If you’re a music and/or data nerd, journalist Rob Mitchum’s annual spreadsheet compiling the albums on every publication’s year-end lists is fascinating. Long before the Village Voice‘s Pazz & Jop poll comes out, you can see, mathematically, where the critical consensus is landing.
In 2018, most names in the upper echelons came as no surprise if you follow music journalism. But, to me, one name near the top stood out: IDLES. Though near the top, this British punk band appeared on far fewer publications’ year-end lists than the likes of Kacey Musgraves or Cardi B. But here’s the thing: When IDLES did appear, they ranked high. In fact, their album’s average year-end-list ranking was higher than anyone else in the top 50. They were either in someone’s top ten, or not there at all.