I said in last year’s post I wasn’t going to bother with contemporary albums in 2018 because I don’t consider the new stuff as good as the older stuff, but somehow I listened to 27 albums! However this is the lowest number since I started writing the blog in 2010. I’m not ranking them which seems pointless as changes from week to week. Although Anna von Hausswolff’s is probably my album of the year.
The goal for the top 10 is trying to find great albums. Not an easy task in the streaming era which consists of music you play a few times and then dispose of. Anna von Hausswolff, Florence + The Machine, Hampshire & Foat and Alejandro Escovedo are new-to-me artists. A number of the picks are by artists/groups who have been active a long time but still managed to deliver quality albums! So what are my choices?
Dead Magic by Anna von Hausswolff (Experimental Rock)
Should preface by saying I’ve never listened to her before but was encouraged by the album’s #8 rank for 2018 on RYM. I don’t know if Neoclassical Darkwave is my thing in general terms, I haven’t listened to Dead Can Dance. But this is the only album that truly wowed me from 2018.
The outro of The Truth, The Glow, The Fall is well done. The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra is repetitive yet hypnotic. The brooding, atmospheric 16 min epic Ugly and Vengeful struck a chord. The Marble Eye features an extended church organ solo.
7 by Beach House (Dream Pop)
The songs are very pleasant. Dive, L’Inconnue, and The Jesus and Mary Chain-esque Pay No Mind are favorites. Lemon Glow is the weakest of the four singles. The heavy distortion at times makes it difficult to detect Victoria Legrand’s distinctive vocal, for example on the opener. Dive is the most Beach House-y because she actually sounds like herself.
High as Hope by Florence + The Machine (Art Pop)
I was moved by the lyrics of South London Forever while the orchestral production on Patricia (apparently a Patti Smith tribute) stands out. The epic Big God and 100 Years are both powerful. I haven’t followed the career of Florence + The Machine so don’t know how High as Hope compares to the other releases.
Honey by Robyn (Electropop/Nu Disco)
Consistently good pop songs throughout. There isn’t a big anthem such as Dancing on My Own or Show Me Love but the standard is still pretty high. Missing U is a catchy single, with lyrics about a break-up from her boyfriend Max Vitali and sadness over the death of her long-time producer Christian Falk. The infectious Because It’s in the Music has a beautiful use of the harp. Baby Forgive Me is also hypnotic. I was less into the second single Honey with its thumping beat. Beach 2K20 has a seductive, danceable hook and a plea to go out and party, while I like the bass playing on closer Ever Again, a song about not wanting to get hurt. The lyrics have an emotional weight which is not always the case with Electropop/Dance-Pop. Robyn appears to be in a post-break-up head space.