Albums of the Year 2018
What’s your favourite album of 2018? Here are some of the albums that rocked our 2018. Do you agree with our choices?
Max Cooper — One Hundred Billion Sparks (Mesht)
With a PhD in computational biology and an interest in psychoacoustics, 3D sound design, field recordings, proper melody, ten-dimension shapes, virtual reality, data representation, and much more, Max Cooper is not your average dance musician.
For his latest album though, the Belfast-born artist holed up in a remote cottage in Wales with no phone calls, no emails, no messages and no human contact for a month. One Hundred Billion Sparks is Cooper expressing “what was there after I had removed my everyday life”.
As such, it’s at times haunting, claustrophobic and paranoid. Identity and Reflex wouldn’t sound out of place on twisted dancefloor at 5am, and penultimate track Lovesong is the payoff, its melancholic beauty drenched in a sense of optimism, as if purged of modern day and internal madness, the artist has emerged with a renewed sense of wonder at the world. Not the easiest listen but one that reveals hidden depths with each play.
Lesley Wright, Editor, Hey Mag
NAO — Saturn (Little Tokyo Recordings/RCA Records)
British singer-songwriter NAO comes good with her sophomore LP Saturn. The East Londoner flawlessly navigates a galactic journey of love, loss and personal growth. The most traditionally R&B track on the album is also the standout; Make It Out Alive, featuring SiR, details the breakdown of a long-term relationship in a beautifully soulful fashion. The album is consistently atmospheric and NAO’s signature vocals flow effortlessly through pop, electronic and R&B sounds. Daniella Millership, Hey Music
Bebe Rexha — Expectations (Warner Bros.)
American artist Bebe Rexha’s debut resonates with tales of love, heartache and rage — raw emotions that any young adult can relate to. The title represents our expectations of the world and the tracks dissect how these expectations are broken and what those experiences do to a person.
Rexha flexes her adventurous nature, flirting with different genres and collaborating with rapper Quavo, R&B artist Tory Lanez and country’s Florida Georgia Line, but it’s her infectious pop sensibilities that win out. Knees stands out with its tale of a toxic relationship and the dark, edgy energy of I’m A Mess gets me rolling every time. Shahtaj Shahid, Hey Music
Anderson .Paak — Oxnard (Aftermath Records)
Out on his Aftermath label, Dre has put his ‘OG’ stamp on this and maybe applied a bit too much polish to .Paak’s gritty sound, but it still lives up to the
hype, with J Cole, Q-Tip, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar all featured.
Full of energy, 6 Summers, where .Paak throws in lyrics about Trump’s love child, stands out and Anywhere, with Snoop Dogg and the Last Artful, Dodgr deserves props too for bringing the West Coast home.
Youssef Nasser, Hey Music
Clean Bandit — What Is Love? (Atlantic)
Coming four years after the electronic music group’s debut album New Eyes, this long-awaited follow-up addresses “different kinds and stages of love” across 16 tracks on its deluxe edition.
Featuring Demi Lovato, Solo was such a banger this summer accompanied by an awesome video dripping in amazing use of colour and clever techniques, while Baby sees Clean Bandit hook up with Marina (formerly Marina and the Diamonds) and Luis Fonsi for a super cool cut flushed with Spanish guitar and flamenco rhythms, and a video depicting a bisexual romance, once again showing the band’s support for the LGBT community. Deeves, Hey Music
Judas Priest — Firepower (Epic)
This felt like a Judas Priest comeback. Firepower is their most solid album since 2008’s Nostradamus and the 2014 release Redeemer of Souls.
While fans have spoken against how Rob Halford’s shrieking tone has subsided over the years, this is not entirely a bad thing given that it shows the evolution of Judas Priest’s performances over the decades. To quote Michael Mann from The Guardian discussing Firepower: “The riffs are strong, choppy, hooky and powerful: Traitor’s Gate has one that James Hetfield would have killed for.”
Mann hit the nail right on the head. Firepower feels like the sort of album I would’ve enjoyed years ago when trying to understand metal and finding what style suited my personal taste. While this album shows a toned down version of Judas Priest, it’s simultaneously reminiscent of the ‘old times’ when it was all thrash and bash.
I can put Firepower down in the same category as Metallica’s S&M; as in it’s them, but different. But as a thirty-something who has been a Judas Priest fan since my teenage years, I’m still me but different too. Firepower is a good change. Aiez Mirza, Hey Music
If you liked what you’ve just read,check out the previous issues of Hey Mag.
In the December issue singer-songwriter Jess Glynne reveals the truth about fame, Icelandic neo classical genius Olafur Arnalds exudes glacial cool, UAE-based band The Boxtones return to their rock roots, & we get spaced out with Japanese hip-hop producer Shin-Ski.