The 10 Best Albums Of 2021
The best of this year's recordings rated across genres.
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The diversity of music is pretty much as vast as life itself, so we decided to list the best albums of 2021 across different genres, whether it's pop, electronics, rock, punk rock, or even metal. And there's been plenty to choose from.
Great recordings were brought to us this year by Halsey, St. Vincent, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo, for instance, Kaleo, Kings of Leon, The Black Keys or John Mayer have matured like fine wine, and Steven Wilson, Idles or Deafheaven have experimented with their sound in the most surprising ways. The question is: which albums were the most memorable and hitting?
10. Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club
Ah, Lana knows how to win our hearts, no doubt about that. Dreampop wails have always been her forte, so on her latest record she played safe and it worked again. The 36-year-old goddess from New York is no longer just a singer, but also a pop culture icon. Her work combines kitsch, irony, cynicism, bohemianism and feminism. She's not afraid to show her gentle side, but also use the f bomb when necessary.
Chemtrails Over the Country Club is, as usual, a unique image of America. Lana's music with a characteristic touch of melancholy and nostalgia has a miraculously calming effect once again. At the same time, she thoughtfully refers to Hollywood classics. She will take you to smoky country clubs in the farthest corners of the country and to the shiny and most luxurious places in Los Angeles.
According to Rolling Stone, the latest release of the pop star doesn't contain such hits like her previous Norman Fucking Rockwell! album, but it's just as sharp and far-sighted. And even though it may be mundane and monotonous at first hearing, you'll discover something new with each hearing. At the very least, this album proves that there's still beauty in simplicity. If you need to unwind after a hard day at work, this album will be the perfect choice.
9. Tash Sultana – Terra Firma
If you don't happen to know this 26-year-old multi-instrumentalist from Australia, who makes all of the music herself, you should fix it right away. Tash records guitars, keyboards and drums with a looper and she can also play the trumpet.
She first dazzled the world with her hits Jungle or Notion, later debuted with Flow State album in 2018 and released her second studio album through Lonely Lands and Sony Music Australia this year. Terra Firma is an ode to freedom. The longer it flows, the more it grabs your attention and is guaranteed to eventually transport you to a completely different dimension. Also thanks to the fact that Tash Sultana simply - like it or not - disarms you with her radiant charisma and breathtaking talent.
This time, she allows the listener to look even deeper into her soul. According to the British music weekly NME, on this album the singer presents extensive statements with her heart wide open. She sings, for example, that even without money, a person can be happy, and she tells us that the thing she fears most is the voice in her head.
8. Biffy Clyro – The Myth of the Happily Ever After
The Scottish trio, made up of Simon Neil (vocals / guitar) and brothers James Johnston (bass guitar) and Ben Johnston (drums), takes you on a wild ride on the scariest carousel in the amusement park. They laugh in your face, spit on you, but at the same time they welcome you when you're at your worst and comfort you. Biffy Clyro has been one of the less prominent alternative rock bands for many years, but also one of the best, without a doubt.
The Myth of the Happily Ever After is their ninth studio album and was released by American label Warner Records. If it doesn't scare you, it'll definitely captivate you with its originality, ferocity and sophistication. At the same time, compared to their older things, it surprises with innovation and experimental elements.
Eleven songs will offer you intimate ballads as well as hard and dynamic rock bangers with sharp, bold and provocative lyrics that are bound to get you off your chair. You'll love A Hunger in Your Haunt, Existed or Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep the most.
"One of The Myth Of The Happily Ever After’s core ingredients is the patience with which it reveals its secrets, the length of time it takes to uncover its priceless artefacts. Here, song structures are subverted, arrangements are constructed with forensic care, while the level of creativity is unsurpassed. Many months from now, it will still retain the capacity to surprise, and excite," wrote the prestigious British weekly Kerrang.
7. Rise Against – Nowhere Generation
The ten-member band from Chicago has returned to the top ten years after the Endgame album after failures such as The Black Market (2014) and Wolves (2017), with quality hits that are sure to be absolute bangers at live concerts. Many fans in the crowd will be out breath.
Nowhere Generation is an authentic statement with sharp and somewhat sentimental texts. Uptempo, great work progression and emotional voice of the frontman Tim McIlrath. It's extremely joyful to once again feel and hear that they still have that fire and enthusiasm in them and know how to handle it right. Great album that can be classified as one of their best work to date.
6. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – Carnage
Every time Nick Cave releases new music, it's a holiday. Why? Because he's an artist with his entire body and a soul, whose deeds always enrich us and broaden our horizons. His music is soothing and disturbing at the same time, sad, yet euphoric. After last year's ingenious recording Ghosteen, in which the singer coped with the tragic death of his son, you can feel the urgency and pain in Cave's voice again. It's still a different album, however.
The Australian singer, along with his longtime companion Warren Ellis from the band The Badseeds, swerves between minor and major tones effortlessly, and invites you into a whole new world with no rules, to set you free from everything you've known. To rid you of fear, he'll grab you by the hand and guide you through all the pitfalls and alleys whenever you won't be sure if you want to go any further.
Forget the sequence style - chorus - style - chorus - bridge - chorus. Cave's music doesn't succumb to any of that, it's absolutely unpredictable. It tells completely different stories and it flows in a different time, in another direction. Gloomy, colorful and experimental like Jackson Pollock's paintings or surreal like the best works of Salvador Dali. The analogy with images may seem pointless at first, but all you have to do is close your eyes, use your imagination and you'll understand. Carnage caresses the soul in an unprecedented way.
5. Adele – 30
Wow, what an album! A very personal, intimate confession that's heartbreaking at times. Adele doesn't hide her tears from us and shares her most painful memories, such as divorce from her husband. She embraces vulnerability, doesn't hide anything, and in her songs she advises you to do the same. The end result is absolutely worth it.
Songs like Easy on me or Oh My God are much more mature than the played out Hello or Rolling in the Deep. After listening to this album, you'll feel like bursting out of your chair and screaming "bravo" on top of your lungs. Adele went through a very tough transition, but obviously it did her good. She got it all out.
Adele sounds like never before - fresh, bold, but at the same time extremely fragile and vulnerable. The singer herself described this record as the most personal in her career so far. Pitchfork called the album her most ambitious to date. "Here, she’s telling a more unexpected story about love: What it means to inflict that pain on your family, to rebuild yourself from scratch, and—big exhale—to try to love again," they wrote.
4. Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
Fantastic. The quartet from London recorded an absolutely stunning album with a brilliant atmosphere. In addition, it's a fascinating and original mix of genres. Furious punk, rap verses, dreamy, gloomy shoegazing vocals, dark electronic elements and also pop hits. The recording was released by the independent British label Dirty Hit.
The Guardian wrote that the band used their broad influences to explore the extremes of alienation, and Blue Weekend tells a convincingly lived-in story of embracing nihilism following the rupture of friendships and romantic relationships. According to the newspaper, the band's latest album is adventurous, ambitious and human enough to remind you why they used to be so essential. They even placed it at the top of the list of the 50 best albums of the year.
3. Mastodon – Hushed and Grim
If you want to get your blood rate up and recharge your batteries at the same time, listen to this album. Qualitatively it even surpassed Gojira, which currently reigns supreme in the waters of progressive metal. The band Mastodon really made it this year. Their eighth studio, album Hushed and Grim, is an almost 90-minute gem, which stands out among the best that's ever been created in this genre.
Bringing incredibly playful, at times crazy melodies, imaginative harmonies, jaw-dropping compositional techniques, and extremely powerful lyrics (Teardrinker or Had It All are spectacular). If you thought the Atlanta band had nothing to offer after their previous albums, you were wrong. They've outdone themselves once again and demonstrated captivating virtuosity in absolutely every track.
The best metal album of 2021? Without a doubt. As Rolling Stone magazine rightly points out, it's also the most moody album with a substantially gloomy atmosphere and ballads.
2. Foo Fighters – Medicine at Midnight
Dave Grohl has always had an enviable talent for creating timeless hits that will probably be bumped by our great-grandchildren. This is also made clear on his latest, already tenth album. It was released on February 5th through RCA and Roswel at the occasion of the band's 25th anniversary. Based on the first singles Shame Shame, No Son of Mine or Waiting on a War, you'd expect it to be a powerful work that all musicians involved cared about enormously.
Loudly howling guitars, juicy solos, courage and emotions, Grohl shouts, even barks passionately into the mic, but it still feels like the rockers have moved on and left their comfort zones again. The frontman of the band revealed in an interview with NME that he wanted to try something new, so he decided to make a "party album" with his buddies.
"A lot of our favourite records have these big grooves and riffs. I hate to call it a funk or dance record, but it’s more energetic in a lot of ways than anything we’ve ever done and it was really designed to be that Saturday night party album," said the 52-year-old musician and former member of the legendary grunge band Nirvana.
1. Jungle – Loving in Stereo
Two British magicians, Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, will make you move again, even if you're in the worst mood. Loving in Stereo is an ethereal, elemental, self-confident, fascinatingly unified album, and it's actually perfect, no lie. Tracks like Talk About It, All Of The Time or What D'You Know About Me? are definitely bound to be on heavy rotation, and you won't stop having fun for a second.
Jungle virtuously connects old classical music with contemporary and they always surprise with something new. On their latest recording, you hear spring reverb, funk rhythms, catchy choruses and various, original arrangements. Loving in Stereo is simply a forty-minute orgasm in the ears and undoubtedly the album of the year.
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