Best Albums (So far)


Here are the best albums of 2018 so far

Molly Schramm / Asst. Blogs Editor

The holidays have rolled around and while you and your families may be blaring the likes of Michael Buble’s and Mariah Carey’s Christmas albums, it’s easy to forget 2018 produced some extraordinary album releases. Artists and bands from a variety of genres checked all the boxes on what makes an album great.

As a preface — to make my life and yours easier — the list excludes soundtracks such as A Star Is Born and the Black Panther album, as well as anything released after the publishing of this article –– obviously. So, without further ado, here are the best albums of 2018 … so far:

11. beerbongs & bentleys - Post Malone

If we’re all being honest, Post Malone isn’t the most critically-acclaimed rapper nowadays but it would be ridiculous to say that he hasn’t impacted the music of Top 40s radio. From hit after hit (“Psycho” and “Better Now” are bops) on his sophomore album Beerbongs & Bentleys, Post has solidified himself as an artist that’s here for the long run –– or at least as long as the radio stations play his music.

10. Good Thing - Leon Bridges

Different than the doo-wop and ’50s vibes of his debut Coming Home, Leon Bridges showcases his silky smooth vocals on his second LP Good Thing. From the first moments of the album, Bridges takes the listener on an R&B-filled trip. Infusing bold backing beats and even brass riffs, which was something ever so apparent on his first album, Bridges experiments with his sound –– and it pays off well. Good Thing is no where close to the breathtaking experience that is Coming Home, but it’s foolish to say Bridges isn’t a monumental voice in today’s music. He’s different, he’s brings in a wide demographic of listeners, and overall, he’s just damn good at what he does.

9. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino - Arctic Monkeys

Coming off the high and commercial success of its fifth studio album, AM, resident-rockers Arctic Monkeys got funky with Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Not nearly as mainstream, and containing a different vibe, Tranquility Base isn’t bad by any means, it just simply doesn’t compare to their earlier albums. Lead singer Alex Turner daringly took a left and along with the other members created a concept album that establishes a wonky, futuristic world. It’s weird, it’s funky but it’s enjoyable.

8. Voicenotes - Charlie Puth

Due to mass radio play and an overall pop feel, Charlie Puth often doesn’t get the musical credit he deserves. With his sophomore album Voicenotes, Puth delved a bit into the world of R&B –– he even has a feature from Boyz II Men. Overall, the singer achieved a pop album filled with multiple bops and tunes that incite dancing. From the sex-infused “Empty Cups” to the opening riffs from the first track “The Way I Am,” Puth holds no punches back, and it definitely pays off.

7. High As Hope - Florence + The Machine

If there was anyone in the modern day that most closely resembles an angel or goddess, it would be Florence Welch. With vocals that could clear skin and cure diseases, Welch stripped down any possible antics and honed in on vulnerability and raw vocals with High As Hope. From the radio hit “Hunger” and the powerful opening track “June,” Welch and her band succeeded. Through mixed reviews, it’s obvious that the album may not necessarily reach the standards of its predecessors, but you’d be lying to yourself if you said listening to Welch’s vocals weren’t a religious experience.

6. Hive Mind - The Internet

If there was a list of influential and domineering R&B/hip-hop groups of today, it would be impossible to exclude The Internet. With its fourth studio album, Hive Mind, the five-piece showcases its best qualities. From frontperson Syd Tha Kyd's exquisite vocals to the funky bass lines to backing beats that seem to come straight from late ’80s hip-hop, The Internet triumph. Every piece of the album blends together and seems effortless, showing just how good the R&B collective are. Listen to the album, bask in the sickly sweet vocals and vibe.

5. By The Way, I Forgive You - Brandi Carlile

Blending folk, Americana and all the best bits of roots-country, Brandi Carlile delves into personal struggle and torment on her sixth studio album, By The Way, I Forgive You. With production help from Nashville bigwigs Shooter Jennings and Dave Cobb, Carlile takes the role of storyteller with the album. Singing about sexuality, religion and the everyday ups-and-downs of life, Carlile created an album that speaks to people. By The Way is delicate, poetic and close, but still not close enough, to being a masterpiece.

4. Lost & Found - Jorja Smith

At the young age of 21, it’s easy to see that through Jorja Smith’s music. The listener can see her growing up and maturing. With her debut album, Lost & Found, the R&B-infused singer blends funky basslines with her smooth vocals, which mirror those of a young Alicia Keys or Ms. Lauryn Hill. From the opening line of title track “Lost & Found” to the raw, piano ballad of the closing “Don’t Watch Me Cry,” Smith evokes emotion and allows the listener to grow along with her. Though the albums shows her youth (“Teenage Fantasy” was written at the ripe age of 16), it also shows Smith chiming in on societal issues (“Lifeboats (Freestyle)” and “Blue Lights”). She’s a virtuoso, a poet and at the center of an album that is poignant and beautifully crafted.

3. Malibu Nights - LANY

Everyone loves a break-up song, and Los Angeles-based LANY gave an entire album full of them. Coming off of his break-up with pop singer Dua Lipa, lead singer Paul Jason Klein shoved all of his emotions into nine tracks, all together creating a pop-infused, exquisitely crafted love fest of an album. With its second studio album, LANY categorize the five stages of grief.

First, Klein faces denial on “Thick and Thin,” moves to anger with “I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore” and “Run,” and then bargaining with “Taking Me Back” and “Let Me Know” begins the second half of the process. Klein finishes up with the depression phase on “Valentine’s Day” and finally comes to terms and accepts the end of the relationship with “Thru These Tears” and “Malibu Nights.” It seems lengthy, but Klein and the gang pull it off, creating one of the best albums 2018 has seen thus far.

2. Golden Hour - Kacey Musgraves

Simple, eloquent but effective, Kacey Musgraves’ third album Golden Hour shows how the pop diva has evolved from her previous album –– both in her sound and outlook on life. Explaining how her marriage to fellow country singer Ruston Kelly influenced her songwriting, Musgraves delved into love songs, mixed them with electronic disco-inspired sounds and created a 13-track album that goes beyond expectations.

Golden Hour is overall light and airy but doesn’t shy away from the tougher subjects in life. It’s an ambitious album, but it’s also Musgraves’ best to date. Though her debut Same Trailer Different Park catapulted her into the mainstream, and its follower Pageant Material continued her growth as an artist, overall Golden Hour solidifies her as a dominating force in both pop and country music.

1. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships - The 1975

Blending R&B, Britpop, synth-heavy electronics and everything else in between, resident alt-pop band The 1975 created an album that surpasses normal standards. The British band’s third album conceptualizes modern society while also examining frontman Matty Healy’s battle with drugs, overall maturation and even a bit of romance. With brass features from the late Roy Hargrove and an overall R&B feel to the album, The 1975 transpire into a realm unlike most musicians nowadays. The album is poetic, heavy, comical at times but overall self-aware –– it’s simply The 1975’s world and we’re all just living in it. It seemed that NME was being rash when comparing writing duo Healy and George Daniels to the likes of a modern-day McCartney and Lennon, but honestly, they’re not too far off.

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