The Skinny's Top 50 Albums of 2018

After another barnstorming year for new music, our dedicated music team have selected their favourite 50 albums of the year

Feature by Music Team | 05 Dec 2018
  • The Skinny's Top 50 Albums of 2018

At the end of October we reached out to our music team, asking for their top ten albums of the year in order of preference; from 35 submissions we were left with 201 unique titles, and a bit of a task to try and calculate our top 50. Every record that features in this top 50 appeared in at least two of our writers' top ten; the higher up the overall list, the more writers' lists an album featured on, and the higher it came in those individual lists.

Our top album of the year was a clear winner featuring on 14 of our writers' lists, while the LPs taking the 49th and 50th spots each only featured on two. It was a close run thing in many cases, and the realisation that our writers loved over 200 different albums this year just shows how amazing 2018 has been for music.

Special shout-outs this year, for albums we think have been bloody magic, must go to Tirzah, Dirty Projectors, Tune-Yards, Lucy Dacus, Ólafur Arnalds, Soccer Mommy, Jeff Tweedy, Fucked Up, Haley Heynderickx, John Grant and Julia Holter, to name but a few, who all failed to chart despite being individual highlights for some of our writing team.

Read on for the list; we've also created a handy 100-strong Spotify playlist featuring two tracks from each of our top 50 albums for your listening pleasure. Consider it as an early Christmas present if you will.

Without further ado, here is The Skinny's Top 50 Albums of 2018... in reverse order of course!

#50: JPEGMAFIA – Veteran
This year Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks released Veteran, his second album under the JPEGMAFIA moniker – just two years after releasing his debut. At 19 tracks, it's at times a hard listen, but is ultimately an incredibly rewarding rap record. Listen to: Baby I'm Bleeding, 1539 N. Calvert

#49: Her's – Invitation to Her's
Liverpool-based duo Her's – comprised of Audun Laading and Stephen Fitzpatrick – released Invitation to Her's on 24 August via Hit or Heist and it's one full of vintage charm and off-kilter edges. Listen to: Harvey, If You Know What's Right

#48: Porches – The House
Aaron Maine's third album as Porches, The House, is an incessantly earnest portrayal of love and regret, decay and change. An album of rare balance and beauty, it manages to evoke hefty emotions and ideas while still feeling slight and ephemeral. Listen to: Country, Find Me

#47: Shame – Songs of Praise
While the South London alt-rock band may have topped Rough Trade's Album of the Year 2018 list for their debut long play Songs of Praise, it features slightly further down ours at 47, still in very good company though we hope you'll agree? Listen to: One Rizla, Concrete

#46: Tomberlin – At Weddings
Sarah Beth Tomberlin's debut album At Weddings, released in August via Saddle Creek, was written as a way to help her deal with a deep feeling of isolation. "It was just what probably stabilised me in a way," Tomberlin told us earlier in the year. "I didn’t realise it then but writing was a really good way to have some creative energy." Listen to: Tornado, Seventeen

#45: U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
With In a Poem Unlimited, Meghan Remy's U.S. Girls have created a timeless gem of an album that is about as powerful as pop music can be. Listen to: Rosebud, Incidental Boogie

#44: Amanda Shires – To the Sunset
Singer-songwriter and violinist Amanda Shires' latest Americana-fuelled album To the Sunset strikes a bittersweet note throughout, positivity in the face of tragedy. With a hint of Nanci Griffith and Conor Oberst, Shires is on fine form here, sounding nothing short of presidential. Listen to: Parking Lot Pirouette, Leave it Alone

#43: LOW – Double Negative
On Double Negative, their 12th studio album, LOW give you the tempest – the here, the now, the fear, the wonder – and they do it uncompromisingly. A magnificent and courageous record, if you’re ready for it. Listen to: Poor Sucker, Dancing and Blood

#42: Swearin' – Fall Into the Sun
Much to our delight, at the start of October Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride of Swearin' set aside their differences and returned with one of their best albums to date with Fall Into the Sun. "We managed to get together in the corner of the room and talk – albeit drunkenly – about whether it would feel good to start working together again," Crutchfield told us earlier in the year. "It was a really funny, really nice conversation. We all agreed that we missed it, and the plan was hatched there, I guess." Listen to: Future Hell, Dogpile

#41: Against All Logic – 2012-2017
Under the alias Against All Logic, in February Nicolas Jaar released 2012-2017, made using 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 that make 2012-2017 not only one of the year's most beautifully crafted records, but also one of the most fun. Listen to: This Old House is All I Have, Now U Got Me Hooked


Image: Porches by Louise Connor

#40: Skee Mask – Compro
Brian Müller, aka Munich producer Skee Mask, released Compro – the follow-up to his 2016 debut Shred – in May via Ilian Tape. It's a thoughtful journey through ambient tones and breakbeat rhythms, making it one of our faves of the year. Listen to: Rev8617, Flyby Vfr

#39: Superorganism – Superorganism
This 16-legged collective were one of the most talked-about bands at the start of the year, and went on to have a pretty full-on 2018 following the release of their multicoloured self-titled debut. In March, of the recording process, lead vocalist Orono Noguchi told us: "When I recorded some of the stuff, I would have to wait until my roommate was taking a shit." Kids these days, huh? Listen to: It's All Good, SPRORGNSM

#38: Phosphorescent – C'est La Vie
Billed as Phosphorescent's most reflective album yet, C'est La Vie features some of Matthew Houck's most intricate arrangements to date and sees him roaming far beyond the Americana tag that he's often filed under. Listen to: New Birth in England, C'est La Vie No.2

#37: Iceage – Beyondless
The music on Danish punk rock band Iceage's fourth studio album, Beyondless, straddles a thin line between anthemic and macabre. It's a record we said is "altogether more iconic sounding, but no less strange" than their previous work. Listen to: Catch It, Take It All

#36: Black Peaks – All That Divides
Despite giving themselves the mammoth task of trying to outdo their stunning debut, Brighton's Black Peaks jump the hurdle with spectacular ease across a supremely accomplished sophomore album in All That DividesListen to: Can't Sleep, The Midnight Sun

#35: Snail Mail – Lush
On Lush, Snail Mail maestro Lindsey Jordan always has something important to say, and it’s worth listening to. Lush is a debut burst forth in full technicolour. Listen to: Pristine, Speaking Terms

#34: Fatherson – Sum of All Your Parts
The third album released by Kilmarock-formed trio Fatherson, Sum of All Your Parts is immersive, leaving soft but long-lasting impressions with the listener. Learn about the albums that helped influence this record hereListen to: Gratitude, Charm School

#33: Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
Texan trio Khruangbin embrace the 'international', an ethos embodied by their second album. Con Todo el Mundo is a celebration of what shared creativity and influence can bring – something the world needs a bit more of these days. Listen to: Maria También, Lady and Man

#32: Amen Dunes – Freedom
Freedom is the fifth studio album from New York singer-songwriter Damon McMahon, aka Amen Dunes. Produced by Chris Coady and released by indie label Sacred Bones, Freedom received universal acclaim upon its release and has more than earned a place in our end of year list. Listen to: Miki Dora, Blue Rose

#31: Marie Davidson – Working Class Woman
Marie Davidson's fourth studio album, Working Class Woman is an incredibly cohesive art-house record with a perfect combination of electronic music and spoken word. "I really like the music, for myself on a personal level, you know," Davidson told us in September. "I'm not trying to convince anybody – if they don't like it, it's none of my business [...] I feel like I've finally reached what I was trying to do with those previous ones." Listen to: Work It, Day Dreaming


Image: Khruangbin by Matthew McAndrew

#30: Mastersystem – Dance Music
On Dance Music, Scott and Grant Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit and Justin and James Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories respectively come together as Mastersystem, with the results reminiscent of your favourite early 90s alt-rock bands. "With the vocals on Dance Music, I finally got to tap into the feeling I got from listening to early Idlewild songs in my late teens and early 20s," Scott Hutchison told us in AprilListen to: Proper Home, Notes On a Life Not Quite Lived

#29: Mount Eerie – Now Only
Now Only is the ninth studio album from Phil Elverum, aka Mount Eerie, and is an extended reflection on the death of his wife, Geneviève Castrée, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer following the birth of their first child in 2016. Listen to: Now Only, Tintin in Tibet

#28: Natalie Prass – The Future and the Past
Virginia-based singer-songwriter Natalie Prass' second album, The Future and the Past, beautifully channels a host of influences whilst feeling incredibly fresh. Listen to: Nothing to Say, The Fire

#27: Half Waif – Lavender
On her third studio album, Lavender, Nandi Rose Plunkett – aka Half Waif – nails the careful art of crafting an album. "As much as I write music for myself for the sense of catharsis and the search for beauty," Plunkett told us in April, "I also absolutely want to forge connections with other people through these songs." Listen to: Keep It Out, Slit

#26: SOPHIE – OIL OF EVERY PEARL'S UN-INSIDES
Glasgow-born, LA-based producer and Numbers associate SOPHIE released her debut long play this summer with The Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides, a challenging and squelchy pop record. Listen to: Ponyboy, Immaterial

#25: Martha Ffion – Sunday Best
Boasting memorable indie-pop songs from front to back, Sunday Best is a confident debut chock-full of understated pleasures, one that hints Martha Ffion will only get better as her career progresses. "All of us in this day and age kind of feel guilty about everything. We’re more conscious in a way of the impact of our actions than ever before," Ffion told us back in March. "That is a theme that runs through a lot of the songs – what does it mean to be good?" Listen to: Real Love, Take Your Name

#24: Virginia Wing – Ecstatic Arrow
With their third album as Virginia Wing, Alice Merida Richards and Sam Pillay created their most impressive work to date. Ecstatic Arrow is a bright and hopeful record, which fine-tunes all the uniqueness of the Manchester-based duo’s brand of synth-pop. Listen to: Glorious Idea, The Female Genius

#23: Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog
Frances Quinlan’s voice has been Hop Along’s not-so-secret weapon since they formed. On their fourth album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog this is no different. It's another great Hop Along effort, intimate and grand in a way only few can do. Listen to: The Fox in Motion, How Simple

#22: Kali Uchis – Isolation
Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis has been many a hip-hop artist's go-to guest vocalist since she broke through with her debut EP Por Vida in 2015 – and for good reason. On her debut album, Isolation, many of those collaborators returned the favour, with guest appearances from the likes of Tyler, the Creator, Steve Lacy and Jorja Smith. Listen to: Just a Stranger, Tyrant

#21: Jon Hopkins – Singularity
Jon Hopkins plays with light and dark to exhilarating effect on Singularity – an album intended to be listened to from beginning to end – producing a stunning rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows. Listen to: Emerald Rush, Everything Connected


Image: Virginia Wing by Stuart Moulding

#20: Noname – Room 25
You may recognise Noname from her stand-out guest verse on Lost on fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper's 2013 mixtape Acid Rap, back when she went by Noname Gypsy. If her mixtape Telefone wasn't proof enough, Noname's debut album, Room 25, is even further evidence that she's one of the greatest rappers around right now. Listen to: Blaxploitation, Don't Forget About Me

#19: Christine and the Queens – Chris
Everything about this record feels far bigger and bolder in comparison to Héloïse Letissier's debut, Chaleur Humaine. A sparkling pop album that flourishes in both English and French, Chris is a supremely confident introduction to the next phase of Christine and the Queens. Listen to: Goya Soda, The Walker

#18: NAO – Saturn
NAO assuredly ascends into the stratosphere with sophomore album Saturn, an open diary that leaves you both rooting for and absorbed in the afflictions of the angelic Nottingham-born, London-based singer. Listen to: Another Lifetime, If You Ever

#17: Confidence Man – Confident Music for Confident People
Drawing influences from across 70s disco and funk, 80s hip-hop, 90s Nuyorican soul, Madchester bagginess and 90s rave to create their own confident brand of 2018 electro pop, Confidence Man's debut LP, Confident Music for Confident People, was easily our album of the summer. "We haven't been about creating a cohesive or overarching idea," Janet Planet told us in April. "I suppose that's why it's a bit diverse but it's also kind of exciting [...] I don't really feel held back by what the genre is." Listen to: Boyfried (Repeat), C.O.O.L. Party

#16: Slaves – Acts of Fear and Love
With a sound that combines the upbeat fun of Young Knives with the raw punk of IDLES, Slaves’ third album Acts of Fear and Love, released in August, has effortlessly snuck its way into our top 20. Listen to: Chokehold, Cut and Run

#15: Wye Oak – The Louder I Call the Faster it Runs
Baltimore duo Wye Oak took a giant step forward with their experimental, unpredictable and hugely enjoyable sixth studio album, The Louder I Call the Faster it Runs. "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'," Jenn Wasner told us in April. "It's the first record we've made where there wasn't some sort of artificial limitation placed on the recording or the composition [...] we just decided to put everything on the table." Listen to: It Was Not Natural, Symmetry

#14: Dream Wife – Dream Wife
'I'm gonna fuck you up / Gonna cut you up / Gonna fuck you up' London four-piece Dream Wife promise on debut album closer F.U.U. and as soon as it ends the album, you want to dive right back in and do it all over again. "Seeing how it goes down at the live show is a really important thing for us," Alice Go told us at the start of the year, "to be engaging with and understanding our music through, rather than sitting back and thinking about it more clinically in a studio." Listen to: Let's Make Out, Love Without Reason

#13: Blood Orange – Negro Swan
On his fourth album as Blood Orange, Dev Hynes preaches self-love and acceptance, set over lo-fi R&B and funk-tinged production, with spoken word interludes from trans activist Janet Mock scattered throughout. Negro Swan is a personal tale of Hynes' upbringing and struggles with identity, depression and anxiety, while also considering these themes on a wider scale. Listen to: Jewelry, Chewing Gum

#12: Beach House – 7
Beach House's seventh studio album, the aptly titled 7, is a solid first step heralding the Baltimore duo's next phase. "Everything we wanted for this record was kind of a reaction to the past, like getting sick of doing things the same old way," Victoria Legrand told us in May. "I think this record marks the beginning of us having more control." Listen to: Dark Spring, Black Car

#11: Kathryn Joseph – From When I Wake the Want Is
On her second album, From When I Wake the Want Is, Scottish pianist and singer Kathryn Joseph continues to excel at both the light and the dark without ever being grey, and it's the constant exchange between pain and beauty that makes this album a roaring success. "This record is about surviving things or how much I love people surviving what they survived," Joseph told us in August. "Just the feeling of loving human beings and how sore that can be, but how worth it that is as well." Listen to: Tell My Lover, Safe

#10: Nils Frahm – All Melody
This year's All Melody, the Hamburg-born, Berlin-based composer's seventh solo studio record, released on the London-based Erased Tapes label, saw Nils Frahm taking the momentum he acquired from 2013's Spaces and 2015's Solo and running with it full steam ahead, creating his masterwork. One of 2018's true highlights of electronic, ambient and contemporary classical music. Listen to: My Friend the Forest, All Melody

#9: Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
What makes the rerecorded version of 2011's Twin Fantasy one of the best albums of the year is that the lyrical content is still just as prescient as ever in its exploration of interpersonal neuroses and existential ennui. While the production quality adds to the clarity of the overall music, its concerns and revelations are as complex and timeless as ever. Listen to: Bodys, My Boy (Twin Fantasy)

#8: Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
Courtney Barnett's Tell Me How You Really Feel was a bold return to form from the Australian artist, showing no signs of difficult second album syndrome, which alongside its cultural cornerstone nods also offers a lot of self-reflection. Against a backdrop of women finally speaking out, this record does ask a direct and important question: Tell me how you really feel? It’s a stark realisation that sometimes we all need to open up, even if it doesn’t quite come out how we expect it to. Listen to: Walkin' On Eggshells, Nameless, Faceless

#7: Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
Janelle Monáe’s third album, Dirty Computer is at once protest music hidden beneath the guise of a party record, a scathing renunciation of the dangerous times we're living in, and a rallying cry of self-love. More than anything though, it's a celebration of Monáe herself – her sexuality, her femininity, her identity. Listen to: I Like That, Make Me Feel

#6: Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert – Here Lies the Body
Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert's debut collaborative album, Here Lies the Body is the tale of two protagonists whose stories snake through passion, deception, grief and maternal abandonment. "I would basically send off ten songs about death, and then they would come back about shagging," Hubbert joked when we spoke to the pair in May. "The whole theme of the album – death and shagging," added a roaring Moffat. Listen to: Cockrow, Mz. Locum

 

#5: Robyn – Honey
Robyn's eighth album, and her first in as many years, can capture a single heartbeat – one breathless second – and spin it into perfect, complex pop treasure. The last 90 seconds of Honey are a euphoric celebration of pain, optimism, strobes, sweat, stilettos and broken bottles. As ever, Robyn lifts you up despite everything, because of everythingListen to: Missing U, Ever Again


#4: IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance
The combination of intelligent structuring, punchy songwriting and unifying messaging make IDLES' sophomore album, Joy as an Act of Resistance, one of 2018's best. "For a long time, I was angry at the universe about things that had happened to me. But that was stupid because I'm unimportant. What matters is that people feel disillusioned," Joe Talbot told us in August. "We want to challenge the passion we have through angry music, allow people to breathe and look within." Listen to: Danny Nedelko, Never Fight a Man With a Perm

#3: Mitski – Be the Cowboy
Once again teaming up with longtime producer Patrick Hyland, for her fifth album, Be the Cowboy, Mitski has simultaneously managed to make her grandest and saddest record to date, and it’s undoubtedly her best yet. Mitski channels sadness into euphoria in a way few others can, and the songs on Be the Cowboy will have you dancing through the pain. Listen to: Nobody, Why Didn't You Stop Me?


#2: Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
As Parquet Courts slip in and out of styles on sixth studio album Wide Awake!, what has resulted is an urgent work about letting yourself go amidst a storm of terribleness. "In the period of time that’s passed since we wrote, recorded and released Wide Awake!," bassist Sean Yeaton told us last month, "a lot of devastatingly apocalyptic things have happened in the US [...] I don’t know that Wide Awake! would be the same if we were starting it now, but I can imagine the world as we know it having a pretty big influence on everything we do from now on. It’s been a pretty massive fucking shift." Listen to: Wide Awake, Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience

#1: Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
On their third studio album, Cocoa Sugar, Edinburgh three-piece Young Fathers have made a record that’s restless and messy, elliptical and enlightening; a record about life, and how if you stand still you’ll miss it. "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," Graham 'G' Hastings told us in March when we spoke to the band ahead of Cocoa Sugar's release. "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." Listen to: Toy, In My View


Let us know your thoughts on our Albums of the Year list in the comments below...

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