Top Five Albums Of 2018

❉ It’s the reason for the season – Liz Buckley returns with her favourite albums of this year.

Regular We Are Cult contributor, Ace Records’ top dawg and and all-round music maven Liz Buckley is back, with a round-up of her favourite albums of 2018.

5. Shame – Songs Of Praise (Dead Oceans)

“South London’s Shame …take the prize for sweaty/shouty album of the year”

Yes, yes, yes. Idles, Idles, Idles. I’ve heard you all. Like you’ve never witnessed a man playing a loud guitar before … And they are very good of course. But for me, it’s sprightlier, spikier, scampier, South London’s Shame who take the prize for sweaty/shouty album of the year, having enjoyed (I’d posit) a surprising amount of Sham 69 for their collective ages.

Releasing their debut album in January, and born out of the same shirts-off, vomiting chaos of the Fat White Family but with thankfully far less of the Sultans Of Ping FC about them, they’ve been chucking themselves off speakers and breaking their legs onstage for your pleasure up and down the country all year, winning hearts and losing calories by the truckload. Their recent in-store at Rough Trade East was an absolute hot mess of a show and I recommend you throw yourself off a CD rack next time they pass you.

I first came across them when my friend asked if I’d heard that Friday’s Iggy Pop show on 6Music because each time she ventured over to the radio to see what the insanely good record he was playing was, it was Shame. And for me, multiple plays by Iggy Pop coupled with bothering to make multiple trips across the room is the exact level of punk rock I can identify with.

4. Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt (Bella Union/Fat Possum)

“I adore Spiritualized with all my heart, and I could dance round the room with this album I’m so happy with it”

I cannot tell you how delighted I am to have Jason Pierce back. Over the years he’s kicked a debilitatingly huge heroin habit, been hospitalised with double-pneumonia, been down to seven stone at five foot eleven and his dear, romantic heart has actually stopped beating twice. He’s understandably released very little music in the past six long years, with the occasional under-the-wire Record Store Day collaboration let out in the yard for gentle exercise.

With his return, I feel like a mum with a foil blanket and subscription to Horlicks. “Come to me my child, for I will bake you biscuits and read you stories of romance and adventure!” Or at least go to the corner shop and load your iPod with audiobooks, let’s stay within the realms of my skillset.

I adore Spiritualized with all my heart, they make the music of angels and I could dance round the room with this album I’m so happy with it. Although only if its legs are up to it.

3. Cat Power – Wanderer (Domino)

“Despite its depth and complexity, her music is beautifully effortless for the listener”

Six years is coincidentally (or is it? It is) also the amount of time we’ve been waiting to hear back from Cat Power and it’s just delightful to have her back around. Whilst Chan Marshall finds public life rather a testing forum, despite its depth and complexity, her music is beautifully effortless for the listener, songs so natural you feel they should have already existed.

It’s understated, a gentle triumph, and actually very brief, coming in at a little under forty minutes, but who would ever want to make her stay when she isn’t comfortable?

I relate to her so completely that when I bought the album, I noticed, “…I’ve got that dress”. You don’t get that with Bjork.

2. Jack White – Boarding House Reach (Third Man/XL)

“I felt glad Jack had released a third solo album that I loved from first listen.”

I’m not going to lie to you, this album has not gone down that well. Early reviews screamed in fear, throwing out words like “experimental”, “innovative” and (my favourite) “wilfully weird” with journalists sounding like they were stood on tables avoiding Fantasia-levels of 100mph mice. I must admit I didn’t really understand all the freaking out and felt glad Jack had released a third solo album that I loved from first listen.

That said, I must instinctively recognise an unusualness on some level as I did know just what my friend meant when she asked if he was touring the song “that sounded like a dolphin”. And to be fair, she did then double-down with, “and what about that mental one about a dog?” Yes. Yes he is.

Over & Over & Over is one of my favourite songs of all time, not just this year, and if you need time to gently disembark from your furniture and join me in that, I’m happy to wait. “WHO’S WITH ME!!”

1. Marianne Faithfull – Negative Capability (Panta Rei/BMG)

“This is an album of intimacy and artistry, of vulnerability and dignity, of grief and of poise.”

This is no less than Marianne’s 21st studio album and yet she says, it’s also the first time she’s felt truly understood, which made me cry to hear her say that as we’ve absolutely not treated Marianne as the Queen of the World she so clearly is. Her voice has grown depth and feeling and fragility (and yes, a brokenness too) in the way that living a full life does, and there’s a wonderful, knowing-quality that comes with these vocals which tells tales far beyond just the lyrics.

In the same way that Leonard Cohen’s final album felt like a goodbye even before the fact, there’s a sense of legacy attached to this record, with new versions of various stand-out tracks nodded to from throughout her career alongside new compositions and productions employing her fans, friends and fellow absolute treasures, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Mark Lanegan, Rob Ellis and Ed Hardcourt. This is an album of intimacy and artistry, of vulnerability and dignity, of grief and of poise.

There’s a song for Marianne’s dearest friend Anita Pallenberg, who she says she thinks of every morning when she first wakes. Marianne is a gift and a poet and I insist we all individually get in touch until she definitely knows we think of her too.

What do YOU think? What were your top albums of this year? Why not tell us your favourites in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter? We’d love to hear from you!

❉ Liz Buckley is Ace Records’ label manager. Liz has also written about rock and pop for various publications and websites including We Are Cult, and in 2016 was one of ThatLot’s 30 Amazing Women You Should Follow On TwitterRead our Cult & A with Liz here!

Become a patron at Patreon!