Exclaim!'s Top 27 Albums of 2016 So Far

9. Andy Shauf
The Party
(Arts & Crafts)

Saskatchewan musician Andy Shauf's third LP, The Party, features sprightly, complex melodies in the vein of Elliott Smith intertwined with Harry Nilsson's orchestral sprawl. It's an easy listen that reveals plenty of depth beneath the surface.

The Party is a loose concept album showcasing a series of vignettes within a single party, from the mundane (the existential dread that comes with showing up early) to the absurd (a partygoer taking a drag from a cigarette and then dropping dead). Shauf's soft voice provides a narrator both playful and heartfelt, and his lyrics capture the beauty and pain of human interaction.

The record also showcases Shauf's confident ear for colourful arrangements: he's able to incorporate more clarinet than anyone would ever expect to find on a folk record, let alone enjoy. Lush, vivid and intimate, The Party is everything your typical party isn't.
Matt Bobkin