Rob Sheffield's Top 20 Albums of 2016

Beyoncé, 'Blackstar' and other favorites from a trying year

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Leonard Cohen, 'You Want It Darker'

4. Leonard Cohen, 'You Want It Darker'

"It looks like freedom but it feels like death/It's something in between, I guess," Leonard Cohen once sang. "It's closing time." That was back in 1992, when he was just a lad of 58 and his idea of "Closing Time" meant shutting down the honky-tonk bars with an alluring older woman. "She's a hundred but she's wearing something tight" – great line. This year Cohen turned 82 – not quite a hundred, but closer to a hundred than to 58 – and made one final masterwork. There's a harrowing calm in his voice as he rasps, "A million candles burning for the help that never came." All over Darker, he casts a cold eye on the world he's leaving behind, and signs one last "sincerely, L. Cohen" to his classic songbook.

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