Friday, December 14, 2018

The Top 30 ALBUMS of 2018: Part Two (#11--20)...

getting closer to the BIG reveal...

11. U.S. Girls In A Poem Unlimited:

From the haunting opener “Velvet 4 Sale” to the danceable anti-war “M.A.H.,” the songs work because Remy sings earnestly and patiently about revenge and reckoning—something she knows is coming. The album also plays host to over 20 guests, and the collaborations echo the album’s tone: There is a fight and the fight cannot be approached alone. In a Poem Unlimited manages to be a record for the times, without bowing to the vastness of all miseries. It knows its targets. (PITCHFORK)

12. Kali Uchis Isolation:

Uchis pays tribute to pop’s past while making it sound new through glowing homage to black and Latinx jukebox favorites and a global roster of collaborations housed in classic soul/R&B aesthetics. She’s a stylist for sure, but her retro dream world sounds more OutKast downtempo psych funk and less Bruno Mars roller rink pander. That said, her solid songcraft should win her fans across all generations, while her lyrics, full of POC feminist empowerment aphorisms and frank millennial sex-positivity, speak to how to grow up and love right. (PITCHFORK)

13. Clarence Clarity Think: Peace:

With THINK: PEACE, Clarence really embraces his poppier side on a lot of these tracks. The majority of the poppier tracks are so immaculately written and structured, especially with the choruses. He always was a master of writing killer hooks, so this could be seen as a natural transition. However, he managed the tricky task of leaning on his poppier side while still providing the insane production that made No Now so mind-blowing. (BYTEBSU)

14. Gaika Basic Volume:

while his album undoubtedly builds on that angry contemporary dystopia narrative, with politically-charged rap blazing commandingly over his trademark infusions of dark, sex-fuelled dancehall, smoky R&B and so-industrial-you-can-hear-the-cogs-whirring electronics, Basic Volumefeels more personal than before. Its title comes from the former name of his late father’s material sciences company, and - quietly - this is an album that deals with the displacing nature of grief, too. (THEQUIETUS)

15. Salad Boys This Is Glue:

‘Blow Up’, the album’s first single, kickstarts the LP on a moreish note, with motorik drumming and the frantic intercutting of jangling ’80s guitars licks with a doomy, more fuzzed out variety. Later, ‘Psych Slasher’ ebbs and flows with melodic denouement awash in phaser and swimming synth, while the likes of ‘Exaltation’ and ‘Divided’ embody, in their gloomy themes, Joe Sampson’s blistering and finely-honed song-writing skills. This album is, above all, torment at its most exhilarating. Indeed, despondency has never been as inviting as it is on ‘This is Glue’. (LOUDANDQUIET)

16. Caroline Rose Loner:

Lyrically, Loner is all over the place, in the very best way. Bikini is a take down of sexism and misogyny in the entertainment industry – “all you have to do is put on this little bikini…and dance” exclaims Rose, and you can almost hear the contempt dripping from her voice. On the other end of the scale is the doomy To Die Today, which as the title may suggest, imagines what it would be like to die: “Gonna know what it feels like to drown, my lungs fill up and make like the liquid of a cloud” intones Rose over a spectral, almost ghostly, groove.(MUSICOMH)

17. Cardi B Invasion Of Privacy:

The full complexity of her Cardi-ness is on display here. She teams up with fellow boss-bitch SZA on “I Do,” where she deploys brash one-liners about not needing a man for anything. She’s just as charismatic while flashing her vulnerable side on “Be Careful,” when she warns a cheating partner that he’s on his last strike, and spills out words of gratitude on the wholesome “Best Life” with Chance the Rapper. That sense of range also transfers to her exploration of genre, as she expertly flips between boogaloo-inspired Latin trap, Southern hip-hop twerk anthems, tender R&B jams, and neck-snapping freestyles. It’s not so much a question anymore whether you like Cardi or not: it’s which Cardi you like most. (PITCHFORK)

18. Nao Saturn:

weaves together both intimate and fictionalized accounts of her rollercoaster of a Saturn return on her second album, inviting listeners into the recent events of her life while charting new territory — her "wonky funk" moniker is nodded to, but this collection eclipses it. Drama is softened by sincerity on the record, as NAO finds balance in the wake of chaos. (EXCLAIM)

19. A$AP Rocky Testing:

structured much like any other major label rap release, and yet it deftly swerves away from the problems that plague the majority of its peers. It is overstuffed with ideas across its 15 tracks, but not a single second of its runtime is wasted; one of the rare albums that is all killer, no filler. It has a jaw-dropping list of guest artists and producers that may be the most eclectic musical team assembled thus far in 2018, but it never lacks for cohesion or clarity for a moment. (HIGHSNOBIETY)

20. Kendrick Lamar Black Panther Soundtrack:

In a year where TDE was rolling full steam ahead, one of their earliest wins was Kendrick Lamar and company’s Black Panther: The Album. Inspired by the blockbuster Marvel film, Lamar assembled a dizzying array of talented artists and cultivated a soundtrack that marries the African-inspired soundscape in the film with T’Challa and Killmonger’s swagger. Lamar had his fingerprints all over this album; SOB X RBE were darlings for many in 2018, but they never sounded as focused as they did on the pulsating “Paramedic!,” and Jay Rock, Kendrick, and Future’s “King’s Dead” was an infectious trunk-rattler that heads were blasting even if they didn’t rock with the film. The project didn’t shy from radio bangers, either; Lamar and SZA shined on “All the Stars,” while the Weeknd and K-Dot took it darker on “Pray for Me.” Ultimately, this release not only shows that, when properly inspired, Kendrick can churn out some impressive music for himself and the squad, but that films like Black Panther (and, later, Creed II) need soundtracks/album-length releases that truly encapsulate what they mean both to Hollywood execs and, most importantly, the people flocking to see them in theaters. (COMPLEX)