- Bicep – Opal (Four Tet Remix)
Four Tet remixes aren’t generally known for simplifying records, but with Opal he’s given the track a more accessible beat and brought the melody front and centre. It sounds great and has had me bopping my head along for nine months now.
- Billie Marten – Mice
Yorkshire singer Billie Marten provided the year’s most beautifully aimless and introspective track. Mice fills the senses with countryside; it transports you to rural settings far away from towns and cities. It’s such an internal track, you can feel the frustration and lethargy in both the music and the vocals.
- Art School Girlfriend – Distance (Blank)
Art School Girlfriend’s Into The Blue Hour was one of my favourite EPs of the year and Distance (Blank) was the second track on the EP. Full of electronic rumblings, introspection and claustrophobia, Distance (Blank) is a hugely impressive outing from the singer from North Wales.
- Robyn – Missing U
What a comeback single. Missing U sounded instantly fresh and yet familiar, reminding everyone how good she really is. Somehow combining optimism with crushing sadness, Missing U merely whet the appetite for music fans around the world in anticipation for – in my opinion – was the album of the year.
- SG Lewis, AlunaGeorge – Hurting
A straight up banger dripping in lust from the Lewis and AlunaGeorge combination. “Hurting for your body,Hurting for your body and your soul, You really got me searching, Begging for a way to make me whole” Aluna Francis pines over the beautifully simple electronics.
- GoGo Penguin – Raven
The inclusion of GoGo Penguins necessitates me eating a bit of humble pie. I completely hated their 2014 v2.0 album, and was very surprised when George – who previously wrote for Astral Penguins – recommended their latest work to me. “The piano sounds like Sister Bliss” he said, and indeed it does. Raven borders on being a dance track, and has a beautiful mixture of space and urgency.
- Billie Eilish, Khalid – lovely
The somewhat ironically titled lovely combines two of the most brilliant and exciting voices in music right now. Full of sadness, despair and tenderness, the sparse production simply allows the two vocalists to sing their sad tale.
- Black Futures – Trance
Trance is an orgy of rage. Sounding something like the end of the world, the track feels relentless. Every time you get a brief respite from the onslaught of the guitars and drums, you know it isn’t going to last, so just enjoy the chaos. The last two minutes or so of this track are probably the best I’ve heard all year.
- ZAYN – Sour Diesel
Sour Diesel sounds like INXS. Sensual vocals, sparse drums and catchy hooks, it has all the hallmarks that made Michael Hutchence and co such massive superstars in the 1980s. Nothing any of the former One Direction boys have done has come close to the pop perfection that is Sour Diesel.
- Travis Scott – SICKO MODE
I was very underwhelmed by Astroworld, Scott’s hugely successful 2018 album, but there’s absolutely nothing on SICKO MODE that I don’t love. A three-part masterpiece, it’s a triumph of hip hop production and shows that the genre keeps finding ways to push itself to the forefront of music.