- Music: Two albums that kept me interested from beginning to end were Grimes’ Art Angels and Jamie xx’s In Colour. I liked Grimes’ last album, Visions, well enough, but I wasn’t prepared for the pop mastery she displays on her latest. Over several tracks that range from gauzy pop confection to spare piano ballads, Grimes paints a self-portrait of an artist in full command of her craft and who will not tolerate any bullshit. In Colour is a guided tour of electronic music of the past two decades, filtered through Jamie xx’s ear for melody and a good beat. The chorus in “Loud Places” is one of the best musical payoffs I heard this year.
- Books: Two books that stayed with me this year both addressed the beauty and peril to be found in life’s randomness. Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life follows the multiple fates of a British woman who lives and dies repeatedly in the first half of the twentieth century, while Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel introduces us to a traveling theater troupe navigating a bleak postapocalyptic America. Each book beautifully illustrates how small events can ripple through time to shape the lives of people we will never meet.
I’d like wish my readers (all ten of you!) a happy and safe New Year. Perhaps we can create a few of our own ripples in 2016.