You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen
Now that we’re into the better half of the Top 31, there tends to be for me more invested in the albums featured. Take this album at #14, Leonard Cohen’s masterful — and final — album. Cohen was a month into his 83rd year when he released You Want It Darker. He died three weeks after its release, bringing new light to the album’s overt themes of death and god.
Cohen released his first album at 33, after failing to earn a living writing poetry and fiction. You Want It Darker was only his 14th release across his 49-year musical career, a pace of an album every 3½ years. That should tell you something about his dedication to his craft. This album is indicative of his later efforts, with Cohen’s spoken-word poetry layered over sparse strings, guitar, and quiet brushed percussion. There should be a section at the record store called “gravel,” dedicated to the later-year Cohen, Tom Waits and Bob Dylan albums that all speak volumes to the lifetimes these men have bared openly for us, the listeners.
As it was for David Bowie’s final album (featured earlier in the 2016 Bacon Top 31), Cohen’s death permeates every beat of this album. It’s impossible to listen to it without picturing the man on his deathbed, contemplating the previous 82 years and what it all meant. This is not a bad thing, it’s not a dark cloud that hovers. But it’s not happy either. It simply is. One has to imagine that once he got into his eighties, he’d had a long and fruitful life, content with where he’d been and what he’d done. His legacy will live on well past 2016, and this album will play a big part in that.
15. Painting Of A Panic Attack by Frightened Rabbit
16. Why Are You OK by Band Of Horses
17. Not To Disappear by Daughter
18. Sunlit Youth by Local Natives
19. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
20. ★ by David Bowie
21. Farewell, Starlite! by Francis and the Lights
22. This Unruly Mess I’ve Made by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
23. LNZNDRF by LNZNDRF
24. Puberty 2 by Mitski
25. Light Upon the Lake by Whitney
26. A Corpse Wired for Sound by Merchandise
27. Away by Okkervil River
28. case/lang/veirs by case/lang/veirs
29. Love Letter for Fire by Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop
30. Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future by Underworld
31. Preoccupations by Preoccupations