In one of its most var­ied end-of-year lists ever, Hot Press cel­e­brates the emerg­ing and es­tab­lished artists who are tak­ing mu­sic into un­charted wa­ters. To that end, Bris­tol-based hard­core band IDLES are the de­serv­ing win­ners of our AL­BUM OF THE YEAR 2018.


The Hot Press crit­ics round up the mu­sic high­lights of the year.

Another year of fan­tas­tic mu­sic, another Hot Press of­fice riven by ar­gu­ments as the editorial team fought tooth and nail to pick the Top 50 Al­bums of the Year. 2017 was the year when in­ter­na­tional rock­stars had their tri­umphant re­turns – with The Na­tional, St. Vin­cent, The War On Drugs, The XX and LCD Soundsys­tem all pro­duc­ing ca­reerdefin­ing al­bums.

2018, how­ever, was the year of the trail­blaz­ers. From al­most ev­ery end of the mu­si­cal spec­trum, it seemed as if mu­si­cians were set on rip­ping up their genre’s rule­books and mak­ing some­thing en­tirely new.

Idles, there­fore, were the clear win­ners. Hav­ing spent the past 24 months or so turn­ing punk on its head, they’ve crafted a sound that’s as emo­tion­ally pow­er­ful as it is po­lit­i­cally im­por­tant. In postBrexit UK, where divi­sion and hate seem rifer than ever, Idles are tack­ling is­sues like misog­yny, toxic mas­culin­ity and racism head on, with an en­ergy that’s as in­fec­tious on wax as it is on stage.

Also blaz­ing a trail this year was Amer­i­can singer Janelle Monáe,

whose al­bum Dirty Com­puter

was an ex­am­ple of the lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties of soul, R&B, hiphop and funk. This was a run­ning theme through­out 2018, with the likes of Young Fa­thers’ Co­coa Su­gar and Ken­drick La­mar’s Black Pan­ther OST, amongst oth­ers, also prov­ing bril­liantly com­pelling.

And what can we say about

Ir­ish artists in 2018? Never have there been so many great al­bums, and never has the job of rank­ing them been as dif­fi­cult. Sev­eral de­buts com­pletely blew us away, in­clud­ing Re­jjie Snow’s Dear

An­nie; Wyvern Lingo’s self-ti­tled ef­fort; The Aca­demic’s Tales From The Back­seat; Ko­jaque’s Deli Day­dreams; and Saint Sis­ter’s Shape Of Si­lence.

But it was the re­turn of Vil­lagers, with The Art Of Pre­tend­ing To Swim, that made per­haps the big­gest im­pres­sion of all. With his fifth al­bum, Conor O’Brien proved that he’s a mu­si­cal shape-shifter, able to change genre, style, theme or tone at the drop of a hat, while still mak­ing a truly co­her­ent, im­por­tant body of work.

Our na­tion’s mu­sic mak­ers con­tinue to thrill and in­spire. –







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