Countdown: 2018: Tracks

Onto week two of Countdown: 2018 on amodelofcontrol.com, and this week I’m looking at the best tracks of the year. These might be the singles, they might be album tracks, they might be one-offs. But all of them are songs I love in one way or another, and they aren’t all necessarily songs that fall within the usual remit of this website – I’ve long since ceased worrying about boundaries.

Countdown: 2018

27-Nov: Compilations and re-issues
04-Dec: Tracks
11-Dec: Albums
18-Dec: Gigs

Playlists

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Countdown: Tracks

2017: Zola Jesus – Siphon
2016: School of Seven Bells – Signals
2015: CHVRCHES – Playing Dead
2014: seeming – The Burial
2013: Seabound – Nothing But Love
2012: Death Grips – Hacker
2011: Frank Turner – One Foot Before The Other
2010: In Strict Confidence – Silver Bullets
2009: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero
2008: Mind.in.a.box – What Used To Be (Short Storm)
2007: Prometheus Burning – Battery Drain
2006: No tracks of the year list
2005: Grendel – Soilbleed / Rotersand – Exterminate Annihilate Destroy
2004: No tracks of the year list

But in the end, I found a way. Over two months or so since I began collating this, some songs have dropped out of the list, others were late entries, and there are likely more songs that I could have included that maybe I haven’t even heard. It also goes without saying that I set myself limits on this list – there was no way it was going to be more than forty songs, and also, no artist would feature twice. This ensures only the best songs I’ve heard make it in, and I can cover as many artists as possible.

Yes, amodelofcontrol.com broadly covers industrial music, by the way, but as I’ve said many times before, industrial is a broad, broad church – and it seems to get wider by the year. There are influences of the style in so much music nowadays, in fact even in mainstream, mega-selling pop music nowadays.

But as well as that, I also listen to other music, and thus the spread here is perhaps a bit wider than you might otherwise expect. You know what, though? Try some of this music. Especially the stuff you don’t recognise, or don’t know. Go for it – I love hearing new music that someone else has enthused about, trying to understand what’s so awesome about it. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it will take days or weeks to click, and hopefully something here will do that to you.

Time to cue the music. You can listen along on Spotify and Youtube. Links to the right.

Next week: Albums


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Number_40

Will Haven

Hewed With The Brand
Muerte

I’ve long been a Will Haven fan – I saw them live with the Deftones and others in the late-90s, and they were a fearsome live band even then – and that they are still going is a good thing (even if there has been a few breaks and diversions along the way). This song from their latest album was the one that reminded me of their power. It somehow tiptoes the tightrope between rampaging hardcore fury and measured melody, and at points has the harsh feel of a pair of grabbing hands ready to pull you into the abyss. Hold on tight.


Bloody Knives

New Machines
White Light Black Moon

Despite the breaking down of genre borders all over the place in recent years, there are some that still seem to be mostly insurmountable, and perhaps that is why that there is a proliferation of industrial-influenced bands that have remained outside what we would call the industrial “mainstream”. Bloody Knives are one such band, who despite playing Cold Waves a few years ago only ever seemed to partially cross-over – and maybe that was because they were very much more of a shoegaze-influenced noise-rock band. But this album sees them take their sound in a much more industrial-electronic direction, and the best of the songs here is New Machines. A thundering, skittering drum pattern provides a shifting base for the streaks of treated guitar and synths, and also for the dreamy qualities of Preston Maddox’s vocals to come to the fore. Proof that bands evolving, taking on new sounds and trying new ideas is often something that is very much a good thing, as this is the best track they’ve released yet.


Ventenner

Ataxia

While we await the next album from these London industrial-rockers, they released a one-off single in the latter half of the year that gave pointers as to where they are heading. They’ve continued to refine their sound impressively, that’s for sure, and this song has a brooding, shadowy base to begin with that then has the relative calm shattered by Charlie’s vocal roar in the chorus. It only gets better from there, as more guitars join the fray, and the track is an excellent example of modern industrial rock. A great live band, too, their recorded material is now, finally, really doing their live power justice.


Ruinizer

We, The Dead
The Faceless Aberration

Ruinizer are one of the few bands in the UK industrial scene to have really expanded their horizons and look beyond the immediate influences of their peers. They’ve long had an intensity and heavier sound than many – their harsh industrial (or aggrotech, if you want) augmented by guitars and a dense web of samples and electronics that makes for a listening experience that grabs you by the throat. But on the latest album, and most especially this song, orchestral samples and mighty bass drops join in the fun to really up the ante. This is impressive stuff.


Blac Kolor

Nano Creator
Awakening

For me, this was probably the best distillation of the current style of industrial-meets-techno that has been the “thing” in both techno and industrial clubs in recent times, as Hendrick Grothe released his first Blac Kolor album on the venerable HANDS Productions label. While the album was actually notably varied, never relying on just one style or sound, the pick of the album was this lengthy, thundering industrial techno workout, that spends an age teasing and building, before finally delivering a monster of a rhythm that wants me to turn up the volume as loud as it will go and really annoy the neighbours. Probably best I don’t, mind.


Mazzy Star

Quiet, The Winter Harbour
Still EP

Mazzy Star were never exactly the world’s most prolific band, so a lengthy gap after their comeback Seasons Of Your Day was hardly a surprise. But the EP that this came from was a surprise, in some respects. Not least because, for the first time, the band looked back at their past, in a staggering, lengthy re-work of So Tonight That I Might See that was likely better than the original. But also because the lead song, Quiet, The Winter Harbour lived up to it’s title by being one of the most gentle songs by the band I can remember, Hope Sandoval’s trademark laconic vocal accompanied by just piano for the most part – and you know what? It suits her beautifully, allowing even more space for that wonderful voice.


3TEETH x ho99o9

Time’s Up
Time’s Up/Lights Out

While we wait for album number three from the still-rising industrial-metal band 3TEETH – now signed to a major metal label, and playing regular support slots at arena shows with the likes of Tool and Rammstein – they dropped a couple of songs having collaborated (and toured) with another band to have crossed over in recent times, in the form of Ho99o9. The aggressive attack of both bands – but from very different angles – was put on great display by these tracks, and the better of the two by a nose was Time’s Up, a faster-paced industrial-punk beast that sees both bands take a hand in vocals, and it is also notable for being the first 3TEETH track with live drums, and it adds an enormous heft to the sound. Future songs from both awaited with great interest.


Nine Inch Nails

God Break Down The Door
Bad Witch EP

Of the three EP releases put out by Nine Inch Nails over the past couple of years, this one was perhaps the most interesting, as it saw Trent Reznor and his now-bandmate Atticus Ross experimenting with the sound of this now long-lived group yet further. And nowhere was this experimentation made clearer than on this track, where drums sound like breakbeats, Reznor croons, and mournful saxophone weaves through the mix, creating an unusually contemplative atmosphere for a song that seems to be barrelling along out of control at points. A number of people noted a distinct Bowie influence (particularly around his later, jazzier work), and perhaps this was Reznor’s nod to his friend. If so, it was something of a suitable, cryptic tribute.


The Saxophones

Picture
Songs of the Saxophones

I like to remind myself, sometimes, that – despite occasional evidence to the contrary, and some friends who perpetuate the image – I don’t always listen to loud industrial, electronic or metal. One of my loves is the jazzier, mellower end of alternative music, the kind of realm that Leonard Cohen and Tindersticks, among many others, hover around. So perhaps unsurprisingly, this song captivated me from the first moment I heard it. It is a sparse, beautiful track, that hints at love, and at least thoughts of lust, and is gone before you get a chance to get comfortable with it. Yes, Alexi Erenkov’s voice doesn’t half sound like Stuart Staples, but with songs as gorgeous as this, I’m going to let that slide.


Kite Base

Transition
Latent Whispers

One unexpected and hugely enjoyable album this year was the debut from Kite Base (which features Kendra Frost, once of Blindness, and interestingly this is one of two projects featured here including members of that band), and the opening track on the album was surprising in a few ways. For a start, this track wasn’t far off an industrial-electro hybrid, a surging, bass-led charge underpinned by a thumping beat and Kendra’s strong vocals. Yeah, sure, there are perhaps influences that can be picked out of this, but what is the most notable thing about what Kite Base are doing is that they are taking an unusual mix of instruments and making a great, approachable sound with them.


HEALTH x YOUTH CODE

INNOCENCE

An interesting series this year has been the succession of tracks HEALTH have released across 2018, collaborating with some perhaps unexpected bands. The best of them dropped last, though, as they invited Youth Code along for a thrilling two-and-half-minutes of sonic violence. HEALTH have long been familiar with scorching noise in their music, but here they hand over the reigns for Youth Code to provide a rattling, thrashy drum pattern and snarling electronics, with HEALTH providing the breakdowns. One of those collaborations where I’d only wish they’d do more, as a whole album would be an amazing – if exhausting – experience, I suspect. Now, about a joint tour, eh, folks?


Where We Sleep

Veins
Veins / Crawl

A tentative step back into releasing music was made this year by Beth Rettig, once of Blindness, who after taking some time away from performing has at least returned to the studio. While there are links back to her old band – and, on this track, Debbie Smith returns to assist on guitars – there are also steps away from what she was doing before, as the overall sound is subtly different, much more electronic and perhaps even darker than what came before. Either way, it’s great to have Beth back on record, and on this evidence, I’m really hoping that there is more from this project.


De Staat

Kitty Kitty
Bubble Gum

Not a band particularly well-known on these shores, this Dutch band came to my attention supporting dEUS a few times in the UK, and appear to have a much higher profile in parts of mainland Europe. Their off-kilter alt-rock was often great, never anything other than fascinating, but this song is something else entirely. Taking an idea or two from Soulwax here, this is a groovy, smartly looped track whose vocals seem to be some kind of chaotic nonsense (not to mention, featuring an oh-so-clever nod to Eric B & Rakim!), and seems then to layer the kitchen sink and the contents of a few other rooms too into a mix that becomes overwhelming. The video is a lot of fun, too.


Klammer

Modern God
You Have Been Processed

I get an awful lot of promos, and particularly in recent years, I’ve had to pick-and-choose what I listen to, and more importantly what I write about, simply due to pressures on my time. But I do appreciate what I get sent, that’s for sure, and there is some really interesting stuff that comes through. Which brings me to this artist, and I have to admit that “a post-punk band from Leeds” is hardly a new description, or one that’s going to get me listening to it straight away. Something in the write-up, though, had me intrigued, and I’m glad I did listen, as this song is great. An edgy, snarling track that has every element I’d want in such a song, with a cracking, driving chorus and an unusual subject matter as it muses on what kind of god might appear in the modern day. The album that it comes from is worth your time, too.


LOCKS

Bodies
Skeletal Blues

I’ve seen this band so many times over this year and last that I’m still surprised when I’m reminded I only first came across them at a show in summer 2017. They’ve come a long way since – and their debut album, pretty much a collection of new songs rather than including the previous EP of material, was very much a milestone. The rollicking opening track, Bodies, is a marvellous statement of intent on it, too, as the band work at a heck of a pace and sound like a well-oiled machine…until the song suddenly pivots into a much slower pace, and Locks’ voice suddenly takes on a much more plaintive feel. Not heard this band? Trust me, you’re missing out.


Misery Loves Co.

Only Happy When It Rains

The steady return of Misery Loves Co. returns with a few more shows (what I wouldn’t give for a London show sometime), and just recently a third new song has been released, a perhaps surprising cover on face value. But dig a bit deeper, and this makes a whole load of sense. MLC were always seen to be a deeply serious, pitch-dark band, and this song – famously Shirley Manson’s dig at the dour image of her Scottish homeland – seems to be a way for MLC to make a nod at their own nature. In addition, it also works as a counterpoint to old MLC favourite Happy?, where the band seem happy to wallow in the misery described here.


The Black Queen

Thrown Into The Dark
Infinite Games

After the exceptional debut album from this supergroup of sorts, I was left a little non-plussed by the follow-up this year – there was too much downbeat electronic noodling and not enough of the catchy songs, frankly. That said, it did have its moments, and the lead single was very much one of those. It picks up where the first album left off – and perhaps the rest of the album should have followed down this route too – with eighties-electronic soul being the obvious touchstone for influences, but Greg’s vocal has the right feel, and at no point does it descend into schmaltz (an ever-present danger, frankly, doing this kind of sound). They were at least still excellent live, even if the album didn’t quite do what I’d hoped for.


BC35/EXCOP

What A Jerk
The 35 Year Anniversary of BC Studio

With Swans having entered another apparent period of hibernation, doubtless before the monster stirs again when Michael Gira decides what to do next, this brute of an album was an impressive substitute. A live recording from 2016 with a whole host of guests, this was to mark the 35th anniversary of Martin Bisi’s BC Studio from where much of NYC’s “No Wave” artists emerged, and much of it has the pummelling, percussive power that you’d perhaps expect. The pick of the tracks, though, is this grinding, foot-dragging monster, that has the distinct feel of a large, shadowy beast battering its way through a thick wall. It is relentless, crushingly heavy and absolutely fantastic.


Kathryn Joseph

Safe
When I Wake The Want Is

As much as I like individual songs from this album, it is a rare album these days that has more impact as a whole, as songs curl and flow into the next, as if they were all written in every way as a larger entity. But there are some notable, staggering moments within this album, and for me this song is the most impressive. The song rolls and pitches around a cycling piano-based hook, while Joseph switches her vocals between a whisper and a howl, and even at points multitracks her voice to harmonise with herself. More so than almost anything else on this album, too, this song feels like it isn’t of this earth – it doesn’t sound quite…human? As if there was some angel floating in the clouds, delivering this gorgeous lament.


Lonely Tourist

Stunt Double
Renumeration

One of the more entertaining live sets of the year (more in a few weeks in about that), Paul Tierney’s Lonely Tourist project returned this year with a solid album broadly built around the concept of employment. Being acoustic-based, this is all about the stories that he weaves, and the last song on the album is a frankly brilliant, searing take on employment – and unemployment – in the UK in 2018. Initially this song is a humorous lament, about being a jobbing actor who becomes the titular stunt double, but really this is a trojan horse as it takes a darker, angrier turn as it discusses being injured and/or disabled and out of work, and lashes out at the unfair system that the UK has developed. Even so, this is a glorious, witty take on such a subject that needs comment, and importantly it keeps an empathetic edge even as the anger rises.


Frank Turner

1933
Be More Kind

There was much comment a few years back about Frank Turner’s political leanings based on a few flippant comments made in an interview, but thanks one of the first songs released from his latest album – and easily one of the best – he made his views crystal clear. 1933 is one of the most strident, snarling tracks to take on the insular xenophobia and nationalism that has rather uncomfortably taken hold in the UK, a Pandora’s Box of course unleashed by Brexit. It is by no means the only song to tackle current issues head-on on Be More Kind, but nowhere else does he hit the mark so brilliantly. The song also kicks ass live, with 3,000 other people singing along to every word, as I found out back in May at the Roundhouse.


Public Service Broadcasting

White Star Liner
White Star Liner EP

Public Service Broadcasting have long since had an uncanny ability of drawing an emotional depth out of the subjects that they tackle with their songs – some feat with the often rather stiff delivery of the old public information films that they mine for their songs. Part of that, of course, is a smart way of creating a narrative with their material (and was one of the reasons why The Race for Space, for example, was so exceptional – and why Every Valley, with no real happy ending, was so dark) – and here they do it yet again, but in a minature form. Just four tracks, it tells the story of the rise and fall of the Titanic, once the pride of Great Britain, and within weeks of her first sailing was a tragedy on an unimaginable scale. This lead song, though, is one of hope and pride, as the massive liner was launched amid hope for the future, and the song twinkles with a bright, positive sound befitting it.


CHVRCHES

Miracle
Love Is Dead

Try as I might, I simply don’t love the third CHVRCHES album like the previous pair. While it has the spiky lyrics that continue to ask difficult questions and laser through the bullshit, the music feels muzzled. Part of this is clearly down to “super-producer” Greg Kurstin – whose ruthless formula sells a lot of records – but it’s not all him. For a start, too many choruses follow the same pattern (repeat refrain ad infinitum), but there are exceptions, and the shining star on this album is Miracle. Lauren Mayberry’s plaintive vocals dominate the song, but it builds and swells like a tidal wave of desperate, swooning emotion, and is a reminder that CHVRCHES can still sound like the most vital pop band there is.


Cocksure

Baby You, Me and the Dark Web
Be Rich

There was something enormously enjoyable about the third dose of Cocksure, but none more so than this bruising, spiky rant. The industrial beats here dip into drum’n’bass territory, the synths barge to the front of the mix, but really this song belongs to Chris Connelly, as he delivers oblique comment on the crazy fucking world of the internet, and particularly the insanity around Bitcoin mining. But it isn’t just the latter he’s digging at, from what I can tell, it’s also sneering at the buzzwords thrown around by people that they think makes themselves important and more “in the know” than you. A popping of a bubble, perhaps? Maybe, but even the message wouldn’t really be notable if the song itself didn’t absolutely slam. The good news? This really fucking does.


Agent Side Grinder

Stripdown

Losing three members at once – particularly when that includes the vocalist – would often sink a band, but Agent Side Grinder intriguingly recruited a new vocalist (Emanuel Åström) and reduced to a three-piece. Wisely, too, they’ve pivoted somewhat with their sound, too, working with what they have, which has resulted in a much more electronic-based sound than before. It hasn’t reduced the quality, though, as the second single released from their fifth album due in 2019 is a belter. Stripdown has something of prime, mid-80s Depeche Mode feel, particularly in those synths, but the driving rhythm and deep, rich vocals, not to mention a saxophone solo, make this a signpost for a band that I was expecting to be somewhat rudderless. I’m happy to be proved wrong, as this is an exceptional song from an always fascinating band whose second phase looks like it will be essential listening.


Front Line Assembly

Eye On You
Eye On You EP

Aside from the Warmech released earlier in the year, this is the first new song with vocals from FLA in a few years – since the excellent Echogenetic that was album of the year on this site a remarkable five years ago in 2013. It was actually played on their recent tour, but as an early, unfamiliar song in the set, and with possibly the worst live sound I’ve ever heard from the band, it was difficult to make much of a judgement. On record, though, it’s a punchy, groovy track that continues to pull the band forward but also makes a number of nods to their past (particularly that excellent synth hook that dominates the track). That FLA remain a potent force this long into their career is frankly remarkable, and the brilliant, of-the-now techno industrial remixes by Terence Fixmer and Orphx that accompany it make this an essential track, and a great taster until the arrival of Wake Up In Coma in the new year.


Failure

Paralytic Flow
In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind

Failure remain a band that sound unique. Their space-rock, if you will, has production standards way beyond almost any other band of their means, and their guitar tones in particular are instantly recognisable – which is perhaps why I adore this song so much. Easily the best song on their fifth album, it has a feeling of yearning and loss running through it that makes the muscular rhythm and the chiming guitars fade behind Ken Andrews’ stellar vocal performance, as he deals with issues of the heart once again, but as always, with an approach quite unlike anyone else.


Anna Calvi

As A Man
Hunter

After a good few years away – it’s five years since her last album, remarkably – Anna Calvi’s sense of drama in song is undiminished. Lead single Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy was an impressive, eye-catching single, with an of-the-now subject about gender fluidity, but frankly the later single – and album opener – is the pick for me. Thundering drums and sinuous backing vocals provide a jaw-dropping backdrop to Calvi’s awesome voice, as she questions gender norms and considers what might happen if she was a man, but the star here is her delivery as she effortlessly switches from whispered moments to soaring, howling cries. Anna Calvi genuinely should be a far bigger star than she is.


The Soft Moon

Burn
Criminal

There has been an ever-more electronic edge seeping into the sound of The Soft Moon over recent albums, but even that knowledge didn’t quite prepare us for the seething power of the lead track from the fourth album. Burn sees them edge into the realms of industrial post-punk, the looped guitar riff backed by an incessant, near-Nine Inch Nails drum pulse and a soaring chorus that brings the band into a blinding white light, rather than the shadows that they had previously been hiding in.


RELIC

Pray
Social Drift EP

This band’s fantastic debut album PULSE CODE MISERY was at #7 in Countdown: 2017: Albums last year, and they kept up the pace with a new EP the Spring just gone. As I noted at the time in making this Track of Month, this is an even tougher, even harder-hitting track than they’ve done before, with an almighty groove as the chassis for a sleek, black-clad body above it, the vocals little more than a set of repeated, simple refrains. But why need anything more than that when you’ve come up with a musical base as fabulous as this?


Sulpher

Take A Long Hard Look
No One Will Ever Know

OK, so after seventeen years, could the follow-up to the still-excellent Spray have ever lived up to expectations? Perhaps not – and I can certainly leave behind the drippy ballads later in this new album – but that long-awaited follow-up was worth picking up alone for the rampaging monster of a track that this is. Thundering drums, skittering synths, multi-layered, jagged guitar riffs and snarling vocals, this was three minutes of industrial-metal that reminds that Sulpher still do have it (and this track is, unsurprisingly, absolutely savage live, too).


John Grant

He’s Got His Mother’s Hips
Love Is Magic

Once again it’s taken a little while to get into John Grant’s new album – one that is even more electronic-based than previously – but one song leapt out at me from the first time I heard it, and I still think it’s the best thing on it. Rather exposing his love of Cabaret Voltaire (and perhaps reflecting his recent collaborations with Stephen Mallinder and his new band Wrangler), this is a gloriously bitchy put-down of a swaggering, self-important man with a whole host of zinging insults and wonderfully florid descriptions, coupled with an irresistible industrial-electro-funk backing that will certainly get your hips swinging. Also worth a mention for the excellent video that, like the sound of the song, nods back to advancements in music video technology over the years.


ACTORS

Slaves
It Will Come To You

An album full of great songs, the ACTORS album released this year was quite the joy – and this song was one of those that got it’s claws into my head and simply wouldn’t let go. It ticks all the boxes of great post-punk – driving basslines, a careering pace, and a brooding tune, but add to that the savage slashes of guitar riffage, and Jason Corbett’s deep, commanding vocals and delivery, and you have what was easily one of the best songs of 2018.


Dubstar

You Were Never In Love
One

This much-loved by few, underappreciated by many band returned this summer, and this sleek, elegant song was the first taste of the subsequent fourth album – and their first for seventeen years – One that came in October. As a statement of their return, it did exactly what we’d hoped – stellar melodies, Sarah Blackwood’s sad-sounding vocals, darker undercurrents, they even get away with a staple of pop-balladry, the dramatic key-change later in the song. It’s remarkable, actually, how little “pop” music has such dark undertones like this – in their absence, only Robyn has taken a similar route of disguising heartbreak so brilliantly in bright-sounding pop. A stunning, and glorious return.


Spiritualized

Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go
And Nothing Hurt

Amid the often skyscraping sounds from Spiritualized, this charming song from their excellent album this year was one preoccupied with the tiny details. From the bubbling, phasing synths that underpin the entire song (a hark back to Pure Phase), to the gentle gospel backing as the song washes through the speakers, to the road-trip-in-minature detailed in less than five minutes, as it settles into domestic, law-abiding bliss as he implores his road-tripping friend (or lover, it is never made clear) to watch for the traffic lights and the speed-guns on the road, as if Jason Pierce can’t bear for anything to happen to affect his blissful mood. The melody is wonderful, the song is instantly, for me, one of Pierce’s greatest achievements.


Wire Spine

Burn You
Bury Me Here

Call it what you like, but there has been an awful lot of interesting, quasi-industrial electronic music released in recent years. Many artists seem happy to acknowledge their influences, but shy away from identifying their music as such. Which is fine – artists are entitled to sell and promote their own music as they see fit. But in terms of us that write about the music, artists may find that we put them in different boxes, so to speak. They call themselves darkwave/post-punk/EBM, and on this exceptional track, they tick all of the boxes. There is a gloom of any great darkwave song, the drum-led punch and huge synth hooks of EBM, and the vocals are straight-up post-punk. But all of the elements together transcend any labelling, as it regally thumps it’s way into your skull. Great songs have hooks – really, really exceptional songs like this have barbs on the end to remain in your brain that bit longer.


Continues

Fall Tragic
Fall Tragic (Single)

It has been a long, long time – six years, no less – since Dan Gatto’s first album under the Continues name. That release was an exceptional, deeply romantic and emotional minimal synthpop album, one full of glorious highs and with barely even a moment wasted. It also had an unexpected crossover appeal, as many friends who may never have listened to this kind of music got sucked in every single time I shared a track from it. So, after a long gap, the Continues name returned this year with a two-track release, and the songs are once again near flawless. The title track has a defiance to it, and also a grandeur that few other practitioners of this style can do. It is memorable, elegant and simply fucking brilliant.


Promenade Cinema

The Quiet Silently Wait
Living Ghosts

I wasn’t short of choices from this album, that’s for sure, but having now heard this song live twice – and at Infest it was the undisputed highlight of a very good set – this dramatic, sweeping track was an easy pick for one of the tracks of 2018. Dynamically it is fascinating, as it almost deliberately drags heels before exploding into a huge chorus, there are squalls of what sound like sampled guitars that surface in the mix, and both Emma and Dorian deliver their best vocal performances yet, as this song takes it’s place as the glittering centrepiece of an excellent album.


Janelle Monáe

Make Me Feel
Dirty Computer

No single song this year had the kick of funk like this. The lead single from Monáe’s excellent album Dirty Computer, it deserved to be a massive hit but somehow it didn’t quite work out. Reputedly part-written by Prince before his death, it certainly has a Purple stamp all over it, with the sparse instrumentation, guitars and excellent use of percussion (tongue clicks as rhythm?!?) that brings to mind the genius of Kiss. But that said, Monáe’s quirky touches abound, too, with stylistic about-turns mid-song more than once and an epic, catchy hook that makes this a hugely enjoyable earworm – when it was released, it was stuck in my head for months. Add to that the suggestive, barely disguised bisexuality of the eye-popping, colourful video set in an awesome-looking club, and you have one of the best songs of 2018.


IDLES

Television
Joy As An Act of Resistance.

Since I first began hearing songs from this album, my “favourite” track cycled through a number of songs, but seeing this song delivered with an astonishing, unwavering conviction live around the time of the album release had me hooked, and settled on my favourite song of 2018 immediately. Sure, their other songs may also cover important subjects right now (not least the toxic masculinity take down of Samaritans and the glorious, terrace-chant celebration of immigration and diversity that is Danny Nedelko), but Television struck a nerve with me. This is a song about self-empowerment, and the influence of media, advertising and others to dampen that down, but crucially it is a song of fist-raising anger and it is anthemic, catchy and simply brilliant. We all need a pick-me-up sometimes – that might come from the odd pep talk from your partners or friends, just simply a way to make us feel better about themselves, and that’s fine – and we all need this in different ways. Listening to this song, and the way it resonates with my own thinking across 2018 (it’s been a trying time at points, that’s for sure), makes me feel like I can take on the fucking world and win. Which is why this is the amodelofcontrol.com track of 2018.

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