The Year in Music: The 10 Best Albums of 2016

In a world where certainty seems to have disappeared, music is more vital than ever.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds — Skeleton Tree

If there’s one thing to hold on to during this beautiful, harrowing record, it’s that most of it was written before Nick Cave’s son Arthur fell to his death from a Brighton cliff in 2015. But then, even that fact only serves to make the recurrent imagery of falling that appears throughout the lyrics of Skeleton Tree all the more poignant and disturbing. In the end, it’s impossible to separate this record from the unimaginable bereavement that preceded its recording, and that seems to pervade every aspect of its sound. As the Guardian’s Dave Simpson wrote on its release, “Where the pre-trauma, far more private Cave would have honed lyrics, shrouded meanings, tidied things up in mix or postproduction, Skeleton Tree has been largely left as it was born, mistakes and all, as an instinctive howl from the heart and gut.”