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18 albums to get excited about in 2018

Albums from Grimes, Cardi B, Kanye West and Rihanna are all rumoured to land in 2018 – here are some of the reasons to get excited about music this year

While December was a month of end-of-year lists and retrospectives, January offers a chance to look forward to the year in music ahead. Plenty of artists have been talking up new music in interviews and on social media over the past few months, while long-gestating releases are set to finally find their way into the world. We’ve kept this list limited to albums we think will actually see a release this year, rather than things that might come out – so while there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that musicians like Alice Glass, Mitski, Oneohtrix Point Never, Yaeji, and serpentwithfeet have new things up their sleeves, but we don’t know if these’ll definitely be new albums, or if they’ll definitely be out in 2018.


Dev Hynes’ last album didn’t come out all that long ago, but the musician has already said that he’s “78 per cent done” with the follow-up to 2016’s spellbinding Freetown Sound. Talking at a live Q&A for The New Yorker Festival in October, he also described some of his new songs as dealing with “growing up and childhood in England, looking at the country that made me.” Some of those ideas were explored in “BOWERYLDN EDIT 6 15 SEPTEMBER”, a lush, lo-fi song he uploaded to Soundcloud in September, while more recently he’s been sharing snippets of new music on Instagram.


Last year Brockhampton released not one, not two, but three albums in their Saturation series, and they also dropped a bunch of seriously high quality loosies on YouTube (one of which, “Lamb”, was our favourite song of the year). So they could be forgiven if they decided to take the year off. Instead, the Texas boy band have said that they’ll release their fourth studio album Team Effort in 2018, clearly refusing to lose the creative momentum that’s behind them right now.


After ruling 2017 with “Bodak Yellow”, 2018 is set to be Cardi’s year with the release of her debut studio album. Back in November the Bronx rapper suggested that the full-length would land in January, and while that date might not be totally set in stone, she’s certainly got new material on the way: a few days before Christmas she released the album’s second single “Bartier Cardi” with 21 Savage, while she’s been teasing snippets of unreleased verses on Instagram Live for her fans.


Carly has been working on her the follow-up to 2015’s E•MO•TION album for the past two years and has apparently written a whopping 80 songs for it. Given the number of tracks she has to choose from, no one can say definitively what the final album will sound like, but Jepsen has stated that her she’s been listening to a lot of “understated disco” as well as newer artists like Ariel Pink and Big Thief. She’s also been working with Patrik Berger, co-writer of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own”, which is exciting news in itself.


Charli XCX’s previous two studio albums have been quite hit-and-miss, feeling like a compromise between an artist with a unique vision of pop music and a more conservative major label system. We’re hoping that’ll change with her promised third studio album this year, the official follow-up to 2014’s Sucker, because everything that Charli has been doing recently has been fire. Last year she released one of the year’s best singles in “Boys” as well as the massively underrated Number 1 Angel mixtape; more recently she put out the actually seriously genuinely incredible Pop2 slightly too late to catch the end-of-year list hype.


You can expect Scottish pop trio Chvrches’ third album to be their biggest yet – they’ve been in the studio with Greg Kurstin, the superproducer who helped Adele and ZAYN scale to new heights. Still, it sounds like this isn’t all gonna be sleek and shiny. “He pushed what we were doing to be bigger in some ways, but he also pushed us to be weirder,” frontwoman Lauren Mayberry recently told Entertainment Weekly. “He’d be like, ‘If the vocal melodies are as sweet and as precise as this, why don’t we make these other sounds so fucked up and gnarly and strange?’ I loved that.”


Cupcakke’s new album Ephorize is the first one on this list set for release – it’s actually slated to come out later this week on January 5. It’s a follow-up to the plainspeaking Chicago rapper’s Queen Elizabitch from last year, and it comes hot on the heels of her recent feature on Charli XCX’s sublime Pop2 mixtape. Its track titles are sounding very Cupcakke already: “Spoiled Milk Titties”, “Post Pic”, “Single While Taken” are just some of the names on there.


Yes, Gorillaz released their last album Humanz just a few months ago, but Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett are clearly in the midst of a creative streak right now. Albarn recorded some 50-odd tracks for Humanz, and clearly not wanting to lose any of that momentum, Hewlett recently revealed that there would be another album in 2018. “We’re going straight into the album with no break,” he said in on a recent TASCHEN podcast. “Usually we have a good five-year break between each album but we decided: ‘You know what? Let’s keep going’ because there’s ideas for a few more albums so we’re going to go straight into that. That’s will be all of next year and probably the year beyond that.”


Grimes’ last album Art Angels was one of 2015’s best, so it’s fair to say we’re very excited about her next moves. The Canadian artist has previously described the new music she’s been working on as “more chill vibes, downtempos, synth-y shit” and “something really slow and gorgeous that just breathes”, while back in August she said that she was “in the studio every day trying to legit make something you've never heard before”. Talking to a fan on Twitter last month, the Canadian artist said that she’d just played new tracks to her record label, so it looks like we might get to hear something sooner rather than later. In the meantime, tide yourself over with Trashique, her recently-launched project with HANA.


Kali Uchis’s debut album has been a long time coming. The Colombian pop star has been working with the likes of Tame Impala, Damon Albarn, and Bootsy Collins recently, and she’s set to tour with Lana Del Rey later this month, so fingers crossed we’ll be able to hear some new music by then. “My objective was to create a whole world of my own,” she told DIY in October. “People would tell me to be more this, more that, more pop, whatever, but I think as an artist... I’ve gotten as far as I’ve gotten by listening to my intuition. I’m ready for global domination now and being able to conquer everything with my music.”


Kanye West hasn’t talked to the press for a year or so, but his close collaborators have revealed that he’s cooking up something over the past year or so. He’s been snapped in the studio on Instagram; he’s apparently recorded with A$AP Rocky, Migos, Lil Yachty, and Pete Rock; he’s spent some studio time in Japan with Kid Cudi; and he was at one point reportedly holed up in a cabin on a remote Wyoming mountaintop working on his new opus – which may or may not be a video game-themed release titled Turbo Grafx 16.


As strange as it may seem to say we’re excited about an MGMT album in the year of our lord and saviour 2018, there’s plenty to suggest that their fourth full-length might actually be sick. The US duo released era-defining anthems like “Kids” and “Electric Feel” in 2007 before squandering most of that goodwill with the experimental Congratulations three years later. 2013’s MGMT was admittedly quite forgettable, but their two most recent singles are a serious return to form: “Little Dark Age”, the album’s lead single and title track, actually bangs, and its follow-up “When You Die” is pretty tidy too. They’ve been working with Patrick Wimberly (Blood Orange, Kelela, Chairlift) and Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Spoon, Tame Impala) on their new material, and while we’re not expecting any more crossover hits, Little Dark Age could be one of 2018’s biggest surprises.


My Bloody Valentine have always played a little fast and loose with release dates, talking up their third album m b v for the best part of two decades before unceremoniously dumping it online one weekend in 2013. But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the dream pop legends will release their fourth album this year: “Oh, we one hundred percent will,” frontman Kevin Shields recently told Pitchfork. “One hundred percent.” The album will probably seven or eight tracks long, according to Shields. If it doesn’t land any time soon, at least we have this awe-inspiring Kevin Shields/Brian Eno collaboration to listen to.


“This era will be a billion times more epic than anything ‘Anaconda’ could have delivered. I think this era will definitely be the most memorable and the most impactful of my career yet.” This is how Nicki Minaj described her new music to Dazed in a recent cover story celebrating the rapper’s ten years at the top. Last year Minaj dropped three singles on the same day in response to an ongoing beef with Remy Ma, which earned her the distinction of being the woman with the most Billboard Hot 100 hits of all time. While she’s been tight-lipped with details on her new album, including whether any of those singles will make the final cut, she did reveal that she’s recorded a track with Young Thug. Her final word? “I’m channelling old Nicki with a new twist.”


Aaron Maine’s third Porches full-length The House arrives later this month (January 19), and sees the NYC songwriter collaborating with the likes of Alex G, Dev Hynes, and his own father Peter Maine. Recent single “Country” gave a beautiful glimpse into the album’s sound, something that Maine elaborated on in a recent interview with Dazed. “I’ve been writing every day in the morning,” he said. “Basically journal entries, with different words that aren’t as attractive as they come out, but which I feel make for a more interesting, truer narrative. I also think real, physical events are appearing a lot more than in the past.”


Rihanna has kept very quiet about her currently-untitled follow-up to ANTI, but here’s a few things we do know about R9: she’s been registering new songs with ASCAP, she’s rumoured to collaborating with Buju Banton, she’s been in writing camps with the likes of Raye and Diplo, and intriguingly she even shared a photo of her in the studio with underground producer SOPHIE.


Sky Ferreira’s follow-up to 2013’s Night Time, My Time has had a lot of false starts, but we’d rather wait for something that’s done right than something that’s done to meet a deadline. To quote the artist herself, “‘Momentum’ or hype isn’t real (in terms of what I want to make/do in life). It’s short lived.” Ferreira was more visible as an actor and director in 2017, but she recently told The FADER that, even if the long-mooted Masochism doesn’t arrive in 2018, she will most certainly releasing a new visual EP this year. “The videos will all connect to each other in an abstract way,” she said. “The visual component isn’t necessarily a concept, it was more of an excuse for me to make videos for all the songs… It’ll be starting to come out in February, or March, for sure. There’s a group of people I’m working with, and it’s exciting because I’ve never written with so many girls before.”


After releasing the singles collection PRODUCT in 2015, SOPHIE took a year off from solo productions to focus on her work for other artists, racking up credits with the likes of Vince Staples, Charli XCX, MØ, and Quay Dash. Last year she returned with two new singles, the lovely ballad “It’s Okay to Cry” and the more grimy and club-primed “Ponyboy”, and debuted new material across a few live shows. All signs are pointing to 2018 being the year that the visionary producer releases her solo debut proper.