The Skinny's Albums of 2018 so far
As we reach the halfway point of 2018, our music team have selected their favourite albums so far, featuring everything from Aussie pop to Scottish hip-hop via techno and krautrock
10) Confidence Man – Confident Music for Confident People
"Melbourne-based Confidence Man are a band who know exactly what they want; with a fucking excellent sense of humour to boot, they shouldn't be taken too seriously. Their debut albums, Confident Music for Confident People is littered with unexpected flourishes, comical call-and-responses and an overriding element of fun." [Tallah Brash]
What they said: “We went away on a trip to somewhere in Victoria and stayed in this house that had a hot tub, so we spent two weeks there just partying really hard and we didn't get that much done [...] Initially we thought we didn't get anything done there but later on we were like, actually that part that we did when we were really drunk in the hot tub, we'll use that – and just pulled bits out of these not very good songs that we wrote on this trip away.” [Janet Planet]
9) Half Waif – Lavender
"Nandi Rose Plunkett has effortless control over a melody, an instrumental, a strange sound effect. She’s always been a powerful performer, but she’s nailed the careful art of crafting an album with Lavender; its stories, themes and tunes echo each other powerfully." [Stephen Butchard]
What they said: "As much as I write music for myself for the sense of catharsis and the search for beauty, I also absolutely want to forge connections with other people through these songs. I find that the best experiences for me as a performer are when I can feel that the audience is connecting to the words, even if they are thinking what their own apocalypse means.” [Nandi Rose Plunkett]
8) Against All Logic – 2012-2017
Nicolas Jaar surprise-released the dance-oriented 2012-2017 album back in February under his club-ready alter ego, Against All Odds (A.A.L), a fun exploration of all things electronic in dance music.
What we said: "Unlike the subtle and unexpected explorations Nicolas Jaar makes under his own name, 2012-2017 uses more conventional electronic materials – hi-hats, kick drums, stirring vocal samples – in service of what would be a perfunctory and generic effort in lesser hands. Fortunately, Jaar weaves in plenty of unique flourishes (the hypnotic, undulating bassline in Flash in the Pan, the pitched-down vocals of Such a Bad Way, the giddy joy of I Never Dream) that not only make the record one of the year's most beautifully crafted, but also one of the most fun." [Lewis Wade]
7) Beach House – 7
7 is the seventh album from Beach House's Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, who "have approached 7 a bit differently to their previous albums. After releasing B-Sides and Rarities last year, they adopted a new creative process. Instead of restricting their instrumentation to whatever they could feasibly play live, they’ve gone wherever their creative flow has taken them [..] 7 is still a solid first step heralding Beach House’s next phase." [Eugenie Johnson]
What they said: “Everything we wanted for this record was kind of a reaction to the past, like getting sick of doing things the same old way [...] When you're playing with things creatively, there's many sides to everything... and you find all these other dimensions. I think that's the real allure... that all of a sudden you're shown all of these multitudes and that keeps you physically alive because it shows you something perhaps a bit hopeful and full of possibilities.” [Victoria Legrand]
6) Nils Frahm – All Melody
Following on from 2015's Solo, All Melody is the ninth studio album from German musician, composer, producer (and Piano Day founder) Nils Frahm via London-based indie label Erased Tapes.
What we said: "All Melody is a thrilling return, an album that's somehow dense, organic, sparse and electronic all at the same time. Sunson, #2 and Kaleidoscope pulse and heave on waves of synth; My Friend the Forest shows that Frahm hasn't lost the knack for beautiful, spacious piano composition. He even manages to rehabilitate the sound of the pan pipes after a spate of ruining high-profile indie albums – truly, he's a man of many talents." [Peter Simpson]
5) Wye Oak – The Louder I Call, The Faster it Runs
The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs is a hugely creative and wildly ambitious sixth record from Wye Oak, made up of apparently endless waves of sound and experimental slices of indie, folk and synth-pop, all anchored by Jenn Wasner’s fantastic, oscillating vocals [...] It revels in keeping you off balance; it impresses, inspires and occasionally overwhelms, but it never outstays its welcome. A fantastic statement from an endlessly evolving band shouting louder than ever. [Peter Simpson]
What they said: “In the past we've set out to be minimal, but ended up maximal, so with this record we were just like, 'Fuck it! Let's be maximal'... It's the first record we've made where there wasn't some sort of artificial limitation placed on the recording or the composition – not in a negative way, just a limitation we've used as a creative jumping-off point... but this is the first time we haven't given ourselves any limitations, we just decided to put everything on the table.” [Jenn Wasner]
4) Jon Hopkins – Singularity
Following 2013's Mercury Prize-nominated Immunity, Singularity is the fifth solo studio album from electronic music producer Jon Hopkins (and third on Domino Records) who has previously worked with the likes of Imogen Heap, King Creosote, Coldplay and Brian Eno among others.
What we said: "Much like Immunity before it, Jon Hopkins plays with light and dark to exhilirating effect and with Singularity it feels like he’s levelled up the melding of two worlds: ambient and techno. Hopkins’ signature deep tissue massage bass is stitched together throughout, with unreal moments of musical beauty making Singularity a simply stunning album of emotional highs and lows." [Tallah Brash]
3) Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
Wide Awake! is officially Parquet Courts' fifth studio album, but sixth if you include 2014's Content Nasea which they relased under the name Parkay Quarts. The album features an unlikely partnership with producer Danger Mouse which in the most part is a rewarding collaborative experience.
What we said: "In its 13 tracks and just shy of 40 minutes, Wide Awake! shows perhaps the band's broadest emotional range to date with a healthy dollop of anger on display (see Violence or Before the Water Gets Too High). There is rather a lot to be angry about right now, but Parquet Courts remind us to, at least, dance and have a good time, despite the impending apocalypse." [Adam Turner-Heffer]
2) Hookworms – Microshift
The Leeds five-piece released their third studio album, Microshift, back in February on Domino to universal acclaim – like the others on this list, it's an album our writers find themselves going back to time and time again.
What we said: "Microshift utilises Hookworms' propensity for psychedelia and takes it somewhere new: it's the band's most accessible record to date, but the subtle electronic idiosyncrasies keep it interesting. Immersive and lyrically heavy, but not without radiancy and light, their ability to turn desperation into euphoria is a quality that makes this album a liberating, often healing, experience." [Hayley Scott]
1) Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
"As always, it’s a mystery how Young Fathers pull it off. Cocoa Sugar slaps sugary boy band choruses against tongue-twister rap, via surreal imagery borrowed from the Bible and a sprinkling of the kind of idioms your nan might use. It’s a potent mix, and their best album yet." [Katie Hawthorne]
What they said: “You hear one thing, and then our instinct is to go against it somehow. To find something you’ve never really experienced before. I don’t think we’re contrarians, it’s just what we like. We have completely different tastes, but if we join up on anything it’d be that love of light and dark, hard and soft, against each other. Fake and real. We grew up listening to reggae and soul. The contrast in those songs mean that you’re dancing to it, but it’s a fucking sad song. I think that’s our root.” [Graham 'G' Hastings]
And here's a rundown of what just missed the top ten, from 20 to 11:
20) LYLO – Post Era
19) Dream Wife – Dream Wife
18) Ought – Room Inside the World
17) U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
16) Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
15) Pusha T – Daytona
14) Snail Mail – Lush
13) Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog
12) Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
11) The Breeders – All Nerve
Listen to tracks from each of the top 20 in our Spotify playlist below; let us know your album of the year so far in the comments below. The Skinny's full Albums of 2018 round-up will feature in our December issue and online in December 2018.