Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Nicki Minaj (Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images for The Meadows Music & Arts Festival), Jason Pierce of Spiritualized (Photo: Burak Cingi/Redferns via Getty Images), and Grimes (Photo: Mark Horton/WireImage via Getty Images). Graphic: Natalie Peeples

The 28 albums we can’t wait to hear in 2018’s second half

Nicki Minaj (Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images for The Meadows Music & Arts Festival), Jason Pierce of Spiritualized (Photo: Burak Cingi/Redferns via Getty Images), and Grimes (Photo: Mark Horton/WireImage via Getty Images). Graphic: Natalie Peeples

A couple of weeks ago, we ran down our list of the year’s best albums so far, already a lineup that makes for a solid year in music. But there’s still a whole six months’ worth of releases coming our way. In addition to the records we were anticipating at the beginning of the year that still haven’t come to pass—like My Bloody Valentine, Vampire Weekend—here are 28 albums we can’t wait to hear in 2018’s second half.


Dentist, Night Swimming (July 20)

It’s impossible to say what strange combination of chemistry makes one lo-fi pop-rock outfit stand out where so many others fade into the background, but New Jersey’s Dentist has managed to turn its beach-filtered tunes into a distinctive and compelling take on the old formulas of surf and shoegaze. Anchored by Emily Bornemann’s distinctive love-it-or-hate-it vocal combination of breathy bravado and youthful coo, the three-piece’s songs maintain one foot in a hard-charging rock vibe, the other in a shimmery gauze of airy chill—a smooth balance of spice and sugar, perfect for sweltering summer nights. Its upcoming third album, Night Swimming, continues to push the band in the direction of more aggressive and exciting riffs and rhythms, without losing the heart of its gentle melodic appeal. [Alex McLevy]


Helena Hauff, Qualm (August 3)

Hamburg DJ and producer Helena Hauff makes brutal, minimalist electro from nothing but analog machines, jams that are equally transcendent and physical. She’s established an unmistakable sound in just a few short years, and second full-length Qualm, which follows up last year’s excellent Have You Been There, Have You Seen It EP, finds Hauff digging even deeper into her driving force: “Trying to create something powerful without using too many instruments and layers.” Double single “Qualm”/”No Qualms” bears that out, building a wash of droning, cascading sci-fi synths, then setting it to a simple but merciless beat. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Steve Hauschildt, Dissolvi (August 3)

Former Emeralds synthesist Steve Hauschildt has continued to explore a misty strain of ’70s kosmische on his solo albums, but the new Dissolvi updates his frames of reference to the more modern sounds of minimalist techno, as well as the glitch-pop IDM that dominated electronic music in the ’90s and early 2000s. Warm, fuzzed-out clicks and pops sparkle and fade under his usual synth pads and arpeggios, recalling the recent era when artists like Oval, Mùm, and Isolée were experimenting with blissed-out, bit-crushed textures. Meanwhile, the muted four-on-the-flour drum pulses on every track make Dissolvi his most rhythmically focused work yet. It’s also his most collaborative, with Julianna Barwick and Gabi lending vocals to two tracks. [Sean O’Neal]

Nicki Minaj, Queen (August 10)

Nicki Minaj is back to claim her throne on Queen, the new album she announced, in true royal style, on the red carpet at this year’s Met Gala. Her beef with Cardi B may be (mostly) manufactured by a media that can’t imagine two women on the hip-hop charts at the same time, but on “Barbie Tingz” and “Chun-Li,” Minaj comes out swinging with the sharp-tongued lyrics and exaggerated wordplay that made her famous, over classic East Coast boom-bap beats that give Nicki plenty of room to do her thing. Aside from those two singles and a sexy teaser for her “Bed” video featuring Ariana Grande, Minaj has remained tight-lipped about her plans for the album, but whatever she does, she’ll do it with style. [Katie Rife]

Tirzah, Devotion (August 10)

A longtime fixture in London’s post-grime and garage scene, U.K. singer-songwriter Tirzah Mastin makes her overdue full-length debut with a set of dreamy, downtempo love songs produced by childhood friend and longtime collaborator Mica Levi. As captured in lead single “Gladly,” Devotion is charmingly tender and intimate; Levi’s spare arrangements give Mastin’s understated R&B melodies plenty of room for rumination, and fans of the composer’s more experimental noise pop will find plenty to enjoy in the album’s warped production. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Mitski, Be The Cowboy (August 17)

The mononymous Mitski’s Puberty 2 was a highlight of 2016, an urgent and deeply felt portrait of a life in transition bathed in the divine tumult of Pixies-style guitar rock. Two years after that breakout record, she returns with Be The Cowboy, an album that sees Mitski pushing her sound in danceable new directions. Album opener “Geyser” continues the barely repressed tumult that characterized Puberty 2, and second single “Nobody” teases an exciting new sound that sets her emotional emptiness to a perky disco beat. A press release announcing the album says it “introduces a persona who has been teased before but never so fully present until now—a woman in control.” [Katie Rife]

Oh Sees, Smote Reverser (August 17)

Within a 15-month window, one-man garage-rock institution John Dwyer released five albums, bounced between three different bands with three distinct sounds, and even renamed his most famous group, dropping the “Thee” from Thee Oh Sees. That restlessness is seemingly bubbling over on his next Oh Sees album, Smote Reverser, which sees the band reconvene in one of its biggest, most flexible configurations yet. On the first two singles alone, Dwyer and company explore distant extremes of his psych-rock obsession, basing “C” in the placid keyboard-filled hooks of his Damaged Bug albums while pushing the band into a blast of pounding metal on “Overthrown.” [Matt Gerardi]

Autechre, NTS Sessions (August 24)

Eight straight hours of Autechre’s disorienting, mutant electronics sounds like either a godsend or a hard pass, depending on your level of interest in the duo’s alien, increasingly insular world. But there were myriad pleasures to be found on the way down the rabbit hole of the radio sessions broadcast earlier this year on London’s NTS that are being collected here in one physical, downloadable release. Having the tracks all separated now makes it easier to find those moments: If you don’t like the abrasive glitches of “bqbqbq” or the stuttering fritz of “carefree counter dronal,” you can just skip ahead to the electro squiggles of “four of seven” or the warm ambient embrace of “column thirteen.” Still, the tracks work best as a cohesive piece, seamlessly flowing into one another, slowly bending even the most resistant mind to their own idiosyncratic musical language. [Sean O’Neal]

Anna Calvi, Hunter (August 31)

In the five years since releasing her stellar sophomore album, 2013’s One Breath, English art-rocker Anna Calvi has kept extremely busy: writing a song for the film Insurgent, releasing a David Byrne-featuring EP, appearing on two David Bowie tribute albums, and oh, writing an entire rock opera. Her third full-length, Hunter, looks to retain the singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso’s flair for drama, this time “exploring sexuality and breaking the laws of gender conformity.” With production by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Grinderman) and featuring Bad Seed Martyn Casey and Portishead’s Adrian Utley, Hunter promises to be as compelling musically as it is thematically. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Muncie Girls, Fixed Ideals (August 31)

From Caplan To Belsize, the debut album from Exeter’s Muncie Girls, was one of the better pop-punk albums of 2016, a heady fusion of razor-sharp lyrics and wonderfully subtle flourishes (not to mention endlessly sing-along-able refrains) that elevated the band’s four-chords-and-an-attitude into something special—and making our list of 2016’s best music along the way. Now they’ve followed it up with Fixed Ideals, an album that doubles down on the anthemic spirit of their earlier work while becoming more musically adventurous in both sound and style. With a lengthy recording process that found singer Lande Hekt often playing both guitar and bass during the songwriting, the group created a record that—if excellent leadoff single “Picture Of Health” is any indication—will be even catchier and more inspired than the last. [Alex McLevy]

Wild Nothing, Indigo (August 31)

What better way to close out a summer than with a shimmering, wistful record from Wild Nothing? Jack Tatum’s indie-pop project returns to longtime label Captured Tracks for its fourth full-length, Indigo, an album uniting the “vintage Wild Nothing” of Tatum’s 2010 debut, Gemini, with “a bold, new leap into a bigger arena.” Working as intentionally and concisely as possible, Tatum set out to make an unapologetically hi-fi record inspired by Roxy Music, Kate Bush, and Fleetwood Mac. You can hear it in lead single “Letting Go,” an intoxicating, pristine cut of melancholy pop. [Kelsey J. Waite]


Ital Tek, Bodied (September 7)

Hollowed, the 2016 album from dubstep survivor Alan Myson, a.k.a. Ital Tek, was one of the best records of its year, a staggeringly diverse symphony of electronic sounds that defied genre tags. Expectations are naturally high for the follow-up, Bodied, which takes the more ambient moments of Hollowed and stretches them even further into spectral bliss, while bringing in greater emphasis on “acoustic elements and ghostly choral arrangements, refracted and transformed into atmospheric, alien forms.” While it would be impossible for Bodied to match the pure revelation of his benchmark work, it should prove that Myson’s artistic reinvention was no one-off fluke. [Sean O’Neal]

Oliver Coates, Shelley’s On Zenn-La (September 7)

The most expressive, avant-garde cellist since Arthur Russell—and certainly the coolest—Oliver Coates has lent his saws and yaws to everything from movie soundtracks (Under The Skin, Phantom Thread) to collaborations with Radiohead and MF Doom. His new solo album, Shelley’s On Zenn-La, furthers that Russell connection in its distorted disco roots, with Coates drawing inspiration from the legendary, now-defunct England dance club Shelley’s Laserdome. You can hear that distant, refracted rave scene burbling up under lead single “Charlev,” which brings in vocalist Chrysanthemum Bear to offer icy shout-outs over an array of airy synths, pinging drum machine beats, robotic hand claps, and the warble and scratches of Coates’ endlessly versatile instrument. [Sean O’Neal]

Spiritualized, And Nothing Hurt (September 7)

It’s been six years since the last album from space-blues outfit Spiritualized, and from the sound of things, every single moment of that long interim has been spent on making it. Jason “Spaceman” Pierce recorded And Nothing Hurt entirely by himself in his London home, arduously creating the symphonic swells and dizzying, black-hole atmospheres that color his music without the benefit of extra players or money. It makes sense, then, that Pierce would proclaim it to be his last, saying it was such a mammoth undertaking that “I found myself going crazy for so long.” If it really is the final Spiritualized record, then it’s a typically lovely grace note to go out on: Lead single “I’m Your Man” retains all the bruised majesty of Pierce’s previous work, delivered here with a new, close-mic intensity. [Sean O’Neal]

Low, Double Negative (September 14)

Low celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2018, but rather than release a career retrospective and slowly drift into acoustic coffeeshop irrelevance, Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker, and Steve Garrington push their sound into a new, intriguingly confrontational direction on their new album, Double Negative. Recorded at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the album fractures Low’s hypnotic sound, blending clarion vocals and diabolical feedback for the sound of a band that’s still finding fresh inspiration a quarter-century in. [Katie Rife]

Max Cooper, One Hundred Billion Sparks (September 20)

Electronic producer Max Cooper’s background is in science (he has a Ph.D. in computational biology), and that biographical detail tends to color every consideration of his music. Like kindred spirit Jon Hopkins, Cooper creates uniquely emotive, ambient techno, though his is even more specifically tailored to mimic and mess with the mind’s intricate machinations—usually paired with an elaborate visual art show that completes the experience. That’s certainly the case with his third album, One Hundred Billion Sparks, which Cooper says is an expression of the shared “one hundred billion neurons” that fire inside all of us to create the concept of self. It’s a musical treatise he composed during a self-imposed monastic retreat inside a remote cottage in Wales, and as with previous albums, it’s all conceived as one enormous, multimedia story. Still, the music stands alone as its own immersive, inward journey. [Sean O’Neal]

Christine And The Queens, Chris (September 21)

Although the debut by Christine And The Queens, Chaleur Humaine, wound up on several European best-of lists for 2016, the French electro-pop artist—a.k.a. Hélöise Letissier—hasn’t yet broken through Stateside. That started to change earlier this year, when she released a new song, “Girlfriend” (featuring Dȃm Funk), and made her U.S. TV debut on The Tonight Show. Accolades quickly rolled in for the song, which heavily mines slinky ’80s R&B—the keyboard alone should transport listeners to the Reagan years. Last week, Letissier announced a new album, Chris, will arrive in French and English in September. [Kyle Ryan]

Suede, The Blue Hour (September 21)

Britpop pioneers Suede have come quite a long way since the gloriously snotty, glam-rock sneers of their mid-’90s heyday, bouncing back from a buzz-hungry press that was as quick to canonize them as it was to write them off, a descent into drug-addled inertia, and the loss of key members, then releasing some of their best and most acclaimed albums long after Britpop fizzled out. The band’s eighth full-length, The Blue Hour, looks to continue that late-career renaissance kicked off by 2013’s Bloodsports and furthered on 2016’s Night Thoughts, with Brett Anderson lending his ever-dramatic keen to an arresting set of songs that could only be delivered by a group of older, wiser lads, like the swooning, string-laden single “The Invisibles.” [Sean O’Neal]

Exploded View, Obey (September 28)

Exploded View debuted in 2016 with a thrillingly raw, improvised record that stood out for both its otherworldly dub-punk-psych aesthetic and its provocative yet tender way of reflecting our warped political and social realities back at us. The group returns to Sacred Bones a trio, with singer Annika Henderson (Stones Throw, Beak>), Hugo Quezada (Robota), and Martin Thulin (Crocodiles) dropping the improvisational approach of their first record in favor of crafting a concise set of songs. This is a band founded on an intense desire to challenge itself, so Obey’s 10 “apocalyptic, yet soothing” tracks are guaranteed to take us to exciting new places. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Prince, Piano & A Microphone 1983 (September 28)

Prince’s legendary archive has been cracked open, and the first full album to emerge from its depths is Piano & A Microphone 1983. Culled from a live rehearsal at Prince’s Paisley Park home studio, the album finds Prince working out original material like “Purple Rain” and “17 Days” alongside covers like Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and the spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep.” Longtime Prince fans may recognize the 35-minute set that makes up Piano & A Microphone 1983 from a decades-old bootleg called Intimate Moments With Prince; edited and accompanied by new liner notes, either name suits this rare look into the private world of one of the 20th century’s greatest musical geniuses. [Katie Rife]


Grimes, TBA

Grimes is one of our grand pop weirdos, turning her indoor-kid J-pop fantasias into itchy glitch pop and sparkling ’90s mall rock. Somehow, she has parlayed that into bona fide celebrity, popping up to tease snippets of new tracks in a high-profile Apple commercial and notably becoming involved with a certain Rick And Morty-quoting techno-utopian auto magnate. But the music remains singular and enigmatic. A pair of new records—one “light,” the other “pure darkness and chaos,” according to Grimes—has been teased for later this year but apparently held up by drama with her label. Here’s hoping they square things away soon. [Clayton Purdom]

Tim Hecker, TBA

Tim Hecker, electronic abstractionist and shamanistic ferryman through a lagoon of pure audio bliss, is returning to Kranky, the label on which he released some of his celestial early records. After going massive on 2013’s Virgins, he made something light and almost playful in 2016’s Love Streams, evoking the audio narratives of early Oneohtrix Point Never or Fennesz. [Clayton Purdom]

Lady Leshurr, Unstable

We’ve been anxiously awaiting Lady Leshurr’s proper full-length debut since her “Queen’s Speech” freestyles took the internet by storm in 2015. Although details on Unstable are scarce, the grime MC has noted it would be released in the summer, but even if that date slides back into the fall for some reason, we’re looking forward to an album’s worth of Leshurr’s cheeky, charismatic bars. Single “OMW” finds her taking a slower, more melodic approach over a Caribbean rhythm, suggesting Unstable will showcase her great versatility, too. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Noname, Room 25

After featuring on a number of projects by fellow Chicago MCs like Chance The Rapper and Mick Jenkins, in 2016 Noname made her full-length debut with the captivating Telefone, a raw, poetic collection of distinctly soulful raps on black femininity and life in Chicago. Since then, she’s appeared on a couple of tracks with Smino and Joseph Chilliams while quietly working on follow-up Room 25. As of now there are few details about the album, but a new full-length’s worth of Noname’s moving, unsparing insights will undoubtedly be worth checking out. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Anderson Paak, TBA

Rapper, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Anderson Paak kept pretty quiet after the one-two punch of 2014’s Malibu and the bleary but beautiful boom-bap of 2015’s Yes, Lawd! Earlier this year he broke that silence with the appropriately named “Bubblin,” as well as the skipping, romantic “’Til It’s Over,” which you may remember for its truly great placement in an Apple ad by Spike Jonze. Both are big, joyous cuts, full of disparate influences and sounds, and proof that Anderson Paak’s been putting his time to good use. [Clayton Purdom]

Q-Tip, TBA

Q-Tip’s last real solo record came out a decade ago, but it was a low-key masterpiece, proof that the Tribe Called Quest majordomo still had plenty of invention and verbal firepower left. He’s kept busy—releasing Tribe’s swan song in 2016, popping up in the studio with Solange and Kanye, and teaching a course at NYU—all while teasing an impending solo missive called The Last Zulu. Last month he promised that it was “coming soon”; don’t be surprised if it ends up being another seven-track Kanye collection. [Clayton Purdom]

Isaiah Rashad, TBA

Isaiah Rashad is the sleepy-eyed Southern-rap soul bearer on Kendrick Lamar’s TDE roster, but despite his unassuming presence, he’s a master of quality control. His first record—so unofficial it has the word “demo” in the title—had more polish than most emcees ever muster across a full-length, and his sprawling second LP is nothing short of a modern classic. TDE’s known for fiddling with release dates, and Rashad’s known to disappear for long stretches at a time, but here’s hoping his various teases about a new album dropping this summer prove true. [Clayton Purdom]

Robyn, TBA

Swedish electro-pop artist Robyn swept through 2010 like a hurricane with a series of essential EPs under the Body Talk title, then went quiet until 2014’s Do It Again, a collaborative EP with Röyksopp. She debuted a new song, “Honey,” on Girls last year, then more info started to trickle out—first on Twitter, then later during a talk at the Red Bull Music Festival. The only detail she’s shared is that the new album is “softer” than its predecessors, which, again, isn’t much—but she did debut a new version of “Honey” at an after-party later. Even without hard details, the promise of a new Robyn album is cause for celebration. [Kyle Ryan]