As our Best of 2016 lists by genre come to a close, we consider the shorter, more concise musical statements made by artists: EPs. While albums tend to get the most shine for musicians, EPs can have just the same kind of musical depth and excellence.
It was harder than ever to trim our list to 10 this year, but we've done it again. Find our list of 2016's best EPs below.
To see more of our year-end coverage, head over to our 2016 in Lists section.
Exclaim!'s Top 10 EPs of 2016:
10. Kedr Livanskiy
In 2016, producer Kedr Livanskiy (real name Yana Kedrina) managed to rise up and out of Moscow's burgeoning yet still mostly obscure DIY electronic scene and find an international audience with her debut EP, January Sun.
Instilling a feeling of the alienation Kedrina experienced growing up, her minimal compositions modify track by track, leaving the listener disoriented. From the bubbling, woozy electro of "Razrushitelniy Krug" to the transformation from icy coldwave to blazing drum'n'bass on "Sgoraet," the EP somehow achieves coherence through her remarkable ambition to create something exceptional.
9. Charlotte Cardin
We've written a lot about Charlotte Cardin this year, and for good reason. This was the year that Cardin both slipped out from under her name-making turn on French reality singing show La Voix ("The Voice" in English) and broke outside of her home province of Quebec. Both are thanks to the jazz-tinged, slinky electro-ballads of her debut EP, Big Boy.
To those outside of la Belle Province who had no idea that La Voix existed — let alone that she starred on it — Cardin seemed to appear fully formed out of thin air, with strong singles like "Faufile," "Dirty Dirty" and, in particular, "Like It Doesn't Hurt," proving both her singing and songwriting bona fides. That Big Boy both transcends her past and rewrote her future is everything one could hope for from a debut EP; we can't wait to hear what she does next.
I Just Wanna Dance
K-pop may not have made the international splash some industry experts predicted, but if one act came close, it was Girls' Generation. The real money now is actually on member Tiffany (real name Stephanie Hwang) to draw first blood, though. Her debut solo EP, I Just Wanna Dance, was just the record we needed in a year that failed to produce many dance-pop bangers.
Working with a number of rising songwriters and producers like GRADES (NAO), Melanie Fontana (Britney Spears, the Chainsmokers) and Nicola Roberts (Girls Aloud, Tinashe), Tiffany found a nice balance between her K-pop roots and her obvious American influences best realized on standout "Talk." That it reached Billboard's Heatseekers chart gives some hope that Tiffany's real shot at cracking North America is just around the corner.
7. Majical Cloudz
Wait & See
(Arts & Crafts)
The sad demise of Montréal duo Majical Cloudz came with a silver lining in the form of five-song swansong EP Wait & See. All of the typical Cloudz pieces are here: soft, sombre, minimalist backing by Matthew Otto and Devon Welsh, paired with Welsh's yearning baritone and plainspoken, painfully (and beautifully) earnest lyrics.
Though Wait & See hardly breaks the mould of what we've come to expect from Majical Cloudz, it does, in a way, perfect it: songs like "Heaven" and the reversed synths of the title track are every bit as beguiling as the highlight of their excellent second LP, Are You Alone?, arresting in their musical simplicity and emotional depth.
Lush's reunion barely lasted a year before the shoegaze legends ended their run. Thankfully, in that short time they were able to give us an EP that answered any questions pertaining to they'd sound like in 2016. With Blind Spot, Lush eschewed the straight indie pop of their swansong Lovelife, instead harkening back to the hypnotic, dreamy sounds of their earlier years.
Even with a more reverb-drenched, processed guitar sound, they remembered to give strong melodies to "Out of Control" and "Burnham Beeches," two of their finest songs ever. Four songs didn't feel like enough from Lush, but it's better to have than to have not, right?