I’ve listened to a lot of music this year. 2018 is the year I switched to streaming, The Spice Girls announced a reunion tour in the UK and we were treated to some special album releases. The album format might be on the decline, but it isn’t completely dead yet. If an artist pulls one together well, it can set them up for great success in the months and potentially years ahead. To celebrate another year of great music, I decided to look back and choose my favourite albums from the year that was. I thought about my original reviews, how much I went back to an album to listen to and the overall quality of the release. I think these top 10 albums are albums I’ll continue to play long after the year changes over and if you haven’t checked them out, I highly recommend you do.
10. All Saints – Testament
The girl group powered back into the pop scene earlier in the year with a collection of soulful and catchy songs. We are reminded why the ’90s offered amazing artists that still are loved to this day when good music like this is released. This album showcases what the All Saints girls have – sass and talent. They got back with super producer William Orbit and ‘Testament’ showcases their vocals beautifully.
09. Rita Ora – Phoenix
Rising from the ashes of the earlier part of her career, Rita Ora is killing it at the moment. Her new album ‘Phoenix’ is jam packed with great pop music. I love the singles she’s released from this album, but there’s a lot of killer and minimal filler. This album had the longest string of uninterrupted bangers, no mean feat on a modern album.
08. Robyn – Honey
It’s felt like an eternity between albums for Robyn, but this year saw the new album ‘Honey’ released. It’s quintessentially Robyn but takes a more subtle approach overall. She makes heavy topics feel approachable and relatable here and puts it to great beats and melodies. Could she single-handedly save pop? Maybe – but she knows how to be true to herself and her fans either way.
07. Rüfüs Du Sol – Solace
The Aussie based boys of RÜFÜS DÜ SOL pulled together a cracker of a new album with ‘Solace’. Heavy on the electronica, it also fused pop sensibilities with great lyrics and vocals. It’s a great atmospheric bit of music. This album featured regularly on road trips since its release because it pairs so beautifully with the open road.
06. Rae Morris – Someone Out There
I awarded this album a 5/5 early this year because of how composed and beautiful the songs on this album are. Rae Morris struck gold on this album and is still enjoyable many plays later. She had bold statements to share and ‘Do It’ remains one of my favourite songs off the album, all because of a small part of the song. It’s amazing what talented writing can do.
05. Calum Scott – Only Human
I have to admit I didn’t like Calum Scott very much for taking one of the greatest modern pop songs and turning it into a piece of drivel. That being said, his debut album is a stunning collection of honest and heartfelt tunes. So if I had to suffer with that song in order to get a quality album, so be it. He created a collection of moody pop songs that worked their way into my head on repeated occasions which is why he’s included on this list.
04. Kylie Minogue – Golden
Kylie went country on us (kind of) with ‘Golden’, but it’s a fresh and revitalised sound for her. She’s making the music she wants to (and dare I say it’s age appropriate). It’s a collection of expertly written tunes that take her personal connection to her songs to a whole new level. I loved the fusion of Kylie’s brand of pop with something more raw and reminded me of a more glittery version of her ‘Impossible Princess’ era.
03. Missy Higgins – Solastalgia
I was blown away by ‘Solastalgia’ earlier in the year. Missy has long favoured a folk sound but the added layer of electronic instrumentation took her songs to the next level. From insanely catchy hooks, to emotional vocals this album has it all. ’49 Candles’ and ‘Futon Couch’ are polar opposites as songs but I couldn’t stop listening to either all year long. It finds itself near the top of my list for good reason.
02. Benjamin Ingrosso – Identification
The surprise album of the year for me was from the Swedish Eurovision entrant and he nearly made it to the top spot on my list. I fell in love with the album for its modern sound, honest lyrics and the sheer grit he’s had to make the album come to life. He used his run in Eurovision to create the album he’s always wanted (and deserved) to make. ‘I’ll Be Fine Somehow’ is the standout moment for me because it encapsulates everything I love about this album. If you haven’t taken a listen, you’re missing out.
01. Troye Sivan – Bloom
I have to say I called it earlier this year. ‘Bloom’ is by far the album of the year. Forget what the ARIAs has to say… in terms of pop music, ‘Bloom’ brought the goods. It’s modern, relatable and showcases Troye’s stunning voice. From the album opener straight through to closer, it captures your attention and begs you to listen to it again and again. It might be a short album, but every song serves a purpose. This is an easy choice for the number one spot for 2018 and I’m glad it goes to an Aussie.