Today, Jonathan Wright takes us through his top ten Tracks of the Year.
1. The Beths – Little Death
The Beths debut album, Future Me Hates Me felt like an instant classic and ‘Little Death’ is one of the many reasons why. Some bands can’t even manage one great chorus, The Beths throw in two of the year’s best on this melancholic blast of perfect indie pop. Elizabeth Stokes emotive delivery is complemented by the tight playing and incredible backing vocals that lead the song to a powerful conclusion.
2. Robyn – Because It’s In The Music
The pressure was on for Robyn who released her first solo work in eight years in 2018. She delivered in style on her addictive album, Honey. The gorgeous bursts of glittery synths help make the R&B infused, ‘Because It’s In The Music’ one of the highlights as Robyn sings about the power of memories attached to music. It’s good to have her back.
3. Hop Along – How Simple
Hop Along are one of those groups who just keep getting better and better. ‘How Simple’ is the first single and opener on their excellent latest album, Bark Your Head Off Dog which features some of the best melodies and playing of 2018. Frances Quinlan’s voice resonates deeply as she repeats, “don’t worry, we will both find out, just not together” on one of the catchiest hooks of the year.
4. Noname – Window
Following on from Noname’s enjoyable 2016 mixtape, Telefone she returned with her debut full length, Room 25 which was one of the year’s biggest triumphs. Her laidback style of rapping blends beautifully with the jazzy rhythm, gentle funky bass and romantic strings on one the clear standouts, Window.
5. Charli XCX – Girls Night Out
Four years on from Sucker there seems to be no third Charli XCX album in sight. In that time Charli has released two mixtapes and enough one off singles to fill a greatest hits. ‘1999’ may have finally given her another hit, but it’s the catchy refrain of, “no boys no boys” and the huge thumping SOPHIE-produced beat that helped make ‘Girls Night Out‘ her most satisfying single of the year.
6. Lana Del Rey – Venice Bitch
The extremely prolific Lana Del Rey released two wonderful singles in 2018. ‘Venice Bitch’ is a career highlight with its charming 60’s folk aesthetic that gives way to a hazy extended outro full of eerie breathy vocals and guitar/keyboard almost prog-like soloing. At almost ten minutes long, it’s easy to get lost in and amazingly doesn’t outstay its welcome in the slightest. Based on this, her imminent album, Norman Fucking Rockwell could well be her masterpiece.
7. St. Vincent – Fast Slow Disco
Annie Clark took ‘Slow Disco’, the delicate emotional centrepiece of last year’s Masseduction and reworked it into one of the year’s best sad bangers (and there were a lot of those in 2018). The disco beat and choir turns, “don’t it beat a slow dance to death” into an emotive and euphoric singalong that’s absolutely devastating in the best possible way. In an alternative universe it was number one for six months.
8. Kali Uchis Featuring. Tyler The Creator & Bootsy Collins – After The Storm
Kali Uchis genre hopped her way around her incredible first album, Isolation. ‘After The Storm’ features one of the best current rappers and a funk legend, but it’s Uchis that shines. Her positive message of self empowerment and the importance of holding on to hope (“the sun will come out, nothing good ever comes easy”) is deeply moving over the delightful chilled out groove.
9. Mitski – Nobody
On, Be The Cowboy Mitski again proved herself to be one of the most gifted songwriters/performers we have right now. Second single, ‘Nobody’ was her big pop moment as she sings, “and I know no one will save me, I just need someone to kiss” with such sadness in her voice. She’s accompanied by a catchy indie disco rhythm that’s somewhere between Saint Etienne and The Cardigans (specifically ‘Lovefool’) which coupled with two breath taking key changes results in a real song of the year contender.
10. Let’s Eat Grandma – Donnie Darko
The epic late night atmospherics of, ‘Donnie Darko’ were the perfect closer for Let’s Eat Grandma’s shockingly strong second album, ‘I’m All Ears’. In just under 12 minutes it slowly builds with a minimal electro introduction and gentle house piano. It finally gives way to one of the most thrilling climaxes of the year as the illuminating explosion of keyboards and crashing guitars hit hard.