50 Best Albums of 2018 So Far

Including Janelle Monáe, Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, the 'Black Panther' soundtrack and more

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Kacey Musgraves, 'Golden Hour'
50
6/50

Kacey Musgraves, 'Golden Hour'

We Say: [Y]ou might not recognize the weed-loving cowgirl troublemaker of "Follow Your Arrow" on this moony set, a throwback to easy-listening pop that's only "country" by the loosest definition. Joined by a familiar dream team of Music City co-writers – Natalie Hemby, Hillary Lindsey, Luke Laird and Shane McAnally – plus new partners Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian, the newlywed Musgraves is uncharacteristically cooing love songs; see the swooning title track and "Butterflies." But she hasn't lost her wit: "Northern lights in our skies/Plants that grow and open your mind," she muses on "Oh, What a World," a vocoder intro shimmering in the distance amid plinking banjo. Who knew Americana and robot rock were a thing? W.H.

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