Staff Albums Of The Year 2018

Annabel (RoughTrade Nottingham)

1. Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

The sixth studio album from the Arctic Monkeys has definitely split opinion. I personally love the new direction they’ve taken in what feels to me like quite a natural evolution. The titular hotel appears throughout the record and forms the nucleus of the world that Alex Turner and Co. have created here. Its complex, carefully crafted and lyrically brilliant. I've found myself having to defend this album and my love for it a lot this year. But I think its truly brilliant. This is the hill I will die on.


Given that I’m a huge Laura Marling fan I was pretty certain that I was going to love this record before I even heard the first track. With lyrics inspired by poets Edward Lear and Ivor Cutlerand this album plays like a surrealist dream complete with angelic vocals, layered synths and a dancing yeti.

3. Mitski - Be The Cowboy

This record was a bit of a grower for me to start with but its crept further and further up my top ten as the year has gone on. Be The Cowboy is lonely and romantic. It spins tales of desperate diner meetings and slow dances in places that smell like school gymnasiums. Mitski’s voice is the main attraction here, its strong and raw in places and surprisingly delicate in others. Overall its just a bit lovely.

4. Big Red Machine - Big Red Machine

This album was born out of the Justin Vernon founded collective PEOPLE. Made up of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Aaron Dessner (The National) Big Red Machine shares a musical landscape with Bon Iver’s 2016 release 22, A Million. It's glitchy, weird and heavily produced while still managing to feel fairly natural and warm with pianos and choirs that make you feel like you’re at some sort of robot church service.

5. The Orielles - Silver Dollar Moment

Just non-stop bangers from the West Yorkshire based debutantes.

6. Bad Sounds - Get Better

Another debut record, this time from Bristolians Bad Sounds. With their unique blend of hip-hop infused pop bangers they create a joyous, wonderfully wacky world on their first outing and prove that they're easily one of the best bands of 2018.

7. Christine and the Queens - Chris

You know that “Freshman Year” vs “Senior Year” meme? Well Christine and The Queens’ first two records are basically that. The first was sweet and introspective whereas this one is confident, self assured and really bloody cool. This time around Heloïse Letissier gives us 11 tracks worth of 80's inspired bops with lyrics based around gender, sexuality, identity and self expression. What's not to like?

8. Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo

Who needs a frontman when you can make your guitar sing like this?

9. Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel

Angrier and more direct, I love the direction that Courtney Barnett has taken on her second record. It has all the best aspects of her music thus far (brilliant storytelling, catchy hooks, witty social commentary, great guitar work) plus a new edge that makes me excited for whatever she has in store for us next.

10. BROCKHAMPTON - Iridescence

The 4th album from hip hop collective BROCKHAMPTON and the first in a new trilogy has all the classic hallmarks of a BROCKHAMPTON project, with its heavy beats, personal lyrics and killer performances from each member. Yet it also feels quite different from their 2017 Saturation trilogy. Its more mellow and inward looking, perhaps a reaction to the media frenzy they found themselves in recently. Its 15 tracks showcase everything that the group does best and has me excited for the next two instalments in the trilogy.