ACRN’s Top 10 Disappointing Albums of 2018

1. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, [Domino; 2018]

By Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor

From the minute that lead singer Alex Turner sings the first line, we can immediately tell that Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is an Arctic Monkeys album. Unfortunately, all other uncanny stylistic choices have gone by the wayside. Sometimes, choices like this can save a band or open new avenues that we have never seen before, but this is just not the case. This might be a good album to listen to while you are trying to sleep, or even better at 3 a.m.

The instrumental choices sometimes border on elevator music, especially on tracks like “Star Treatment”, and reach for a spooky feel but just never get there. The songs are boring, which sinks this album lower than mediocrity. Missing guitar riffs, power and sexuality have been traded for spacey, fluid lyrics and weak instrumental choices. It’s just so far from 2013’s AM that Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is massively disappointing.

Listen for yourself: Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

2. Fall Out Boy – M A  N   I    A[Island; 2018]

By Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor

The kerning of the album title already hurts my head—and so does the majority of the album. As forgettable as the songs are on M A  N   I    A, they are also memorable as to how unlistenable they are. Patrick Stump’s vocals without a doubt improve exponentially every year, but the album’s over-processed production takes away from the quality of his talent. Guitars are featured ornamentally on a few select tracks, and anyone would believe it if you said they no longer have a drummer. To this day, Pete Wentz still has to look pretty on stage, as his basslines don’t add much to the generic pop formula. While Fall Out Boy still manage to attract a sizable crowd with their catchiness, “Hold Me Tight or Don’t” is an off-brand “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran, and “Young and Menace” is just an electronic mess of all sorts. If you want to redeem your ears, a re-recording of a demo from the Folie a Deux days (“Lake Effect Kid”) is the only good thing they’ve done this year.

Listen for yourself: Fall Out Boy – M A  N   I    A

Read the full review for M A  N   I    A  here.

3. Migos – Culture II, [Capitol; 2018]

By Jon Fuchs, Music Director

Through hits like “Bad and Boujee” and “T-Shirt”, Migos helped Atlanta become one of the most notable cities for new rap artists, and 2017’s Culture is the album that helped them achieve their worldwide success. However, Culture II is a complete mess of a sequel, containing 100 minutes of underwhelming trap rap clichés that are unbearable to listen to. Sure, there are some good bangers here and there such as “Stir Fry”, the Drake collab “Walk It Talk It” and “MotorSport” (the sole evidence of peace between Cardi B and Nicki Minaj), but the remaining 20 songs on the album really demonstrate 2018’s issue with extremely long rap albums. In a time where rappers putting out two-minute-long songs is considered completely normal, and with the attention spans of hypebeasts shrinking by the minute, albums like Culture II feel like the textbook definitions of complete overkill.

Listen for yourself: Migos – Culture II

Read the full review for Culture II here.

4. Justin Timberlake – Man of the Woods, [RCA; 2018]

By Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor

Listening to this album again instantly catapulted me back to the week I reviewed it, and I immediately remembered why I tried to lock those memories away. Justin Timberlake is a poser. He sings about being a “man of the woods” when he has spent significant amounts of time in boybands and performing at the Superbowl. The best tracks are the first two, “Filthy” and “Midnight Summer Jam”, and even those aren’t great tracks. The tracks have problems with both length and production. There are tracks where Timberlake refers to sex organs as “your pink and my purple.” Plus he breathes like he has sleep apnea, and it’s so horribly unsexy. When he does hit a moment of sincerity, it is breached by the uncomfortable message that it sends to the listener, that “men shouldn’t cry.” The whole thing feels canned and inauthentic which dooms the album from concept into execution.

Listen for yourself: Justin Timberlake – Man of the Woods

5. Sun Kil Moon – This Is My Dinner, [Caldo Verde; 2018]

By Lane Moore, Staff Writer

At this point, frontman Mark Kozelek is like the incredibly strange family member who shows up to family reunions. His behavior is more strange every time the family hears from him. No one knows what he’s going to do next, and no one trusts him around children. On This Is My Dinner, Sun Kil Moon have created an amalgamation of manic thoughts and confusing stories that intersect without cause or warning.

Making that worse is the droning, uninteresting instrumentation that supports Kozelek’s nonsense. A perfect example of the record’s absurdity is the track “Linda Blair”. Kozelek mimics a little girl’s “demonic cough,” gurgling and growling into a microphone for 30 seconds before he eventually decides to talk about boxing, his ancestry, songs he hates, songs he likes and some of his friends – all in one 12-minute song. This is not the Sun Kil Moon album we asked for, and it’s definitely not the one we needed.

Listen for yourself: Sun Kil Moon – This Is My Dinner

Read the full review for This Is My Dinner here.

6. Nicki Minaj – Queen, [Young Money / Cash Money; 2018]

By Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor

Nicki Minaj knows how to make an album, but this ain’t it. Queen, Minaj’s fourth album, is over an hour long and feels like it. Although the album is significantly more rap-oriented than her previous albums, Minaj relies too much on shock value than actual quality. The beats aren’t anything we haven’t heard before, the lyrics aren’t wildly creative, and each song runs about a minute longer than it should. The best tracks are the collaborations, and even those aren’t that good. There is too much filler, and the best tracks are aided by Ariana Grande (“Bed”) and The Weeknd (“Thought I Knew You”). The beats don’t grind hard enough, and the best verses aren’t hers, which is a shame because it makes her a guest on her own album.

Listen for yourself: Nicki Minaj – Queen

7. Drake – Scorpion, [Young Money / Cash Money; 2018]

By Kwase Lane, Staff Writer

After dropping singles like “Nice for What” and “God’s Plan”, it would have been a safe bet to think 2018 was Drake’s year. It kind of was, too. But that was before Pusha T attacked and Drake dropped Scorpion. This project is emblematic of the weaknesses of one who many call hip-hop’s best. Drake is by no means a bad musician, but he isn’t a stranger to filler either. That’s exactly what Scorpion is too, an uninspired mess of an album, spanning an hour and thirty minutes, with only about a sixth of that time being well spent. This isn’t really new for him either, it doesn’t feel like Drake’s been at his best since his 2016 project Views. If you want to waste about a sixteenth of the day, listen to Scorpion. For people who have better things to do, though, just wait for the next big Drake song to pop up on the radio.

Listen for yourself: Drake – Scorpion

8. Basement – Beside Myself, [Fueled by Ramen; 2018]

By Lane Moore, Staff Writer

On Beside Myself, Basement transcend pop-punk and create a new genre of rock: pop-punk elevator music. This record is more one-dimensional than its album art, and saying that “it leaves listeners wanting” is an understatement. It is 39 minutes of the same power chords, pop-punk strumming patterns and melodies. On “Disconnect” and “Be Here Now”, the band strives to create powerful anthems, but their self-loathing, as shallow as it is, somehow manages to drown in its own self.

Though this record is overwhelmingly bleak in its bone-crushing monotony, it manages to break free from this on “New Coast” and “Right Here” due to some more varied songwriting. Enchanting as it may be, “Changing Lanes” is mostly just a minute and 25 seconds of acoustic guitar and sweet melodies that prepare the listener to be bored for another 15 minutes. “There is no sense in hiding from honesty,” so it’s safe to say that Basement missed the mark here.

Listen for yourself: Basement – Beside Myself

Read the full review for Beside Myself here.

9. Panic! At The Disco – Pray For The Wicked, [Fueled by Ramen; 2018]

By Devon Hannan, Editorial Director

To be fair, nobody really expected Pray For The Wicked to bop. However, for little pop-punk and emo dweebs everywhere, we were really holding out for a miracle.

With overly-produced vocals layered over poorly constructed pop beats, this record is a musical-esque dumpster fire. For lack of a better comparison, this damn record was made for the choir kids who wouldn’t stop singing the Wicked score in homeroom before the morning announcements in high school. While those kids don’t deserve to be bullied, this record sure does.

At the end of the day, Brendon Urie’s mid-2000s staple turned one-man-band has become a project that he is just too emotionally invested in to let go. With that being said, Pray For The Wicked lacks the ingenuity and energy found in A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out; and if we’re being honest here, nobody really wants anything other than that. This album is just not 2005 enough. However, it isn’t 2018 enough, either.

Listen for yourself: Panic! At The Disco – Pray For The Wicked

10. Lil Yachty – Lil Boat 2, [Capitol; 2018]

By Jon Fuchs, Music Director

Although Lil Boat 2 wasn’t necessarily a bad album from Lil Yachty, there’s still a lot to be expected from a sequel to a mixtape that has such a strange and specific sound. Thanks to production from names such as The Good Perry, Lil Boat truly sounded like nothing else coming out of rap music today and helped shape the future of SoundCloud rap for the next few years. But with Lil Boat 2, Yachty decided to make some of the most basic songs of his career. There’s no denying that there are a handful of decent songs on the album, like “OOPS”, featuring 2 Chainz and K$upreme and “she ready”, the PnB Rock collab. But everything else about it is underwhelming, and nothing about the album is deserving of the name it has.

Listen for yourself: Lil Yachty – Lil Boat 2

Read the full review for Lil Boat 2 here.

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