Well, the century that historians will painfully refer to as "2018" is coming to a close - freakin' finally - and I'm still of the same opinion as back then about my own nomination: Leather Teeth by Carpenter Brut (whom I introduced in the HM2 OST spotlight post) is IMO head n' shoulders above the fray, and the year's best album in the synthwave/retrowave genre.
Very quickly, Carpenter Brut is a French bloke in his 30s (but also a band when rocking out live with an extra guitarist n' drummer during tours) who's been composing, mastering and releasing for most of this decade excellent synth-heavy music that aims for an 80s aesthetic/sensibility, but with the benefit of contemporary production values and audio quality.
After concluding a previous trilogy of works that arguably made him one a household synthwave act (assuming that's a thing), early this year he took the first step towards a new one, centered around the idea of a soundtrack for an imaginary american 80s action-thriller movie; think highschool cheerleaders, jocks, nerds, and a fledgling serial killer in the mix, that sorta thing. In that sense, Leather Teeth's tracks are the background to the first, more carefree act about the killer's origin story and "first steps," affording CB the freedom to occasionally stray from the pounding/menacing/somber tone many of his previous tracks had taken and to even experiment with lyrics in a few places.
Even with the dual caveats that his competent mastering has always pushed against the sub-peak bar (never crossing it), and that the 2 tracks with lyrics are the album's low point, IMO kinda inane and best skipped on repeat listens, this is arguably Carpenter Brut's best n' most varied work to date, and also an ideal introduction point to synthwave for any electronic genre fan not familiar with it. Give it a try, or at least Track 7 (Hairspray Hurricane) to see the kinda vibe it's rocking .
Split tracks on BandCamp for quick skipping below:
Whole album on a single YT vid here.