FEATURE: Of Songs’ Praise: The Best Albums of 2018: January-April



Of Songs’ Praise



The Best Albums of 2018: January-April


I am in the mood to write a lot…



of ‘best of’ features that look at contemporary and older music. Seeing as we are in April, and have enjoyed a busy three months of music; it felt like a good juncture to consider the best albums of 2018 so far. I have been excited seeing new bands and established masters produce some exceptional work. Field Music’s Open Here, so far, is the top of my list. Other critics have their own views: the subjective nature of music makes it interesting trying to decipher the true champions of the year. Here are the albums, I feel, have made the biggest impression on this year…

ALL IMAGES: Getty Images


Shame Songs of Praise


Label: Dead Oceans

Release Date: 12th January

Critical Snapshot:

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” – NME

Standout Track: One Rizla

Nils Frahm All Melody


Label: Erased Tapes Records

Release Date: 26th January

Critical Snapshot:

It’s a wonderfully imaginative process. ‘Human Range’ uses wind instruments like the horn to give it this kind of airy quality, while the notation is more stuttered, bringing in also that premier wind instrument – the voice. ‘All Melody’ is a masterpiece of texture. Incessant overlapping rhythms which swoop down from on high, peeling off into the subsequent track ‘#2’ which just wallops you with rhythm. It’s continuously changing, perfectly timed, evenly spaced - an impeccable album” – Drowned in Sound

Standout Track: All Melody

tUnE-yArDs I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life


Label: 4AD

Release Date: 19th January

Critical Snapshot:

Merrill Garbus must now be recognised as one of the most exquisitely playful and inventive voices of our generation. “I came to get down,” she says on “Home”, “but you’re not telling my story, man.” More than ever, it’s time we started listening better – to other voices, certainly, but also the way we use our own” – The Line of Best Fit

Standout Track: ABC 123

Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour


Label: Mercury Records

Release Date: 30th March

Critical Snapshot:

The result is Musgraves’ most accessible record and her most ambitious, a magnetic, comfortable culmination of her pop and country instincts. While dynamic enough to house both the stirring, alone-at-the-piano fragment “Mother” and a full-on country-disco kiss-off in “High Horse,” Golden Hour is alluringly cohesive, both lyrically and musically. In “Wonder Woman,” she confronts a partner’s unrealistic expectations and gives a simple counter: “All I need’s a place to land.” Throughout these songs, she finds one” - Pitchfork

Standout Track: Space Cowboy

Lucy Dacus Historian


Label: Matador

Release Date: 2nd March

Critical Snapshot:

It's music that bears the weight of the critical accolades heaped on her upstart 2017 debut No Burden rather beautifully. Dacus and her band sound emboldened, confident, like kids who are thrilled they still have something to prove” – Rolling Stone

Standout Track: Night Shift

Young Fathers Cocoa Sugar

Label: Ninja Tune

Release Date: 9th March

Critical Snapshot:

“Cocoa Sugar bursts with the weird warmth of an ice burn, a sizzling stew of Tricky-covers-the-Fall garage rap. Each song is nasty, brutish and short, bristling with imagination. Wow shackles its motorik angst to a dead-eyed drawl, seasoned with abattoir squeals. In My View is a slugabed’s vision of anthemic pop, while Toy is the most conventionally vicious rap here, every word a wound. The trio reckon this is their most “linear” album, which seems a stretch. It feels just as estranged of pop’s traditional structures and strictures as they’ve always been. It feels exhilarating; it feels like freedom” – The Guardian

Standout Track: In My View

Field Music Open Here

Label: Memphis Industries

Release Date: 2nd February

Critical Snapshot:

In the years to come we might turn to Plumb or Measure before Open Here to remind ourselves of the essential Field Music, yet this, their seventh record, is nevertheless a thing of immense songwriting charm and ideological strength, defined by its sardonic judgement of various seismic social shifts” – The Quietus

Standout Track: Count It Up

CupcakKe - Ephorize


Label: CupCaKKe

Release Date: 5th January

Critical Snapshot:

CupcakKe's confidence and complete lack of a filter remain her greatest allies on Ephorize, with the album feeling like an arrival. Queen Elizabeth may have made some noise, but here, she drowns out the competition. Her position has become undeniable, leaving room for only one thought: what's next. She's sure to be eating on the couch for a while” - The 405

Standout Track: Single While Taken

Hookworms Microshift


Label: Domino Recording Company

Release Date: 2nd February

Critical Snapshot:

It's the beginning of the 2018 and talk of albums of the year right now is obviously churlish, but on Microshift we're hearing a band hitting their sweet spot with such an effortless swagger that we're sure this is a contender” – The Line of Best Fit

Standout Track: Negative Space

Anna von Hausswolff Dead Magic

Label: City Slang

Release Date: 2nd March

Critical Snapshot:

Dead Magic is a brilliant artistic statement, Anna von Hausswolff’s best self-definition to date. She still finds inspiration in the areas others fear to tread and is able to transform it into compelling pieces of work. It will be fascinating to see how deep and dark she can eventually go” - musicOMH

Standout Track: Ugly and Vengeful

Rolo Tomassi Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It


Label: Holy Roar Records

Release Date: 2nd March

Critical Snapshot:

Time Will Die… is a hugely satisfying listen, with the longer songs in particular allowing the band free rein to indulge every experimental urge. Contretemps pits Eva Spence’s frenzied vocals against twinkly post-rock guitars and a delightful organ pattern, but ends up a delicate ballad. Alma Mater and Whispers Among Us juxtapose hardcore fury and tech-metal shredding with lush melodic sections. And with many of the songs flowing into one another, this album sounds like a multi-part epic made up entirely of multi-part epics. And also, undoubtedly, like a career high” – Kerrang!

Standout Track: The Hollow Hour