By Rhiannon Levengood
M A N I A and Lake Effect Kid by Fall Out Boy
These two records redefined Fall Out Boy’s sound entirely. The band entered 2018 by introducing a synthesized sound to their music and ultimately expanding their genre from punk rock to alternative pop/rock. In contrast to their previous albums, M A N I A has simpler lyrics, but still masterfully paints a beautiful picture of the emotions the quartet is portraying. While Lake Effect Kid is technically ten years old, the official release of the songs also brings to light FOB’s new sound by combining the vibe from frontman Patrick Stump’s solo record Soul Punk with a sound that’s bolder and louder than the band’s first six studio albums. Fall Out Boy’s musical development continues to impress their fans (even the die-hard pre-hiatus ones), so I’m excited to see what they produce in the coming years.
Oh Jonathan by Emily Kinney
Kinney’s third full length album was instrumentally experimental compared to her first two records, which primarily used acoustic instruments. Oh Jonathan introduced an electronic vibe to Emily’s repertoire, widening her audience to those who didn’t just know her as Beth Greene on The Walking Dead. This album tells her many stories of love, heartbreak, and her ever-growing self-confidence, and is easily her best lyrical work to date. Not only did she transform her studio sound, but she took her creative mind and a full band on tour this fall, and adapted a rock sound to Oh Jonathan, giving the sweet ballads an edgier tone. Emily Kinney balances her musical career with an active acting career, so her releases are few and far between, but always so worth the wait. To hear more from her, make sure to follow her duo band The Sweetheart Deal, too.
Singular Act I by Sabrina Carpenter
With the release of her third studio album, Sabrina Carpenter continued her musical EVOLution by incorporating some R&B sounds to her record. For the first time, she featured another artist on one of her tracks. The addition of UHMEER on her song “Hold Tight” took her music to a whole new level and truly made Singular Act I stand out from her previous records. Carpenter experimented with different styles of mixing and synthesized production to create her own unique sound that still possesses elements of mainstream pop music. Along with her musical transformation, Sabrina is making a personal metamorphosis as she matures with her music and opens up about her desire to find love and intimacy. Singular Act II, to be released in early 2019, is sure to be just as stunning as Act I.
Ten Years (Deluxe) by Aly & AJ
After ten long years of waiting, fans of sister duo Aly & AJ were finally blessed with new music. The appropriately named record Ten Years features six brand new jams and two live recordings of their songs “Take Me” and “Promises”. Refreshed and rejuvenated, Aly & AJ are showcasing some drastic changes to their sound, which now not only utilizes piano synth, but some vocal effects as well. The sisters’ combined excitement over leaping back into the music scene definitely promises more iconic releases in the near future, despite these busy bees working on their separate TV shows iZombie and The Goldbergs.
After Laughter by Paramore
And finally, an album that still sits near and dear to me well over a year after its release is Paramore’s After Laughter. Even though lead singer Hayley Williams declared this era of Paramore officially over, this record will remain one of my favorites for years to come. It accurately portrays the many emotions that life has to offer, most namely sadness and depression, and normalizes those feelings. The lyrics connect with the fans on such a deep and personal level that they offer comfort and support when listeners are feeling lonely, scared, hopeless, and worthless. Paramore perfectly executed an instrumentally innovative and relatable record, and set themselves up for further success for their next album.
By Paula Araujo
Expectations By Hayley Kiyoko
After appropriately dubbing this year as #TwentyGayteen, it was only right for Hayley Kiyoko to finally release a full length album. It’s no surprise that the album has had much success and lead her from selling out club venues to performing alongside Taylor Swift twice and scoring a VMA. Her debut record is so finely crafted and vulnerable making it easy for any listener to find each track incredibly relatable. From the catchy dance tracks like “Curious” to the big mood in “Feelings” this album definitely captures all the feels.
Youngblood by 5 Seconds of Summer
The highly anticipated third studio album by these fellow Aussie’s did not disappoint. The record is incredibly captivating from beginning to end with an eclectic sound. This indie rock direction was the perfect move for them. The album radiates on every single level and takes risks while remaining completely authentic to both sound and lyrics The self-titled track is an anthem in itself while the rest of the album doesn’t fall far from that line either. It’s definitely work they should be proud of.
Living Proof by State Champs
New York natives State Champs delivered on their latest album. This record showed a lot of growth on the band’s front musically, vocally and lyrically. Any listener becomes hooked as the record starts with these lyrics, “So what’s it mean, when every dream I haves about you now?” The sound is amplified much throughout this record and contains all the elements for a great pop punk record. It’s Living Proof that pop punk is still good.
Thank You For Today by Death Cab for Cutie
With the release of lead single “I Dreamt We Spoke Again” it was clear that this record was going to be filled with the essence that old school fans have always loved while also sounding refreshing. To maintain their essence after all these years is truly impressive. Overall, the album has the classic mellow sound they’re known for while also containing a beautiful calming cinematic vibe. There is growth, warmth, and nostalgia all over this. Seth Cohen would love this record.
Pray for the Wicked by Panic! at the Disco
Just when you thought things couldn’t get better after the epic album that was Death of A Bachelor, Brendon Urie knocked it out of the park with this one. After his stint on Broadway in Kinky Boots, this album is filled with theatrical elements and each note is jam packed. This record thrives on catchy tunes, cheeky lyrics and powerhouse vocals. You’re filthy as charged, Urie.
Lovely Little Lonely by The Maine
A year late on this train and I’m glad I finally found it, or better yet, it found me. This is a brilliantly cohesive record. It’s beautiful, honest, and vivid. It hits you in the feels and you easily get ‘Lost in Nostalgia’ while also somehow accurately capturing ‘The Sound of Reverie.’ I don’t know how they did it so damn well, but they hit the bullseye with this entire record.