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50 Best Albums of 2018

2018 was all about bold new voices breaking out of the margins and being heard — from Latin-pop party-starters to feminist guitar heroes to a new school of hip-hop revolutionaries.

best albums

This year felt more like a changing of the guard than any year in recent memory. There weren’t as many superstar blockbusters to suck up all the oxygen so younger innovators got the attention they deserved. It was a fantastic year for ambitious Latin-pop, psychedelic Southern rap, Gen Z indie rock and boundary-defying country. Janelle Monáe paid respect to Prince by updating his joyfully fluid legacy; singers like Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello brought new emotional depth to the top of the charts; beloved veterans like Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, David Byrne and John Prine made inventive, richly insightful albums; and Drake somehow found a way to elevate his Drake-ness to even more exaltant new heights — proof that in the music world of 2018 anything was possible.

US Girls In A Poem Unlimited
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U.S. Girls, ‘In a Poem Unlimited’

Meg Remy’s sixth studio LP was one of the most potent political records of 2018 – and also one of the slyest, smartest, and most chilling, a mix of acid funk and throwback disco with squalling saxophones and warped guitar riffs. “Rage of Plastics” sounds like a Screaming Jay Hawkins declaration reimagined by Karen Silkwood. “M.A.H.” surveys a horrifically bleak marriage (and Obama-era disillusionment) amidst ‘70s dancefloor reverie. “Rosebud” is a trip-hop anthem of self-discovery invoking Citizen Kane, while “Incidental Boogie” turns the psychology of an abused spouse into a mutant club jam. These are feminist party jams that, to their credit, don’t see escapism as an option.