Silvia's Top Releases Of 2018: The Wombats, SABA, Ben Howard & More

Collage by: Danica Ramirez Tanjutco

15. The Wombats - Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life

We all have that extremely indie record we love. Mine is the latest LP by The Wombats. With electrifying tunes such as "Turn" and "I Don't Know Why I Like You But I Do", the British indie trio reaffirms they are of the most promising bands of their genre. With mirrored, echoed and reverbed electric guitars, almost reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys, the entire 11-track album is characterized by cutting lyrics that fuse indie with pop in a symphony of rough vocals and exposed hearts.

14. Jaden Smith - The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story

Jaden Smith has proven for the third time he is not just Will Smith's son. His musical talent is perfectly visible in his last record, The Sunset Tapes: A Cool Tape Story. He clearly is a visionaire when it comes to his genre, it being a mixture of hip-hop, rap and trap. From the first song, "SOHO", to the last, "Rolling Around", we are transported on a roller coaster of autotune, rapped rhymes and catchy beats. This only made Jaden's persona more interesting.

13. Amber Run - The Assembly EP

With just three songs, the british band Amber Run moved their listeners' souls. "The Weight""Heaven Is A Place" and the heartbreaking "Amen" are the protagonists of this brief yet effective EP, which witnesses Joshua Keogh's best vocals so far, and also the most introspective and personal lyrics Amber Run have ever written. It is not an easy EP to listen to, especially if you are an emotional person, but its intimacy and purity are truly outstanding.

12. Novo Amor - Birthplace

With a luminous guitar strumming, welsh songwriter Ali John-Meredith Lacey, also known as Novo Amor, starts off his debut album. These dreamy and nostalgic sounds are a constant throughout the entire record, putting it on the same line as a Bon Iver-esque production, enriched by violins, trumpets and eclectic drums. The highlights of this beautiful debut are for sure "Utican", which sees the best vocal performance of Novo Amor, "State Lines", the most ethereal track and "Repeat Until Death", the song with the saddest lyrics and meaning, but carries so much beauty within itself.

11. AURORA - Infections Of A Different Kind (Step 1)

Norwegian singer Aurora is back with her second stunning studio album, and I could not be happier about it. It is just 8 tracks long, but they all contain Aurora's true colours: her spontaneity is present in her lyricism, her voice is warm yet peculiar, and her production skills are not to be underestimated. "All Is Soft Inside" is for sure the best tune on the album, but tracks such as "Churchyard", a dark and deep song made up by echoes reminiscing of Gregorian Choirs and the track that gives the title to the album, "Infections Of A Different Kind", are perfect example of what this ethereal album contains.

10. Benjamin Francis Leftwich - I Am With You EP

We enter the top 10 with another EP, this time by Benjamin Francis Leftwich. I Am With You is a stunning set composed by 4 tracks, starting its journey with the beautiful "4AM In London", but I have to say the whole EP carries this calming and comforting energy, it never fails me to amaze me, at every listen. The lyrics are simple but effective and it is a great preface to his third album, Gratitude, coming out in March 2019.

9. Khalid - Suncity 

This short album by Khalid is, with no exception, one of the most interesting releases 2018 has seen. Just the presence of the versatile and dynamic "Vertigo" makes it a very interesting piece of music, it being the perfect fusion of R&B and Alt-pop. Khalid's vocals and lyrics don't stop impressing his fans with the sunny (no pun intended) "Saturday Nights" and the melancholic "Better", both accompanied by great beats and guitar riffs. 7 songs aren't enough to summarise Khalid's talent, but his attempt was more than valid.

8. Saba - CARE FOR ME

Tahj Malik Chandler, also known as Saba, put out his second LP this year. Needless to say it is one of the most effective and valid releases of the year, a statement reinforced by songs like "BUSY""CALLIGRAPHY", and "PROM / KING". Care For Me is a versatile album, which goes from R&B to Hip-Hop, switching very easily and often intertwining various genres. His style is comparable to a young Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar, but Saba has his own personal touch, and we love it.

7.  Beach House - 7

The Baltimore duo Beach House released their 7th studio album this year, coming back with their signature sounds in a hypnotic 11-song record. Tormented vocals overshadowed by endless guitar echoes characterise the dreamy record, that contains small treasures like "Pay No Mind", reminiscing of M83 with a hint of 80s soundtracks. If I had to find one adjective to describe this album, it would be cinematic. In fact, if you close your eyes and listen to "Black Car" or "Girl Of The Year", at least one random movie scene will come to your mind, or perhaps you will imagine a new one, your movie. All soundtracked by 7 by Beach House.

6. Ben Howard - Noonday Dream

Ben Howard, known folk singer/songwriter, is back with something a little bit different. More risks were taken, new sounds experimented with, and his lyricism improved in quality. It is not an easy album to listen to; it is made up of 10 songs, and as the album goes on the intensity increases and decreases constantly. He tried out more autotune, like in "Towing The Line", an almost country song with a hint of alternative folk. An upbeat phase is reached with "Someone In The Doorway", whose lyrics are basically spoken, but an intense and smooth guitar chimes in right before the chorus, making it sound like the perfect existential song. This structure is present in various other songs, like the futuristic "The Defeat" and my personal favourite, "Nica Libres At Dusk". Overall, it is a consistent and profound album. I am glad Howard is giving himself a few more possibilities when it comes to his genre.

5. ISLAND - Feels Like Air

Rollo Doherty's scratching voice enriches ISLAND's debut album, also describable as a consistent and long letter to our inner selves. This record has its ups and downs, starting off with the bold "Ride", which is definitely one of the ups, going through the grueling yet gorgeous "We Can Go Anywhere", and terminating with the acoustic and romantic "Lilyflower". Glorious guitars are for sure the main characteristic of this album, alongside original lyrics and an impressive range of vocals. This will always be one of my favourite records of all time. It is the perfect alternative record.

4. Mumford & Sons - Delta

With a bold opening song, "42", Mumford & Sons are back with their fifth studio album. It is a hell of an album. The London band really put everything they had in these 14 tracks, making their folk side a little bit more subtle and giving themselves to a deeper alternative rock. "Woman" is a revolutionising song, making the entire album worth the listen. More instruments were used, Marcus Mumford's voice is as clear as ever, and the dynamics of the entire record are extremely well thought out. "The Wild" is for sure the most effective juxtaposition of styles in the album, with a soothing piano and empowering violins present in an explosion of sounds towards the end. And so is the album: an explosion of sounds. A moving, intense, and personal explosion of sounds.

3. Arctic Monkeys - Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino

The new Arctic Monkeys album sounds like it comes from a different era- I just can't figure out if this era belongs to the past or the future. With only 11 tracks, the iconic band made their comeback in the most glorious and powerful way possible. The guitars are reverbed, Alex Turner's voice is a distant echo in a vintage microphone, and his lyrics are the most psychedelic they have ever been. The eclectic "Four Out Of Five" is just one of the many jewels this album contains. The highest peaks are for sure the opening "Star Treatment" and the closing song "The Ultracheese", which encage the record in a blissful mixture of melodies and echoes. Arctic Monkeys revolutionised themselves with this comeback, worthy of all the wait.

2. The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Another awaited comeback was The 1975's. The Manchester band is back after two years with a brand new conceptual album that embodies today's society in its purest form. Liberalism, politics, love, and death are all topics Matty Healy's lyrics narrate. "Love It If We Made It" is the most intense point of the entire record, with Healy's scratching and haunted vocals, while more delicate moments are reached in songs like "Inside Your Mind" and "Surrounded By Heads And Bodies". The background concept is that "Modernity has failed us", which might be a strong statement, but it is truthful. Another truthful statement I can make is: The 1975 haven't failed us. This is for sure one of the most dynamic albums of the year.

1. Big Red Machine - Big Red Machine

And the first position goes to the most awaited collaboration of the year: the one between Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and The National's Aaron Dessner. The two music legends worked together in a complicated, grueling and metaphorical record, composed of 10 songs, for a total of 47 minutes. Vernon's voice is the usual signature, highlighting the high quality of the production and lyrics. The two great minds came together in a tripudium of sounds that cannot be described; it is almost inhuman. "Deep Green""OMDB""People Lullaby" and most importantly the hypnotic "Gratitude" encage the listeners in a mental paranormal experience, transporting them on an endless journey of the best definition of music. This album was meant to be good, for it was created by two of the greatest minds in the music industry, but I never imagined it to be this good. This is what music should be about.


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