Volunteer writer, Liam Hopley, gives us a low down of 10 of the best projects to come out of 2018.
The importance of the album continued its sad decline in 2018 – despite “In My Feelings” and “Thank U, Next” being amazing singles, it felt like neither Drake or Ariana put as much thought into their LPs, which feature filler tracks aplenty. Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is another high profile omission: it was a bit like that Arctic Monkeys acceptance speech – I felt compelled to listen, but afterwards wondered why I’d wasted so much time indulging Alex Turner’s ego.
Without further ado, let’s talk about ten artists who’ve nailed it over the past 12 months …
10. IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance
Even if you’ve got no interest whatsoever in punk, it’s clear that there’s something special about IDLES. Their second album scores highly by combining laugh out loud lyrics and righteous anger, as showcased on the anthemic “Danny Nedelko”.
Standout track: Never Fight A Man With A Perm – 2018’s best song title.
9. Kanye West – Ye
Controversial comments mean it’s worthwhile to say that we’re celebrating the music, not the man. Ye is a stream of consciousness exploring mental illness and Yeezy’s responsibilities as a husband and a father, that’s all the richer for some excellent samples.
Standout track: Wouldn’t Leave ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR – Almost sounds like the old Kanye.
8. SOPHIE – OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES
SOPHIE, who’s produced for Lady Gaga and Let’s Eat Grandma, released her debut album in October. Her music sounds unlike anything else in today’s charts and when you immerse yourself in it, feels like receiving a message from the future.
Standout track: It’s Okay To Cry – Crescendos to an otherworldly finale.
7. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
This record made me fall in love with The 1975 again, after a rocky patch following their second album. It’s a return to the otherworldly soundscapes which first brought them to prominence that’s bolstered by Matty Healy’s unfailingly catchy choruses.
Standout track: Sincerity is Scary – Surprise saxophone cameo!
6. Jorja Smith – Lost & Found
Jorja is one of those artists who’s able to make reaching even the most ridiculous of notes sound effortless. Pairing this innate ability with her witty, challenging lyrics makes it obvious why she was crowned the 2018 Brits Critics’ Choice.
Standout track: Lifeboats (Freestyle) – Jorja spikily showcases her vocal versatility.
5. BROCKHAMPTON – iridescence
The latest album from the hardest working boyband in showbusiness is their most complete yet, despite being recorded in just ten days. iridescence boasts consistently breath-taking hooks and production, plus verses exploring an astonishingly deep range of emotions.
Standout track: WEIGHT – No, you’re crying.
4. Christine & The Queens – Chris
Since the runaway success of Chaleur Humaine, Chris has picked up a new moniker and added sensuality to the vulnerability which made her debut the best album of 2016. Despite not speaking French, I’d highly recommend indulging in Version Française.
Standout track: Doesn’t Matter (Voleur de Soleil) – Features a divine a capella bridge.
3. Ezra Furman – Transangelic Exodus
An album all about a couple on the run from the law – oh, and one of them’s transitioning into an angel. Often raw, occasionally tender and utterly bizarre: it’s a record you need to hear for yourself to fully comprehend.
Standout track: Suck the Blood From my Wound – Best enjoyed at top volume.
2. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
With its irresistibly catchy beats and melodies, you might think that Dirty Computer was just another pop record. You’d be wrong. It’s Monáe’s most politically charged record yet and scores so highly due to her irrepressible delivery and lyrical mastery.
Standout track: Django Jane – Janelle schools us about #BlackGirlMagic.
1. Kendrick Lamar & Various Artists – Black Panther: The Album
Have this many stars ever leant their talents to a soundtrack before? SZA, The Weeknd, and Khalid are majestic, but Kendrick is the thread which binds their stellar tracks together. His energy elevates others’ skills to an even higher level.
Standout track: King’s Dead ft. Jay Rock, Future & James Blake – All hail King Kendrick.
Featured image by: Princess Woy