The top 18 albums of 2018: give this list a try


Jacqueline Sumida

The vinyl edition of Arctic Monekys’ “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”

2018 was full of drama, comebacks and stunning debuts. In 2018 many artists showed their authentic selves through their music with an uprise of artists embracing their sexuality and gender as well as the dramatic rise of SoundCloud rappers, the announcement of Elton John’s final tour and the seventeenth album from Sir Paul McCartney. 

But, out of the hundreds of EPs, LPs and mixtapes that came out this year — only one can reign supreme. So, here are my top picks for 2018. 

  1. “What Is Love”- Clean Bandit

The sophomore record from the British electronica group was honestly was a great follow up to 2014’s “New Eyes.” The star power on this album, including the likes of Ellie Goulding, Marina and The Diamonds, Charli XCX and Luis Fonsi, really make this album one to listen to. In songs such as “Solo” and “Symphony,” Clean Bandit combines the electronic sound with killer orchestration to make one classically dance party album.

Stand Out Song – “Mama” (ft. Ellie Goulding)

  1. “Chris”- Christine and The Queens

The infectious beats of this album make it better than other pop albums this year. It comes in both French and English versions. My personal opinion is that the French version flows better. Songs like “Girlfriend” and “the stranger” really bring out the sharp intentions of Chris’ voice on top of a techno beat.

Stand Out Song– “Comme-Si S’Amiait” (“Comme Si” in English)

  1. “Daytona”- Pusha T

For only being seven songs, this album holds itself up to those with fifteen to twenty tracks. Pusha T really spits fire on the entire album, mostly by himself, while the few featured artists add more to the rougher, hard edge of Daytona.

Stand Out Song – “Hard Piano” (ft. Rick Ross)

  1. “Tell Me How You Really Feel”- Courtney Barnett

The Australian singer-songwriter brings in a grittier sound on her third full-length album. The darker tone makes this album really stand out, with heavier guitar and a less sarcastic tone than previous works 2015’s “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit” and 2014’s “The Double EP; A Sea of Split Peas.” With a recently announced Bonnaroo spot, Barnett will be able to fully rock out with these emotional and darker tracks.

Stand Out Song – “Nameless, Faceless”

  1. “MassEducation”- St. Vincent

The stand out acoustic only album of the year by far. “MassEducation” is the toned down version of 2017’s “MASSEDUCTION” and honestly, blows the roof off the original compositions. With laid back, piano-driven versions of “Young Lover” and “Slow Disco” are the perfect tracks for a chill evening with close friends.

Stand Out Song – “New York”

  1.  “Venturous”- Fallen Resonance  

The debut EP from another French band from Cannes is a trip to the late 90s, early 00s punk rock. With guitars wailing and bass lines that sink into your soul, this is the international, male answer to The Aces. This could be a great start to an amazing career.

Stand Out Song – “Picture January”

  1. “Lm5”- Little Mix

While this album never quite reached the heights of 2016’s “Glory Days,” the album did serve as a much more mature direction for the 2011 X-Factor winners. They remained close to their feminist, girl power roots with songs like “Woman’s World” and “Strip,” but also got onto the completely opposite side with bangers like “Motivate” and “Wasabi.” With a collaboration with Nicki Minaj under their belts, the “world’s biggest girl group” might just finally break stateside.

Stand Out Song – “Woman’s World”

  1. “Make My Bed EP”- King Princess

With their debut EP, King Princess burst onto the indie scene with impressive force. Songs like “Holy” and “1950,” this album switches moods at an electric rate and with a tactical precision that dives deep into the soul of hidden relationships and bad heartbreak. With a solo album coming out sometime in 2019, expect this album to give just a taste to one of the rising artists of 2019.  

Stand Out Song – “Talia”

  1. “My Mind Makes Noises”- Pale Waves

The debut album from the Manchester four piece is a complete set of bangers. With great driving songs like “Drive,” “One More Time” and “Television Romance” to somber songs about sensitive subjects such as the death of lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie’s grandfather in “Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die)” and the pain of someone moving on without you in “She.” Overall, Pale Waves stands out as another act to watch in 2019 when they go on tour with Dirty Hit labelmates The 1975 in April.

Stand Out Song – “Came In Close”

  1. “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”- Arctic Monkeys

This isn’t the Arctic Monkeys album you were expecting and that’s what makes it absolutely epic. The perfect combination of piano bar and alternative rock makes this story of an intergalactic hangout an album that will never come off my playlists. Tracks like “Star Treatment” and the title track are both upbeat and cool at the exact same time.

Stand Out Song – “American Sports”

  1. “Bloom”- Troye Sivan

The sophomore effort from the YouTuber turned international gay icon is full of tracks that both have serious messages behind really danceable instrumentals. Sivan switches from full out banger to a somber song with the slightest of ease, giving a full range of emotions in just 11 songs. This was the perfect follow-up to “Blue Neighbourhood.”

Stand Out Song – “Lucky Strike”

  1. “Villians”- Emma Blackery

When one of my best friends sent this album to me at first, I was really skeptical. Blackery has the perfect slightly raspy voice that compliments her subject matter perfectly. From calling out her exes in “Dirt” to finding out the truth about her personality in both “Villians Pt. 1” and “Villians Pt. 2,” “Villians” is a bop from start to finish.

Stand Out Song – “Take Me Out”

  1. “Dirty Computer”- Janelle Monae

True fact- Janelle Monae never makes bad music and this album isn’t an exception at all. Once again used perfect electronic beats to exercise messages of free love and expression. Now with a headliner spot at Glastonbury this summer, expect everyone to be listening to this album on repeat.

Stand Out Song – “Dirty Computer”

  1. “High As Hope”- Florence + The Machine

On the fourth album from Florence Welch and company, the group took a much-subdued approach as opposed to loud and orchestrated. Welch’s perfect voice takes center stage on songs like “Sky Full Of Song” and “Big God,” with little to no instrumental backing. This album was a perfect contrast to the louder sounds of 2018 and really gave me hope for the future of the South London group.

Stand Out Song – “The End Of Love”

  1. “Trench”- twenty-one pilots

The long-awaited album from the Ohio duo ended up being a wild ride start to finish. Twenty-One Pilots once again mix their usual rapping and singing duo with even more catchy drum beats courtesy of Josh Dun. “Nico and the Niners,” “Morph” and “Jumpsuit” ended up being the most memorable tracks off this electronic and bass lead album.

Stand Out Song – “Levitate”

  1. Expectations – Hayley Kiyoko

Do you recognize this woman from the Disney classic “Lemonade Mouth?” Well, Hayley Kiyoko has taken the world by storm with her LGBTQ+ power anthems from one of the best storybook albums in years. With her songs like “Curious,” “Sleepover,” “Feelings” and “What I Need” being the words of wisdom for anyone who felt like their feelings were inadequate, don’t expect Kiyoko to stop preaching love with 20GayTeen coming to a close.

Stand Out Song – “He’ll Never Love You”

  1. “When My Heart Felt Volcanic”- The Aces

The debut album of the four women from Orem, Utah is absolutely pop-rock perfection. This album transcends from a glittery rock in “Volcanic Love” and “Last One” to straight rock, “Bad Love” and “Holiday” to softer piano and bass lead tracks, “Hurricane” and “Put It On The Line.” Overall, if they keep producing almost perfect albums like this one, keep The Aces on your radar for the next couple of years.

Stand Out Song – “Lovin Is Bible”

  1. “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships” – The 1975

As critics hail it as the new “OK Computer,” what really stands out is the stark contrast between the more somber songs and the loud rock bangers. This album shows the experience of being young at this moment in time from references to dead rappers in “Love It If We Made It,” and the Kanye West and a Siri voice interlude about the loneliness of the digital age titled “The Man Who Married A Robot.” At the end of the day, this will most likely be the album 2018 is remembered for and the one that’s placed Matt Healy and company at the top of countless festival billings for this summer.