With so many albums coming out annually, the same problem occurs every year, around the time to make a year round-up: the difficult task of choosing 10 best international albums. This round-up is a result of careful calculation and excrutiating pain of excluding of the best albums released in 2018 to make room only for 10. If someone were to ask Mateusz what was 2018 in music, these are the albums he would be thinking of.
10. Exploded View – Obey
Obey is more quiet than the band’s debut. It is no less peaceful, however, as the music (experimental post-punk mixed with acoustic and synth-driven slower songs) creates an extraordinary and gloomy atmosphere and the feeling of anxiety. The deliberate monotone of the majority of compositions seems to hypnotize, with Rant being the best example of the aforementioned monotony and dark, haunting atmosphere.
9. Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning
The power of Cloud Nothing’s music definitely lies in the energy of it. And the energy is present in every song on the album. The expressive voice of the vocalist, replete with emotions, treads a fine line between punk singing and shouting extremely well. Turn the volume up!
8. Tangled Hair – We Do What We Can
The first studio album of math rock/ math pop Tangled Hair’s is an enjoyably melodic, quite energetic album full of great instrumental parts. It somehow mixes easiness with energy. The band is very skillful (the best example being the drums on Yeah, It Does Look Like A Spider) and represents fresh and solid sound. Plus good vocals and lyrics. Definitely a debut worth noticing.
7. TT – LoveLaws
This very atmospheric work combines beats, samples and synthesizers with delicate guitars and bass which beautifully emphasize the climate of downtempo. With her somewhat dreamy, ethereal voice, sensitivity and emotionality, Theresa Wayman sings stories of unconditional love self love, and motherhood. She masters transmitting emotions in music with a great ease.
6. Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want
Every song on the album has a powerful dosage of energy in it. It creates a strange feeling of anxiety. It is a haunting record full of beautiful and furious noises and intelligent lyrics concerning the state of the modern world and society. Fine melodies can be found in some of the songs, but listening to the album at night can cause sleeplessness.
5. Jon Hopkins – Singularity
The music on Singularity, the beautiful compositions, are compelling, full of energy and vitality primely balanced with atmospheric ambient songs in the second part. As challenging an album as it can be, what one really needs to do, is to give oneself in to it’s immersive sound.
4. St. Vincent – MassEducation
Twelve songs from St. Vincent’s previous studio album, were rearranged for piano, bringing out the vulnerability, sensitivity and melancholy, which were previously hidden somewhere inbetween catchy melodies and electropop rhythms. The stripped down versions on this album help to focus on the message: lyrics about love burning out, declining interpersonal relations, wanting to die, addiction and poignant loneliness.
3. Kælan Mikla – Nótt eftir Nótt
Nótt eftir Nótt is enchanting in the way it combines gloomy sound, great melodies and atmosphere of a dark fairytale. The characteristic, bewitching (an ambiguous word for a trio often called Icelandic witches) incredibly expressive singing of the lead vocalist Laufey Soffia can at times get one goosebumps, along with the cool climate of these synth-punk/ coldwave songs. Yet, it is hard to snap out of this trance.
2. Thom Yorke – Suspiria (Music For the Luca Guadagnino Film)
Thom Yorke created a rather intimate and somehow introspective electronic / ambient music with great orchestrations and atmospheric interludes. Whether it echoes krautrock (Volk) or is a longer ambient piece (A Choir of One), every composition on the record is build on tension, wonderfully capturing the melancholy and the feeling of anxiety. And to top it all, the song Suspirium is amazingly captivating in its beautiful peacefulness, found in an incredible piano melody and Yorke’s soothing voice.
1. Low – Double Negative
After releasing 11 studio albums, Low quite surprisingly switched to deep electronic sound, ambient and drone music, pushing the boundaries of their music. Double Negative contains 11 fantastic compositions that are combiners of rare minimalism and somewhat liberatory power. It all seems to be new and familiar at the same time – the spirit of Low prevails, and that is, together with the hypnotizing tunes, what defines the primeness of the record.