Best Albums of 2018: 10-1

Over the last twelve months, we seem to have bought more vinyl, made more playlists, and recommended more new music to our mates than ever before. In fact, when predicted what we’d see in 2018, little did we realise how many great records we’d be unexpectedly treated to.

So, as the year comes to a close, we have collated a list that we feel reflects the wide range of records that we’ve loved this year.

Here they are- Secret Meeting’s Top Ten Albums Of 2018.

(Click album covers to read full reviews)

10. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Sparkle Hard

‘Sparkle Hard is not an immediate record, and due to its eclectic nature it doesn’t present the easiest of first listens. But there’s something extremely moreish about it. One of the early standouts is Solid Silk. A beautiful serenade that falls somewhere between Elliot Smith and The Shins, and showcases Malkmus’ talent for writing glorious off-kilter pop music. Complemented by glorious sweeping strings, his unmistakeable voice take centre stage and – excuse the pun – it sparkles.’

9. Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy

‘As an outspoken champion of The Life of Pablo, which Kanye West described as “a living, breathing, changing, creative expression”, Toledo has justified his allure of revisionism into a record which buzzes with a new fidelity, rendering it with new contours of narrative beyond a teenage notebook into a disparate comment on depression, obsession, sexual identity and relationships. Fans overly concerned with linear progression may see Car Seat Headrest’s latest project as overly indulgent, yet it should be seen as Toledo sticking faithfully to his original working ethos to remain the fundamental arbiter of the content and creative direction beyond outside control.’

8. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

‘Wide Awake! is a monumental step forward for Parquet Courts. Musically, it is their most expansive record to date and lyrically it is pertinently honed. In carefully channelling their influences, they have harnessed their energy and produced a record that simply effuses bitter joy.’

7. Mitski – Be The Cowboy

‘Be The Cowboy is not only a worthy successor to Puberty 2, but actually exceeds its predecessor in both ambition and pop magic. Each track adds more nuance to the narrative being told. The genre-bending blend of disco beats, heavy synths, reflective country, distorted punk and traditional rock means that despite mostly clocking in around the two-minute mark, each track’s impact is greater than the sum of its parts. Mitski’s constant drive for fresh new ideas formulates a long player that keeps you engrossed long after you lift the needle. Listening to this record, you are always alert, waiting for the next stylistic change as the album never settles, always fresh and never tiresome.’

6. Nils Frahm – All Melody

‘As the record drifts through its various movements, the pace, particularly in the middle part of the album, becomes set – at time bordering on monotony – and there are no moments that hit the intensity of Says or Hammers from Spaces (2013),  but there is more than enough of interest to keep the ear guessing with its selection of offerings both instrumentally and melodically. Human Range’s flutes grow into a small chorus of softly repeated, hypnotic ‘ahhs’Kaleidoscope spins through Jean Michel Jarre inspired synth loops, while the title track, All Melody, is a gently chugging nod to Germany’s proud Krautrock past.’

5. Beach House – 7

‘The allure of Beach House lyrics lies in their cryptic ambiguity. Words and phrases are left open to interpretation, conveying feeling rather than meaning, something that can’t be explained but finds you taking comfort in no matter how you’re feeling. Those who follow the band on social media will have noticed that what little the duo do post often involves them voicing the need for people to be aware of global issues, now more than ever.Lyrics such as ‘Get dressed to undress, depressed to impress’, on the lusciously synth-thick Girl of the Year (which is quite possibly song of the year), seem to carry more weight as a result, but still retain a kind of inexplainable darkness that leaves you to draw your own conclusions.’

4. Damien Jurado – The Horizon Just Laughed

‘Jurado’s decision to ship vinyl orders a month prior to release date, and the decision to hold The Horizon Just Laughed back from streaming services for three months from then, feels totally justified. This is an intimate record that has been designed to be consumed in one – not used as a pick n mix for playlists. On the thirteenth long player of a career spanning two decades, he’s not only gone and made his best one yet, but one of the best of 2018.’

3. Blood Orange – Negro Swan

‘In many ways, Negro Swan is the most fully realised demonstration of Hynes’ DIY ideals – bedroom pop drum machines hold down busker’s saxophones, seemingly captured rattling through New York’s Metro tunnels on tracks that are sprinkled with dreamy melodies. It’s not a perfect record – but, in many ways, that makes it even more special.’

2. Phosphorescent – C’est La Vie

‘It wouldn’t be inappropriate to describe this record as career defining. After two decades making music under the Phosphorescent moniker, Houck has perfected a knack for writing catchy, yet emotionally-driven music. His seventh long player is not only a triumph, but also a serious contender for the title of 2018’s standout record.’

  1. Cat Power – Wanderer

‘One assumes it was the lack of immediacy that left the executives at Matador wanting more. But unlike the insipid Adele LP they played her to offer guidance and inspiration, Wanderer is an understated, quietly quirky and contemporary folk record that takes its time, but will get under your skin – and one that is up there with the very best material ever released under the Cat Power moniker. So it’s no wonder she believed so much in this labour of love that she was willing to break the twenty year relationship with the New York-based label. And at a time when female vocalists and songwriters have never been more in vogue, Marshall has proved, yet again, that she is still very much a leading lady in alternative music.’

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