The Best Albums of May 2018

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Beach House new album stream

The list of outstanding albums released in May was kind of overwhelming in hindsight. In fact, just to give enough space to the best of the best, our first May Album of the Week was published during the last week of April. Among the highlights of the month are the first in a series of Kanye West-produced albums (and in all likelihood the best), the long-awaited fourth album from our favorite Danish post-punks, yet another new permutation of The Body’s evolving industrial-sludge sound, the second album of a new phase of an electronic legend and some indie rock heavy-hitters. Yeah, it’s been a good month for music alright, so much so that limiting it to our 10 favorites meant leaving off some great new albums by Courtney Barnett, Parquet Courts, DJ Koze and more. We’ll call those honorable mentions, but here are the 10 best albums of may 2018, with streams and links to our reviews.

best albums of May 2018 Beach HouseBeach House – 7

(Sub Pop)

What We Said: A curiously mesmerizing contradiction of an album, 7 is a bout of elation wrapped in depressive aesthetics. It’s a focused meditation that revels in gloomy dreams. It’s a nuanced progression and, in some ways, a diversion from Beach House’s already magnificent oeuvre, brilliant in how much farther it finds Beach House willing to go. – Brian Roesler

best albums of May 2018 The BodyThe Body – I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer

(Thrill Jockey)

What We Said: The one characteristic that carries through on this album from past installments in The Body’s catalog is a darkness that borders on the bleak. … In the world of The Body, the most twisted sounds are often the most fun, and the quietest are at times the most intense. The Body maybe aren’t a metal band at all on I Have Fought Against It, but they’ve arguably never released anything quite so heavy. – Jeff Terich

Leon Bridges Good Thing reviewLeon Bridges – Good Thing


What We Said: Where Coming Home was lived-in and bathed in sunlight, Good Thing is more attuned to late-night rhythms. Bridges’ songs largely pulse with elevated BPMs and dancefloor funk, some of the album’s standouts only a stone’s throw from the kaleidoscopic soul of Anderson .Paak. The rollerdisco funk of “You Don’t Know” is nearly as radical a departure as one might expect from Bridges, joyously layering together delay-addled vocals, scratchy Nile Rodgers-style guitar licks and warm blankets of synthesizer. He takes a similar tack on “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)”, wherein Bridges employs the aesthetics of vintage Prince in favor of some playfully libidinous pleas: “Baby if it feels good, then it must be bad how much I want you.” – Jeff Terich

best albums of May 2018 DoffingDoffing – Tower of Ten Thousand Miles

(Doffing/Decent Club)

Montreal’s Doffing are seldom afraid of wearing their influences on their sleeves. Combining the ramshackle bedroom pop of early Modest MouseBad History Month’s existentially bent drone and Yoni Wolf’s confessional snark, the Canadian quartet spin twelve brilliant pieces of downtrodden fuzz punk on Tower of Ten Thousand Miles. The album is the band’s third installment in their discography, and it’s their best yet. Highlights “Motivation” and “Armour” are relaxed, yet refreshingly novel takes on “indie rock” in today’s copycat climate, while “F.O.A.M.” and “Homing” offer excellent post-hardcore concepts; all perfect invitations into Doffing’s soon-to-be cultish fanbase. – Patrick Pilch

Gas Rausch reviewGas – Rausch


What We Said: I don’t think one needs to have confirmation from Voigt regarding the album’s meaning to understand that the current state of German and European society is rife with uncertainty, and those feelings of apprehension definitely found their way into the finished LP. Gas’ Rausch is a dark and affecting experience, but it is definitely one worth indulging in multiple times. Quite simply, it is one of the best albums of the year. – Liam Green

Jon Hopkins Singularity reviewJon Hopkins – Singularity


What We Said: Its an album that’s as comfortable with the artful flair of the negative kick drum, where the frequencies of the song drop out to nothing, spikes of silence to underpin the rhythm, as it is with abrasive and noisy textures, IDM-style bloops and sonic squiggles, and house music rhythmic insistence. Hopkins has been at this a long time and has shown up in myriad contexts, from atmospheric and timbral film scores to roles as backing keyboards to pop music, and it shows; he pivots from moment to moment, mood to mood, texture to texture, but never disrupts the undercurrent of the track or the album, never gets in his own way to force in a catchy melody or an indulgent avant-gardism. – Langdon Hickman

best albums of May 2018 IceageIceage – Beyondless


What We Said: When detached from its carnal instincts, political angst or internal torment, Beyondless still comes across as the best sounding album in Iceage’s catalog. They’ve never sounded this focused or dialed-in, nor as comfortable draping their punk-blues scratch in so many luxurious layers. Which doesn’t mean they’ve escaped any of the restlessness of their previous albums. They’re simply no longer trying to outrun it, content instead to find catharsis in less destructive means. – Jeff Terich

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Sparkle Hard reviewStephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Sparkle Hard


What We SaidSparkle Hard spreads its genius across the length of its 11 tracks. Tracking songs like “Bike Lane” through to “Middle America” to “Refute” unlocks the charm of Sparkle Hard. What other album could so gracefully shift from police brutality to ardent life advice to a jovial divorce story? The eclectic spirit of Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks has not only caught up to the vigor of Pavement, but has managed to carve out a space for its own wonderful existence. – Wesley Whitacre

best albums of May 2018 MIKEMIKE – Black Soap


With the release of his debut May God Bless Your Hustle last year, young Bronx emcee MIKE established himself as a fascinating presence in hip-hop, one who clearly operates on a level outside of the mainstream. So it’s not that much of a surprise that experimental rap outpost Lex ended up taking notice. His latest release Black Soap is, like Pusha T’s latest, only seven tracks long. But there’s little boom, no bap, and by and large a lot of musical experimentation while still skirting the edge of what’s considered hip-hop. On some levels, it’s a touching and warm release, opening with a prayer from MIKE’s mother in her native Yoruba. On another level, it’s psychedelic and alien, each track opening up another wormhole into new, strange sonic territory. It’s avant garde hip-hop that’s also a lot of fun to listen to. – Jeff Terich

Pusha T – Daytona


What We Said: Kanye’s production here is devoid of the dense ornamentation that characterized The Life of Pablo; instead, his beats are sharp and angular, never much more than a bone-crunching drum loop and a couple of shredded soul samples. “If You Know You Know” opens with a full 40 seconds of Pusha rapping over hi-hats; “Santeria” lets the the eternal guitar wail of “Bumpy’s Lament” ring out untouched before it gives way to a bass drone; “What Would Meek Do?” chops a Yes sample into a dissonant flicker. This is skeletal, raw-nerve rap; it’s the sound of resin being scraped off a plate—less the playing of a record than the needle scratching the groove. – Ben Dickerson

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