Here are the records we’ve had on repeat this year.
The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
After relentlessly teasing us with posters, mysterious countdowns and some of the best music videos of the year (yes, we’ve pre-ordered the “Sincerity Is Scary” hat, what of it?), The 1975 dropped their third album – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships – at the end of November, and subsequently established themselves as one of the most vital groups around. The first part of their Music For Cars era – with the second instalment, Notes on a Conditional Form, set to follow early next year – ABIIOR is in equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful as frontman Matty Healy explores our position in our ever-changing, ever-online world. We smiled, we cried, we lost our voice yelling “poison me daddy” as loud as we could, and we loved every moment it.
Must listens: “Love It If We Made It”, “Be My Mistake”
BROCKHAMPTON – iridesence
On 2017’s Saturation III record, BROCKHAMPTON proclaimed that they were “the best boyband since One Direction” and stated at their live shows that “you’re now watching the greatest boyband in the motherfucking world”, and tbh if there’s ever a case of putting something out into the universe and it actually happening, this is it. The 13-strong hip-hop collective, who famously formed via an online Kanye West chatroom, have not only shown themselves as the greatest boyband around, but also as game-changers of the rap game. Championing inclusivity, vulnerability and queer visibility, their latest Billboard chart topping album iridescence – recorded at London’s Abbey Road studios – is a monumental force to be reckoned with and an impressive show of resilience after a tumultuous year for the group. If you don’t stan them as your new favourite boyband, now is the time to.
Must listens: “DISTRICT”, “J’OUVERT”
Shawn Mendes – Shawn Mendes
Pop-rock’s golden boy Shawn Mendes released his self-titled third record earlier this year and demonstrated that we shouldn’t write the Vine-babe-turned-megastar off as purely another guy with a guitar singing about luuuurve. After battling anxiety and insecurities, as well as witnessing the political shitstorm happening in the US, Shawn decided to get a lot more personal with his writing and produced a bold, beautiful and strikingly mature record full of pop bangers and elements of multiple genres. Mendes army 5eva.
Must listens: “In My Blood”, “Lost In Japan”
Pale Waves – My Mind Makes Noises
If you haven’t heard of these goth pop babes, you must’ve been living under a rock this year. The Manchester-based quartet have been pretty much everywhere since their debut single “There’s A Honey” in 2017 and made our year by dropping their debut album My Mind Makes Noises in September. Documenting frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie’s most personal inner thoughts, the diary-like album weaves between stories of her past and present loves with a striking relatability that’ll hit you right in the #feels. Partnered with the group’s irresistible pop melodies and 80s grooves, Pale Waves have created an album that you’ll be crying to at one point and dancing to the next. Or, as we do, you could dance and cry simultaneously? It’s what Heather would want, tbf.
Must listens: “Kiss”, “Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die)”
With a new peroxide blonde ‘do, Troye Sivan established himself as the prince of pop this year with the release of his sophomore album Bloom. A banger-heavy record, the Aussie babe created a beautiful body of work that celebrates his out-and-proud queer status, with songs about Grindr and one night stands. Catapulting him into the mainstream pop fame, Troye has proved himself with this LP to be at the forefront of the new pop stars taking over the game. As he told Eve Barlow for our Spring 2018 issue: “You know those moments when everything seems to click into place?” Yes, Troye, yes we do.
Must listens: “My My My!”, “Dance to This”
Ariana Grande – Sweetener
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Ariana Grande is the greatest person in the world. It’s just a fact. After the horrific 2017 Manchester terror attack, she translated her pain into her stunning fourth studio album, Sweetener. Packed full of bops and displaying her incredible goosebump-inducing vocals, each track is legendary in its own way and has seen Ariana propelled into her correct position as arguably the best pop star around at the moment. Not stopping there, she also released the best vid of the year a few months after. To all you still hating on Ariana – thank u, next.
Must listens: “breathin”, “God is a woman”
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Not even Alex Turner’s questionable beard decisions could knock the fact that Arctic Monkeys produced one of the finest records of the year, if not the decade. After making us wait five (FIVE!) whole years, Monkeys released their sixth studio album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino in all its weird and wonderful glory. Taking us into their own universe – with Alex acting as receptionist “Mark” – TBH&C is Monkeys as we’ve never heard them and although yer da’ was pissed off that they didn’t do another “Balaclava”-esque track, we were transfixed and hypnotised. Would make the pun about it being four stars out of five, but we think it deserves them all.
Must listens: “She Looks Like Fun”, “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”
Words / Fangirling