Albums of the year: From Cardi B to Kylie Minogue
It has been another vintage year for music, with plenty of classics released in 2018. Here we take a look back at some of the records that impressed our reviewers the most over the past 12 months.
Cardi B — Invasion of Privacy
(released April 5)
All hail Cardi B, who finally dropped her debut album after a wait that seemed painful to many fans. But Invasion Of Privacy was well and truly worth the wait. It’s a glittering example of female empowerment, sex appeal and pure attitude combined with the artistry of old-school hip hop.
Kicking off with a passion-filled opener, Get Up 10, Cardi B sets the tone with a powerful message to haters. It’s a musical middle finger.
The record is also brimming with top-notch collaborations — Chance The Rapper, SZA and Migos among those taking part. Standout tracks include the peppy Best Life, Bickenhead and I Like It.
Idles — Joy As An Act Of Resistance
(released August 31)
Bristol punk rock outfit Idles follow up their acclaimed debut Brutalism with a ferocious attack on toxic masculinity, racism and television’s enforcement of negative body image.
Singer Joe Talbot’s acerbic lyrics make you laugh and think in equal measure and somehow include references ranging from Labour MP Dennis Skinner to actor Tom Hiddleston’s stylist. The catchy Danny Nedelko, a celebration of immigrants, shines as this summer’s unlikely radio hit. I’m Scum sounds like if Elvis did a punk song as Talbot sneers about James Bond being a “murderous toff”.
The song Great puts the boot into the Brexiteer fetish for blue passports.
Idles succeed in expressing a delicate vulnerability through powerful and savage means.
Christine and The Queens — Chris
(released September 21)
When Heloise Letissier delivered Chris to her record label, she produced not only a collection of vividly imagined and brilliantly captured songs of self-discovery, but also a 15-page dossier that portrayed her physical emancipation.
Chris is a fresh shell for Letissier, and an unshackled confidence streams through the record — the bass lines funkier, lyrics punchier, the full package strikingly sensuous. Girlfriend, the glitterball-disco single, has Chris candidly pursuing flings above commitment and is one of several songs here that recall peak-period Michael Jackson.
Doesn’t Matter and Damn (What Must A Woman Do) are mighty works from a phenomenal artist.
Arctic Monkeys — Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino
(released May 11)
As far as opening lines go, “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes, now look, at the mess you made me make” is quite a statement. In his most spectacular lyrics yet, Alex Turner gives the grand tour around a seedy, 1970s-era hotel in space. Arctic Monkeys are the house band as we meet the vain guests staying there.
Four Out Of Five is set on its rooftop restaurant where Turner seems to mock TripAdvisor reviews and lament about gentrification on the moon.
This album is a total departure from AM’s slick blend of R&B hooks and fuzzy guitars. While it is a lyrical puzzle, musically it is all inclusive.
Turner’s grandiose prose is darkly crooned like Nick Cave over piano-led tracks. Subtle bass grooves and sinister electric organ create the ambience of a creepy hotel reception.
There is a genius at work. Do not disturb.
Kylie Minogue — Golden
(released April 6)
Kylie is our adopted national treasure and her enduring appeal inspires devotion in her fans. As she turns 50, her golden year, she begins afresh with a change of label with this, her 14th studio album.
Lead single Dancing opens the album and has proved to be a grower, its subject matter a reflection on enjoying life while you can. The album continues with much whooping and stomping beats, but this is also a very personal effort — Kylie co-wrote each track, and there are songs that nod to her break-up last year. Radio On is a late-night musing on heartache, and the beautiful Music’s Too Sad Without You, a duet with Jack Savoretti, is possibly the best ballad the Australian pop star has ever recorded.
Kylie proves she still has the Midas touch with an album packed with heart, soul and glitter on its cowboy boots.