50 Best Albums of 2018 So Far

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

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The Bad Plus, 'Never Stop II'

The Bad Plus, 'Never Stop II'

We Say: Since forming in 2000, the Bad Plus have grown from upstart into institution, one of the few contemporary jazz acts to show up on the mainstream radar in the years before the To Pimp a Butterfly watershed. ... As on past efforts, it's bassist Reid Anderson who takes the lead here, contributing half of the album's eight pieces. His latest creations – especially opener "Hurricane Birds," driven by a drum 'n' bass–esque groove from drummer Dave King, and soulful, backbeat-powered second track "Trace" – epitomize the band's signature blend of poppy melodicism and proggy intricacy. On each, you can hear [pianist Orrin] Evans having a ball with the bassist's themes, savoring their tight contours while adding his own bluesy flourishes. H.S.

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