Take a look back at the top five albums of the year to date.
Marlon Williams - Make Way for Love
Heartbreak is a usually an ugly affair. But in the hands of Marlon Williams, a musical magician, it is transformed into a thing of beauty. Full of love, respect, and personal introspection, Make Way for Love is the most deeply personal album to reach us this year. Documenting the end of Williams' relationship with fellow musician Aldous Harding (whose own break up album Party claimed the number one spot on TimeOut's Best of 2017 list), Make Way for Love journeys through every emotion – from jealousy, regret and anger to joy and hope. Both a musician and a poet, Williams lays bare his soul on this record and the result is heartachingly beautiful.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Sex and Food
For his fourth record, Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Ruban Nielson made the unusual choice to pull back from the neon-lit disco-pop of 2015's Multi-Love, returning instead to the distorted guitars and crunchy synths of his earlier records. But Sex and Food remained surprisingly future-facing, as Nielson furthered those production styles by exploring new elements of his introspective songwriting. From the lackadaisical charm of standout Hunnybee, to the trippy funk of How Many Zeros, to the rock explosion of Not in Love We're Just High, Sex & Food found Nielson unfolding his obsessive psyche on a delightfully danceable funk-rock record.
Somehow, Cardi B went from stripper to social media star to reality TV star, and turned right into one of the best rappers of 2018 with her debut album Invasion of Privacy. On it, Cardi tackles everything from her come-up and success, to sex, relationships, heartbreak and insecurity. She's strong and vulnerable, channels masculine and feminine, weaves together hip-hop, R&B, Latin and pop, and never apologises for anything. It's an album full of bangers from someone with a story to tell, and it's going to be a hard one to top in the second half of 2018.
Pusha T - Daytona
Released as part as of Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music project, not only is Daytona the strongest of those five albums, it's now widely regarded as Pusha's strongest album ever. The rapper scrapped an entire album in favour of this seven-track release and while that constraint saw others flail, it saw Pusha release seven brutally direct and concise tracks about everything from drugs to the state of hip-hop to his now massive feud with Drake. Pusha's flow is bulletproof and, coupled with Kanye's production and sampling, makes Daytona difficult to fault.
Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer
Dirty Computer felt like the album Janelle Monae had been waiting years to make. Easily the best of her career so far, it let her singular voice take centre stage, resulting in a futuristic pop/R&B record that found joy and liberation in celebrating queerness, blackness and female sexuality. On stellar jams such as Crazy Classic Life, Make Me Feel and I Like That, Monae imagines a life of opulence and extravagance for those on society's fringes, offering a fully-realised vision of a world in which marginalised identities can embrace the beauty in their distinctions.