Music preview: albums to look out for in 2016

Everybody who’s anybody seems to have a new album lined up for the new year. And there are a few superstar maybes too

2016 is already shaping up to be a bumper year for albums, as top-level pop stars and rock bands get their respective fingers out and tussle for the music-buying public’s attention and hard- earned readies.

January alone is looking healthy, as artists scramble to make their mark on the new year – or capitalise on the voucher-spending market. (Cynical? Us?)

One album that you can expect to see come end-of-year lists, be it good, bad or only halfway decent, is David Bowie's Blackstar (January 8th). It's Bowie's landmark 25th studio album and his first since 2013's The Next Day, recorded with longtime producer Tony Visconti. If the title track is anything to go by, it will be something unique and eerily Bowie-esque.

Camera-shy Aussie pop star Sia is also releasing a new album. This Is Acting is her first since becoming a global pop megastar with Chandelier. And it'll be good to have Santigold back with 99c (January 22nd). Prog-poppers Mystery Jets make a return with Curve of the Earth on January 15th, while one-time Britpop heroes Suede unveil Night Thoughts on the 22nd, accompanied by a feature-length film of the same name. Bloc Party return with a new line-up and their first album in four years (Hymns) on January 29th.


On the Irish front, 2016 gets off to a cracking start with debut albums from excellent young Limerick trio Bleeding Heart Pigeons (Is, January 15th) and Dingle's anthemic indie-rock troupe Walking on Cars (Everything This Way, the 29th), as well as the third album by über-respected young experimental guitar virtuoso Cian Nugent (Night Moves, January 29th).

Meanwhile, it may be less than a year since Conor O'Brien released the pared-back third Villagers album (Darling Arithmetic), but his fourth is out next week. Don't get too excited: Where Have You Been All My Life? is a collection of "reimaginings" of songs from O'Brien's back catalogue, rather than new material.

Albums in February include Elton John's 32nd. Wonderful Crazy Night sees him teaming up with T-Bone Burnett on production duties. In terms of brand- spanking-new artists, you can expect to be hearing a lot of Brit Critics' Choice winner Jack Garratt and his debut album, Phase. You'll probably be sick of hearing him by August. No, really. You will.

Rather more excitingly, the new album by Sunderland's Field Music arrives in early February. Their most recent project has been scoring a 1929 silent documentary about fishing in the North Sea, so we're chomping at the bit to see what the marvellously creative Brewis brothers have concocted with Commontime. As for Animal Collective, their once-vice-like grip on the Irish hipster population has waned in recent years, but the Baltimore band return with Painting With, the follow-up to 2012's Centipede Hz.

One album that Animal Collective fans will certainly be skipping is Ronan Keating's new opus (no, he hasn't gone away), his first in four years. Mancunian indie-rockers The 1975 are already in the running for most pretentious album title of 2016 with the creepy/vaguely threatening I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. Shudder.

Releases for the month include the as-yet-untitled eighth studio album from Scottish indie types Travis; Underworld's ninth album, Barbara, Barbara, We Face a Shining Future (March 18th); and The Coral's comeback record, Distance Inbetween (the 4th). Chaosmosis, the latest from Primal Scream, is also lined up for March 4th.

Beyond Rihanna leads the fray in terms of strongly rumoured releases that are due (or overdue) in 2016. The Bajan star is apparently still putting the finishing touches to her eighth album, Anti, and unless it's destined to become the r'n'b equivalent of Chinese Democracy, we should expect to hear it within the next 12 months.

That goes for Kanye West's SWISH: the rapper recently took to Twitter to warn people "not to ask him for anything" until he's finished it, so we can take it that he's putting his shoulder to the wheel.

We wish we could say the same thing about Frank Ocean – when is that second album coming out? You told us July, dude. Don't lie to us. That goes for you, too, Nile Rodgers; that new Chic album was supposed to come out in 2015. Will we hear it in '16?

Radiohead are apparently ensconced in the studio working on the follow-up to 2011's The King of Limbs, and Thom Yorke recently played a supposed brace of new tracks at a solo gig. So we can presume that things are progressing nicely on their part, at least. Gorillaz are also working on a new album for 2016, according to Jamie Hewlett, while The Last Shadow Puppets (aka Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, Miles Kane and producer James Ford) have confirmed their second album is finished and will be out "some time" in 2016.

Indie/rock fans of varying persuasions and tastes will be pleased to hear that Bon Jovi, Modest Mouse, Pearl Jam, Blink-182, The Killers, Grandaddy, Band of Horses, PJ Harvey and Dublin's All Tvvins are all set for releases next year. The biggest rumour in town is that The Stone Roses are preparing new music for their comeback gigs during the summer. Stranger things have happened.

In the pop realm, Haim have been working on their second album this year (when they haven't been hanging out with Taylor Swift). Lady Gaga has said she'd like to release in 2016. And Britney Spears has been "working hard" on a new album as well.

Will we see any of these rumours come to fruition? Come back to us next year and we will evaluate how they all got on.