songwriter Kevin Morby, the former bassist from the band Woods, received praise from Sputnik Music for the “depth and hidden intricacies” of Morby’s production.


13. Laura Mvula — “The Dreaming Room”


Average critic score: 84/100

Average fan score: 8.1

Description: The second full-length release for the British artist features guest appearances from Nile Rodgers and Wretch 32.

12. Esperanza Spalding — “Emily’s D+Evolution”

16. Esperanza Spalding — "Emily's D+Evolution"

Concord Records

Average critic score: 84/100

Average fan score: 7.5

Description: Grammy Award-winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding’s fifth album was produced by longtime David Bowie producer Tony Visconti and features superior songwriting in “impressionistic, conversational bursts that recall the delivery of Joni Mitchell,” according toPitchfork.


11. Aesop Rock — “The Impossible Kid”

14. Aesop Rock — "The Impossible Kid"

Rhymesayers Records

Average critic score: 85/100

Average fan score: 8.6

Description: Rapper Aesop Rock’s seventh album is his most critically acclaimed work since 2001’s “Labor Days.” PopMatters called Aesop Rock one of rap’s “finest and most difficult lyricists,” and “The Impossible Kid” is a compelling platform for his dizzying wordplay.


10.Maxwell — “blackSummer’sNight”

Average critic score: 85/100

Average fan score: 7.4

Description: The fifth full-length release for the R&B singer is his first in seven years and was co-produced with Hod David.


9. Margo Price — “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”

13. Margo Price — "Midwest Farmer's Daughter"

Third Man Records

Average critic score: 85/100

Average fan score: 7.3

Description: “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” is the debut album from country artist Margo Price. The project received glowing praise from many publications, including The Boston Globe, which claimed that Price is country music’s “latest reason to cheer.”

8. Anderson .Paak — “Malibu”

11. Anderson .Paak — "Malibu"

Steel Wool Records

Average critic score: 85/100

Average fan score: 8.3

Description: After making his presence felt with six featured tracks on Dr. Dre’s 2015 “Compton,” California artist Anderson .Paak made an even bigger splash with “Malibu,” his soulful and diverse second album — “an expansive opus that flows in multiple directions like a classic ’70s double album,” Pitchfork wrote.

7. Kendrick Lamar — “untitled unmastered.”

10. Kendrick Lamar — "untitled unmastered."

Aftermath Entertainment

Average critic score: 86/100

Average fan score: 8.4

Description: Following a series of entrancing “Untitled” performances on late-night television, rapper Kendrick Lamar grouped the studio versions of those tracks with a few throwaways from his 2015 masterpiece “To Pimp a Butterfly” to create a surprisingly coherent and wholly captivating eight-song project.

6. Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld — “Nerissimo”

9. Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld — "Nerissimo"


Average critic score: 86/100

Average fan score: 7.1

Description: The second collaboration from Italian composer Teho Teardo and German musician Blixa Bargeld, “Nerissimo” blends dark melodies with English, German, and Italian lyrics in a fashion that Record Collector says is “sure to baffle and delight in equal measures.”


5. Mitski — “Puberty 2”

5. Mitski — "Puberty 2"

Dead Oceans Records

Average critic score: 87/100

Average fan score: 8.8

Description: “Puberty 2” is the fourth full-length album from New York-based indie artist Mitski. The album features striking songwriting from Mitski and dynamic sounds from producer Partick Hyland — all of which makes for, as Rolling Stone called it, an “incendiary self-portrait.”


4. David Bowie — “Blackstar”

4. David Bowie — "Blackstar"

Columbia Records

Average critic score: 87/100

Average fan score: 8.8

Description: David Bowie’s 25th and final album featured spare, dark production from his longtime collaborator Tony Visconti and was accompanied by several startlingvideos. In a perfect five-star review, The Telegraph said that “Blackstar” felt “as bold and weird as anything in Bowie’s back catalogue.” Bowie died two days after the album’s release, following an 18-month battle with cancer.


3. Radiohead — “A Moon Shaped Pool”

2. Radiohead — "A Moon Shaped Pool"

XL Records

Average critic score: 88/100

Average fan score: 9.2

Description: Radiohead suprised fans with the release of their somber and beautiful ninth album, “A Moon Shaped Pool,” in May, to nearly universal acclaim. The album features Thom Yorke at his best, in “a newly naked and incisive portrayal of emotional vulnerability,” as Slant Magazine described it.

2. Chance The Rapper— “Coloring Book”

Average critic score: 90/100

Average fan score: 8.4

Description: The third mixtape from the Chicago rapper (an Apple Music exclusive for two weeks) features gospel elements as well as guest appearances from such artists as 2 Chainz, Justin Bieber, Francis and the Lights, Future, Jay Electronica, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, and Young Thug.

1. Beyoncé — “Lemonade”

1. Beyoncé — "Lemonade"

Parkwood Entertainment

Average critic score: 92/100

Average fan score: 8.2

Description: Beyoncé shocked the world by dropping “Lemonade” in April with an accompanying HBO special that served as an album-long music video. Her portrayal of her turbulent marriage with Jay Z won universal critical acclaim and numerous perfect reviews from outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, which called it her “boldest, most ambitious, best album to date.”