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Charity Swales' Best Albums Of 2018


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2018 has seen an emergence of promising new talent, along with established artists most experimental material to date. From shoegaze-black metal to visceral UK punk, here are some of my favourite releases of the year.

Image courtesy of Idles

1. Idles - Joy As An Act Of Resistance

Whereas Brutalism was all guns blazing, Joy As An Act of Resistance comes as more of an invite for conversation, as Idles show a more vulnerable side to their songwriting. Armed with unabashed wit and raucous instrumentation, Idles' unique dissection and embrace of society make them one of the most important UK bands around at the moment. Moments of biting, hilarious cynicism are contrasted with perceptive takes on toxic masculinity and depression. Joy is Idles' most inclusive and diverse album to date, and one of the most culturally important records of the year.

2. Mitski - Be The Cowboy

On Be The Cowboy, Mitski captures the most difficult part of love and heartbreak in the most poignant and penetrating way. It’s an album exploring the vulnerability of love and loss, the suffocation of heartbreak and simply wanting someone's hand to hold in peaks of solitude. It sees Mitski’s finest songwriting in tracks like 'Geyser' even show off her skills as a guitarist, as crescendos transition seamlessly into landslides. The country tinged 'Lonesome Love' contains one of my favourite lines of 2018: “Nobody butters me up like you, and nobody fucks me like me".


3. Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

The fourth album from Deafheaven is their most experimental and accomploished to date. The atmosphere created in the album is a stunning combining of eloquent hedonism and underlying melancholy. It touches on aspects of the human condition, such as love and loss, and existence through a self-combusting microscopic lense. Opener 'You Without End" enters like a gentle wave, as the soft piano instrumentation culminates into tourtued shrieks, while 'Worthless Animal' closes the album with a glint of chaos. It proves that disparity can be beautiful and rewarding.

4). Soccer Mommy - Clean

Soccer Mommy, aka Sophie Allison, explores the meta teenage loser character which reeks of teenage cynicism and the desire to be someone else. ‘Cool’ explores jealousy and despondency, as Allison longs to be that girl who is the eptiome of cool, whereas lead single ‘Your Dog’ sees a bratty girl biting back against toxic abuse: “I don’t wanna be your fuckin dog”.  Allison's vocals are melodic yet deadpan, seeming like every lyric that comes off her lips is a sceptical attack. Clean is genuine and unapolagetic, and by the end of the album, you feel you could easily be mates with Allison, that girl next door.

5. Blood Orange - Negro Swan

Blood Orange's latest output is their most graceful and melodic to date. It possesses the trademark sound of Dev Hynes' outfit with it’s disco influenced groove and atmospheric electronic synths, and includes collaborations with some of music's most promising black artists from ASAP Rocky to Steve Lacy. Voice clips cut into gorgeous harmonies and a gunshot marks the end of the glittering grooove of 'Charcoal Baby', expressing the transience of joy in the black experience. Negro Swan practices love in the face of hatred.

6. Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs

Following a three year break proceeding I Don't Like Shit I Don't Go Outside, Earl Sweatshirt's new album Some Rap Songs was well worth the wait. Earl takes a pair of scissors to soul, funk and jazz samples, cutting them into jagged shapes which match up perfectly with hip-hop beats. Some Rap Songs cements his worth as one of the most prolific rappers in the game at the moment, and goes to show why he was once lauded as a teenage prodigy.

7. Ross From Friends - Family Portrait

No, David Schwimmer did not take a career detour. Ross from friends, aka Felix Clary Weatherill, produces a fuzzy dance record wrought with soulful nostalgia and futuristic beats. 'Thank God I'm A Lizard' incorporates an oscilating breakbeat against sensual vocal samples, where as the soulful 'Wear Me Down' exults euphoric raw emotion. It's an album that can accompany both 2am dissertation writing or a 4am dance event in a renovated warehouse. Family Portrait provides a snapshot of the promising young talent emerging in the UK dance scene.  

8. Shame - Songs Of Praise

Shame, in their debut, invite you to join in their chorus of cynicism on British society and the Tory goverment. What's refreshing about the London group is that they're not trying to be part-time politicians, they're simply giving a generation disollusioned by the post-Brexit goverment something to shout about. Songs Of Praise is filled with tales of everything from older men seducing young women to trips to the gynacolegist, and it's all done through the lense of post-adolescent rage and brazen instrumentation.

9. Dream Wife - Dream Wife

Despite beginning as an art project, Dream Wife really showed their worth as a serious music project with the release of their debut album. Frontwoman Rakel Mjoll is a battleaxe Lolita, diverting between sugar sweet vocals and biting riot girl shrieks, while Alice Go delivers sultry guitar riffs straight out of the Riot Grrl movement. Their debut touches on many issues familiar with the modern day female experience, such as objectification and self-love, as Mjoll sings “I am not my body, I am somebody”. Dream Wife are exactly the female force we needed in 2018.

10. Kojaque - Deli Daydreams

Ireland has been the unlikely hub for hip-hop talent in 2018, producing break-out artists such as Rejjie Snow who also released his debut this year. Yet, Kevin Smith's latest project is one of the most criminally underrated of 2018. Deli Daydreams is a concept album written from the point of view a deli owner - the mundane archetype of Dublin life. Keith Kavanuagh's guest spot in 'Eviction Notice' is a beautifully poignant moment that combines elevator-like music with drum machine beats and Kavaugnah's soulful vocals. 'Last Pint' is backtracked by a sample of car dashboard sounds, whiles its lyrics tumble through absurdist Trainspotting-esque babies on ceilings. It's totally thrilling in its mundanity. 


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