…and here’s albums 50-1. Find part 1 here.
50. TVAM – Psychic Data
49. Our Girl – Our Girl
48. Ezra Furman – Transangelic Exodus by Iain Fox
Transangelic Exodus is a concept album that doesn’t pay lip service to the notion. The record demonstrates an articulate shift in focus, artistically and personally for Furman. Where earlier material was possibly too bewitched by the influences that inspired it, Transangelic Exodus feels like a singular entity, full of angry, jarring melodies which contribute to a comprehensively unique flavour, fashioned and exposed by an artist finally at ease with his own aesthetic ambitions
47. Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain
46. Cat Power – Wanderer
45. Tierra Whack – Whack’s World
44. Iceage – Beyondless by Lawrence Beck
Danish wonk-punk outfit Iceage crashed into 2018 with their anthemic fourth album Beyondless. The album is far more rock’n’roll indicative than the discord established on the likes of You’re Nothing, adapting upon a sound toyed with on their 2014 album Plowing Into the Field of Love. The addition of violin and horn arrangements expertly broaden the quintessential anthemic qualities of the album. Frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s ever-recognisable off-kilter vocals stamp Iceage’s individuality on their creation, and warp the album into a fucked-up soundtrack for an old Western film. It truly is an incomparable listen.
43. Joji – Ballads 1
42. Drug Church – Cheer
41. J. Cole – KOD
40. Shame – Songs of Praise
39. Daniel Blumberg – Minus
38. Neneh Cherry – Broken Politics
37. Denzel Curry – TA13OO
36. Anna Calvi – Hunter
35. Haley Heynderickx – I Need to Start a Garden
34. Blood Orange – Negro Swan by Jack Kavanaugh
Negro Swan from Blood Orange is one of the most eclectic and experimental projects of 2018. Primarily R&B, the album sees Dev Hynes moving in a more psychedelic and funk-inspired direction. The guest features are iconic: the Project Pat and A$AP Rocky-assisted ‘Chewing Gum’ and ‘Out of Your League’ with Steve Lacy are particular highlights.
33. CHAI – Pink
32. Soccer Mommy – Clean
31. Mac Miller – Swimming
30. Bill Ryder-Jones – Yawn
29. Superorganism – Superorganism
28. IAMDDB – Flight Mode Vol. 4
27. Kamaal Williams – The Return
26. Jon Hopkins – Singularity
25. Tom Misch – Geography
24. Amen Dunes – Freedom
23. MGMT – Little Dark Age
22. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – King of Cowards
21. John Grant – Love is Magic by Tom Critten
The ultra-charming, ever-eloquent synth-crooner returns after a three year hiatus to bring us his most challenging, but ultimately rewarding album to date. Idiosyncrasies and unhinged electronics lay stricken like battle casualties across this record, colliding head on with Grant’s masterful authority over impactful balladry. On the surface, Love Is Magic lays a strong claim as his most ‘out there’ record, with disconcertingly cacophonous electronics and lyrics setting the scene for a kaleidoscopic experience. While on first listen it may appear as a synthetic overstep into madcap melancholia, after delving deeper and letting the record mellow over time it proves as not just one of Grant’s most sonically ambitious pieces, but also one of his most personal and candid commentaries on his stark circumstances.
20. Novelist – Novelist Guy by Elli Brazzill
Entirely self-written, self-produced and released on his own label – Novelist Guy is named as such because it truly encapsulates everything Nov wanted and needed to put across on this debut record. He’s a new man, dismissing the grime-standard tropes of weed, women & wealth and turning his attention to spreading the word of God, the need for #blacklivesmatter in the UK too on ‘Stop Killing The Mandem’ and preaching that, despite the pressures, it’s possible to not become a ‘Gangsta’. His hard-hitting instrumentals and dynamic flows were further gratified with a Mercury Prize nomination earlier this year.
19. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex and Food by Thomas Worley
UMO’s fourth album is an eclectic collection of songs that you can never quite grab a hold of. It sometimes mines a vein of classic rock, sometimes a Tame Impala-esque psychedelia and yet other tracks sound like a 70s funk collective beamed into 2022. ‘Not In Love We’re Just High’ in particular is a delirious, delicious slice of lo-fi psych, while ‘Hunnybee’ is a shudderingly funky number and surely one of the best songs from this summer.
18. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears by Thomas Worley
I’m All Ears is what indie-pop in 2018 should sound like. On their second LP, the duo have created an album that is inventive but not gratuitous; accomplished yet playful. From the blazingly bombastic ‘Hot Pink’, through the stirring, stadium-sounding ‘I Will Be Waiting’ and finally the atmospheric, kaleidoscopic ‘Donnie Darko’, there’s no duff song here.
17. Confidence Man – Confident Songs for Confident People by Hattie Long
Do you like fun? Then you should listen to Confident Music For Confident People. It’s a joyful romp through the milieu of dance and pop, with Confidence Man’s live show nodding towards the dance routines and costumed fanfare of icons like Madonna. There’s a streak of self-awareness a mile wide (‘Don’t You Know I’m In A Band’ and ‘C.O.O.L Party’ particularly spring to mind), but the sheer joy in their creation ensures that the record never falls into tired cynicism.
16. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships by Jake Crossland
It’s hard to believe that there was a time when The 1975 were universally hated considering the critical clout they carry now. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships will define a generation, with its painfully honest lyrics and flippant attitude to genre spread over 15 catchy tracks. ‘Love It If We Made It’ is an anxious and accurate triumph while ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ is a lighters-in-the-air anthem for Generation Z. While their haters were difficult to shrug off, the first half of Music for Cars was undeniably brilliant.
15. Ariana Grande – Sweetener by Jake Crossland
The pop album of the year came from the darkest of places. After the brutal and vile attack at Manchester Arena, Grande responded with love and Sweetener was just that: something to make life a little less painful. Deemed the album to set Grande in her rightful place, her voice buoyantly soars over a cohesive collection of pop gems. Be that on stellar lead single ‘no more tears left to cry’, a hopeful dance-garage ballad, or the bouncy, synth-led title track, Sweetener is Ariana Grande’s coronation as the new queen of pop.
14. Mitski – Be The Cowboy by Isabella McHardy
‘Be the Cowboy’ is such a refreshing album. Mitski creates a shockingly vulnerable collection of songs about her personal life, with all the ugliness left in. Lines like “you’re growing tired of me and all the things I don’t talk about” are harrowing, but paired with upbeat guitar, make something almost hopeful.
13. Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts by Joseph Bulger
Week three of Kanye West’s Wyoming sessions presented the Yeezy faithful with a latest collaboration with his indelible partner in crime, Kid Cudi – the eponymous Kids See Ghosts. Decamping to Kanye’s ranch in Jackson Holeto record the album, the duo rediscovered a deep-seated chemistry that was first heard almost a decade ago on West’s 808s & Heartbreak. Few albums released this year come close to matching Kids See Ghosts’ genre-defying, pop-rock bombast – Cudi delivers his most commendable performance in years, all the while Kanye reasserts his position as rap’s divine maestro, capable of flipping the table with little more than a snap of his fingers. It might not be remembered as one of Ye’s most defining moments, but Kids See Ghosts is nonetheless an important footprint in the musical canon.
12. Bodega – Endless Scroll by Elli Brazzill
“This is new Bodega song”: a robotronic voice followed by a gut-wrenching incessant bass is the initial introduction to Bodega’s debut album Endless Scroll. The immediate satire and post-punk fundamental sets a precendent for what is to come on the next 14 tracks. Recorded by Parquet Courts’ Austin Brown on the same Tascam 388 used for their debut Light Up Gold (and released on the same label What’s Yr Rupture?), it solidifies the fact that Bodega are the next best thing to come out of Brooklyn.
11. Kali Uchis – Isolation by Isabel Sanchez
Isolation is Kali Uchis‘ smashing debut album that took the world by storm. The album exhibits the Colombian-American singer’s talent and artistic versatility, pulling sounds from a range of genres including reggaeton, dream-pop, bossa nova and R&B. The album’s collaborations are equally as impressive boasting Bad Bunny, Tame Impala, Tyler the Creator, Thundercat, Gorillaz, Steve Lacy and Jorja Smith. Uchis herself is utterly entrancing, with a melancholy neo-soul voice following in the steps of Billie Holiday and Amy Winehouse. Isolation has placed Uchis at the forefront of today’s multi-cultural music movement, fashioning her as a uniting force that has brought together different aesthetics, sounds and ethnicities.
10. The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment by Joe Horsman
Released way back in February, The Orielles’ debut album Silver Dollar Moment is a vibrant display of anti-pretence and baggy dance-punk. A charming rough diamond full of spontaneous idiosyncrasies, it’s an example of how music is often most alluring when it’s organically spirited. Make no mistake, with the release of recent single ‘Bobbi’s Second World’, The Orielles are already evolving their sound, but the everlasting beauty of Silver Dollar Moment lies in its earnest energy, wide-eyed creativity and audible untethered potential.
9. Sons of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile by Adam Tait
Say what you will about 2018, it’s been nothing if not visceral – an invigorating, disorientating and at times traumatic examination of just who the fuck we think we are and what on earth we think we might be doing. Your Queen Is A Reptile is furious and righteous, and accusatory and musically menacing and, at the end of it all, somehow still hopeful. A missive that shines a spotlight on society’s shortcomings but provides its own narrative of inspiration and cultural identity that ultimately seems to say if we want to do better, we can, and we should. A towering coalescence of concept and instrumentation that’s as urgent and necessary as the last 12 months demand.
8. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake by Tom Critten
Lo-fi indie garage rockers Parquet Courts continue their comfortable canter, ever advancing into the realms of commercial success with yet another overwhelmingly enjoyable record. The follow up to 2016’s Human Performance, a record which was universally considered as a band at the height of their game, it stands to reason that it would’ve taken a monumental effort to produce something even closer to a hattrick. A pinpointed master stroke, the quartet drafted in the services of Danger Mouse as producer, which resulted in a showcase of serious art-punk weight injected with a blast of expansive and sprightly inspiration from a selection of other genres.
7. Beach House – 7 by James Robertson
Seven albums strong and Beach House show no sign of slowing down. Mixing their signature dream-pop sound with even more hypnotic synths and frenetic drums, 7 shows Victoria Legrande and Alex Scally feeling their most adventurous and comfortable yet. Leaning more heavily into their shoegaze roots but twisting it into something epic and cinematic, Beach House have crafted what could be their magnum opus, pulling us through the darkness and leaving us doe-eyed and dazed stumbling into the light.
6. IDLES – Joy As An Act of Resistance by Sam Liddicott
This is my favourite album of 2018 because it reacts to issues we all feel and goes beyond the cliché and ordinary. Led by singer Joe Talbot, the band has created an album that is as crucial and inspiring as it is immediate and complex. From suicide and mental-health concerns to toxic masculinity, it is a record that makes you feel. Joy as an Act of Resistance is never too abrasive or offensive: it is a perfect balance of moods and colours that means you’ll be coming back time and time again.
5. SOPHIE – OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES by Lucas Bleakley
‘I Love Every Person Inside’ – British-born producer SOPHIE marks a play on words in the title of her long-awaited debut album. Often affiliated with the PC Music scene, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES continues to push the boundaries on what we call electronic music, this time demonstrating a more dark and twisted side to her sound which we hadn’t seen before. With a recent Grammy nomination and double remix album set to drop before the end of the year, SOPHIE is an artist we should be sure to keep an eye on
4. Tirzah – Devotion by Joe Horsman
Tirzah’s Devotion is an intimate, understatedly magnificent gem of an album. With abstract, narcotic production from long time collaborator and friend Mica Levi, the record feels like a hazy journey through her thoughts and feelings, all of which are articulated through straight-talking and beautifully simple lyrics. The strength of Devotion lies in its merging of hypnotic production with uncomplicated but heartfelt expressions of emotion. The effect is a record that pulls you in, feels utterly personal and captivates from start to finish.
3. Snail Mail – Lush by Piran Aston
Snail Mail‘s debut album Lush has already become something of a ground-breaking moment. The record sees Lindsey Jordan, 19, expand her sound from her promising and emotional debut EP ‘Habit’ into a fully-fledged modern indie-rock classic. Emotional and heartfelt lyrics on tracks such as lead single ‘Pristine’ and the equally stunning reimagining of ‘Stick’, Snail Mail has proven why she is one of the most exciting and talented young musicians to come about in the last few years.
2. Noname – Room 25 by Sharissa Lee
Wordsmith wonder Fatimah Nyeema Warner, aka Noname, dropped Room 25 in September, arguably one of the most artistically-refined albums in modern R&B. Two years on from critically-acclaimed debut album Telefone, its followup tackles the same subjects of love and social injustice in a more creatively explorative manner. Guaranteed to soothe your soul and make you contemplate your existence.
1. BC Camplight – Deportation Blues by Jake Crossland
After the political and personal tumult of recent years, 2018 was another mess to redact from tomorrow’s history textbooks. No-one felt the effects or understood it as well as BC Camplight, following his deportation from the UK in 2015 under Theresa May’s Home Office (‘Fire In England’ is a perfect diss track) and European journey back home. Realistically, could any other album have topped the chart? It captured lightning in a bottle – madcap baroque pop with its finger so effortlessly and accurately on the pulse that it could’ve been made yesterday. Timeless, scattershot, and acidic, an eccentric grab-bag of genre filter through Brian Christinzio’s pop nous and terrible trauma to fill Deportation Blues, an audible fever dream. A true masterpiece that only this year could yield and the only we truly deserve.