BADBADNOTGOOD – IV \\ Best Albums of 2016

Over the next few days we’ll be revealing our ten best albums of 2016. 

The wild success of two genre-transcending albums in 2015 – Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Kamasi Washington’s The Epic – built the confidence of news fans and converted critics in trying out BADBADNOTGOOD album IV. The Toronto four piece were one of the first groups to benefit from music critics’ renewed confidence in presenting jazz to a wide audience; features in The Guardian, Bandcamp, and Drowned in Sound highlighted BBNG’s melodic hooks and accessibility, despite their complex jazz elements.

Glance at the cover and you’ll see four skinny white guys in towels. They look like they’ve been photographed for a Vice ‘Do’ listicle having left a party at 7AM. But enough about style (if towels can be referred to as such), and more about the substance; IV is a very good album. In fact, we’ll called it GOODGOODNOTBAD, which in ‘British’ is almost a repetition of the same point.

Time Moves Slow, with vocals from Future Islands frontman Samuel T Herring, is a delicious, contemplative ballad; it’s the All By Myself of the hipster generation. Fellow caps lock fan KAYTRANADA teams up with the band for Lavender (above), with its French keys (think Chassol, St Germain) and military snare. Toronto neighbour Charlotte Day Wilson is another collaborator, and they seem to bring the best out in each other; In Your Eyes is one of the most memorable tracks that either of them have produced this year. The strings, exclusive to the chorus, drift us into a cloudy nostalgia. 

Read Jordan Rakei – Cloak \\ Best Albums of 2016

The strength is not solely in BBNG’s ability to work with collaborators. Track IV is a fast and heated jazz binge followed by a flirtatious comedown for the latter three quarters of the track. It’s an audio tease. By the time you get to the sophistication of Cashmere you’ll forget that the four guys you’re listening to all like to wear white towels around their waist for press shots. It’s an album that surprises fans and newcomers. And that’s a pretty hard thing to do.

Over the next few days we’ll be revealing the best ten albums of 2016. What do you think should be in there? Tweet us @jazz_standard.

JS | Tina Edwards