Every year since 2014, I’ve reflected on the albums I’ve listened to most throughout the year and compiled a top ten list. This year was the year of outstanding female talent, both new and old.
10) Janelle Monáe: Dirty Computer
Janelle Monáe hasn’t put out anything short of phenomenal since her debut (including her work on the big screen), and she doesn’t start now. Dirty Computer is a much more easy-to-listen, concise, and structurally loose album than its predecessors.
Favourite songs: “Screwed”, “Django Jane”, “Make Me Feel”
9) Robyn: Honey
Even pushing into her 40s, Robyn is still making incredibly catchy and vibrant pop music. Honey, Robyn’s first proper release since 2010, finds the singer still in top form, setting trends in pop music instead of following them.
Favourite songs: “Missing U”, “Human Being”, “Honey”
8) Empress Of: Us
The album title for her sophomore effort is wholly appropriate, as Empress Of opts to take a more open, collaborative lane for her songwriting and production. The result is an engaging pop record that will draw her many new listeners.
Favourite songs: “Trust Me Baby”, “Love for Me”, “When I’m with You”
7) Saba: CARE FOR ME
On his sophomore effort, Saba tells his most vivid, honest stories about growing up in Chicago and dealing with/mourning the loss of his cousin.
Favourite songs: “BUSY/SIRENS”, “LIFE”, “HEAVEN ALL AROUND ME”
6) Kali Uchis: Isolation
The long-awaited debut from Kali Uchis draws much inspiration from her Colombian roots. Her lush, sultry voice, paired with production that lifts elements of reggae, funk, R&B, and synth, is a winning combination.
Favourite songs: “Flight 22”, “After the Storm”, “Killer”
5) Travis Scott: ASTROWORLD
With ASTROWORLD, Travis Scott finally makes good on the potential that his fans have seen in him since the beginning of his career. Taking the position of a director/orchestrator rather than the lead actor, ASTROWORLD crams more ideas in its runtime than any of Travis Scott’s other albums — most of which pay off handsomely.
Favourite songs: “CAROUSEL”, “SICKO MODE”, “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD”, “ASTROTHUNDER”, “CAN’T SAY”
4) Mitski: Be the Cowboy
The melancholy of Mitski’s loneliness hits you like a ton of bricks on “Nobody”, even through the glitzy, dance-able production that the song is built around. That kind of true, honest songwriting permeates the entirety of Be the Cowboy, leading to one of the most fulfilling, satisfying listens of 2018.
Favourite songs: “Geyser”, “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?”, “Me and My Husband”, “Nobody”, “Two Slow Dancers”
3) Kanye West & Kid Cudi: KIDS SEE GHOSTS
In KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Kanye West in peak form, both as a rapper and producer, while Kid Cudi restrains his more out-there ideas for the sake of a coherent final product. The record is barely 20 minutes long and as it should, not one second of its runtime seems under-utilized or wasted.
Favourite Songs: “Feel the Love”, “Fire”, “4th Dimension”, “Reborn”, “Cudi Montage”
2) Snail Mail: Lush
19-year-old Lindsey Jordan comes right out of the gate with a fully-formed indie masterpiece. Her songs simultaneously sound wise beyond her years and reflects the uncertainty and insecurity that come with her age perfectly — it’s hard not to relate and empathize.
Favourite songs “Pristine”, “Heat Wave”, “Let’s Find an Out”, “Full Control”, “Anytime”
1) Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour
Golden Hour is a breezy, inviting listen from start to finish that somehow also manages to reward repeat listens. It’s refreshing to see a fully-formed, satisfying album that don’t necessarily strive to provide deep insights or social commentary. It just sounds right.
Favourite songs: “Slow Burn”, “Love Is a Wild Thing”, “Space Cowboy”, “Wonder Woman”, “Golden Hour”