Short, Snappy, And Oh So Sophisticated: The Best Mini Albums Of 2018
Because size definitely doesn't matter.
For a little while there, the trend was set with what can only be described as long-arse albums. In the dying days of the CD, artists endeavoured to make the most of the 80 minutes they could fit on there.
Then, as streaming came to count towards the charts, a handful of artists pushed beyond the 80 mark in order to make a dint on the albums chart — for shame, DJ Khaled and Migos.
In 2018, the game changed entirely (well, almost entirely.) Thanks in no small part to Kanye’s Wyoming sessions, a new standard was set. This was the year of the short album — no bullshit, straight to the point records that more often than not ran rings around their lengthy competitors.
This list, then, is a celebration of the short-playing LP: 30 albums from 2018, in alphabetical order, that ran for less than 30 minutes.
We’ve got a lot to get through, so each album is written about in tweet-length — 280 characters or less. Let’s get cracking!
Action Bronson — White Bronco
White Bronco feels like a proper return to the Bam Bam of old. It’s not concerned with scoring a big hit — unless it’s from the blunt, of course — and almost every song sounds like he’s coming at you with a freestyle. That’s absolutely a compliment, by the way. IT’S ME!
The Bennies — Natural Born Chillers
It’s impossible to be unhappy when these party-starters are skanking away with reckless abandon. The Bennies’ fourth album sported big horns, even bigger choruses and their funniest song yet in ‘Trip Report’. Also the swansong for bassist Craig Selak — we miss you, brother!
Boat Show — Unbelievable
With two huge tours with Hockey Dad and DZ Deathrays back to back in 2018, this riot-grrrl inspired Perth band won a whole tonne of new fans. The momentum was kept up with their second album, which is just as boisterous and hook-infested as their debut. All aboard!
BRONCHO — Bad Behavior
These Tulsa rockers dropped their third album back in October, and it opens the way every great album should: with a whole lot of cowbell. Elsewhere, the quartet lock into a psych-tinged groove and quickly roll with the punches on primarily sub-3-minute tunes. Who’s bad?
carb on carb — For Ages
A guitar/drums duo from Auckland, For Ages is carb’s second studio album and further delves into their immediate dynamic of math-rock instrumental breaks, lo-fi indie sonics and strikingly-honest lyrics. A song like ‘It’s Been a Rough Year’ can well and truly speak for all of us.
Cat Heaven — Living Room
This post-punk Sydney trio are each behind of some of the best bands you’ve never heard. Still, if you’re going to check out any of their projects it should absolutely be this one — a collection of jagged, tense and discordant songs that lure you in and bowl you over.
Earl Sweatshirt — Some Rap Songs
One of the year’s big surprise drops, the long-since free Earl turns his attention to some of the most warped, dizzying beats he’s ever rapped over. Although a divisive release, it’s certainly one that’s generated plenty of discussion around the still-evolving MC.
Fiddlehead — Springtime and Blind
Featuring members of Have Heart and Basement, this is a band that proudly wears its heart on its sleeve tattoos. The album is a reflection on grief and family, with choruses built by design to scream at the sun. As the emo revival blossoms, Fiddlehead find hope in new beginnings.
Grouper — Grid of Points
After four years between albums, Liz “Grouper” Harris returned to the fold in April with a stunning septet of harmonious, dreamlike soundscapes. Harris described the album as “a complete idea that just happened to be 22 minutes.” Respect for not compromising on that.
Homesick — Terra Nullius
An Australian hardcore band with purpose and conviction, Homesick mix D-beats and drop-tuning with deeply personal and political lyricism. It comes from a place of belligerence and futility, but it creates something defiant and positive.
Ill Natured — Twisted Visions
While we’re still in Aussie hardcore, Ill Natured dropped this one all the way back in January and it STILL packs just as much of a punch. A thrashing, uncompromising record that suffers no fools and set the standard for homegrown heavy albums moving forward in the year.
Jackie Brown, Jr. — Over Abroad
It’s also impossible to be unhappy listening to JBJ. These happy-go-lucky kids are boppy, bouncy and irrepressible in their approach to horn-infused indie pop. If you’ve grinned like an idiot to Ball Park Music or Saskwatch, you may well do the same here.
Jesus Piece — Only Self
The prime export of Philadelphia hardcore finally dropped their debut album, and it delivered on every level imaginable. A writhing, walloping exercise in machine-like metallic hardcore. This is music to burn down entire empires to. The Jesus Piece, motherFUCKER.
Joyce Manor — Million Dollars to Kill Me
You could listen to the entire Joyce Manor discography in the time it would take you to listen to Migos’ Culture II once. Two minutes into Million Dollars to Kill Me, you’ll know which of those options is better.
Kanye West — ye
The reason for the season came through with one of the year’s most divisive albums. There was a lot to talk about here, and furthermore a lot to debate. Still, the fact Kanye had us talking about him all year kind of means he already won.
KIDS SEE GHOSTS — KIDS SEE GHOSTS
Kid Cudi and Ye have been teasing a collab record for awhile now, and while it doesn’t quite ascend the heights of Watch The Throne it doesn’t really have to. It’s two veterans with nothing to prove making music they’re invested in, and there’s merit to that.
MeanGirls — Is This Me Forever?
The second album from these Texan queer-punks is rousing, catchy and hugely relatable — see ‘Tinder Date Existentialism’ and the burning question of ‘Is It Just Me or Am I a Worthless Asshole?’ For those that like their pop-punk with rougher edges and an open-book honesty.
The Ocean Party — IBO
The year ended on absolutely tragic circumstances for The Ocean Party, with the loss of member Zac Denton at the far-too-young age of 24. His creativity lives on in TOP’s extensive discography, including this 12-track 12-minute garage-rock frenzy.
Pusha T — DAYTONA
If you know, you know.
Razorbumps — Hellrazors
In case you couldn’t tell by the name, Razorbumps are sharp and tough as hell. Their lo-fi punk bursts through the speakers and crushes all in its path.
Recovery Room — Wallflower
These Sydney emo merchants make introverted, heartfelt tunes for the lonely-hearted. If you’ve found yourself sobbing to a Jimmy Eat World or Ceres record, Recovery Room have got you. Heads up: You might need a hug after you’re done with this one.
Restorations — LP5000
A perfect blend of melodic punk and heartland rock, Restorations’ fourth album makes an easy case for being their best. Raw, earnest and high on replay value, anyone invested in guitar music with heart and purpose would be wise to invest 25 minutes with these Philadelphians.
Straight Arrows — On Top!
Meet the new Straight Arrows, same as the old Straight Arrows. These evergreen garage rockers are still having just as much fun now as they were on their debut all those years ago — and when the wheel still rolls so smoothly, there’s no real need to reinvent it.
Teyana Taylor — K.T.S.E.
Of all the Wyoming sessions, this was the one we knew the least about — mostly because Teyana Taylor was still a mystery to a lot of the general public. Still, it ended up being one of the year’s most interesting R&B records, featuring a killer Kanye ad-lib (“No fadeouts!”) and possibly the horniest song of 2018.
Tierra Whack — Whack World
Welcome to Whack World! We’ve got weird rap, dark pop, a country pastiche and just about every other strange thing you could ask for. You’re only here for 15 minutes, but you’re welcome back any old time.
Turnstile — Time and Space
Time and Space was the best hardcore album to be released in 2018 — which is funny, considering there are moments where it’s about as far removed from hardcore as you can get. A bustling, urgent record that defies conventions and boldly forges its own identity.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra — IC-01 Hanoi
After the lush grooves and tight funk of Sex & Food, UMO did what any other right-thinking band would do in their position: Release an album of length jazz/noise instrumentals that sound absolutely nothing like your band. Hell, why not? That’s pretty punk.
Usher — “A”
As someone who has absolutely been guilty of putting out way-too-long records in the past, it’s refreshing to see Usher Raymond IV having a good time that’s also not a long time. A smooth selection of on-the-fly R&B jams like only the U-Turn could lay down.
Vein — Errorzone
In truth, we should be thankful that Vein’s debut album is only 27 minutes long. If they’d stretched to 40 or even 45, we might have some sort of riot on our hands. One of the most sonically brutal, relentless records of the year. Like getting bodyslammed onto thumbtacks.
Vince Staples — FM!
Vinnie’s never held his tongue or pretended to be anything he’s not. He does whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Who else could unflinchingly drop a 22-minute concept album under the guise of it being a radio show? There’s a lot of fun to be had here, so switch your dial over.
David James Young is a writer and podcaster who, contrary to the nature of this article, spent quite a bit of time on this. He tweets at @DJYwrites.
All photos via Facebook