2018 was a wonderful year for music releases, especially when it came to albums. There were a lot of highly anticipated debuts along with some pivotal follow-ups. However they were some that left their mark more than others, and here at WFM we had ranking system to determine our favourites of 2018!
Unfortunately this list couldn’t contain all of our favourites, so we devised a fair way to determine each of the the ten positions. So without further ado, here the WFM 2018 Albums of the Year!
10. Muncie Girls – ‘Fixed Ideals’
Muncie Girls returned with their second album this year, and it undoubtedly trumped their debut. Not that their debut was bad, just that this was much better. The band managed to capture their style and plaster it across an entire album with songs like ‘Picture of Health‘, ‘Falling Down‘ and ‘Bubble Bath‘. The albums is full of witty lyrics and general lo-fi beauty, earning itself the number 10 spot. – Alex Wise –
9. The Magic Gang – ‘The Magic Gang’
It’s fair to say that The Magic Gang’s first album certainly lived up to our hopes; the indie guitar band’s self-titled album ‘The Magic Gang’ features sixteen luminous and bright songs focused on relationships and young love. The album was a surprising success for the Brighton quartet who released their first song in 2015.
Each track is engineered to include stylish harmonies in order to keep the texture alive. Although each song sounds different, the high-spirited guitar riffsact as a constant reminder of who we are listening to.
The four-piece’s previous successful songs ‘How can I compete’ and ‘All This Way’ make an appearance on the album, offering a familiar tone to ease in loyal fans, but their new songs are just as good. From tunes such as ‘Getting Along’ which has high spirit, and sounds like four mates having an absolute blast. To slowing everything down, and even straying from the guitar as ‘Take Care ‘ does. The Magic Gang ask the deeper questions like ‘do you think that we’ll change when we’re older’ as they turn bad breakups into quality songs.
Although their love lives are still to be worked out. The Magic Gang have nailed their debut album. – Lucy Bower –
8. Johnny Marr – ‘Call The Comet’
After many years collaborating Johnny is on a roll with his 3rd studio album. His most experimental solo stuff in my opinion but still keeping the unmistakable Marr vibe with Smith’s like hooks on tracks such as ‘The Tracers’ and ‘Hi Hello‘. ‘Rise‘ is perfect catchy opener, ‘Walk Into The Sea’ is hypnotic and dreamy. Also I defy anyone not to be humming ‘Spiral Cities’after a couple of listens.
Classic Johnny but also looking forward with his music. Whereas his first 2 albums were a bunch of great songs “Call The Comet” feels like a seamless album. His best solo effort to date and I reckon the best is still yet to come. – Lee Bellfield
7. Shame – ‘Songs of Praise’
This album burst onto the scene right at the beginning of the Year, and since then it’s been regarded as potential album of the Year. Unfortunately it didn’t reach it here at WFM, but it was definitely well thought of.
The Album has a lot going for it with it’s sincere delivery along with a tender post-punk attitude and edge. Shame created a great debut album for themselves, throwing their name in the mix with bands like IDLES and SLAVES. Sure they have some way to go, but they’ve put their strongest foot first with this album. – Alex Wise
6. Blossoms – ‘Cool Like You’
Follow up album ‘Cool like You’ by Manchesters Blossoms was only out in April this year. And you knew it was going to be one of the best in 2018.
These lads capture a moment. They were meant to be in this band at this exact time on earth to record awesome music. In a current industry that craves a blossoming band of great musicians. All you want to hear in a catchy pop song is in this album! Besides sensational synth pop, there’s also romance, reflection, and admiration. And from the very beginning I knew Blossoms would go all the way.
They’d have comfort at the top. Not just vocally but instrumental ability is upper class. They’ve consistently delivered through out this album. Never considering a different avenue because they’re fans know them at their best and would consequently be insulted if they heard anything other than addictive vocals and danceable melodies.
So this album has to be in the top 10 of 2018. It really gathers years of hard work into a marvellous record but believe me it’s just a stepping stone. Blossoms have got better and better through out the years to achieve this level. And now with a firm grip on their sound, the world is theirs to smash with it. – Sean Gillies
5. Florence and the Machine – ‘High As Hope’
Whilst Florence is praised for grand epic anthems with mythical symbolic lyricism and fervent instrumentation, High As Hope strips everything back. There’s a rawness of Florence coming back down to earth, touching on what it means to be human and longing for love and connection.
‘Hunger’ is a hymnal like anthem with a driving ferocity, encapsulating the message of all of us having a hunger for something more. Whilst ‘South London Forever’ is a love-song to the places we call home, frothing with nostalgia and the romance of the simpler aspects of everyday life.
Florence’s vocals are consistently angelic as always, embodying an intense soul-striking warmth that lifts listeners’ spirits. The album is an overall reminder to feel content with what you have and not to get swept away in the chaotic hurricane of distractions life throws our way. It’s musical therapy, delivered in a beautifully simple yet mystifying manner.
The beauty is instilled in the lack of high-octane belters or extravagant ballads, as wonderful as those can be. It is a neat, cohesive and calming package teaching important lessons of remaining grounded and more authentically caring. Florence and the Machine have developed quite the knack for releasing great albums, with their previous three albums garnering solid reviews. However High As Hope sounded like a much more refreshed Florence and serviced machine. – Kieran Raza
4. The 1975 – ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’
The 1975 remain one of pop music’s most eclectic bands, and third album A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships does nothing to dispel this idea. While it’s perhaps not as instantly accessible as its predecessors, it becomes a rewarding listen. Something of a concept album commenting on our relationship with the Internet and social media, it’s the most adventurous thing Matty Healy and co. have done yet.
Probably the most impressive aspect of the record is the ease at with so many different styles have been integrated, and the ease at which the album flows. ‘Love It If We Made It’ harks back to the classic 1975 sound, if such a thing could possibly exist, with lyrics touching on the refugee crisis, race relations in the US, and the death of rapper Lil Peep.
‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ is somehow reminiscent of Drake’s ‘Passionfruit’, without a doubt the most mainstream-sounding track in their back catalogue. The use of Siri in ‘The Man Who Married A Robot / Love Theme’ adds yet another dimension to the album – a computerised voice contributing to such a moving piece of music is unexpected, but it works so effectively. Based on this showing, we eagerly await the release of Notes on a Conditional Form in May 2019. – Adam England
3. Arctic Monkeys – ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino‘
After a 5 year wait, Sheffield legends, Arctic Monkeys, released their sixth album to a mixed bag of reviews. TBHC is a highly experimental, conceptual album; a departure from the local, realist, ‘chip-shop’ rock ‘n’ roll’ style of their earlier albums.
Focussed on an imaginary world with heavy sci-fi references, ‘what do you mean you’ve never seen blade runner?’, it’s not surprising that previous themes of reckless behaviour have been abandoned with the band members now in their thirties.
Although those songs are greatly nostalgic, the new tracks offer something more mature and ponderous. The new album replaces the old with easy listening, comforting headphone music in the form of lounge singing ideals on the moon, delving as deep as the Pacific Ocean, some may say.
The exploration of these further avenues has resulted in a rebrand both lyrically and sonically; the pure genius of the album emerging as Turner gave centre-stage to his new found inspiration, the piano. For die-hard, guitar-heavy AM album fans, it’s obvious to see why this album might require a bit of sucking and seeing to appreciate its greatness. However in my opinion, it’s yet another album for Mr Turner (*wink* my old music teacher *wink*) to be proud of his son’s band for beautifully creating. – Robyn Hartley
2. The Blinders – ‘Columbia’
The Blinders have created something truly spectacular with Columbia. Quite frankly I think it’s been massively underrated, especially compared with the amount of publicity I saw on the Black Honey debut album, released on the same day. But maybe that just makes it somewhat of an underground revelation. Here at Words for Music we adore the album, and I’m pretty proud that we’ve chosen it to be at number two.
Columbia borders on a concept album, taking us to the chaotic and lawless world that The Blinders have created. But the riotous land is not completely alien to us, as it features references to topical political events. This makes it a unique and accessible approach to everyday life. Take ‘Brave New World’ for example, directly calling out Trump and mocking the Kardashians.
The Blinders have succeeded in cementing their style, while also drawing inspiration from others (Such as ‘Where No Man Comes’ which boasts a modern take on Iggy Pop). From the hypnotic ‘Hate Song’, to the seven minute climactic ‘Brutus’, to the soft, piano led ‘Orbit’, The Blinders have given us just a taste of what incredible things they are capable of. – Lottie Pobjoy
1. Idles – ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’
Following the plethora of musical treats 2018 has graced us with, our top spot is reserved for no other than Joy as an Act of Resistance by the mighty Idles.
The second album from Bristol ‘punks’ tackles current affairs, while also striking a chord with fans on more intimate levels. Politically-fuelled and unapologetic, Idles cover wider issues of xenophobia and Brexit, through the pro-immigration anthem ‘Danny Nedelko’ and satirical track ‘GREAT’. These come alongside a self-deprecating protest anthem in the form of ‘I’m Scum’, offering a humorous, sarcastic view of the working class’ portrayal – ‘this snowflake’s an avalanche’ aims to unite, much like the entirety of the album; UNITY is what Idles stand for, a concept that helps to make JAAAOR arguably, the most relevant record of 2018.
Political on the surface, yet heavily driven by personal emotion, heartbreak and frustration. Idles have simultaneously touched the hearts of many through the raw and difficult lyrical content of death and suicide in tracks such as ‘June’ and ‘Samaritans’. Talbot’s passionate delivery provides a relatable, emotional base for fans to connect with. Idles have sparked a movement, and this album has propelled it further; Idles’ fan-base, The AF Gang is a community growing by the day and evidence of the band’s huge impact.
Not only have Idles given us the best album of the year, but they have also managed to smash out-dated, harmful ideas, replacing them with a refreshing, open-minded view of the world, all the while restoring my faith in humanity. All is Love! – Megan Wood
That’s it for 2018, hope you enjoyed going through our list, we would love to hear your thoughts and comments! Continue to follow and support the blog as we look to grow over the next few years, have a great New Year!
Editor of Words For Music. Love music and support each other.