TYF’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (So Far)

2018 has already seen plenty of great music, and fans of pretty much every genre should be quite content with the records that have come out in the first half of year. We’ve seen career defining masterpieces, impressive debuts and even a few surprise comebacks.

The Young Folks asked its music writers to compile a list of their ten favorite albums of the year as of June 31, which we then tallied up to create a sitewide midyear list. The writers who participated were editor-in-chief Gabrielle Bondi, music editor Ryan Gibbs, film editor Allyson Johnson and staff music writers Joey Daniewicz, Kerry Erlanger, Ryan Feyre, Oliver Hollander, Brittany Menjivar, Matt Rice, Brian Thompson, Mark Wesley, Beth Winchester and Jon Winkler.

Additionally, we also asked them for a list of their favorite songs from 2018 thus far, which we have compiled into the Spotify playlist below.

10. Haley Heyndrickx – I Need to Start A Garden

After a string of wild and unsuccessful recording sessions, folk artist Hayley Heynderickx broadened her artistic palette, and finally released her debut album, I Need to Start a Garden. The Portland native demonstrates urgency and progressiveness throughout a short but precise eight-track project. Heynderickx projects a determined focus way beyond her years, as she battles many of her insecurities with passion and grit. Not to mention, the subtle additions of gorgeous guitar arrangements (“Untitled God Song”) and piano riffs (“Show You a Body”) enhancing the genuine emotion conveyed within Heynderickx’ anguished voice. – Ryan Feyre

9. Pusha T – DAYTONA

The first entry in Kanye West’s Wyoming retreat is one that Push claims is the best hip-hop album of the year. He’s got a lot of merit with that statement too. With just seven tracks and clocking in at 21 minutes, Pusha T’s DAYTONA is the pure definition of “all killer, no filler”. The album is airtight and consistent with Push spitting some of the best bars since his days with Clipse. When you figure in Kanye’s soulful and enigmatic production, it takes the album and elevates to legendary status. If it wasn’t clear before, it certainly is now, DAYTONA cements Pusha T as one of hip-hop’s greatest. – Mark Wesley

8. Soccer Mommy – Clean

2018 has been a damn good year for female-fronted indie rock bands and while major press has been afforded to Snail Mail, it’d be criminal to forget about Soccer Mommy’s Clean. The debut album for the band led by 20-year-old Nashville crooner Sophie Allison is a collection of heartbreak and lust from a woman who’s as detailed as she is jealous of her crush’s girlfriend. Allison and her band make fine fits for being a pristine but grungy guitar-rock act, with the likes of “Cool” and “Your Dog” chugging along with plucked strings and low bass lines. What gives Soccer Mommy an extra kick is Allison when the spotlight goes all on her with quiet guitar strums and her raspy yet soulful voice. Much like Julien Baker’s excellent Turn Out the Lights last year, Allison’s voice on the slow ballads like “Flaw” and “Blossom (Wasting All My Time)” bares the story of a hopeless romantic who’s gotten her ever-full heart kicked around one too many times.Jon Winkler

7. Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog

Long before there was even adequate terminology to describe the phenomenon, there’s been a particularly cloying school of music analysis that has sought to split audiences into two distinct buckets: ‘pop fans’ and ‘rock fans.’ Following a long tradition of shirking these reductive expectations, 2018 has produced a series of captivating records that blur category lines by seamlessly marrying the two genres. Few have done so quite as effortlessly as Hop Along’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog. Longtime fans of the Philadelphia power rock outfit have come to expect certain trademarks – Frances Quinlan’s signature snarl, thunderous guitar riffs, pounding melodies – and their latest record deviates from the formula without sacrificing any of the band’s frenzied potency. Quinlan is one of contemporary rock’s great storytellers, and she continues to pack dynamic emotional urgency into cohesive, hooky earworms. A deeply lush and textured work, the album finds Hop Along flexing musical ambitions and embracing peppy enthusiasm as they sift through gender politics, biblical allegories, and unremitting insecurities. – Brian Thompson


6. The Carters – Everything is Love

Beyoncé and Jay-Z round out a trilogy of albums on their lives and marital drama with the surprise release of Everything Is Love. An album of joy, extravagance and absolution, Everything Is Love is the couple’s first full length collaboration. The album leans more into hip-hop, which means we get to see more of Beyoncé’s rap talents. We’ve gotten tastes of her rapping on her previous albums, but here she dominates the best tracks, clearly on display with her fast rhyming on the album’s first great single “APESHIT.” Everything Is Love is definitely a labor of love, and while it might not reach the levels of Lemonade and 4:44, it’s immensely entertaining. When Beyoncé and Jay-Z fall in sync, it’s incredibly easy to get lost in this album and completely enjoy it. – Gabrielle Bondi

5. MGMT – Little Dark Age

After making their debut with the pop-flavored psychedelia of Oracular Spectacular, MGMT ventured into strange terrain. Congratulations and MGMT, their subsequent albums, were far more amorphous, favoring hazy experimentalism over quirky but easily singable choruses. Their long-awaited comeback, Little Dark Age, shows them at their most self-aware: clothing themselves with gravitas, but taking the time to wink at the audience when necessary, like stage magicians with a few jokes under their top hats. Upbeat tracks like “Me And Michael” take the ecstasy of “Electric Feel” to a new level, while ballads like “When You’re Small” pair simplicity and sincerity in a way that’s unforgettable. – Brittany Menjivar

4. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy

In which a Bronx stripper-turned-rapper divulges her Binderella story and reveals herself to be a natural superstar in the making. The most impressive flow to emerge since Kendrick’s combines with a songwriting acumen that has the sharpness and steeliness of a razor blade, and pop production values of such immense likeability as to dull the impact of said razor blade. Only a couple of relationship songs fail to make an impact on her debut, and everything else on it is so good you quickly forget about those ones. As song after song hits home, all you can do is bow before Cardi in awe of her ability and prowess. And you better believe she likes it like that. Oliver Hollander

3. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

The ugly truths Wide Awake! plumbs were already well-discussed before November 8, 2016, its concerns as structural as its adoration of collectivism, expressed through an association football metaphor, might already tell you. But its most impressive feat is earning its chipper, hopeful ending “Tenderness,” rejecting hopelessness after fully expressing why people are perfectly right to fall into that trap. – Joey Daniewicz



2. Snail Mail – Lush

Snail Mail is like the angst I felt at 18, sonically personified — a little melodramatic, a little moody, a little sincere and introspective. It’s lying vulnerably on the floor of your bedroom, looking for the musical antidote to a misunderstanding world and suddenly, you’ve found it. Lush is the kind of stripped back indie rock where the garage band guitars and percussion do most of the talking, where lead singer Lindsey Jordan’s haunting vocals grab you by the heart and guide you through this stunning debut. And though Jordan excels at singing about the mundane details of teenage life (friendships and heartbreaks and everything in between), Snail Mail transcends high school drama with a bittersweet joy that feels just like life, age be damned. – Kerry Erlanger

1. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer, her first release since 2013, is a fast-paced, outspoken, fabulously fun and original piece of work. Nearly every song is pop perfection, with an added bonus of real thought behind the party-playlist-ready anthems. No second is wasted here as Monáe runs smoothly through the jam-packed first half of the album—featuring singles “PYNK” and “Make Me Feel”—into the second half, full of strikingly vulnerable R’n’B ballads. Monáe’s ability to capture the complex existence of many marginalized people within some of the most instantly likable pop songs of recent memory makes Dirty Computer a stand-out album of the year.– Beth Winchester

Honorable mentions: Other albums our writers liked so far this year:



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