Best Albums of 2018
selected by 3 Swedish critics

Boys <BR> “Rest in Peace”

“Rest in Peace”

Nora Karlsson is also the drummer in the band HOLY. But Boys is just Nora and after almost a year spent with her debut album ”Rest in Peace” we can say that just Nora is more than enough. I like albums that takes me to other places, and I like albums that takes me from myself for a while. This album does it all. The strength is in the versatility, where every song stands for itself. But together they create something even more. I love the dreamy shimmer and I love when she makes it to a waltz and when she oscillates between a sweeping The Band-sound and pure psychedelic parts.

She puts her voice in the background even though the words should be in the front but that only makes you want to listen even more, and takes you closer to the music. Sometimes you just need to speak silently to be heard. The reason we put this as one of the best albums of the year isn’t only because of the songs. ”Rest in Peace” is a album as an album should be. You want to listen to it from start to end, not pick out parts or put it on random. You can’t divide a perfect jewelry. (Fabian Forslund, Que Club/beehype)

♪♫ Listen: “It is Silly” + album stream

Boys on Facebook.

ionnalee <BR> “Everyone Afraid to Be Forgotten”

“Everyone Afraid to Be Forgotten”

You may know her more as the creator and frontperson of the audiovisual project called “iamamiwhoami”. This project has been her focus area for the last nine years until now.

In the beginning of 2018, Jonna Lee released her debut solo-album titled “Everyone Afraid to Be Forgotten”. It’s a 15-track and self-produced album, which offers a range of all the spectacularism that surrounds ionnalee.

“Everyone Afraid to Be Forgotten” is the result of her own creative development. After some years of intense touring as the supporting artist for Röyksopp (besides the audiovisual project), Jonna felt the need to focus more on her own music and as a solo artist.

Her music is like a mythical potpourri of art, ambient-ish pop and electronic dance music. Two of the strongest tracks from the album are “Blazing” and “Not human”, although the entire album brings us different visions of her creative mind. (Lili Gustafsson, Popmani)

♪♫ Listen: “Blazing” + album stream

ionnalee on Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram, www.

Les Big Byrd <BR> “Iran, Iraq, Ikea”

Les Big Byrd
“Iran, Iraq, Ikea”

You could say that Les Big Byrd is a Swedish super group but that wouldn’t be the whole truth. Yes, the band consists of members from established groups like Teddybears, Ceasars and Fireside. And no, the band is so much bigger than just something fun on the side of the ”real career”. Les Big Byrd is important for the members and that shines through every part of the album ”Iran, Iraq, Ikea”.

Let’s begin with the title. It’s not a political statement about globalism and kapitalism, it’s only something the singer Joakim Åhlund saw on a tie in Berlin in the ‘80s, so nothing more than three little words. But the title makes you think, and it makes you think of other things than yourself and that feeling goes through the whole album. The melancholic mood and the long instrumental parts make you reevaluate most of the things in your presence. They mix English and Swedish and for me – as a Swede – I can only pity you guys who don’t understand the last and best song ”Mannen Utanför”. I often talk about things that are larger than life and this song is larger than all of the things you ever thought was larger than life. Listen to it, google the lyrics and then be grateful and thankful to the person next to.

Les Big Byrd has been around for a while on the Swedish scene but with this album they mark themselves superior to others. (Fabian Forslund)

♪♫ Listen: “Mannen Utanför” + album stream

Les Big Byrd on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Lykke Li <BR> “so sad, so sexy”

Lykke Li
“so sad, so sexy”

It’s been four long years for a new album from Lykke Li to come out, but in 2018 it finally dropped. Just as the summer began, her latest album “so sad, so sexy” was released on the 8th of June.

During that long silence, we heard that Lykke experienced a lot of difficulties and changes in her personal life, losing her beloved mother, and becoming a mother herself. You can tell that the changes have influenced her new music a lot.

The album still has that delicate nerve that is so specific to Lykke Li, melancholic lyrics and exquisite instrumentals. Though I have to say that with “so sad, so sexy”, Lykke feels empowered and so does the music feel to my ears: empowering. There is strength within all that sexy sadness and it hits you right in the heart.

If I were to describe her new album versus her earlier works with a somewhat pretentious metaphor, it would sound something like this: Lykke Li’s has evolved from a delicate dove into a nerve biting raven, in all its glory.

“so sad, so sexy” consists of ten amazing new tracks where each and every one of them tells a story. And in “two nights”, you’ll hear a guest rapper Aminé and a renewed trap-influenced Li. As for the title track, it was one of the strongest songs in the whole year within the Swedish music scene. (Lili Gustafsson)

♪♫ Listen: “so sad, so sexy” + album stream

Lykke Li on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Nord & Syd <BR> “80%”

Nord & Syd

Another band that, just like Les Big Byrd, consists of members from other constellations is Nord & Syd (North & South). And just like The Embassy they hail from another pop-epoch.

10-12 years ago the Swedish indie-scene was flooded by pop-bands with Swedish lyrics and one of the best bands was Vapnet with Martin Abrahamsson in the front. Vapnet died and Martin regrouped and launched the new band Nord & Syd in 2011/12. Together with the singer Julia Hanberg and some other members from bands like Laakso, they have continued to make classic Swedish indie with Swedish lyrics. This genre will never die but it depends on people who can carry it through hard times, and Martin is one of them.

The subjects and main theme is also classic indie-themes like giving up, the sense of futility and to accept that you’ll never be good enough. The title “80%” says it quite well. Don’t aim for 100%, it’s impossible. Settle for 80% and be pleased. The first song, “Åt helvete med allt” (“To hell with everything”) sets the mood athey mix social realism with a general feeling of alienation. The second track could be a sweet love song about friendship but starts off with the line “All of my friends are stupid in their heads” and that’s a quite good example of their awkwardness.

It is a very very gracious awkwardness though, because every single song on the album is well worth your time. (Fabian Forslund)

♪♫ Listen: “Stockholm” + album stream

Nord & Syd on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Sarah Klang <BR> “Love On the Milky Way”

Sarah Klang
“Love On the Milky Way”

In the summer of 2017 we wrote about Sarah Klang on beehype and her first two singles. After that things, have dramatically changed for her. A few more masterpieces and a perfect performance on national TV led forward to an album release in early 2018. Besides that, she won a Swedish grammy for best new artist, she went to SXSW and then played herself around all of Nordic countries.

There is a lot about Sarah Klang that I love, you have to mention her voice, but there is so much more to it. She got away to sing both flippant and purposive at the same time. She cares a lot, but doesn’t want to show it. It puts you in doubts and you pendulate between the great understanding and nothing at all.

Because let’s get honest, this kind of alt-country/popy-thing can be so boring and a good voice can take you a long way, but even the most beautiful thing can be boring in the end. So I never thought that it would hold for a whole album, but she delivers 36 minutes of perfection.

No one stands alone in this business and we should mention the great producer and writer Kevin Andersson who made this together with Sarah. And yeah, did I mention that it’s a debut album? Stunning! (Fabian Forslund)

♪♫ Listen: “Strangers” + album stream

Sarah Klang on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud.

Say Lou Lou <BR> “Immortelle”

Say Lou Lou

Say Lou Lou did a pleasant comeback in autumn when they released the long-awaited follow up to their debut album “Lucid Dreaming” from 2015. On their second effort entitled “Immortelle”, we meet a grander version of Say Lou Lou that is much different from the twins earlier music.

Some might say it’s too different from their earlier work, but I truly believe this transformation suits them better than before. “Immortelle” is a stunning and powerful collection of songs that challenge the patriarchy in a female skeleton of James Bond.

The songs are alluring and cinematic, in a highly compelling way and it unconsciously reminds me of prominent artists like Portishead and The Cardigans. With only seven tracks, the record might seem a bit short, but it is unquestionably compensated with masterpieces like the songs “Golden Child”, “Phantoms” and “All Love To Me”. (Elin Strömberg, Popmani)

♪♫ Listen: “Golden Child” + album stream

Say Lou Lou on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, www.

Taken by Trees <BR> “Yellow to Blue”

Taken by Trees
“Yellow to Blue”

When we listen to music we quite often find ourselves searching for more than just good music. We want something more, higher values and larger pictures. But sometimes we just need perfect pop that smells like luxury. Victoria Bergman a.k.a. Taken By Trees has been one of the most interesting acts on the Swedish scene for years (not only for the song ”Young Folks” with PB&J).

She often manages to balance the lush parts with the darker parts of life in a beautiful way. On ”Yellow to Blue”, she may have lost that balance a bit as it sounds a bit to much of Los Angeles and too little of something else. The production is neat and very trimmed, and while the best songs are really, in the long run the album gets a bit dull.

The question is if that really bothers me, because when I summarize this year I notice that I’ve streamed this album a lot. The reason is simple, I love the songs, and I love the album and I love when Victoria does whatever she wants. If she wants to be flat but luxurious she can be it because when she makes music it’s always worth listening to.

You can have it in the background, you can have it in your ears no matter what you do and you will always feel fine and happy. We need that kind of music too. (Fabian Forslund)

♪♫ Listen: “Vibrant Colors” + album stream

Taken by Trees on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud.

The Embassy <BR> “White Lake”

The Embassy
“White Lake”

The Swedish indie scene in the 2000s was something special, we can all agree on that and the Gothenburg scene was at its best with bands like The Tough Alliance, Air France and The Knife.
The Embassy hail from the same period and now, 16 years after the first album, they continue to deliver sweet pop sensations. It’s underground disco for the middle aged, but in a good way because people that where young back then still have to dance. I can’t think of anything better than the piano loop from The Embassy to nod your head from the back of the bar.

The album “White Lake” is a manifesto of the band members’ consistent will to never fall behind and be like everyone else. They have been a unique duo since day one, and they continue to be it. Not because they want to, it’s because it’s the only life they know. The way they mix classic house with disco, pop and some more dreamy parts is fantastic. For me, born and raised in Gothenburg, there is no larger group than The Embassy and this album doesn’t prove me wrong. (Fabian Forslund)

♪♫ Listen: “Wasted” + album stream

The Embassy on Facebook, Soundcloud, www.

Viagra Boys <BR> “Street Worms”

Viagra Boys
“Street Worms”

After two much-appreciated Eps, it was finally time for Viagra Boys to release their debut album. Named “Street Worms”, The Stockholm band’s first full-length consists of nine tracks produced by Daniel Fagerström and Pelle Gunnerfelt, also known for working with The Hives on their famous album “Tyrannosaurus Hive”.

For me, “Street Worms” evokes feelings similar to when you hang out with someone that’s not good for you. It just feels great and you’re probably not overthinking the situation. While you listen through the songs, you become a guest inside the frontman Sebastian Murphy’s head and the story that’s being told is just a twisted report of post-punk at it’s best. (Elin Strömberg)

♪♫ Listen: “Sports” + album stream

Viagra Boys on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud, www.