In the name of looking back at 2018, we decided what better way to document our favourite songs from the past twelves months than with a special edition of Tracks.
In our final round-up of the year, each of Team DIY has picked out their top track. From The 1975’s furious social commentary in ‘Love It If We Made It’ to the space lounge curveball of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Four Out Of Five’, via the darkened shimmer of Deafheaven’s ‘Honeycomb’, for our verdicts on 2018’ best tracks, all you need to do is scroll down.
Emma Swann, Founding Editor
Parquet Courts - Wide Awake
While working with Danger Mouse wasn’t really a surprise - the (excellent) collaborative ‘Milano’ with Karen O and composer Daniele Luppi was released on his 30th Century label last year - it wasn’t particularly expected, either. Parquet Courts had long perfected their ennui-laden post-punk by the time they came to ‘Wide Awake’ the album, but bringing a pop maestro on board gave the New York-based foursome a funky spring in their step.
The best example of this comes via the record’s title track. For a band with a (mis-given, I reckon) reputation for being po-faced miseries interested only in being Serious Musicians, ‘Wide Awake!’ brings the playful side previously smothered by sarcasm to the fore. “Like a boyband LCD Soundsystem,” I said back on release and I stick by it: live, Austin Brown now flosses alongside brandishing his whistle, as a party scene straight out of the World Cup ’98 theme continues behind him.
On a record full of hell-yes-they-really-did-that moments, ‘Wide Awake!’ sits high as the twinkle in Parquet Courts’ collective eye.
Lisa Wright, Features Editor
Arctic Monkeys - Four Out Of Five
It took approximately 23 listens for ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’ – Arctic Monkeys’ unexpected lounge lizard curveball of a sixth record – to fully click for me. In fact, it took seeing the band do it live at the Royal Albert Hall back in June to really understand all the clever little signs throughout their back catalogue that had been pointing towards this seemingly strange left turn all along. Now, of course, I am SO on board, but first, second, third listen? Safe to say the DIY office was a perplexed place. Except for ‘Four Out of Five’, that is. Because even when Alex Turner’s stream of consciousness drawls and Mark the telephone operator were still frying my tiny mind, ‘Four Out of Five’ had already announced itself as a stone cold classic from play number one.
It’s not that it’s not a weird song, too. Taking in references to the fictional planet of Clavius, a lunar taqueria and the Starlight Express, it’s a spangled and surreal trip through the more boggled-eyed corners of Turner’s lyrical brain. But its wordplay is also a clever dance, hiding familiar little Easter eggs around the place (“Come on in, the water’s lovely…”) within sentences that tumble in their own time, refusing to be contained by the music around them. And the music? Well, that’s just straight up gorgeous. Prowling verses plucked straight out of an old 70s cop show and cooing harmonies in the chorus, and then the devilish, purring pay-off: “I can lift you up another semitone”. Which he does, elevating the final ballroom waltz of an ending into pure, heavenly territory. ‘Four Out of Five’ was the gateway drug into ‘Tranquility Base…’ that suggested this unusual record was worth persevering with, that Alex and his pals knew exactly what they were doing and I just needed to catch up. And of course it turned out that the album was genius all along, the clever bastard.
Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor
The 1975 - Love It If We Made It
It’s safe to say that 2018 has been a rather tumultuous twelve months for many (understatement of the year, ey?) and - being a band who expertly manage to walk the line between personal and political - it’s for that reason that The 1975’s ‘Love It If We Made It’ seems to have made such a massive impact.
Teased with a series of lyric reveals that, on paper, sounded almost scarily controversial, it’s a track that takes the heavy commentary that now surrounds our every day lives and twists it entirely on its head. A satirical monologue of other people’s sentiments may sound like a ridiculous line for a song to take - with references to Donald Trump, Lil Peep and Kanye West across its four-and-a-half minute span - but somehow, Matty Healy and co. make the song’s verses sizzle with fury before the joyful relief of its chorus finally kicks in.
Like the black humoured jokes we’re all making in light of current events, ‘Love It If We Made It’ is a powerful song which, at its heart, hopes to offer both a helping hand and a comforting wink all in one go. Let’s be honest, it’s the kind of vital pop music we need right now/
Will Richards, Digital Editor
Deafheaven - Honeycomb
Deafheaven’s 2013 album ‘Sunbather’ turned many people - myself included - otherwise nonplussed with metal music onto the genre with a record that blurred the boundaries between black metal and shoegaze gorgeously. It was an album that made no concessions but still managed to become a huge crossover hit, bringing together music fans from all manner of different corners.
This fusion continued in earnest on follow-up ‘New Bermuda’, but it was with ‘Honeycomb’, the first single from this year’s excellent ‘Ordinary Corrupt Human Love’, that the band’s ambition was thrown into a completely new league. On release, I called the track “a repositioning for one of the most exciting bands in their scene, and a firm desire to move beyond it,” and stand by it; at the band’s ULU show in London (which I reviewed for the site, the likes of ‘Honeycomb’ opened them up to becoming the kind of showmen that black metal bands never really strive to be. Riffing on the edge of the stage, crowdsurfing, singalongs(!) - it was a portrait of a band in flux, and ‘Honeycomb’ helped to open that door massively.
The first four minutes of the track are largely Deafheaven-by-numbers, but it’s when the foot gets unexpectedly, exhilaratingly slammed on the accelerator pedal and the track speeds into a simply fantastic mid-section that blows all preconceptions and boundaries out of the water. For someone who loves Thin Lizzy (and Sheer Mag’s wonderful debut album from last year) so much, the delectable riffs that Kerry McCoy throws out above the band’s trademark blackened shimmer play out like something of a dream, with George Clark’s razor-sharp vocals skipping along on top. It’s playful, catchy-as-hell, ignorant of supposed genre boundaries and Deafheaven’s flag in the ground.
Rachel Finn, Staff Writer
boygenius - Me & My Dog
In their solo work, the three members of boygenius - Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus - have become known for tackling the darker parts of human emotion with incredible intensity, often using sparse, acoustic instrumentals to conjure up a swell of feeling. On the standout track of their first self-titled EP this year, ‘Me & My Dog’ begins with a strummed guitar that fades in gently, like being woken from a dream, before Phoebe’s vocals begin telling a story of the head-rush and doubt-filled early days of a new romance.
“Have you ever tripped or fallen or really hurt yourself in front of someone and a bunch of people are like ‘are you ok?’ and you’re like ‘totally!’ and then you go out of the room and cry?” Phoebe asked me during an interview earlier this year, giving a metaphor to explain the song.
It’s an apt description. ‘Me & My Dog’ sounds like those moments where you’re pushing away a feeling that you know shouldn’t let overwhelm you, before you can finally be alone, close the door and let it wash over you completely. It’s a song riddled with sweetness but at the same time full of self-doubt and it’s structurally unusual, starting with a verse where Phoebe sings alone, before her bandmates rally around her for the song’s first and final chorus, singing in energetic unison: ““I never said I’d be all right / Just thought I could hold myself together / In the morning it won’t matter.”
In many ways, it’s lyrically straight-forward but that’s almost what makes it so effective. “I was trying to find a cool way to talk about getting my heart broken and I was like… fuck, I can’t think of any cool, poetic way to say it,” Phoebe explained of writing the song. “What if I just experiment and say exactly what happened?”