EMBODIED's Ten Best Albums of 2018
By Jenzia Burgos
There is little to celebrate about 2018 except that it’s nearly over. And, thank god, that it brought us new music. Music that softened the blow of an otherwise impossible year; music that made me, somehow, believe in goodness again.
There is little else I hope to hold onto from this troubling dozen of months. A year that saw sexual assaulters rise to even higher positions of power, new school shootings, migrant children separated from their families or dead at the border, the passing of inspiring figures like Anthony Bourdain and Stan Lee, California wildfires that left behind ravaged land and homeless families, a government shutdown that persists at the time of writing— I need not continue. 2018 was tough. But its music, like each listener, was tougher.
I will hold onto these next ten albums. For their hopes, their melancholy, their blaring confidence, their love, their joy. I hope you do, too.
Embodied’s Ten Best Albums of 2018
Listed in Alphabetical Order
Blood Orange - Negro Swan
Devonte “Dev” Hynes’ fourth release as Blood Orange is the stuff of #BlackBoyMagic. Packed with rapturous R&B runs, sprawling beats, and transgender activist Janet Mock’s meditations on queer life, Negro Swan exemplifies the triumph that is Black life in 2018.
CupcakKe - Ephorize
CupcakKe is a queen of sexuality, and on her third studio album Ephorize, she isn’t afraid for you to know. “I thought I came but I peed on the dick,” she spits on album favorite, “Duck Duck Goose.” Brazen, nasty, unbothered. This isn’t for prudes. But listen anyway; you could learn a thing or two.
Lucy Dacus - Historian
Lucy Dacus is my indie dream-girl of the year. Each time I listen to Historian, I feel as if a friend has just let me in all of her secrets, and I know her both more and less because of it.
MGMT - Little Dark Age
After a five year hiatus, MGMT followed their eponymous letdown with record that recalls their golden Oracular Spectacular age. The unironic, glorious Little Dark Age arrived early this year, and its slinky synths have eased my ears since.
Mitski - Be the Cowboy
For all the drifters; for the girls whose faces looked nothing like the ones they saw around them; for that American image that did not reflect them— there is Mitski Miyawaki’s Be the Cowboy. Nothing, she reminds us here, is more powerful than riding your own horse.
Noname - Room 25
“Y'all really thought a bitch couldn't rap huh?” If you did, you played yourself. Chicago MC Noname’s studio debut, Room 25 is a coolheaded work of brilliance. This 34-minute wordstorm of academic theory, personal critique, social commentary, and lovemaking will have you struggling to keep up. But that’s what the repeat button is for, right?
Rosalía - El Mal Querer
Rosalía Vila Tobella is who pop has been waiting for. A 25-year-old Spanish neo-flamenco singer whose voice carries Andalusian history in its every melisma, Rosalía is not who I expected to brand as such. Yet one listen to the rapturous “Reniego,” the stomping “Malamente,” or a familiar “Bagdad” promises her sudden international power.
Travis Scott - Astroworld
On Astroworld, rapper Travis Scott blossoms as a curator of parts dark, psychedelic, booming, and odd. His funhouse will throw you for a loop, so strap in for the ride; you won’t want to fall off.
Screaming Females - All at Once
Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females has a colossal voice. She has been honing it for well over a decade, harnessing her tremendous power for every right moment. In the year of #MeToo, All at Once sees Paternoster’s wail echoed in mine, in yours, in ours.
serpentwithfeet - soil
This year, whenever the world felt too heavy, I turned to soil. Baltimore-born Josiah Wise, who performs as serpentwithfeet, held answers for me in his every breath. Bred of gospel matched with R&B of the avant-garde, serpentwithfeet will meet your grief and heartache with a voice sown of light itself.