Article by Andrés Alvarado
Another year in the rearview mirror; but not without a bevy of excellent releases left behind. Like every year, 2018 swarmed us with superb tunes and outlandish albums that caught our collective attention throughout the last 12 months. Rankings are always touchy and best-of lists bring about impassioned arguments of who outdid who, and what album bested what album. In the end, these ranks are purely subjective and meant in playful fun. So, without further ado, here are this writer’s picks for best albums of the year:
18.- Denzel Curry — TA13OO.- A magnificent testament to Denzel Curry’s pedal-to-the-metal approach to art. TA13OO is raw, refined, angry, joyous, dark, and light. TA13OO is Denzel Curry’s mainstream presentation card — the man is here to stay.
17.- J. Balvin — Vibras.- This Colombian superstar is shattering expectations left and right. On Vibras, Balvin presents himself more confident, fully in charge, and as playful as ever. His musical style is conquering soundwaves and fans by the millions. Rightfully so.
16.- Arctic Monkeys — Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino.- Welcome to the weirdest and most soothing destination vacation your eardrums can escape to. Mr. Alex Turner goes for broke with this gorgeously wacky keys-driven offering. We think his bet handsomely paid off.
15.- MGMT — Little Dark Age.- Easily their finest record since their 2007 breakthrough debut Oracular Spectacular. Little Dark Age is witty, catchy, beautiful art-pop. Quite simply, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser collectively took us on an openly fantastic ride.
14.- Earl Sweatshirt — Some Rap Songs.- This wunderkind continues to impress despite the mounting pressure to be “perfect.” Some Rap Songs fluctuates amid the imaginary and arbitrary lines drawn between hip-hop and jazzy undertones to create pure magic. Earl is a prophet of sorts, a leader of the new school rap-scene for sure.
13.- Father John Misty — God’s Favorite Customer.- A profound testament to Josh Tillman’s otherworldly songwriting prowess. God’s Favorite Customer is a brutally clever raw statement delivered through a lighthearted vessel. Father John Misty just seems to never disappoint.
12.- Kamasi Washington — Heaven and Earth.- Contemporary Jazz is back in. Kamasi Washington’s latest is full-fledged of futuristic harmonious rhythms and panache. Heaven and Earth is the lovely return of Afro-tinged melodies in the form of downright coolness.
11.- Parquet Courts — Wide Awake!.- New York City post-punk quartet, Parquet Courts, present a sensational thought-provoking and insightful rage-dance-till-you-drop slice of badass on Wide Awake! — and we could not be happier.
10.- Cardi B — Invasion of Privacy.- This is Cardi B’s world; we just live in it. Invasion of Privacy is everything you would expect and more from the Queen of Party. Cardi’s debut is vulnerable, empowering, catty, mature, and an absolute blast.
9.- Young Fathers — Cocoa Sugar.- Don’t let the hip-hop tag fool you. Young Fathers are a genre-less bunch — and they excel at it with Cocoa Sugar. Mixing elements of neo-soul, dub, and hip-hop, this Scottish troupe is killing the game, kicking ass and taking names.
8.- Janelle Monáe — Dirty Computer.- The finest pop-funk album of the year. On Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe demonstrate her capabilities at newer and taller heights. Exploring the sexual content inside a woman’s mind can be intimidating — leave it to Janelle Monáe to turn that into a kick-ass work of art. Dirty Computer simply wins, wins, wins.
7.- Snail Mail — Lush.- Lindsey Jordan shines bright on her debut project. Lush is a throwback of sorts — which is nothing new, except this time, the performer is only 19 years old. Riffling off wise sentiments onto ’90ish tunes is the name of the game for this up-and-comer. Lush is a moodily promising and deeply sincere record that breaks the mold.
6.- Pusha-T — Daytona.- The most impressive solo work from Pusha-T to date. Daytona is an honest tale to a lifestyle of fame, drugs, beefs, and guilt. It is beautifully piercing, sincere to the umpteenth power, and daring. Brimmed of witty wordplay and Kanye West’s production touch, Daytona is one heckuva record.
5.- Mitski — Be The Cowboy.- A exceptional release. Be The Cowboy might very well be Mitski’s magnum opus. Mesmerizing and complex, intoxicating and a breath of fresh air, Be The Cowboy is Mitski’s graduation from local venue gigs to the world’s biggest stages.
4.- Sunflower Bean — Twentytwo In Blue.- A dreamy folk and indie rock concoction that entices the senses with young-adult themed issues that touches on rage and humor alike. The Sunflower Bean trio has quite grown up since their debut record, both musically and lyrically. Twentytwo In Blue is a total win.
3.- Daughters — You Won’t Get What You Want.- Their first album in over 8 years is art-noise magnificence. A brooding record that is unapologetic and fucks with your senses; with or without your approval. Ominous thoughts waltzing onto felicitously paired melodies — You Won’t Get What You Want is an absolute triumph.
2.- Kids See Ghosts — Kids See Ghosts.- Simply mesmerizing. Kanye West and Kid Cudi at their artistic optimum. Kids See Ghosts is another fine chapter in the West discography, and a resurrection of sorts for Cudi — who rips-n-rhymes at his best in years.
1.- The Voidz — Virtue.- Ridiculously insane might be the best and most accurate descriptor for Virtue. Nonetheless, we’ll call it our 2018 Album of the Year. Julian Casablancas and company hold nothing back — and it is a genre-busting, wickedly beautiful reminder that The Voidz are not The Strokes; not even close. The Voidz are to be reckoned with.