Top Albums of 2018 – Some Gems Before We Get To The Top 30 …

Today, before we get into our top 30 albums of 2018 (starting Tuesday afternoon), a quick summary of another 15 or so I've enjoyed this year. Indeed, I really can’t remember a year when its been so hard to differentiate between the choices once I got to about my number 10 and onwards.

So pretty much everything from about number 10 to 45 is virtually on the same level, and my placement is somewhat random to be honest – they’re all really good albums without being life-changing or long-term classics (although that is hard to judge without the benefit of a few years’ reflection, of course!) Anyway, all of these are well worth a listen if you are at all a fan of the genre they’re working in.

So, in no particular order;

 Lush - Snail Mail
Snail Mail is basically indie-rock prodigy Lindsay Jordan, who is 19 (for goodness sake, 19!)  One of a host of young female singer songwriters coming out of the US, she writes grungy, slightly punky but tuneful songs with smart lyrics – she clearly has the potential to do even better work in the future.

Every Valley - Public Service Broadcasting
One of the most original “bands” around, PSB here took the life and death of a Welsh mining village as their theme. Using old archive recordings of people talking about their experiences of mining, with their original music in various styles as the accompaniment, they paint an elegiac picture in a unique manner.

Art of Doubt - Metric     
Metric were back with their sharp, electro pop-rock anthemic tunes, more guitars this time on their 7th album, but still led superbly by Emily Haines (sigh…), whose strong, precise vocals and slightly cynical delivery carry the album. She can sound both alluring and slightly scary at the same time, which takes some doing!

Clean - Soccer Mommy
Soccer Mommy is Sophie Allison, a 20-year-old from Nashville, another of the strong emerging crop of young “indie” US female singer-songwriters.  Somewhat more pop/acoustic than Snail Mail (see above), Pitchfork said  “Clear melodies and plainspoken lyrics”, and we agree. Incredibly promising.

Staying at Tamara’s -  George Ezra
Radio friendly pop but with enough personality and lyrical interest to make Ezra HUGE. The ear-worm that is Shotgun was the most streamed tune in the universe this summer …

Joy as an Act of Resistance – IDLES
Edgy, politically aware punk with attitude, but not without tunes. Second album from the Bristol band and they’re on the way up, without a doubt.

Rebound - Eleanor Friedberger
Friedberger was part of The Fiery Furnaces, but own identity continues to develop here with her 3rd solo work, a hard-to-classify but very enjoyable album. Smart lyrics, poppy in places, but with interesting angles that go towards more psychedelia and indie.  Clever but approachable.

Hell-On - Neko Case
I love Neko Case, she’s on the right side of most arguments, she has a great and distinctive country / rock voice and is a talented songwriter. Another very good album, not much “country” here at all really, not her very best but still recommended.

Bloom - Troye Sivan
His image as an openly gay YouTube “personality” and vlogger might make some expect a certain type of music – commercial but not quality perhaps - but his second album showed he has serious musical credentials. It is “only” modern electronic pop, but with clever and odd touches in instrumentation and lyrics that make it well worth a short (35 minutes) listen.

Combat Sports - Vaccines
Another good sharp rock album from the Vaccines, without anything to make it stand out from three previous good-to-very-good albums. You know the score with them by now I suspect.

You Are Someone Else - Fickle Friends
British female fronted indie-dance debut – very reminiscent of The 1975’s early material. Tuneful, lively, not hugely original but enjoyable – good live too.

so sad so sexy - Lykke Li
Swedish R’n’b influenced dance-pop, with a fair bit of sadness and heartbreak amongst the big club tunes.

Honey – Robyn
More Swedish faintly melancholic pop / dance, but clever, emotionally interesting  songs, with smart production and lyrics take it out of the normal run of this type of music.

Pray for the Wicked - Panic At The Disco
The sixth album for the Reading festival headliners, with a move towards a somewhat more electronic sound. It didn’t go down well with all their long-term fans but included big tunes like the global smash “High Hopes”.

Goat girl - Goat Girl
Spiky, cool indie-rock tunes from London all female group. Touches of the Cure, Savages, Clash in there but this is one of the more original albums on this list – very promising.

Voices (3)

  1. Alphabet Bands:

    Some good choices already Peter.
    I’ve been loving the Fickle Friends and Robyn records especially.
    Looking forward to seeing what made your Top 30.

    AB

    1. Peter Smith:

      thanks, Mr Alphabet! We really should have a beer in 2019. Just read your post about not doing end of year lists too early – I agree, I did want to wait for the 1975 in particular, who may just be quite high in the list… the two other problems are a. no-one, unless they do NOTHING else, can listen to everything. I almost missed the amazing Low album, and there are some in the serious critics’ lists that have passed me by (like Cat Power) that I suspect I would like. And b. it is very personal, like I can appreciate Kendrick Lamar is probably a genius – but it is just not my taste. Jazz, modern classical, garage, grime… nope. So I’m choosing from a subset of contemporary music. Oh yes c. I just forget some, already I have realized I missed Manic Street Preachers and Camilla whats her name, the Havana girl, from the list, both of which I really liked, so either my top 30 becomes 32 or they miss out… !

      1. Alphabet Bands:

        Indeed. I am only just now getting to spend some time with the amazing Christine and the Queens album, as well as John Grant. And then there is the huge list of artists featured in Electronic Sound magazine’s end of year / tips list to work my way through.

        What is next for you after Spend Matters? Starting your own Music Blog? 🙂

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