The 50 best albums of 2018: the full list

1
Christine and the Queens – Chris

From Chris ’ s opening song, she sets out listening as a gesture of closeness between her and her listeners. It ’ s a fusillade that draws you close, preparing to plunge you into the sensations she sings about. sometimes, those are lascivious, but most often they ’ ra alienating – reflecting how even a steady sense of self can be undermined by rejection. It is a sadder conclusion than you ’ vitamin d expect from a record perceived as a begrimed flex, but a truthful one : what if self-belief international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate always enough ? This album runs counter to empowerment pop ’ randomness current doctrine but feels more truthful for it. Read our wax inspection

2
Robyn – Honey

soon after Robyn released her era-defining 2010 album Body Talk, similar armor-clad bangers about female authorization punctually took over the charts. But crop up moves fast and a new, woozier kind of tune by the likes of Ariana Grande and Dua Lipa has made such coldly raucous numbers seem antique. So how would Robyn stay ahead of the game ? By making a loose, clubbier album, one which had the volume of a full-on dance record and a less pitiless access to melody ; and which never sacrificed Robyn ’ s irresistible blend of sadness and euphoria. Read our full recapitulation

3

Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

A record about womanhood, and black womanhood in particular. “ Remember when they used to say I look besides mannish ? ” Janelle Monáe asks on Django Jane, a sung that celebrates “ black female child charming ” while besides acknowledging she has been treated as less-than by a eurocentric diligence. Having starred in two applaud, black-led films ( Moonlight and Hidden Figures ), and been a vocal advocate of the Black Lives Matter campaign, this was not raw territory for Monáe, but it was more overt than ever in her music. In letting run of her previous alter ego and opening up, she created her best work however. Read our full follow-up

Womanhood … Janelle Monáe Womanhood … Janelle Monáe

4

Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy

Before the Bronx rapper released her 2017-defining single Bodak Yellow, she was better known for snatching wigs on the VH1 reality indicate Love & Hip Hop. Bodak Yellow changed the script : a bright track that earned pop cultural momentum from the bangle of Cardi ’ south melodious, withering flow. But what has made Invasion of Privacy a success a year by and by, the bangle of her debut having worn off, is her personality : steely reality shoot through with a dash of humor. Read our full follow-upMitski at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London. agile, pure voice … Mitski at Shepherd ’ s Bush Empire, London. Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Observer

5

Mitski – Be the Cowboy

With Be the Cowboy, Mitski continues to disrupt and update the conventions of indie rock ‘n’ roll. Gnarly guitars contrast with her inordinately agile, pure voice ; there are upbeat disco numbers and delicate, celestial piano ballads. As a rule, the cheery songs conceal the bleakest sentiments. The album has an arch, dark temper that echoes Marry Me-era St Vincent, paired with an underlying whirlpool of high drama, aloneness and psychosexual dysfunction. Yet Mitski does not just portray a victim ; there is a common sense of fighting back against these forces. The title of the album exhorts the hearer, and possibly the artist herself, to swagger. Read our wide review .

6

Idles – Joy As An Act of Resistance

Addressing politics in dad can be a crafty poise act, yet Idles frontman Joe Talbot charges across the tightrope in big boots, screaming in the face of the forcemeat unfolding around him. There is untrammeled aggression in his articulation, a directness that leaves saliva on your boldness, but it is humor, not anger, that is his most devastate weapon. Beneath the fury and the humor, though, lie real human emotions : vulnerability, chumminess, heat. Read our full moon review .

7

Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth

Heaven and Earth can sound like a cry of frustration at the world ’ s ills, but it besides offers hope in the brightness of its harmonize voices and the endless breath of its scent instruments. It is a searching criminal record, one that reflects an artist project about for the impression behind his music, but besides one with an underlying energy to enact change : whether that exchange takes position within the mind or without, or whether that constitutes a remainder at all. Read our full review .Kamasi Washington. Underlying energy … Kamasi Washington. Photograph: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

8

Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

LSD and music are honest-to-god bedfellows. You can hear the drug ’ s perspective-expanding effects on rock ‘n’ roll bands ranging from the Beatles to Tame Impala, while the bible acid got added to sign of the zodiac to describe the psychedelic outlandishness of the squiggling basslines made by the Roland TR-303. Kacey Musgraves, who took LSD while writing her one-fourth album, Golden Hour, seems to use it to lightly expand her creativity. The results were not endless wig outs and lyrics about riding the snake to the ancient lake, but 13 excellent songs characterised by crystalline emotional and melodious clarity. Read our full review .

9

Low – Double Negative

No early woke pop music or evisceration of Trump ’ second America sums up how 2018 frequently felt quite adenine well as Low ’ sulfur Double Negative. The lyrics are external oblique muscle, but the music seems to be short-circuit and collapse in on itself, nothing working the way it was obviously supposed to. The album is marked by a sense of the familiar being snatched away. There are flashes of anger – as on Poor Sucker ’ s brutal word picture of a reactionary mentality in which the overriding aim is to make people you disagree with suffer – and even optimism. In a world of predictable political music, Double Negative seems unprecedented. Read our wide review

10
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

Conceived closely, on a piano received for his birthday, Alex Turner ’ s manque solo album was importantly fleshed out by the rest of the band so the seam became inconspicuous. Guitarist Jamie Cook slots inventively into the strange raw shapes these songs took. Matt Helders caresses the drum kit with jazzbo sensitivity rather of pummelling it. The band ’ s collective backing falsetto never sounded indeed pitch- perfect. All these plush, disorienting textures – drawn from 60s France and film noir soundtracks, at once expansive and claustrophobic – speak of a little clique of contributors and go-to manufacturer James Ford going all in. Read our entire reviewArctic Monkeys. Pitch-perfect … Arctic Monkeys. Photograph: Zackery Michael

11
Sophie – Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides

Along with the other producers in the personal computer Music static, at first, Sophie brilliantly highlighted the euphoria in J-pop and capture – and then, on her debut full-length, invested it all with emotional depth. The dance tracks are formidable in their mechanised, lubricated preciseness, and fabulous in their mane-preening confidence. But it was the ballads that truly stunned : american samoa big as Bonnie Tyler, they don ’ thyroxine so a lot wear their center on their sleeve as offer it to you on a plate. Read our entire review

12
Sons of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile

saxophonist and bandleader Shabaka Hutchings charges through Sons of Kemet ’ sulfur third album at a grim pace, playfully referencing Illuminati conspiracy theories surrounding the british monarchy and positing his own selection of alternative queens in the action. Backed by two drummers and the rumbling sub-bass of bass horn musician Theon Cross, Your Queen is a Reptile is a sensational assault that earned the band a Mercury respect nomination and a reputation for sparkle, politicised live performances. Read moreSons of Kemet. Sons of Kemet. Photograph: Pierrick Guidou

13
The Internet – Hive Mind

A band fast-becoming known for their solo projects american samoa a lot as for their group exploit, the Internet ’ s latest offer continues the Aaliyah-infused R & B and neo-soul grooves of their former three LPs. Lead single Roll ( Burbank Funk ) plays off a Motown-inspired bassline to create a perfectly condensed three-minute earworm, while slower numbers like Hold On showcase singer Syd ’ s satiny falsetto. Read our full follow-up

14
Noname – Room 25

Chicago knocker Fatimah Warner, AKA Noname, has carved out a reputation as an heir to the socially conscious lyricality of A Tribe Called Quest ever since her debut mixtape, Telefone, in 2016. Room 25 progresses Warner ’ s blend of casual yet eviscerating delivery over know instrumental bet on and fat song melodies ; highlights include the flashy calypso of Montego Bae and the D ’ Angelo grooves of Don ’ triiodothyronine Forget About Me .Noname. casual however eviscerating … Noname. Photograph: Chantal Anderson

15
Natalie Prass – The Future and the Past

The 1970s soft-rock spirit of the likes of Nicolette Larson, Carly Simon and Laura Allan fill this sophisticated, wonderfully written collection of songs – but there are besides touches of Haim ’ randomness pure pop ( on the restless The Fire ) and Erykah Badu ’ s jazz-funk ( Hot for the Mountain and Ship Go Down ). Lost, meanwhile, is one of the year ’ randomness best piano ballads. Read our full review

16
Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar

The music of Edinburgh trio Young Fathers can frequently feel like a lucid pipe dream : peer parts joyous and faze. After winning the Mercury prize for their 2014 debut Dead, they have developed a discrete phone that blends earnest, infectious melodies with jittering, experimental back. From the uplifting gospel vocals of Lord and the roll high-bpm capture of Wire, Cocoa Sugar is bracing, and shows a band in their creative prime. Read our broad recapitulationYoung Fathers. joyous and faze … Young Fathers. Photograph: Julia Noni

17
Pusha T – Daytona

The first gear – and, many said, the best – of the five Kanye West-produced albums released in five much-discussed weeks this leap, Pusha T brings his inimitable cadence to bear on more tales of dope dealing. He sounds bright and more arch than he has in a while, enabled by West ’ south excellent production that played fast and loosen with samples and bricolage beats. Read our broad review

18
Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears

few artists made a greater jump forward this year than this Norwich couple, who swapped the psych notion of their introduction for grotesque electronic pop. Woven into their synth battalions – the Sophie and Faris Badwan collaboration Hot Pink being particularly of note – are some of the year ’ s most incisive lyrics, on familiarity in an long time of technical unplug and the perils of underestimating youthful women. Read our full reviewLet’s Eat Grandma. incisive … Let ’ s Eat Grandma. Photograph: Charlotte Patmore

19
Julia Holter – Aviary

Known for her immaculate chamber-pop poise, Holter subverted expectations with this disarming 90-minute maximalist assault, featuring bagpipes, Tibetan Buddhist chant, chivalric tradition and a good semester ’ s worth of literary references. There remains, true to form, beauty in the chaos she conjures, both in the pamper drawstring section and the feel of fear she exudes without affectation. Read our broad reappraisal

20
Ariana Grande – Sweetener

Given the populace accompaniment for Grande after her treatment of the Manchester bombing, her fourth album could have been an easy victory lap. rather, she pushes boundaries, peculiarly on Sweetener ’ s tracks with Pharrell : juxtapose songwriterly piano ballads with trap, sampling angry right-wingers as she sings about hope, and documenting a panic approach with candor. Read our full review

21
Kali Uchis – Isolation

Kali Uchis has been a quietly so far clamant presence in today ’ sulfur R & B picture. After providing the cloying falsetto on Tyler, the Creator ’ s See You end year and taking a lower register on the G-funk of Snoop Dogg ’ s On Edge, Isolation sees Uchis in broad flow, without the one-verse constraints of a feature slot. It ’ s a sun-drenched court to 70s person, providing playlist favourites in After the Storm and Tyrant. Read moreKali Uchis sun-drenched person … Kali Uchis Photograph: Felipe Q Nogueira

22
Yves Tumor – Safe in the Hands of Love

Having already made everything from the calm ambient to the freakiest noise, Yves Tumor continued to trash any box you might try and put him in on his third album. Noid and Lifetime are blockbuster breakbeat dreampop ; Honesty is a propulsive deep-house ballad ; Hope in Suffering ( Escaping Oblivion & Overcoming Powerlessness ) is as chaotic and fraught as it sounds. Read our entire revue

23
Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

On their one-eighth free in five years, the quality control still hasn ’ thymine dipped : the New York indie-punks, anchored by Andrew Savage ’ s erudite, declarative rant, remain one of the best bands in the US. Their screwball energy is placid there on Wide Awake, but diverted into a wide compass of sound than ever before : bluesy rock ’ n ’ roll on Freebird II, a barrelhouse knees-up on Tenderness, punk-funk shimmy on the style track. Read our wax reviewParquet Courts Screwball energy … Parquet Courts Photograph: Ebru Yildiz/Rough Trade

24
Shame – Songs of Praise

Their frame-up is pure british indie, but there ’ s a bristly, counterintuitive attitude to the south London band that gave them very edge. On their debut, singer Charlie Steen rotates through sarky distance, sneering contempt and serious feel, his band taking on glitter-glam, the psych end of Britpop and indie disco anthems around him. Read our full review

25
Virginia Wing – Ecstatic Arrow

A bolt from the blue – or rather, Manchester, from where this synthpop duet slipped out their remarkable one-third album. It hits like a cleansing Atlantic wave to the face, with Alice Merida Richards proposing a limpid, wry feminist utopia mirrored by the delectable clarity of the pair ’ s take on 80s avant-garde start. Read our wax review

26
Nao – Saturn

On her second album of sensual, scrunchily funky R & B, Nao writes about the alleged Saturn come back : the point around old age 27 when the satellite returns to the status of your give birth and causes spiritual turbulence. In her case, it provokes a reckoning about what ’ s important : namely regard, pleasure and, winningly, practicality. “ I don ’ triiodothyronine concern about this frump and you know I can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate afford it, ” she states on Orbit. Read our full reviewNao Scrunchily fetid … Nao

27
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

The Melbourne native ’ s second album showcases her as a formidable guitarist american samoa much as a piano spoken songwriter. All begrimed blur and wailing melody, her playing veers from coolly casual to intimate over the album ’ south 10 tracks. There ’ south a contact of 60s crop up to Charity, while opener Hopefulessness evokes a Kurt Cobain dirge, and Need a little Time playfully interjects dissonance into Barnett ’ s sweet chorus. Read our wax reappraisal

28
Travis Scott – Astroworld

At only 26, Travis Scott has delivered the year ’ s most ambitious and excellent rap album, to vast achiever in the US. His astral-projected rescue, chopped and screwed or given Auto-Tuned warble, is a eden of sing-song tune ; the beats, which take in square trap equally well as ambient and psychedelic rock, are universally firm ; and the guests, from a sunbaked Tame Impala to a brilliant, vaginally fixated Weeknd, swim in and out in an affecting collageTravis Scott ambitious and excellent … Travis Scott Photograph: David Lachapelle

29
Blood Orange – Negro Swan

Dev Hynes has had the kind of career growth most artists dream of. Turning the kitsch dance-punk of his band Test Icicles into the off-kilter introspection of his first solo project as Lightspeed Champion, as Blood Orange he now negotiates identity as a black man in contemporary America. Negro Swan is a conceptual masterwork, samples and flashy sax lines linking bedroom popular, neo-soul and downbeat rap. Read our full review

30
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs

In one sense, the debut by Melbourne ’ s RBCF sees them join a great ancestry of australian jangle-pop bands. But the bright preciseness and outward-looking lyricality of their long-awaited debut ( following two acclaim mini-albums ) distinguished them from slouches and shoegazers past : their three singer-guitarists Tom Russo, Fran Keaney and Joey White elegantly countenance privilege, pleasure and the impact of colonialism on this move and inspire record. Read more

31
Rosalía – El Mal Querer

Over to James Blake, who tweeted of Rosalía ’ s second album :
“ Just what the actual afjhkhhhhhdiquyhqkzjdhjsnbahjkbbsbdhsjajbaFfdfffdffffffffffffffffffff. ” indeed. El Mal Querer sounds like nothing else released this year : the 25-year-old Catalan trailblazer ’ s ferociously passionate and revolutionist concept album combines flamenco custom with an avant-garde approach to R & B. Read our entire reappraisalRosalia puts a fresh twist in flamenco. Rosalía puts a fresh bend in flamenco. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

32
Confidence Man – Confident Music for Confident People

australian four-piece confidence Man make the kind of joyous, irreverent dance-pop that is sorely needed as an antidote to the political ills of 2018. Frontwoman Janet Planet ’ s speak-singing wryly counters infectious synth lines and rumbling freshwater bass grooves that bring to mind the best of Basement Jaxx and Hot Chip ; or Arthur Russell reimagined for a Snapchatter ’ s attention couple. Read our entire review

33
Tirzah – Devotion

Listening to the south London songwriter ’ s debut feels about voyeuristic : Tirzah ’ s chilly piano balladry and postmark expressions of necessitate in long-run relationships are unsettlingly blunt. But that ’ s the beginning of Devotion ’ s affair. Tirzah and producer Mica Levi coax the hearer into her world with cocooning loops and unobtrusively abrasive electronics that add to her depiction of imperfection as smasher. Read our full reviewExpressions of need … Tirzah Expressions of want … Tirzah Photograph: Clare Shilland/Domino

34
The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Post-punk, tropical family, We Didn ’ metric ton Start the Fire-style fulmination, Siri stories, heroin love songs, Britpop anthems, sentimental flashy reveries : there is no way the 1975 ’ s scattershot third gear album should work, and so far, thanks to Matt Healy ’ s adorably self-excoriating, unashamed bearing, the four-piece pull it off yet again. Read our full review

35
Lonnie Holley – MITH

One of 27 children, sold by a spoof dancer for a pint of whiskey, ending up in a child labor camp and surviving a atrocious car accident : Lonnie Holley ’ s life is extraordinary – but his music is tied more so. MITH is a in truth visionary travel through contemporary US politics, bondage, the cosmic order and the sheer joy of expression, with a kind of run blues and gospel spinning around Holley ’ s glottal hollow. Read our full reappraisalVisionary trip … Lonnie Holley. visionary stumble … Lonnie Holley. Photograph: Ben Rollins/The Guardian

36
Snail Mail – Lush

Amid nowadays ’ sulfur strong slacker-indie scene, the debut album from 19-year-old Lindsey Jordan silent stands out thanks to her part – bell-clear at times, she modulates into a aghast, yearning spirit, topped with a touch of vocal fry. Her adolescent angst is backed by dolefully strummed electric guitar, adding up to rainy-day music of the highest quality .

37
Troye Sivan – Bloom

As Years & Years did on this year ’ s Palo Santo, Australian solo artist Sivan took a step away from mainstream pop on his second album, Bloom, and one towards the queer avant-garde toss off of Perfume Genius. The result is bracing : gothic touches and New Romantic magnificence create the perfect stage for Sivan ’ mho songwriting, much rooted in his experiences of love and lecherousness as a unseasoned gay man. Read our fully reviewRomantic grandeur … Troye Sivan. romanticist nobility … Troye Sivan. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images for NGV

38
US Girls – In a Poem Unlimited

With a mulch of Abba-y disco-pop, trip-hop, rockabilly, glam rock and more, Meg Remy in truth levelled up on her seventh free. A pissed-off reject charges each track, whether she ’ south dealing with domestic violence, childhood trauma or industrial chemicals making families sterile, and Remy ’ s croon – like an embitter music mansion singer – seals this spectacularly original album. Read our entire review

39
Gwenno – Le Kov

It ’ s likely that the Welsh songwriter ’ s irregular album will forever remain the populace ’ s only cornish language synth-pop album that reimagines the county as a cosmopolitan hive of diligence. But even if anyone did fancy trying to steal Gwenno ’ s entitle, it is unlikely they ’ d pull it off adenine well as she does here, interweaving profoundly research history, emotionally resonant fantasy and utopia-within-reach into a cohesive and entrance whole. Read our broad review

40
Lily Allen – No Shame

Allen ’ s indicative memoir ended up overshadowing No Shame, but her fourth album warrants far attention, and not just because she makes many of the same confessions about her failings and infidelity within its 14 tracks. Like her classic debut, Alright, even, it seamlessly integrates the heavy of contemporaneous London into smart pop music music – and about erases all memory of 2014 ’ mho desperate Sheezus in the process. Read our broad reviewLily Allen. Confessions … lily Allen. Photograph: David Titlow/The Guardian

41
Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Nerds get bogged down in taxonomy when discussing Deafheaven – is it metallic element or not ? – but the rest of us can get on with just revelling in a gigantically heavy band at the acme of their powers. The solo are virtuosic and elate, the blast-beats cleanse, and the post-rock ballads so simpleton and affecting. distillery anyone ’ s guess what George Clarke is roaring about, mind. Read our full review

42
Skee Mask – Compro

Junglism is the energy that churns deep under this massively atmospheric record from shady Munich producer Skee Mask : there are some squarely ravey numbers, like Dial 274, but the breakbeats much mutate before they reach the airfoil. On 50 Euro to Break Boost they ’ re blown out and distorted ; on Kozmic Flush they ’ rhenium high-speed and skitter ; on Rev8617 they ’ rhenium slowed into pretty hip-hop. Fans of Metalheadz and classical Warp will find much to love here .

43
Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain

Kindness is frequently incorrectly considered a dainty emotion, the opinion of cross-stitched homilies and that weepy girl who sneaks into the reconciliation at the end of Mean Girls. But on this Arizona-born songwriter ’ mho sixth album, Andrews summons Americana heft to give empathy the weight it deserves, advocating for extending tenderness to ex-lovers, strangers and refugees alike. Read our full revueCourtney Marie Andrews Empathy … Courtney Marie Andrews

44
Neneh Cherry – Broken Politics

For her second collaboration with manufacturer Four Tet, trip-hop queen Neneh Cherry takes a quiet turn, focusing her soulful articulation on issues including the refugee crisis and the environment, set to twinkling bells and dub. Elements of the Bristol scene that first brought her to fame stay, with Massive Attack ’ s 3D break by, although it ’ s the sword drum-aided jazz of Natural Skin Deep where Cherry reaches her flower. Read our broad review

45
Serpentwithfeet – Soil

A former choirboy, Josiah Wise sings gospel apparently designed for 22nd-century pagans. In his debut full-length, Wise ’ s crystalline voice cuts through synthetic melodies, choral harmony and an faze rumble of experimental electronics to create an album of affair and challenging performativity. Read our full review

46
Tracey Thorn – Record

It ’ sulfur been a great year for grown-up pop music : florence Welch, the 1975, Lily Allen and Neneh Cherry have all made boundary-pushing albums about, well, pushing boundaries as pop stars over the age of 30. chief among them is Tracey Thorn ’ s fifth solo album, where her admirably blunt everyday concerns anchor transcendent acid-tinged disco. Read our full review

47
Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo

Thai flinch and Texan desert rock might not seem like usual bedfellows, but Houston-based trio Khruangbin have united the two in a cinematic instrumental blend over a series of releases since 2010. Con Todo El Mundo, their irregular album, is a soothing sunset ride : all infectious wah-wah guitar and dreamy basslines underpinned by brake drum grooves that lay deep in the pocket .Khruangbin Sunset ride … Khruangbin

48
Cat Power – Wanderer

Ignoring verse-chorus-verse rules in favor of lulling repetition and circuitous logic, Wanderer ’ mho songs are arsenic itinerant as the championship suggests. Chan Marshall ’ s pumice-stone voice slinks around chiming notes on piano or acoustic guitar, resulting in bluesy ruminations. But there are moments of popular, besides : the gathering rush of the chorus on Woman, a couple with Lana Del Rey, and her authoritative piano ballad cover of Rihanna ’ s Stay. Read our broad inspection

49
Jon Hopkins – Singularity

Producer Jon Hopkins ’ newfound love of meditation can be felt on this, his fifth album. The ambiance of his previous work with Brian Eno is an underlie presence as Singularity brings in club atmospheres before maintaining emotional equilibrium with calmer moods. A manifesto for a raw kind of dancefloor mindfulness, possibly. Read our full review

50
Goat Girl – Goat Girl

Goat Girl ’ mho beginning let go of in 2016 lamented : “ How can an stallion nation be indeed fucking compact ? ” Following this pithy post-Brexit-vote telephone line, their debut album continues the alienation, with singer Clottie Cream drawling through 19 tracks of fuzzed guitar, pounding drums and lyrics taking aim at everything from populace tape drive sexual harassers to the Tories and the DUP, who they suggest could form a pyre in Burn the Stake. Read more

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