Irish times feature writer and giant of Irish cultural commentary Una Mullally filled us in on her top 10 favourite tracks of 2018.
Paul Alwright – The Auld Chinaman
This is probably my most recommended tune of 2018. It’s the type of track you have to pull up a stool to, a phenomenal piece of spine-tingling Dublin storytelling. You can almost feel the cobblestones appear beneath you, the smell of stale stout, the glares from dodgy fuckers at the bar. It’s multi-threaded, novelistic, rich. The writing is so good, but what elevates it is that it’s scaffolded by perfect vocal cadences, pacing, flow, and then that muscular, rallying chorus.
Kojaque – Eviction Notice
I listened to this tune more than any other in 2018, probably daily since Deli Daydreams came out. It’s such an odd song in a way, tentative but daring, this random soft ballad in the middle of rap record. Kean Kavanagh’s vocal is sublime, there’s so much vulnerability and coyness to how he sings, and his voice has so much texture. Kojaque is an incredibly sophisticated artist, and this captures a certain naive yet accomplished duality that makes his work so exciting. It’s totally against the grain as well, a very unexpected track.
Noname – Self
The opening seconds of this track make you instantly want to kick back. Has there been a better beginning to an album this year? It’s so lounge-y yet spiky, eye-brow-arching funny, self-assured, cute, bold, and all in one and a half minutes. It also has the best lyric of 2018: “My pussy wrote a thesis on colonialism.” YES!
Evvol – Song For The Broken Hearted (Rollin’)
Evvol have a way of making music that’s simultaneously ethereal yet also has such clear focus and intention. They’re one of the most underrated bands out there, in my opinion, and despite having loads of great work behind them, 2018 seemed to open up something more for them artistically. I love this pace of this track, and also how it shatters towards its conclusion, breaking down into this mad jazzy-funk-prog moment. The production is brilliant, and it’s really the sound of an act making music on their own terms. Excellent video also.
Robyn – Missing U
I went through my usual three-step new-Robyn-tune cycle with this one. Firstly thinking, “This just sounds like every other Robyn tune, it’s good I guess.” Then the dawning realisation, “Ah no, it is really good, yeah.” And then the final stage, which involves blasting it at home singing into a white wine bottle screaming THERE’S THIS EMPTY SPACE YOU LEFT BEHIND. Robyn is a genius. What a tune.
Lady Gaga – Always Remember Us This Way
Don’t @ me! I’m a sucker for a massive torch song and Gaga delivered about three of them on the A Star Is Born soundtrack. Brilliant film, fantastic songs, but this one is my favourite. Sure, it’s formulaic, but if it was easy to magic up this kind of simplicity in structure, melody, and lyrics, then everyone would be doing it. I love that line, “Lovers in the night / poets trying to write”.
Krystal Klear – Division Ave
Yes, ‘Neutron Dance’ is the big hitter on The Division EP, but the aspect of Dec Lennon’s talent that really speaks to me is his ability to create an atmosphere over bangers, the type of tunes that instantly transport you somewhere. ‘Division Ave’ has that floaty M83 vibe, and when I listen to it, I feel like I’m walking down Avenue A in 5 am drizzle thinking about what I’m doing with my life or something. It’s a very contemplative, immersive tune with a lot of restraint and delicateness languishing throughout.
Pillow Queens – Gay Girls
I first heard this track live at Body & Soul. It was scratchy and intriguing. When the recorded version came out, I became steeped in it. It’s such a grower, easing its way in, unafraid to take its time, then it wanders off to switch up into a fuzzy rock out, and then that rousing, anthemic fourth quarter that just legs it towards the finish line. Is it weird that it makes me think of Kings of Leon? Fantastic tune, beautiful video.
Le Galaxie – L.I.E.
This track has stayed with me since the first time I heard it. Unapologetic banger, brilliantly on the nose, but with so many smart aspects to it as well. There is a lot going on here, and everything is well executed. I love the Tour De France-y synth that comes in around the 2:10 mark, MayKay’s standoffish vocal, the new momentum the track takes on halfway through. This tune takes so many intelligent turns, and keeps opening up unexpectedly.
Florence & The Machine – Hunger
I know it seems weird to say that a giant artist’s album that was really successful this year is one of the underrated records of 2018, but that’s how I feel about High As Hope. I could probably also go for ‘June’ or ‘Grace’, but ‘Hunger’ is really quite spectacular, a blistering, urgent song about addiction, craving, and resilience