Nick Farruggia’s Favorite Albums—2018

Nick Farruggia
Dec 31, 2018 · 9 min read

In one of the internet’s more beautiful ironies, the webpage that sets out to uncover just who wrote “If I had more time, I would’ve written a shorter letter” is itself way too long, so I still don’t know who the hell said it.

No matter. Regardless, it’s in that quote’s spirit that I excuse the shortest year-end wrap-up yet.

I was, uh, more concise—and therefore better—than usual. Yeah… that’s it.

In actual fact, I am not paid to write this article and, well, having discovered 52 albums I think are worth talking about in 2018, I opted for an easier route.

But it wasn’t easier! And I should’ve known, dammit. The hardest writing advice I ever got came from my boss, Megan, who challenged me in my first month as a new employee to correspond with her and my other colleagues in exclusively tweet-length missives.

Turns out I am an endlessly verbose idiot, and writing tweet-length anythings is hard. But I did it at work and I did it here.

The thirteen records vying for my Pazz & Jop ballot got full tweet-length capsules review (that is to say, each is no more than 280 characters).

The remaining 39 records are dispatched in even more aggressive terms: no more than ten words (allowing for the occasional &).

If, in the end, it seems like I spent my year falling in love with one album a week, and then played it until I got tired of it, well—maybe that’s what I did. Love in the time of Trump is easier to come by, I find.

On the other hand, my criteria for an A Level Record is pretty rigid, and not, if I do say so, the most easily-hurdled bar:

“Would I, in five years, play this record front to back again?” If the answer is a clear Yes, the record is a clear A. Not a small feat in an era with infinite, essentially-free music.

I encourage you to use the same metric. Life’s too short in the best of cases. Who knows what happens when Trump loses the next election and refuses to step down.

Enjoy (the playlist is immediately below, and the reviews are beneath that).

🤩 A+ Records

  1. Kids See Ghosts — Kids See Ghosts

By my count, this is the 7th time Kanye has made the best album of the year. But it’s no accident that this isn’t the 2018 record he put his name on, or that he needed a co-host to pull it off, or it’s impossible to remember a single word he says throughout — which, thank God.

2. Kali Uchis — Isolation

Shifting genre as effortlessly as she changes language, her obvious genius captures a mood that exists only at the yawning edges of a twilit Miami shoreline. And however real the power and sex at its core, they exist for you because she dreamt them up. She wants you to know that.

3. Old Man Saxon — The Pursuit

Fun fact: Saxon Kincy is a dad — like a real suburban one with diapers and those vice principal glasses. You might miss this because he bodies the first track then spends the next four proving he’s a production polymath. But pay attention: the only pill he pops is Viagra.

4. Denzel Curry — TA13OO

Prog was the last histrionic and shit-for-nothing genre to be held in the kind of mainstream regard Soundcloud rap enjoys — but, I guess they had Nixon and we have his fetid pighusk sequel, so I hardly judge. Thank Bob Mueller and Denzel Curry for a bridge to somewhere else.

😀 A Records

5. Kasey Musgraves — Golden Hour

Same Trailer, Different Park: weed Pageant Material: whiskey A Very Kacey Christmas: eggnog, but not enough Golden Hour: acid She can keep it up so long as she skips heroin. Nobody wants to hear: “Livin’ on a hope and a prayer / Sitting shootin’ dope in my granddaddy’s chair.”

6. Amber Mark — Conexão EP

In joining the shtick of two artists notably more major than she (borrowing Ariana’s belt and Noname’s biting chill), she makes a more-major statement than either in Conexão, the would-be breakup record of the year had Kanye not divorced reality. A novel in four songs.

7. Death Grips — Year of the Snitch

Just when you think the violence might subsume the fairer elements of their message — like, you know, the hatred — they go and release an album of 13 songs that appear to have no sonic relationship with each other. Which signals the only actual virtue: they’re genius inventors.

8. Ariana Grande — Sweetener

Where in “thank u, next” the world’s biggest musician comes right out to define a welcome new power dynamic for pop sexuality, she’s more subtle in the album. OK, maybe “God is a woman” isn’t subtle, but reducing the male voice to mere prop is. thank u, next.

9. IDLES — Joy as an Act of Resistance

Given “June,” you can’t ding them for losing their sense of humor. Instead, question how the record was even made. That they can protest with (tempered) joy in spite of not just June but the larger horrors of their ire points to why they’re becoming the best band in the world.

10. Clown Core — Toilet

Turns out we had no need for their 2010 debut, with its startling conjecture on clown horn theatrics & jazz diarrhea. So these geniuses went into hiding — allegedly crafting soundtracks — until their message aligned with the times. My vote for funniest album in the universe.

11. John Maus — Addendum

Here I thought the bleak leftist who resurrected goth pop with Gregorian chant & an ARP Omni-2 couldn’t top making “Pussy is not a matter of fact” a danceable hook. Then he does the same thing with “They don’t know shit about outer space” and “Take that baby to the dump.”

12. Public Access T.V. — Street Safari

Not fashionable in the year we passed the bot Inversion, but maybe simulacrum can be good! Nope, not an original thought on this album, except I see no evidence that these songs are covers. Not even “Rough Boy,” which had me relistening to every Ramones record just to be sure.

13. Fire-Toolz — Skinless X-1

White people love to say that Kid A sounds like the ‘concept’ of the internet. Maybe they were right for a time — when the internet was the annoying dial up noise. But now the internet is an infinite shrieking void of malignant carnivalia and robots watching porn. Enter Fire-Toolz.

14. Prison Religion — O Fucc Im on the Wrong Planet

Death Grips on krokodil (in space [possibly also dead]).

15. Gift of Gab — Rejoice! Rappers Are Rapping Again!

thisfirstwordcanbeaslongasiwantittobeifisayitfastenough but seriously gentrification.

16. Snakehips — Stay At Home Tapes (= — __ — =)

If the Chainsmokers were good, they’d still wanna be Snakehips.

17. Troye Sivan — Bloom

Straddling the line between pop charts and actual intrigue perfectly.

18. Toni Braxton — Sex & Cigarettes

Um… you coming onto me or am I in trouble?

19. Pusha T — DAYTONA

Production so muted, you remember he’s rap’s best voice. Youuugghhh.

20. Young Fathers — Cocoa Sugar

Theory: they don’t have lyrics because They stole their Voices.

21. Cardi B — Invasion of Privacy

Who we thought Nicki Minaj was in 2007. Just better.

22. JPEGMAFIA — Veteran

Trap so trap it folds inward and becomes something else.

23. Vince Staples — FM!

Who knew. The least corny man in America has jokes!

24. No Age — Snares Like a Haircut

Title’s just more post-everything bullshit until you get the haircut.

25. Mall Grab — Alone EP

Dance music in 2018 should sound like shit.

26. Noname — Room 25

Gil Scott-Heron goes to grad school. A good thing, promise.

27. Burial/Kode9—30 Minute Mix on Radio 6

Not an album, but better than the one we got.

28. Car Seat Headrest — Twin Fantasy

Those grand, totally unformed visions you had at 19—realized.

29. Khalid — Suncity EP

The wet, confusing love you felt at 18—less gross.

30. Mall Grab — How The Dogs Chill, Vol. 1

Same shit, different dance record: lo-fi house.

31. Parquet Courts — Wide Awake!

White bands don’t have a bassist until (s)he learns funk.

32. Kanye West — ye

nay

33. Yves Tumor — Safe in the Hands of Love

No discernible relationship to love, hands, safety, tumors, or genre.

34. Tierra Whack — Whack World

Gues. I’. Alon. Believin. Thes. Songs’. B. Bette. Ful. Lengt.

35. Courtney Barnett — Tell Me How You Really Feel

Her In Utero. So to say: better than her Nevermind.

36. Lil Wayne — Tha Carter V

Better than length, legend, XXXTentacion, and even Weezy himself suggest.

37. US Girls — In a Poem Unlimited

ABBA & Fleetwood get trapped in an attic, eat the men.

38. DJ Shadow — Live in Manchester: The Mountain Has Fallen Tour

Kind of a best-of comp. So Endtroducing… plus miscellaneous noises.

39. Ezra Furman — Transangelic Exodus

A Very Queer Man With Enormous Wings

40. Nas — NASIR

Production finally matches his God Complex, y’all somehow hate it.

41. A.A.L (Against All Logic) — 2012–2017

The Avalanches die and go to hell, or 2016.

42. slowthai — RUNT EP

A single, grimey middle finger peeking up from the Bush.

43. Rae Sremmurd — SR3MM

Kids call this a #vibe, not an album. Plus “Powerglide.”

44. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks — Sparkle Hard

Same incomprehensibility, same guitar ennui. Now with more dad!

45. Lily Allen — No Shame

Gimme “Tiger Bang” over “Paper Planes” anytime. Oh, and Ambien.

46. Robyn — Honey

Speaking of Ambien.

47. Wussy — What Heaven Is Like

No, that’d be Attica! But this’ll do fine Sunday afternoon.

48. Joey Purp — QUARTERTHING

About two records away from stringing together thirteen straight “Elastics.”

49. Superorganism — Superorganism

Orono is Nico for the generation that doesn’t have sex.

50. Anderson .paak — Oxnard

Wish he had less sex and, lawd, focused on singles.

51. Duckwrth — XTRA UUGLY Mixtape

If Blond was, uh, music as conventionally understood.

52. Jeff Rosenstock — POST-

Terrified white man (not Trump) hides, watches TV until 2020.

😊 A- Records (alphabetical)

53. Adam’s House Cat — Town Burned Down

54. Amanda Shires — To The Sunset

55. And Nothing Hurt — Spiritualized

56. Arin Ray — Platinum Fire

57. Art Brut — Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock out!

58. Big Freedia — 3rd Ward Bounce EP

59. BTS — Love Yourself, ‘Tear’

60. Channel Tres — Channel Tres

61. Daniel Avery — Song for Alpha

62. Del the Funky Homosapien + Amp Live — Gate 13

63. Diali Cissokho & Karia Ba — Routes

64. Dick Stusso — Dick Stusso in Heaven

65. Diplo — California

66. DJ Koze — Knock Knock

67. Eminem — Kamikaze

68. Falside — Relentless and Unforgiving

69. Frank Sinatra — Standing Room Only

70. Fucked Up — Dose Your Dreams

71. Gaika — Basic Volume

72. Ghostface Killah — Ghost Files — Bronze Tape

73. Homeboy Sandman / Edan — Humble Pi

74. Hookworms — Microshift

75. Hop Along — Bark Your Head Off, Dog

76. Hot Snakes — Jericho Sirens

77. Ian Isiah — Shugga Sextape Vol. 1

78. Iglooghost — Clear Tamei

79. Jaden Smith — The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story

80. Joey Bada$$ — 1999

81. Karajishi — Realm EP

82. Lupe Fiasco — DROGAS WAVE

83. Lyrics Born — Quite a Life

84. Methodist Hospital — Giants

85. MGMT — Little Dark Age

86. Milo — budding ornithologists are weary of tired analogies

87. Mitski — Be the Cowboy

88. New Optimism — Amazon To LeFrak

89. Nothing — Dance on the Blacktop

90. Of Montreal — White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood

91. Oneohtrix Point Never — Age Of

92. Oneohtrix Point Never — The Station

93. Paul White — Rejuvenate

94. Peggy Gou — Once EP

95. Pistol Annies — Interstate Gospel

96. Prefuse 73 — Sacrifices

97. Project Pablo — There’s Always More at the Store

98. Rich Krueger — Nowthen

99. Rich Krueger — Life Ain’t That Long

100. Rival Consoles — Persona

101. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever — Hope Downs

102. Rolo Tomassi — Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It

103. Ross from Friends — Family Portrait

104. Shame — Songs of Praise

105. Shopping — The Official Body

106. SOPHIE — OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES

107. Steven Julien, Funkineven — Bloodline

108. Teyana Taylor — K.T.S.E.

109. The Blaze — DANCEHALL

110. The Ex — 27 Passports

111. The Soft Moon — Criminal

112. Travis Scott — Astroworld

113. Tune-yards — I can feel you creeping into my private life

114. Turnstile — Time & Space

115. TV Girl — Death of a Party Girl

116. Zeal & Ardor — Stranger Fruit

Nick Farruggia

Written by

A fiancé, a poodle’s human, a product marketing manager, and a music critic walk into the bar.