25. “4th Dimension” – Kids See Ghosts (Kid Cudi and Kanye West)
Opened by an eerily distorted, but well-placed sample of Louis Prima’s “What Will Santa Claus Say,” 4th dimension” boasts one of the most gripping beats heard all year from the greatest sound engineer of the 21st century. With added quotable wordplay, Kanye and Kid Cudi hearken to their respective primes.
24. “Now The Water” – Porches
Beautifully minimal, “Now The Water” is Porches at their best. While Aaron Maine’s recent excursions into strictly dance-inspired realms of sound are admirable, the track’s simple but punchy drums and heavily reverbed guitars combine to communicate and undeniable charm.
23. “Me and Michael” – MGMT
Pure, unabashed ‘80s revivalism, the synthesized dream escape of “Me and Michael” is darkly reimagined and likened to almost anything Ariel Pink has made. However, this track forgoes any lo-fi gimmicks and is galvanized in pristine production quality, providing one of the most enjoyable songs of 2018.
22. “Baby I’m Bleeding” – JPEGMAFIA
A lo-fi, industrial-tinted rap burner, the song murders anyone or anything JPEGMAFIA deems superficial, profitable or backstabbing. Whether it’s the music industry, Kanye West and even his label mates, no one is safe from the carnage at hand.
21. “Yr Throat” – Jeff Rosenstock
Over crunchy guitars and fiercely urgent drums, “Yr Throat” features a resonant power pop chorus echoing futility and indecision. With many younger Americans still struggling to process the swarming influx of injustice and abuse of power in this nation, Rosenstock captures resounding frustration through anthemic perfection.
20. “Faceshopping” – SOPHIE
Frightening and explosive with gear-grinding drum and bass, the metallic grittiness of “Faceshopping” is an auditory spectacle that may require earplugs to buffer the clamorous absurdity behind SOPHIE’s sonic wizardry.
19. “Espionage” – Preoccupations
Darting back and forth between dissonance and urgency, “Espionage” witnesses Canadian post-punk rockers Preoccupations meander into industrial territory with thunderous roars of percussion and ominous synth and bass.
18. “J’Ouvert” – Brockhampton
Venomous, brutal and out-for-blood, Joba, often deemed Brockhampton’s weakest link, lays to rest any doubts regarding his rapping ability with a verse that emits absolute and unadulterated anger. He displaces Ameer Van, who was the group’s main source for edge and vitriol in the past.
17. “Canary Yellow” – Deafheaven
Mixing in elements of post-rock and of course, blackgaze, “Canary Yellow” is 12 minutes of transcendental reverie, teetering and twisting back and forth into visceral, nightmarish dimensions. It takes listeners by surprise with each passing moment.
16. “Tornado” – Tomberlin
The up-and-coming Tomberlin really knows how to devastate listeners with a heartrending anecdote. ”Tornado” is the most soul-crushing testimony of them all. Held together by a beautiful, yet haunting instrumental, her words teem with anxious but resonant musings regarding identity and expectations.
15. “Love It If We Made It” – The 1975
The centerpiece to one of the surprisingly great albums of 2018, this song expresses Matty Healy and The 1975’s anger. Unafraid to express their disdain toward their own culture, “Love It If We Made It” swarms with ramblings of current societal plagues, but does it with thoughtful attitude while still maintaining the band’s ‘80s-inspired, starry-eyed flair.
14. “Never Fight A Man With A Perm” – IDLES
Toxic masculinity runs deep in the history of punk rock. But leave it to one of the most brutal punk bands around to redefine it. Joe Talbot imbues pulverizing drums and vicious guitars with piercing wordplay and humorous images in an attempt to dismantle a baneful sector of listeners on this post-punk reimagining of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin.'”
13. “USA” – Jeff Rosenstock
An unabashed power-pop anthem aimed at the President, this seven-minute piece captures the ups and downs of the resistance against bigotry. Even though it was released on the first day of 2018, “USA” ends up as one of the best album openers of the year, given the bravura and the array of emotion this track covers.
12. “Geyser” – Mitski
Personifying a brewing storm, the lonely “Geyser” surges with large emotion and instrumentation. Nebulous organ keys and a heavy synth bass stimulate the eye of the storm, while Mitski’s resounding voice precipitates like falling rain from above.
11. “Wings” – Mac Miller
Just from these opening lines, a stark and haunting contrast can be gleaned. Though Mac Miller seemed to be breaking through a dark and cloudy headspace and toward some kind of reprieve, his untimely death makes “Wings” eerily emotional and omniscient.
10. “A Perfect Miracle” – Spiritualized
Similar ethereal like Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, the lead single from Jason Pierce’s latest album rides a wave somewhere between bliss and agony, all while creating a sense of comfort along the way. It’s not the most original Spiritualized song, but it manages to recreates a feeling listeners have cherished for years.
9. “Black Car” – Beach House
Haunting and hypnotic, this goth-leaning cut is an ethereal escape into romantic renderings of death. With a watery synth loop and humming bass line, this is Beach House at its most dreary and most immersive.
8. “Colossus” – IDLES
“Colossus” is a musically brilliant progression of pent-up anger cascading down like an avalanche. What initially begins as a dim and despondent no-wave number hinting at something twisted and disemboweling, crescendos to a complete stop—then suddenly breaks out into a rapturous punk rock anthem.
7. “The Reason They Hate Me” – Daughters
Paired with scornfully sarcastic and irate lyrics, Daughters explode through a labyrinthian display of pounding and eviscerating sounds that sway between industrial and hardcore. With grating guitars, crashing percussion and a bass line colored with murderous intent, the band’s brutal lead “single” rose from hell.
6. “I Shall Love 2” – Julia Holter
A stunning and euphoric release of pain, “I Shall Love 2” is a dreamy epic that begins sparsely and intimately but gradually grows into a fiery gust of life-affirmation and self-love. Trading minimalism and reticence for maximalist extremes and orchestral proportions, Holter reaches into a deep well of pain to create an art pop masterpiece that seeks empathy and grace in a time where moral compasses are stretched thin.
5. “Desire” – Ought
Taking a melodic turn for the better (surprisingly), Ought abstains from anxiety-filled, post-punkisms—namely its affinity for uneasy riffs. Aside from Tim Darcy showing off his dynamic vocal range, the band fills the spaces in between with emotional nuance—a ravishing exhibition of synthesizers, vibraphone, and even a 70-member choir—resulting in one of the most charming rock performances of the year.
4. “BLACK BALLOONZ | 13LACK BALLOONS” – Denzel Curry featuring GoldLink
Though it lacks the aggression that consumes most of TA13OO, this track conveys an even darker message. With shadowy, neo-soul elements combining with drums and bass that recalls ‘90s West Coast hip-hop, Curry distressingly reflects on depression and inner demons by using It-inspired metaphors like balloons.
3. “By The Daylight” – Devon Welsh
With gorgeous keys and inspirited string sections swelling together into a plume of incandescence, Devon Welsh bewitches listeners with piece of mind. This song is easily the most transfixing and comforting piece on this list. Welsh ponders the philosophy of self-autonomy while providing a balm for anxious souls fearful of uncertainty when their lives are falling apart.
2. “Saint” – Blood Orange
The paramount moment within Dev Hynes’ latest outing, “Saint” basks in elegant, neo-soul synthesizers and slight nostalgia. As a choir full of airy vocals commence this delightful number, Hynes drops the floor from beneath his listeners with a slew of sax and a groove-based hip-hop beat. With production radiating a palpable warmth and heartfelt lyrics, Hynes curates the best pop song of 2018.
1. “Bodys” – Car Seat Headrest
Though the original version of “Bodys” was released in 2011, its incredibly dynamic reimagining makes it my favorite song of 2018. It’s a dance punk masterpiece through and through. What used to sound like a modest bedroom demo is now injected with muscle and louder, crisper production. With a pristine and richer sonic palette to wield its talents, the band’s mix of percolating drums and frantic guitars make Will Toldeo’s meta lyrics that much more impactful, resulting in an ass-shaking anthem full of earnest teen angst.