The Ford On Film Awards 2018: Best Album
Rarely do I get to talk about music, so I’m ecstatic to show you my picks for Best Album of the year. While last year’s winner, Phoebe Bridgers’ Stranger in the Alps, was an absolute stunner, I have to confess that 2017 was not my favourite album for music. I only heard a handful of albums that really gripped me, whilst a few major releases disappointed me.
2018, on the other hand, was incredible. I haven’t been this enthused about music in a long time, from homegrown cult bands to major chart toppers. I could have easily gone on with this list, but I had to limit it to ten. I will give a brief mention to Superchunk’s What a Time to Be Alive, The Breeders‘ All Nerve, and Camp Cope’s How to Socialise and Make Friends, all of which narrowly missed a top ten spot. Those mentioned, let’s get to the top ten!
Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light
The heaviest album I heard all year, black metal band Skeletonwitch’s Devouring Radiant Light is epic in scope yet there’s hardly an ounce of fat throughout the record. The title track’s slow build up to pure thrashing carnage is glorious.
Camila Cabello – Camila
If more radio pop was as infectious as Camila, I’d probably listen to the radio more. ‘Havana’ was a straight-up dance floor anthem, while ‘Never Be the Same’ is a classic R & B ballad. An amazing debut from the former Fifth Harmony member.
boygenius – boygenius EP
Last year’s Best Album winner Phoebe Bridgers teamed up with two other hugely-talented singer-songwriters, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, to form melancholic supergroup boygenius. While they’ve only released a six track EP so far, if tracks like ‘Bite the Hand’ and ‘Souvenir’ are anything to go by, a full-length album is going to be incredible.
Foxing – Nearer My God
2018’s great underrated album, Foxing’s Nearer My God is spiky, experimental pop that fans of alt-J and Foals would do well to listen to. Slow-burning opener ‘Grand Paradise’ was one of the best songs released all year, while lead single ‘Slapstick’ is as perfectly weird as it is spine-tingling.
Manic Street Preachers – Resistance is Futile
Another year, another great Manic Street Preachers album. How many bands sound this great on album number thirteen? Since 2010, the Welsh rock trio have released nothing but winners; Resistance is Futile is no exception. ‘International Blue’ proves they can still write a rousing anthem, while duet ‘Dylan & Caitlin’ added the sweet vocals of Welsh singer The Anchoress.
Snail Mail – Lush
At just 19 years old, singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan A.K.A. Snail Mail has already released one of the best alt-rock albums of the decade. Nailing the boredom and confusion of just barely being an adult, Snail Mail’s best songs are reminiscent of great 90s artists like Liz Phair and Weezer. Check out ‘Heat Wave’, a feisty breakup anthem with an unexpectedly-kick ass guitar solo.
Beach House – 7
Imagine taking a load of hallucinogens and listening to the soundtrack for Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. You’ve just imagined something close to the tranquil, eerie synth pop found on Beach House’s 7. An album that only gets more haunting and intriguing with each listen, 7 is the work of a band who are close to perfecting their sound.
IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance.
The title certainly doesn’t lie; IDLES’ second album manages to be an infectious ode to community and multiculturalism whilst also acting as a massive fuck you to homophobes, toxic masculinity, and Brexiteers. Punk rock anthems like ‘Danny Nedelko’ and ‘I’m Scum’ were rousing singalong anthems about the British working class, and opener ‘Colossus’ offered lyrical gems like “I’m like Stone Cold Steve Austin/I put homophobes in coffins”. The shape of British punk to come.
Mitski – Be the Cowboy
Mitski’s last album, 2016’s Puberty 2, was very good, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for Be the Cowboy. A moving, witty, danceable indie pop album that retained her keen insight into heartbreak and isolation whilst offering singalong choruses and pulsating beats, Be the Cowboy is a huge step forward for Mitski. If you haven’t already heard ‘Nobody’, you’re missing out on the chorus and key change of the year.
Neko Case – Hell-On
If Neko Case wasn’t already a contender for most underrated female artist on the planet, she certainly should be one after the release of her outstanding Hell-On. Her best album in a career full of terrific releases, Hell-On features everything from powerful ballads (‘Hell-On’, ‘Oracle of the Maritimes’) to upbeat pop (‘Bad Luck’), to epic duets (‘Curse of the I-5 Corridor’ with Mark Lanegan). Neko Case is a terrific lyricist, and the tragedy of her personal life (losing her home and possessions to a fire in 2017) is reflected throughout the powerful album. Hell-On was the best album I heard all year, and more proof that Neko Case is among the best singer-songwriters alive today.
By Harry J. Ford
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