The best albums of 2018 so far

From the Arctic Monkeys‘ intergalactic return, to Janelle Monáe‘s concept album about randy computers and the arrival of some of the planet’s best new artists – 2018 has spawned some superb albums so far. We’ve listen to pretty much all of them, and decided that the following are the best albums of 2018, so far.

Shame – ‘Songs Of Praise’

Released: 12 January
What we said: This is a band with a real sense of showmanship, as those who have witnessed Shame’s sweat-slicked live shows will know. It’s this that makes ‘Songs Of Praise’ utterly invigorating.
Key track: ‘One Rizla’

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Dream Wife – ‘Dream Wife’

Released: 26 January
What we said: The trio are made up of Rakel Mjöll on lead vocals, Alice Go on guitar and Bella Podpadec on bass, and their glimmering punk-pop is the most exciting thing you’re going to hear this dreary January, and quite likely all 2018.
Key track: ‘Fire’

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Hookworms – ‘Microshift’

Released: 2 February
What we said: Despite the album’s title, Microshift represents not a minor step up but a gigantic stride. On an immediate level the songs sound much bigger, cleaner and more confident. Every component is crisper, from the sharpened hi-hat to MJ’s scrubbed-up vocals.
Key track: ‘Negative Space’

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MGMT – ‘Little Dark Age’

Released: 9 February
What we said: After more than a decade of insularity, MGMT have thrown open the doors and welcomed you back into their world. In doing so, they’ve had to engage with our messy, unpalatable reality.
Key track: ‘Me and Michael’

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US Girls – ‘In a Poem Unlimited’

Released: 16 February
What we said: Powerful, potent and bloody good for dancing to, In A Poem Unlimited might just be the soundtrack to the revolution.
Key track: ‘M.A.H.’

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The Black Panther Soundtrack

Released: 16 February
What we said: “A star-studded hip-hop album that compliments Black Panther’s messaging and reinforces its status as a hugely significant moment in film.”
Key track: ‘All The Stars’

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Rejjie Snow – ‘Dear Annie’

Released: 23 February
What we said: ‘Dear Annie’ is a stunning odyssey through hip-hop, R&B, pop and beyond, one that will lend itself to both wintry nights in and blissed-out parties this summer. The football boots may have been hung up for a while now, but Snow’s scored a belter on his debut record.”
Key track: ‘Spaceships’

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Ezra Furman – ‘Transangelic Exodus’

Released: 9 February
What we said: Finally, an album 
for people born knowing that they are really angels. ‘Transangelic Exodus’ is an all round heavenly journey.
Key track: ‘Suck The Blood From My Wound’

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Turnstile – ‘Time & Space’

Released: 23 February
What we said: Hardcore gang who’ll make your head feel like a moshpit. Pairing crunching guitar parts and thumping rhythms, it’s got all the potential to become a crossover hit
Key track: ‘Moon’

Soccer Mommy – ‘Clean’

Released: 2 March
What we said: The production trickery, paired with Allison’s lyrical nuances, make her songwriting, and this debut record, a dazzling and devastating triumph.
Key track: ‘Your Dog’

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Jack White – ‘Boarding House Reach’

Released: 23 March
What we said: That he’s produced such a full, lush sounding thing packed with personality and life is impressive–but not surprising.
Key track: ‘Over and Over and Over’

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Sunflower Bean – ‘Twentytwo In Blue’

Released: 23 March
What we said: For a trio in their early ’20s, this album possesses a strikingly sound level of judgement. Not one song feels out of place or undercooked.
Key track: ‘Burn It’

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Kali Uchis – ‘Isolation’

Released: 6 April
What we said: Each song on ‘Isolation’ sounds wildly different from the last, but Uchis proves to be the constant, pulling and manipulating the strings in all the right places. Miraculously, it feels in no way forced: it’s a joy to witness her glide into any genre and totally own it.
Key track: ‘ Just A Stranger’

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Cardi B – ‘Invasion Of Privacy’

Released: 6 April
What we said: It would be impossible to divorce her story from this debut album, because in a way, the story is the album. The Bronx rapper’s incredible ascent fuels every fabulously braggadocious bar.
Key track: ‘I Do’
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Tom Misch – ‘Geography’

Released: 6 April
What we said: Occasionally, Geography grows monotonous, but derivative it is definitely not. There’s something undeniably unique about the tone of Tom’s voice -precise yet effortless- and his guitar skills are prodigious.
Key track: ‘Lost In Paris’
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Confidence Man – ‘Confident Music For Confident People’

Released: 13 April
What we said: With a Balearic pulse and horizontal attitude throughout, this record is ready-made sunshine–MDMAzing pretension-free fun for the masses. This is the album we need in these hard times, even if we don’t deserve it. Put this record on, dance until sunrise, gurn through Brexit and rave until war is over.
Key track: ‘Fascination’
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J Cole – ‘KOD’

Released: 20 April
What we said: Cole’s incisive, mic-dropping end to KOD reiterates his importance to the rap game in 2018 and, if you’re the speculating type, could even serve as a taster for an imminent full-length follow-up.
Key track: ‘ATM’
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Janelle Monae – ‘Dirty Computer’

Released: 27 April
What we said: This record isn’t a monument to His Royal Badness. It’s one of the greatest artists of our time carrying Prince’s baton into the new world.
Key track: ‘Make Me Feel’
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Iceage – ‘Beyondless’

Released: 4 May
What we said: “Unhinged, but poetic, assured, direct and deviously loveable.”
Key track: ‘Painkiller’
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Tove Styrke – ‘Sway’

Released: 4 May
What we said: Clocking in at just 26 minutes, ‘Sway’ is a succinct but comprehensive statement from Styrke – one that demands attention and declares her as a musical tour-de-force.
Key track: ‘On The Low’
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Jon Hopkins – ‘Singularity’

Released: 4 May
What we said: Though Singularity’s 62-minutes can get extremely heavy–Hopkins fondly calls its gargantuan centrepiece ‘Everything Connected’ a “massive techno bastard” – it’s still a near-perfect trip, and one that confirms Hopkins’ status as one of the genre’s brightest talents.
Key track: ‘Everything Connected’
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Arctic Monkeys – ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’

Released: 11 May
What we said: At first it’s completely overwhelming–you’ll be trying to connect the scattered dots on this initially impenetrable listen, and maybe even despairing when it doesn’t all come together. But when the constellations show through, you’ll realise that it’s a product of searingly intelligent design.
Key track: ‘Four Out of Five’
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Parquet Courts – ‘Wide Awake!’

Released: 18 May
What we said: Far from softening Parquet Courts’ edges, [producer Danger Mouse] has enhanced everything that makes the quartet great–sound, imagination, style. The Beastie Boys, Black Flag and Talking Heads are all here in spirit.
Key track: ‘Wide Awake!’
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Courtney Barnett – ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’

Released: 18 May
What we said: Tell Me How You Really Feel is Courtney Barnett at her angriest and most vulnerable, but being a drinker of details means she can also blow the beauty of life’s little things up to full-size.
Key track: ‘City Looks Pretty’
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Years & Years – ‘Palo Santo’

Released: 6 July
What we said: At once playful and bruised, ‘Palo Santo’ masters the tension that centres the very best pop music. Sad and sexy at once, turning pain into bittersweet euphoria, tapping into the darkest corners of desire, and finding belonging in bleakness, Olly Alexander’s voice centres this entire album, giving a megaphone to his own lived queer experience.
Key track: ‘Sanctify’
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