We know, the year isn’t over yet. And while it’s possible Michael Bublé might blow us all away with another Christmas compilation and there's talk on the street that Rihanna is about to drop an industry-breaking album, the odds are good we’ve already heard the best music of 2018. And hot damn, what a year it’s been. British DJ Danial Avery released a dreamy new collection, Eminem shocked us with a surprise album in August, and Cardi B launched an absolutely killer debut.
There are 100+ albums that deserved a spot on this year’s Best Of list, but these are our favourites. Feast your ear-tongues on these tunes.
Cardi B | Invasion Of Privacy
Has a debut studio album ever arrived with more hype (and more expectation)? Not only did Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy hit #1 on the US Billboard 200, it’s already gone double platinum in the States, produced five hit singles (Bodak Yellow and I Like It are probably our top picks) and featured everyone from Migos to SZA. If you want to chart the moment Belcalis Almanzar went from Bronx stripper to certified international megastar, it was April 2018. Head here for the full album.
Top track: Tough choice, but it’s hard to go past Cardi’s freewheeling vocals on ‘Money Bag’ and car absolute anthem 'Get Up 10'.
Eminem | Kamikaze
After tripping on the poppy, foot-stomper, Revival (which went platinum, but copped an absolute mauling from critics), Eminem surprise-dropped a nuke in August 2018: Kamikaze. Slick double entendres, a magazine of hard-hitting bars and two handfuls of ‘f*ck you all’ – this album takes no prisoners. Mumble rappers like Migos, MGK and Lil Pump face most of the flames, and the general consensus is that Kamikaze is the closest we’ve come to vintage Eminem since 2010’s Recovery. Welcome back, Marshall. Head here for the full album.
Top track: ‘Not Alike’ is a mumble rap pisstake but ‘Lucky You’ with Joyner Lucas is probably the best song on there.
Helena Hauff | Qualm
Qualm is the second album from German DJ and producer, Helena Hauff, and it sounds like aliens came to Earth, heard techno, then had a crack at making their own mixed tape. Most of the tracks have a sinister, industrial edge, squishing, gurgling, bleeping and pounding straight into your lizard brain. Want to hear what techno sounds like on the front lines? Listen to Primordial Sludge, Entropy Created You And Me, or Hyper-Intelligent Genetically Enriched Cyborg. Head here for the entire album.
Top track: Helena’s 8-minute ‘Smell Of Suds And Steel’ probably sounds the most human. Sort of.
Mac Miller | Swimming
We get all the feels listening to this album now knowing that this body of art was Mac Miller’s greatest and most introspective album to date. The late rapper showed his insane flow and musicality, turning inwards to reflect on the past in order to be at peace with the present. Teaming up with the likes of J. Cole and Flying Lotus allowed for some killer creative production where the grooves match the lyrical sentiments every time. Listen from start to finish and you’ll get what we mean and head here for entire album.
Top Track: The dancehall movement in this track will inspire you to never run out of ‘Jet Fuel’.
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino
Genius or madness? Who knows when it comes to Alex Turner. For fans who waited five years for another AM (the Monkey’s critically acclaimed 2013 banger) Tranquillity Base was a weird pseudo-album, and a perfect example of what happens when Turner buys his own bullsh*t (‘Kiss me underneath the moon’s / side booooooob’). Errr…okay? For others, it was a dreamy 80s time capsule, full of spaced-out riffs and dusty space ballads. At least these guys are never predictable. Head here for the whole album.
Top track: Even sceptics should appreciate the lazy beat on ‘Four Out Of Five’. Good road tune.
Daniel Avery | Song For Alpha
We haven’t heard much of Daniel Avery since 2013’s Drone Logic, which was relentlessly sampled and resampled on the dance circuit. But this year he dropped Song For Alpha, a surprisingly muted second album, full of glitched-out drum beats, creamy synth cords and otherworldy reverb. Maybe after the gimmick-free crowd-pleasers we’re finally getting the Real Avery (he always said he liked “weirdness and oddness”). Listen to this one with the lights low on a rainy night. Head here for the entire album.
Top track: ‘Slow Fade’ is the perfect study beat. Prepare to have your eardrums very gently massaged.
Janelle Monáe | Dirty Computer
Is there anything Janelle Monáe can’t do? Since her debut album, The Electric Lady, back in 2013, she’s been acting in films like Hidden Figures and Moonlight and leading political movements like Black Lives Matter and Time’s Up. Somewhere in there she had the time to record Dirty Computer, a boppy little summer compilation. This is sun-soaked rooftop music, not a political salvo, but tracks like Don’t Judge Me and Screwed are full of trademark Monáe jabs. Head here for the whole album.
Top track: ‘Make Me Feel’ will have you hooked from the first tongue-trip ‘clop’.
Young Fathers | Cocoa Sugar
A Scottish experimental rap group? Colour us intrigued. After taking out the Mercury Prize in 2014, Young Fathers released their new album in March, Cocoa Sugar. It’s probably their most assured LP to date, and like Dead, this one’s a ragtag blend of several genres, including rap, club, dub, R&B, pop and industrial techno. Shake those in a paper bag with meditations on race, belonging and ‘otherness’, and you’ve got something close to Cocoa Sugar. Head here for the full album.
Top track: ‘Lord’ is probably the most accessible track on the album, but ‘Tremolo’ gets under your skin.
Kurt Vile | Bottle It In
Kurt Vile didn’t slow down this year. In 2017 he released Lotta Sea Lice (with Courtney Barnett) to general acclaim, and now he’s followed it up with Bottle It In, his seventh solo album. And Vile has never been so awesomely directionless as he is here. Don’t believe us? Listen to the pulsing 10-minute ramble that is Bassackwards. Kurt’s voice sounds like it’s still waking up, desperate for a coffee, struggling to lever itself off the mattress. We listened to it on repeat for about three hours. Head here for the entire album.
Top track: The title track, ‘Bottle It In’, is another meandering, 10-minute, coffee house lullaby.
Let’s Eat Grandma | I’m All Ears
It’s scary to think Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth are still teenagers. After burning onto the scene as art-pop duo, Let’s Eat Grandma, back in 2013, they dropped their second studio album in June this year. It’s called I’m All Ears. You’d forgive the girls for a Sophomore slump, but tracks like Cool & Collected and Donnie Darko prove they’re actually getting better at this stuff. Scary thought. Head here for the full album.
Top track: ‘Hot Pink’ tells you everything you need to know about Let’s Eat Grandma.
Travis Scott | Astroworld
This critically acclaimed platinum album is so worth the hype. Houston native Travis Scott has served up a set of fire bars that prove his ability as a musician and a wordsmith. Not only did the album debut at number one but every single song from the album also charted within the US Billboard 100. Get in the car, turn up the bass and listen to Butterfly Effect and Stargazing for beats that will have you begging for more. Head here for the whole album.
Top Track: ‘Sicko Mode’ is Scott’s creativity at peak level, seamless style changes aplenty, making it the Bohemian Rhapsody of 2018 hip-hop.
Nicki Minaj | Queen
Nicki Minaj has earnt the title of Queen with her fourth studio album, proclaiming her boss status through a series of pop and RnB fuelled hits. Debuting at number two on the US Billboard 200, Minaj and her army of stars, as in Eminem, Ariana Grande and The Weeknd, to name a few, produce an album that showcases her versatility as an artist as she journeys with them to their respective genres. Head here for the full album.
Top Track: You can’t go past the groove of the guitar lick and nineties rap vibes of ‘Barbie Dreams’ and if you're looking for a new gym tune, 'Chun-Li' is a vibe.
Post Malone | Beerbongs + Bentleys
Congratulations is in order for this one, Post Malone. In his typical fashion, the vocals of his sung raps are broad and enveloping over that ever-awesome heavy bassline. This simple formula proved that less is more, earning him a double platinum certification in the US. For all your easy listening hip-hop needs, leave it up to this man to help you out. Head here for the full album.
Top Track: ‘Better Now’s beat and melody sit perfectly together, it’ll be hard to get this one out of your head.
George Ezra: Staying At Tamara's
The perfect accompaniment to your weekend. With flowing folk melodies, a fun-filled rhythm section and cheerful sentiments, George Ezra is definitely going to be on our playlist when we’re cruising down to the beach. Those distinctive vocals earnt tracks Paradise and Shotgun spots in the top ten of the UK Singles charts. If you need to ramp up your summer vibes, then it’s time to include some of this Englishman’s pop hits. Head here for the whole album.
Top Track: The infectious bass and pace of 'Get Away' makes it hard to not want to dance around your bedroom.
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