Metro Weekly

Music Preview: The Best Upcoming Music in 2018

The coming year gets off to a slow start musically, but there is promising material on the not-too-distant horizon

Franz Ferdinand — Photo: David Edwards

Considering the sheer number of stellar releases the previous year brought us, 2018 has some big shoes to fill. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect at this early stage, but luckily, what we know so far is mostly promising. Some artists will be coming off hiatus while others will continue along streak, and still others are apparently seeking to reinvent themselves. A few delayed and long-anticipated albums will be seeing the light of day in the coming year as well, although tragically, there is still no word on a new Carly Rae Jepsen. While we wait, we have a handful of expected projects to be excited about.

Franz Ferdinand is slated to return in February with Always Ascending, which will feature two new members. On their first album after their 2015 collaboration with Sparks, they seem ready to dial things back and take it a little easier. The title track, released last October, is a slow-building, low-energy, synth-heavy song, featuring no indication that the band intends to rock any boats any time soon. The following month, Moby will be back with his fifteenth album, Everything Beautiful and Nothing Hurt, a title that sounds almost depressingly aspirational. Driving the point home, the video for “Like A Motherless Child” sees Moby in greyscale singing lyrics like “This was not hope/This was not sane.” Altogether a pretty bleak picture.

Moby is not the only one opting for a more grim direction. After three albums, MGMT is primed for a reinvention in 2018. The hype they stirred up in October around the release of the lead single “Little Dark Age” would seem to signal that they have some high hopes for their upcoming album. The track and accompanying video are early indicators that MGMT plan to go in a darker, perhaps more sober direction than their previous work. Despite this shift, the sound is still recognizably MGMT.

MGMT — Photo: Beckett Mansion

In June, Owl City is due to release Cinematic, an album likely to continue his more characteristically cheerful take on pop electronica. Here again, there are unlikely to be many surprises, but his sunny optimism may prove to be an outlier.

The incomparable Loretta Lynn is slated to release Wouldn’t it be Great, a collection of re-recordings and new songs. The album was originally scheduled for 2017 but was postponed due to health problems. This late into the 85-year-old’s career, we should expect few surprises. After all, roughly half the tracks are new takes on songs that made her famous going back to the ’60s. Then again, a comforting constant might be exactly what we need in the coming year.

Last summer, Charli XCX released the single “Boys,” one of the season’s surprising runaway hits. “Thinking ’bout boys” repeated ad nauseum turned out to be a perfect angle for the deceptively simple pop song that made several year-end best track lists. The summery, chiptuney song is all the reason we need to be excited for her (as yet untitled) third album.

Despite the departure of Rostam Batmanglij, Vampire Weekend has also hinted at a new album that may arrive later this year. While the band is known for writing wordy, literary lyrics packing them full of referents, lead vocalist Ezra Koenig has expressed a desire in interviews to pare down their songwriting to get at simpler, clearer ideas. If that’s the case, expect to hear a noticeably different Vampire Weekend in the coming year.

Bastille and Chvrches have both indicated that third albums may be landing sometime in 2018, but so far there has been little else other than comments made in various interviews. Ditto for Selena Gomez and Muse, who have mentioned plans for forthcoming albums to land in the coming year but have not committed to much otherwise. If the rumours and hearsay amount to anything, we may also see new work from Nicki Minaj and Drake. Without singles or much of anything else to go off of, it is a little more difficult to know what 2018 will bring from these artists. One constant we can take comfort from is that a not-insignificant number of them are already referring to their planned releases as their best yet.

Sean Maunier is Metro Weekly’s music critic. He can be reached at

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