Robyn’s return to the fold of contemporary pop music was heralded by the release of ‘Missing U’. An absolute broken hearted banger. Robyn’s own melancholy lyrics are perfectly matched and contrasted in the steam train like arpeggiated bass line which pumps throughout the track like a pulse. Happy sad at its very best.
Before The Water Gets Too High
“Before the water gets too high/ Add up the bribes you take/ And know time can’t be bought/ By the profits that you make/Before the water gets too high/To float the powers that be/ Or is it someone else’s job/ Until the rich are refugees?” My favourite lyric of the year from my favourite album of the year.
Post humorous awards and inclusions in end of year lists are often met with some cynicism. While Mac Miller’s death motivates ‘2009’s inclusion in this list, only to the degree that his passing me inspired me to actually listen to his music. Swimming is one of the finest LPs released of any genre in 2018. It showcases an artist with a near-spiritual relationship to the written word and the idea of concept in music. ‘2009’ is bittersweet, almost prophetic, when heard in light of his death. Yet, I believe the artist intended it as a real message of hope, someone who had managed to accept their past and was keenly looking forward to the future. Rest in peace.
Four Out Of Five
Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino is, despite its mixed critical reception, my favourite Arctic Monkeys album. It seems the group have now fully evolved past and departed from their brit-pop inspired origins. ‘Four Out Of Five’ is the most universally appealing of the material on the LP. A shakey acoustic guitar riff zigzags through the main melody, which finds Turner subverting the idioms of contemporary pop culture (“Start your free trial today”) to pitch the idea of a vacation on the moon to the listener. I’m down and you should be too.
Kids See Ghosts
Such an unabashed statement of self-love and affirmation was critically needed in what has been a challenging year for many, myself included. Kid Cudi and Kanye West came through on ‘Reborn’ with just that. I could talk about the gorgeous piano progression, the layered vocals or Ye’s best verse of the year but it’s not any of those things. This one is personal, a song I turned to help keep me afloat when I felt a bit lost.
Kojaque ft. Luka Palm
Koajque’s anthem for the “wooden spoon class” has stuck with me since the release of Deli Daydreams. In my opinion, its the finest material, lyrically speaking, on the entire project. There’s a time on the horizon where the magic of hearing an MC deliberate on issues on the home front won’t have the sheen, the impact that it did this year, but that time is still far off. Kojaque’s observations on life in the city on ‘Politicksis’ are among the finest words put to pad this year.
Christine & The Queens
A powerful pop track, laden with an infectious groove and glacial bassline. ‘Doesn’t Matter’ set the standard of what popular music could aspire to achieve this year. One of those songs that I’ve studied every word of, some of the imagery projected by the verses would have made Cohen at his peak proud. A rare golden moment where poetry and pop music intertwine perfectly.
Never Fight A Man With A Perm
The song that my 17-year-old self wishes he was brave and clever enough to write. An anthemn for everyone’s whose seen too much of lad culture throughout the years.
Rejjie Snow’s ’23’ is my 2018 anthem. The track expertly details the death of a seemingly toxic relationship. Two romantic partners, symbolised in the duelling male/female vocal tracks, discuss the other’s cruelty towards them. The lines follow one another while never responding directly to what the other has said. It’s as if the pair are at their homes, simultaneously running through the situation in their own heads. The closing refrain of “Why you gotta say mean things about me?” is tragically rhetorical.
2018 has been Travis Scott’s year. Astroworld feels like a MDTBF level peak of an era and sound. Encapsulating and paying tribute to everything superb about popular hip-hop under the guise of Scott’s translucent psychedelia. The MC and producer who studied under Mike Dean and Kanye West has fully and unquestionably come into his own. ‘SICKO MODE’ is an anthem for the ambitious. Featuring Scott and Drake traded their very best cyphers over a shapeshifting beat, skewed and chopped. It’s trap-hop deconstructed by the genre’s leading architect.