Old faces return to the fore but we can also expect reinvention and originality
The best albums to look forward to in 2018
It’s another big year for music on the way with a diverse selection of albums in the offing, from Craig David and Franz Ferdinand, Jimi Hendrix and Gorillaz. For those who want to be one of the first to get their hands on the biggest albums of 2018, here is a rundown of what is out and when.
Epic / Syco / Sony (January)
The first-name-only title of 20-year-old Cuban-American Camila Cabello’s solo debut says it all: the former Fifth Harmony singer has designs on the pop crown previously worn by such mono-monikered stars as Britney, Pink and Shakira. Still, if the Number 1 success of Cuban-flavoured single Havana in eight countries last September was impressive, and the infectious, helium-high vocals on follow-up single Never Be the Same also shine, Camila – first announced in December 2016 with the working title The Hurting, The Healing, The Loving – has been a worryingly long time coming.
First Aid Kit
Last heard performing a folky cover of Lorde’s Perfect Places for BBC Radio 2 in the UK, Swedish sister act Klara and Johanna Söderberg return with a fourth album this month. Ruins features guest spots from R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, among others, and was produced by Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket). As signalled by recent single Postcard – “It’s not a resentful song; more reaching out to a [former] lover to wish them well”, Klara told Rolling Stone magazine recently – the duo’s harmonious country-folk has lost none of its potency.
The Time Is Now
Insanity, Sony (January)
Despite years of merciless lampooning by Leigh Francis on British TV comedy Bo’ Selecta!, Craig David clearly has staying-power. His Glastonbury Festival set in the UK last year charmed many doubters, and now comes album number seven. “By doing the simple things that enrich my heart, I’ve found the same magic that got me into making music as a kid,” the singer said recently of The Time Is Now. Slickly produced, contemporary-sounding R’n’B nugget Heartline – the album’s first single – confirms David still has an ear for indelible hooks.
The Scottish art-rockers consolidate their brand on album number five, after their well-received outing as FFS in 2015 – a spirited “supergroup” comprised of themselves and veteran United States pop act Sparks. Always Ascending is their first record without guitarist and co-founding member Nick McCarthy, now replaced by Dino Bardot (formerly of fellow Scots indie act in the 1990s) and former sound engineer/remixer, Julian Corrie. The new album’s title track is a mirrorball-friendly floor-filler, while other song titles include Lois Lane and Huck and Jim. It will be interesting to see how working with producer Philippe Zdar (of French synth-pop duo Cassius) has affected the band.
Last Night All My Dreams Came True
Not for Wild Beasts the smoking guns and acrimony of your typical band split. Instead the Kendal, England-formed art rockers are saying goodbye with this hits and favourites set recorded live at RAK Studios in London over two days last summer. Highlights such as All The King’s Men and Wanderlust remind us just how much frontman Hayden Thorpe’s extraordinary falsetto voice will be missed. Hopefully he can find a new outlet for it soon.
Anna von Hausswolff
City Slang (March)
If you’ve yet to explore the brilliantly foreboding world of Gothenburg’s Anna von Hausswolff, the follow-up to her rated 2015 album The Miraculous should get you up to speed. A frequent player of pipe organs, and no stranger to the Gothic epic, the strikingly named Swedish singer-songwriter has already offered a preview of Dead Magic in the shape of current single The Mysterious Vanishing Of Electra. Six minutes long and featuring a vocal performance that can only be described as feral, it bodes well for Hausswolff’s ongoing ascendency. Dead Magic’s sinister blurry red-and-black cover art depiction of an unnamed girl, meanwhile, is simply terrifying.
Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt,
It’s almost 20 years since tracks from Moby’s 10-million selling 1999 album Play seemed to soundtrack every second film or advertisement around. Now he’s back with the trip-hop inspired, politically-themed Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt. “The punk rocker in me wants to yell at us as a species and say, ‘Stop making these terrible choices,’ but the other part of me who’s maybe aspiring to some enlightenment just wants to try and be understanding and compassionate”, the 52-year-old recently remarked, discussing the new album. The record’s cover art – of a cow and its calf reading a book – is as curious as its title.
Both Sides Of The Sky
Legacy Recordings (March)
Yes, you read that correctly – the fabled Fender Stratocaster whizz who died in 1970 aged 27 has a new album due. Both Sides Of The Sky is the latest in a very long, always controversial line of posthumous Hendrix releases, and it purportedly contains 10 previously unreleased Hendrix recordings made between 1968 and 1970. These include a version of the Joni Mitchell classic Woodstock that Jimi made with Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. As always with posthumous Hendrix albums, the jury is still out.
Manic Street Preachers
Resistance Is Futile
With its nod to French nouveau réalisme artist Yves Klein, International Blue, the flagship single from the Manics’ 13th studio album, is a typically impassioned affair with soaring lead guitar lines. Recorded at their own Door To The River studios in Newport, Wales, and arriving after an uncharacteristic four-year absence, Resistance Is Futile is reportedly an “obsessively melodic” record which attempts to recapture the mood and sound of earlier Manics albums such as Generation Terrorists and Everything Must Go. Lyrical themes include memory and loss, forgotten history, and art as “a hiding place and inspiration”.
Third Man Records (release date TBC)
White has always done things his way, and his as-yet-untitled third solo album looks set to follow suit. Talking with The New Yorker, the former White Stripes lynchpin said he had based himself in a small apartment in Nashville to write “like Michael Jackson would write”, thinking of parts in his head, rather than composing them on instruments. “It’s a bizarre one,” he later said of the album, discussing it with Billboard, “I’ve just got to let it settle.” The only preview thus far has been a four-minute sound collage White released under the title Servings and Portions From My Boarding House Reach. Jazz elements and percussion-heavy garage rock both feature in what he has described as his “back-alley stabbing music”.
Parlophone (release date TBC)
It’s going to be a very busy year for Damon Albarn. Veteran producer Tony Visconti (David Bowie, etc) has confirmed that he is working on another album from Albarn’s The Good, the Bad and the Queen project, while Albarn’s Gorillaz co-creator, graphic artist Jamie Hewlett recently revealed that the Gorillaz’ rapid-fire follow-up to last year’s much raved-about Humanz (their first album in six years) will also arrive in 2018. “Usually we have a good five-year break between each album but we decided: ‘You know what? Let’s keep going’”, Hewlett recently told book publisher Taschen.