Top Ten Albums of 2018

top ten albumsIt’s been a very inconsistent year when it comes to albums. There have been a lot of releases that have fallen short of expectations, or failed to make a lasting impression. Thankfully to counteract that fact we’ve also seen some of our highest scoring records to date. It’s been a year full of new discoveries and subverted expectations, and these are our picks for the best albums from the past twelve months.

matt corby10. Matt Corby – Rainbow Valley

This man’s music is perhaps the best well-kept secret that we’ve had the privilege of being privy to. Rainbow Valley is a charming, slow-burning soul record. An all together more assured release than his debut. Forgoing the flash of most other R&B records, it’s like the musical equivalent of a cosy blanket on a cold night. (Review)

arstidir9. Árstíðir – Nivalis

This Icelandic outfit have made a record that seems to occupy two spaces in time all at once. Its contemporary side pulls you in with its bright and memorable hooks, and once you surrender yourself to it you begin to absorb the ageless atmosphere it creates. There’s something unique to this record that feels like some ancient all-encompassing magic, and reminds you that you’re a small part of a big beautiful world. (Review)

blackbox memories8. Ophelia – Blackbox Memories

The weight of expectation is enough to trip up many artists, but the debut record from Belwood favourites Ophelia is everything that I hoped it would be. Bittersweet folk, anthemic Americana, and even the odd dash of gothic drama; this transatlantic duo have thrown everything into this album. It’s hit after hit, has a song for every occasion, and is the kind of record that you’ll carry with you for years to come. (Review)

Lets-Eat-Grandma-Im-All-Ears7. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears

I’m honestly struggling to think of another band that made as much creative growth between their first and second albums as Let’s Eat Grandma. I’m All Ears still has enough of the quirkiness found on I, Gemini to make LEG one of the most unique acts on the scene right now, but also offers plenty of pop sensibilities which were previously in short supply. It’s like listening to a sneak preview of pop music from the not too distant future. (Review)

the pineapple thief6. The Pineapple Thief – Dissolution

Over their long and varied career The Pineapple Thief have ticked plenty of boxes for me in some form or another, but never enough of them all at once to really catch my attention. Dissolution is the record that changed all that. The band have drawn on all their past work to create their finest release to date by far. This fantastic record exceeded my expectations more than any other this year. (Review)

Black-Foxxes-REIDI5. Black Foxxes – Reiði

While Reiði carries over a lot of the raw emotion and aggression that so captivated us on their debut, it also sees the band mature and explore new broader soundscapes. It somehow manages to be both more experimental and more hook driven, which is no easy task. It’s another stunning release from one of the most consistently brilliant bands of recent years. These Belwood favourites always deliver. (Review)

aesthesys4. Aesthesys – Achromata

I’ll just come out and say it: this is probably the best instrumental release I’ve ever heard. It has grandeur, it has drama, it has nuance, it’s wonderfully expressive and features some exemplary musicianship. I honestly can’t think of any way that I would change this record. I’m still a little awestruck every time I come back to it. (Review)

skysketch - fox wedding3. Skysketch – Fox Wedding

By far the biggest (and most welcome) surprise of the year. This Turkish band have released a truly engaging and cinematic concept album that follows a tale from Japanese folklore. Drawing on elements from the likes of Radiohead and Oceansize, but at the same time shaping them to form a sound that is entirely their own. Skysketch have seemingly just burst onto the scene out of nowhere and have blown just about everyone else out of the water. (Review)

snailmail2. Snail Mail – Lush

It’s been a few years since a debut album ranked so highly on our list, which just goes to show what an incredible record Lush is. Lindsey Jordan writes with the cathartic and confessional ardour of youth, yet plays with the melodic maturity of someone twice her age. It feels personal, it feels effortless; like an unassuming day with a childhood friend that ends up becoming a cherished memory in the years that follow. (Review)

typhoon1. Typhoon – Offerings

Not just our number one album of the year, but our highest scoring album to date. Telling the tale of a man losing his memory, it’s full of deeper meaning and has repeating themes to delight my fellow concept album nerds. Yet at the same time, it’s standout tracks are so grand and cinematic as to stand on par with some of the finest modern indie bands out there today. It’s like an enormous, intricate collage where each single fragment is a masterpiece in itself. Simply put, Offerings is a modern classic. (Review)