Best of pop

TURN OFF THE NOISE: THE BEST INDIE POP OF 2018 (updated)

We like the energy of rock, the adrenaline of electronic music, the abrasive and heavy sounds of metal and the elegance of Jazz. But there are moments when we just need to turn off the noise, remove all worries, free our mind from every thought, and enjoy some happy and cheerful music. In these moments, nothing is better than a good indie pop record.

I’m collecting in this article a list with the best indie pop albums that were released in 2018, so far. This ranked chart is un update of the one that was presented on last March (it’s still available here) and it provides, evidently, a more complete representation of the status of indie pop in the year 2018. With respect to the previous edition we have now a larger number of albums with a few new entries (Wild Pink, Say Sue Me and Metric).

Discover the best indie pop albums of 2018 and don’t forget to visit periodically the pop section of the blog in order to check for updates of the chart and new reviews.


 

#1) Postcards, “I’ll Be Here In The Morning”

 

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Postcards is a Lebanese indie pop band formed in late 2012. After tthree EPs, their first full-length record, “I’ll be here in the morning“, was released on January 2018.

Many months have passed since the first time I introduced in this blog the debut album by Postcards, and it’s still firmly on top of the chart, and this obviously further increases the value of the album. And as I was writing at that time, it’s really exciting when you come across an album from a new band that leaves you leaves you so impressed. 

I’ll be here in the morning is the first album released by Postcards, a dreamy-pop & indie rock band formed in Beirut, Lebanon, on late 2012. Postcards describe their music as “hushed, introspective vocals floating over expansive sonic spaces that shift between harsh noise and dreamy soundscapes“. Such definition may be a little too complex and sophisticated, but there is no doubt that the music offered in this debut LP is of absolute value and it contains many elements of innovation, in particular when taking into account the current status of the indie pop scene.

One of the most exciting aspects of I’ll be here in the morning is that the songs seem as they are not completely defined and they moves between areas of lightness and sections more dark and meditative, with melodies that initially appear serene and peaceful but, during the development of the songs, start to show also ambiguous and subtly disturbing elements. The album is also characterized by a nice alternation of intimate songs and more angry and polemical moments. Finally, it’s worth to say that despite being at the beginning of a promising career, these four musicians show excellent songwriting skills and also an impressive musical sensibility. If Poscards will confirm these qualities in their future works, they are destined to do great things in music. And I will be there to remind you that I was one of those who discovered their value since the beginning.

Highlights: Waves and Bright Lights.


 

#2) Wild Pink, “Yolk in the Fur”

 

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Wild Pink is an American band from the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City. They have released so far two LP: 2017’s “Wild Pink” and this year’s “Yolk in the Fur”

Wild Pink, from New York City, is one of those emerging bands which try to find their own space in the music scene cultivating elegance and style rather than using commercial and marketing stratagems to get noticed and gain popularity. Wild Pink define themselves as an indie rock band, and their formation is in effect the typical trio with guitar/vocals, bass and drums. The music composed by these guys, however, tends to travel through the softer and quieter regions of the rock universe, on that blurred border that exists between rock and indie pop.

Wild Pink’s last full-lenght record, Yolk in the Fur, presents a fairly significant evolution of their style compared to their self-titled debut, especially for the adoption of a more classic and conventional structure of the songs. Compared to their first record, the sound of Wild Pink is slowly drifting towards more placid and quiet musical landscapes, rarely perturbed by guitar distortions and dissonances.

Musically speaking, Yolk in the Fur is characterized by placid rhythms and simple but intriguing melodies. Most of the songs are built on top of clean guitars, warm lines of bass and delicate layers of acoustic synthetizers. And there is of course the charming voice of John Ross, the leader and songwriter of the band, a singer who never needs to scream to tell his stories.

Highlights: Yolk in The Fur and Love is Better.


 

#3) David Duchovny, “Every Third Thought”

 

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David Duchovny is a famous American actor, writer, producer, director, novelist, and singer-songwriter. “Every Third Though” is Duchovny’s second effort as musician.

Every Third Thought is the second studio album of American actor and singer David Duchovny, one of those artists who likes to challenge himself with different forms of expression. In addtion to looking for aliens and other mysteries, Duchovny has distinguished himself as a novelist, producer, and musician. It should be said, in this regard, that he writes and arranges his songs, thus showing qualities that go well beyond a nice presence on the stage and an interesting voice.

Although I had initially some skepticism about the album, I recognized in the end that Every Third Thought is definitely an interesting and appreciable collection of indie pop songs, with some of them that have been rotating frequently in different playlists.

Compared with Duchovny’s previous release (2015’s Hell or Highwater) the new album has gained in intensity and also energy: his sound today is definitely more “rock” the overall enjoyability of the album has benefited from such evolution.

Highlights: Every Third Thought and Mo’


 

#4) Say Sue Me, “Where we were together”

 

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Say Sue Me are a surf-inspired indie rock quartet from Busan, South Korea. Say Sue Me’s sophomore album “Where We were Together” was released in April 2018.

It was pretty amazing for me to find out that Say Sue Me is a band coming from South Korea. When I first listened to their songs, they appeared to me as one of the many  North American or European bands try to find their way into the music scene. I must admit that the particular origin of the band stimulated me to listen with more attention to their LP, Where We Were Together, which is the second disc of their discography (I missed their debut, my apologies). After listening to the whole record for a handful of times I started to get more attracted to their music and, in the end, I’m really happy that I gave them a second chance after the first (inattentive) try.

Where We Were Together features an ejoyable collection of small and luminous musical sketches, all of them cheerful and nice to hear. One of the strongest elements of their song is surely the delicate and angelic voice of the singer, who gives grace and atmosphere to all the record.

Where We Were Together seems to me the perfect music to be heard on my return home on Friday afternoons, when the tension of a week of meetings and commitments slowly dissolves into the promise of a weekend of serenity.

Highlights: But I Like You and Funny and Cute


 

#5) The Wombats, “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life”

 

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The Wombats are an English pop & rock band formed in Liverpool in 2003. The group met while they were in university and released several EPs before their debut LP in 2006. “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life” is the fourth studio album.

The Wombats, from Liverpool, have published in 2018 the fourth album of their career, named Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. Since their initial formation in 2003, the band has experienced many changes in their style: from electronic/psychedelic music to post-punk revival, arriving to the current stage of their evolution in which their sound can be described as a nice blend of pop-oriented melodies with elements from indie rock and alternative dance. The mixtures of different influences and inspirations that they have practiced in all of their releases have always guaranteed freshness and innovation to their albums, something which is definitely confirmed in their last record.

Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life features quite a good number of extremely interesting and enjoyable pieces, although it’s not possible to hide the fact that alongside these tracks there are also a bunch of less convincing songs. Because of this gap it’s still possible to pick up the best tracks and enjoy them in playlists or compilations, but the experience of listening to the whole album results, in the end, much less enjoyable than it could have been if a little more focus was put on each single track of the LP.

Highlights: Turn and Lemon to a Knife Fight


 

#6) Calexico, “The Thread That Keeps Us”

 

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Calexico is an Arizona-based pop & rock band. Their musical style is influenced by traditional Latin sounds of mariachi, conjunto, cumbia and tejano mixed with country, jazz and post-rock. “The Thread That Keeps Us” is their tenth album.

It’s always a special moment when a band reaches the milestone of the tenth album of their discography and Calexico, the “desert noir” group founded more than twenty years ago by Joey Burns and John Convertino, has achieved this result in 2018 with their new album The Thread That Keeps Us.

The name of the group is that of the city of Calexico, on the border between the United States and Mexico, and this choice has always represented the stylistic choise adopted by these musicians in mixing genres and influences. Their latest album is no exception and we can in fact appreciate an enjoyable mix of Americana, folk and the usual references to the Latin musical tradition.

The songs which Calexico composed for The Thread That Keeps Us are always interesting and intriguing and this time, together with many “conventional” tracks, we may appreciate also a couple of attempts to experiment something different with respect to their usual style. Perhaps the LP lacks a particularly memorable song, but as a whole The Thread That Keeps Us is an enjoyable and very elegant, and it fully confirms the qualities that the band has shown in all of their discography.

Highlights: Voices in The Field and End of The World With You.


 

#7)  Metric, “Arts of Doubt”

 

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Metric is a Canadian rock band founded in 1998 in Toronto, Canada. They have published so far seven studio LPs and “Arts of Doubt” is their latest release.

Over the past fifteen years the sound of Metric has traveled several times, and in both directions, along the path which runs between synthpop and indie rock. And the new album by the Canadian band, Arts of Doubt, seems to represent in one single episode all the main stages of this travel. In certain songs we have a clear “rock and roll” feeling with guitars, bass and drums in the foreground, but there are many other parts of the album where the atmospheres and the sound are definitely “pop”, with triumphs of synthetizers and also hints to that mellow & downtempo style which characterized the early works of the band.

As always, the burden of keeping everything consistent is in the hands of Emily Haines and James Shaw, who have always been the driving forces of the band. Haines, in particular, delivers in some of the songs of the LP one of her best vocal performances. And Shaw’s guitar, glossy and sticky, always manages to gives cues and elements of great interest.

Arts of Doubt won’t be the absolute masterpiece of Metric’s career but it’s still an absolutely valid and interesting record, with a few songs that that remain deeply impressed in the memory and that will surely populate many of our playlists.

Highlights: Die Happy and Holding Out.


 

#8) Anna Burch, “Quit The Curse”

 

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Anna Burch is a singer / songwriter from Detroit, in the U.S. and “Quit the Curse” is her debut solo LP after many years spent as a supporting player.

Quit the Curse is the debut LP from Detroit singer/songwriter Anna Burch, and this record tells the story of a demo-tape arrived to the desk of Polyvinil during the summer of 2017, which caught the ears of the label and other artists of the caliber of Angel Olsen and The Black Keys, who eventually helped to develop the album.

The songs on Quite the Curse offer a low-fi version of indie pop with basic arrangments and simple melodies. Taken individually, most of the tracks look catchy and intriguing, and they also transmit nice sensations of positivity and lightness. The album as a whole, however, tends to be a little flat and monochord and perhaps this is the aspect that the American artist should focus on in view of the future releases.

Highlights: 2Cool 2 Care and Tea-Soaked Letter


 

Many of the songs presented in this article are part of CRESTS OF WAVES, the playlist I manage of Spotify with the best and latest indie pop songs.

 


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