5 Disappointing Albums of 2018

5 Disappointing Albums of 2018

Examining five albums that truly underwhelmed the music world.

By: Exile Staff

Photo by Ryan McGinley

Photo by Ryan McGinley

The music world is a hype machine.

Anticipation builds with every teased single, every rumored release date, every vague viral marketing attempt, and every year that passes with no new music from the artist. Hype is a tough thing to build without past success, and most disappointing albums follow a smashing debut record that blew up the music world.

It's not easy living up to such high expectations. Some artists get diagnosed with Second Album Syndrome, simply crumbling under the pressure of meeting these expectations. Others go completely off-script, knowing they will never meet the same success. Oddly enough, some artists try to repeat their success by doing the same thing over again. 

2018 has shown a blend of all of these disappointments thus far. Some aren't even bad albums, but due to the hype they garnered, were shockingly underwhelming.

Sit back, relax, and prepare to be disappointed. 

5. Kanye West 


June 1, 2018


Kanye's eighth album arrived two years after The Life of Pablo, debuting (unsurprisingly) at #1 on the charts across the board. There are flashes of classic great West moments, but at a thin 23-minutes, its realization is abbreviated. Even with its short run time, there is filler.

It's not a masterpiece, but its not completely a failure. Its middle-of-the-roadness ultimately makes it a disappointment, considering the historical brilliance of its author. Combined with some cringe-worthy moments and a laughable album cover, Ye under-delivers on what could have been a landmark record. 

4. Hot Snakes 

"Jericho Sirens"

March 16th, 2018

Hot Snakes formed at the tail-end of the 90's, creating a brash and distinctive brand of post-hardcore. After three albums, the band broke up in 2004, and until 2017, they stayed that way. That year, the band reunited and announced they would put out a record in 2018 via Sub Pop. 

14 years of anticipation may have blinded some critics. Nostalgia is a tricky bias, but the album titled Jericho Sirens is plain and at times very difficult to get through. Although its production value is pristine, the album offers very little substance, and Jericho Sirens suffers from repetitive ideas. Hot Snakes was unable to refresh their sound from the early 2000's and translate it into a modern success.


3. Franz Ferdinand

"Always Ascending"

February 9th, 2018


A big old meh. Carving out a career spanning a surprising 14 years already, Franz Ferdinand has managed to stay somewhat relevant. There are some decent moments on Always Ascending, but in the end, it's a bit too safe, a bit too plain and ultimately completely forgettable.

The "Take Me Out" days seem like a distant memory, and while the band does get points for some experimental attempts, they seem to have lost steam. This leaves the band with the difficult question of, "now what?"

2. Justin Timberlake

"Man of the Woods"

February 2nd, 2018


With a music star as big as JT, expectations are almost always going to be difficult to match. Only his fourth studio album since his legendary Justified record dropped in 2002, Man of the Woods was released to almost no reception at all. Sure, it went to an obligatory #1 on the charts, but considering the status of the artist, the album barely made a splash.

Combining a folk-country sound with electro-funk, some bits are hard to get through and Man of the Woods ends up being surprisingly bland. Dressing up in flannel to be the man of the woods feels like a phony effort, and at best, a really bad idea.

1. Arctic Monkeys

"Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino"

May 11th, 2018

Arctic Monkeys- Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino.jpg

A shock. After five long years of silence from the band, the Arctic Monkey's dropped the oddest left-turn heard in years. How did Alex Turner convince the group this was the right direction to go?

Their previous release in 2013, AM, was one of the biggest rock albums of the year, propelling them to star status and near saviors of good ole rock n roll. Instead of building on it, they released a bloated snoozer. 40 minutes of the same casino rap cabaret sound, same tempo, same drunk sounding Alex Turner lyrics dressed up as meaningful and thought-provoking. Where do they even go from here? The album is absolutely exhausting, lacking any signature moments or elements to keep the listener's attention for longer than a few seconds.

Tranquility is sluggish, uninspired, and downright painful. The overall malaise of the album is enough to put anyone to sleep, and while one could argue a pat on the back for a new creative effort, this effort was not worth the wait.


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