Our favourite 50 albums of 2018 10-1
10. Lucy Dacus - Historian
A strong year for rock that tells a story and Dacus's Historian is one of the finest examples. A musician with a philosophical outlook on life, no matter how hard it gets, Dacus can float around a story, in and out of characters and jumping through time. Her observations are always cute, combining to unfold her world, hopeful and honest at the same time: "I'm calling because I'm used to it / and you'll pick up because you're not a quitter."
9. Pusha T - Daytona
Few people have the vocabulary and quick wit of Pusha. This is matched by fine production work from Kanye.
8. Noname - Room 25
Mesmeric. Noname has grown out of a background in poetry which shows in her super smooth flow, sitting somewhere between jazz and soul.
7. Sons of Kemet - Your Queen is a Reptile
We were lucky enough to see SoK at Clwb and bloody hell, they really are something. Powerful, urgent and breathless jazz. These recordings capture their live energy and charisma and are an essential listen whether you like jazz or not.
6. Jon Hopkins - Singularity
Sometimes it feels like Jon Hopkins roams a different dimension of music to the rest of us, and for this album that might not be far from the truth because these songs chronicle a psychedelic experience. At it's most intense Hopkin sounds devotional and spiritual, the soundscapes so vast they could fill cathedrals.
5. Kendrick Lamar and others - Black Panther Soundtrack
What would one of our lists be without a bit of Kendrick? He was always a perfect fit to work on the score of Black Panther, his music tackling blackness, identity, spirituality, power and self-doubt. While it doesn't have the same urgency of his solo work, considering this soundtracks a Disney-backed film it's remarkably radical and pertinent.
4. Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs
Off-kilter and sounding like it might fall apart at any moment, like the samples might unspool altogether, Some Rap Songs is an album about accepting imperfections. That's reflected in the over-modest title, but don't be fooled - so much immaculate craft has gone into this record. Smooth grooves give a first impression of easy listening, but there's always something waving for attention, something uncomfortable going on, like the sample chopping in and out, images of violence and death. This is Earl demanding we take him as a whole, flaws and all.
3. Dirty Computer - Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe has always been an ambitious album maker, always having a concept and never just putting forward a collection of songs. She said she knew she wanted to make Dirty Computer before 2010's The Arch Android, suggesting that for her this might be her most personally important record so far. The music is harmonic and lush, but the lyrics are bullish, dealing with racism, sexism and homophobia. It's all so sexy though. There's 'Take a Byte', 'PYNK' (with that trouser video), 'I Got The Juice' and a homage to Prince in 'Make Me Feel'. It's regal, loving and proud.
2. Haru Nemuri - Haru to Shura
Nothing else I've ever heard sounds like Haru Nemuri. Maybe not much has ever sounded like Haru Nemuri - in a single song influences fly in from Metal, Hip Hop, K Pop and Spoken Word. It could be disorientating, but Nemuri knows how to assemble exhilarating, revelatory songs.
1. Beach House - 7
I've always loved the sumptuous Beach House sound and on 7 it's maybe never been thicker. Behind it there's a drive and intensity in each song, an urgency maybe not found in previous albums. Songs like 'Lemon Glow' are full of playful experimentation, and there is evidence of countless new tools being employed throughout the record. Still there's always a tenderness to undercut the smoothness of sound so that it never seems over-produced but epic instead. They pull that trick of sounding massive in size but also melodious, like the Beach Boys. Lyrics paint landscapes, suggestive and emotive. It's the Beach House we know and love turned up to 11.