Albums of the Year 2021… It’s been another great year of new albums, so here’s a list of some of the best, chosen by our team!
Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
Blue Weekend is the follow-up to 2017’s, Mercury-prize winning Visions Of A Life, a record that cemented the bands position as one of the UK’s most exciting bands. Now, with Blue Weekend, Wolf Alice have become one of the most vital bands in the world. The record features “The Last Man On Earth”, “Smile”, “No Hard Feelings” and “How Can I Make It OK?” and reached number one on the UK official album charts.
Chosen by: Parisa, CS, Nicola, PABuy Tickets
Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Chosen by: Jez, Ticketing and Joe, ProductionBuy Tickets
Dave – We’re All Alone In This Together
NME said: “Always ready to tell the hard truths for those who can’t, Dave has proved again that he’s a voice of a generation, sitting pretty atop his peers when it comes to making unforgettable London rap classics.”
Chosen by: Paris, PromoterBuy Tickets
Foo Fighters – Medicine At Midnight
Medicine at Midnight’s release ends the wait that was first kicked into high gear last year with the Mainstream Rock/Rock Airplay #1 ‘Shame Shame’ and bludgeoning “final f**k you to 2020” (UPROXX) ‘No Son of Mine’, and more recently the epic ballad to cathartic scream of “Waiting on a War.” While anticipation has built exponentially with each new track, early critical notices been amongst the most enthusiastic of the band’s 26 years in the game.
Chosen by: Carl, MarketingBuy Tickets
The Killers – Pressure Machine
NME said: ‘Pressure Machine’, their second record in the space of the year, is a fascinating, character-driven record. Where their last record reached celestial heights, lockdown brought frontman Brandon Flowers back down to earth, prompting a period of reflection of his origins. The topics touched upon are specific to Flowers’ hometown in Nephi, Utah – where he spent his parts of childhood and teenage years – but will resonate with anyone whose hometowns have been hit designed with similar plights: economic hardship, dwindling opportunities, substance abuse and the personal squabbles that spread like wildfire through tight knit communities.Buy Tickets
The Coral – Coral Island
After nearly two decades the ideas pool in a telepathic air around the gathered members of The Coral and nothing is off the table. Quite the opposite. How far can they push the tolerances of their own creativity? To which of the furthest reaches will their audience follow them to and, once fulfilled, which ambition will lead them onto the next?
The telepathic air remains thick with ideas and in 2021 the band becomes a republic and masters of their own Coral Island, their new, thematic, double album. “The idea of Coral Island started as a place where our ideas could come together,” says James Skelly, while Nick Power adds: “It’s based on a sort of false nostalgia. We’ve created an adult world that’s been rewired through a child’s eyes.”Buy Tickets
Olivia Rodrigo – Sour
CLASH said: “Indeed, what’s revelatory on ‘Sour’ is the sheer breadth Olivia Rodrigo can occupy. Only three singles deep into her career, she’s able to move from the glorious torch song atmospherics of ‘Happier’ – a piano-pounding song of regret – to the blunt, half-spoken slacker pop of ‘Jealousy, Jealousy’.”
Chosen by: Alice, Marketing and Jess, PABuy Tickets
Inhaler – It Won’t Always Be Like This
Inhaler released their highly-anticipated debut album It Won’t Always Be Like This through Polydor. The album went to No.1 in both the UK and Irish album charts. The Irish quartet are one of the most exciting bands to emerge over the past few years and It Won’t Always Be Like This lives up to their thrilling potential. Singer and guitarist Eli Hewson, bassist Robert Keating, guitarist Josh Jenkinson and drummer Ryan McMahon have made a record that captures their evolution from exciting upstarts to refined songsmiths. It takes in a dazzling array of sonic textures, where huge, hooky choruses perfectly meld with intricate, dynamic instrumentation.Buy Tickets
Seb Lowe – Half-decent
The debut mini album ‘Half Decent’ by Oldham’s Seb Lowe is one of the most lyrically cutting edge albums you’ll hear in 2021. Seb Lowe first started to gain a following after posting short snippets of his songs on TikTok during lockdown and has since supported the likes of DMAs and Baxter Dury since lockdown restrictions were lifted.Buy Tickets
Self Esteem – Prioritise Pleasure
Featuring the acclaimed singles ‘I Do This All The Time,’ ‘Prioritise Pleasure’, ‘How Can I Help You’, ‘Moody’ and ‘You Forever’, Prioritise Pleasure is a remarkable step up from Rebecca Taylor’s 2019 debut Compliments Please and sheds light on important issues around female autonomy, comparison culture, self-doubt, heartbreak, sexual assault, comparison culture and self-accepatance, comforted and counter-balanced with an array of rhythmic flourishes that speak to the eclecticism of her experience and influence.
Chosen by: Kara, Press
Pond – 9
Featuring the vacillating psych-rock jam ‘Human Touch’, blissed out album track ‘Toast’, the elastic hipped robo-funk single ‘America’s Cup’ and the high energy, no-wave lead track ‘Pink Lunettes’, on 9, Pond recaptures an anarchic sense of uncertainty and fly closer than ever before to the creative supernova that has blazed across so much of the band’s music.
Chosen by: Lucy, VIPBuy Tickets
An Overview Of Phenomenal Nature – Cassandra Jenkins
Pitchfork said: Filled with people, stories, and dialogue, the New York songwriter’s second album flows like an emotional breakthrough, tying together disparate observations into a serene and unified vision.
Chosen by: Johnny, Press
Architects – For Those That Wish To Exist
The album focuses around the role humans play in our world, and what the future of our planet looks like, and features guest vocals from Winston McCall (Parkway Drive), Simon Neil (Biffy Clyro), Mike Kerr (Royal Blood) and Liam Kearley (Black Peaks).
FTTWTE earnt the band their first UK #1 album (and even got a nod from Elton John!). If you’re into rock, metal or hardcore this album is absolutely worth listening to.
Chosen by: Jess, VIP
Sault – Nine
The Guardian said: “Throughout Nine, Sault double down on this vinyl crate-digger vibe: a rolling break here combined with an unexpected Beatles tilt there. The electronic Afro-funk of ESG or Tom Tom Club still looms high in the mix, as it has on all Sault’s records, but there are songs here – such as the lovely Bitter Streets – that recall, of all things, French chanson.”
Chosen by: Joe, Production
IDLES – Crawler
On CRAWLER, the group bring to life vivid stories of trauma, addiction and recovery with their most soul-stirring music to date. There are, of course, numerous moments that will inspire absolute mayhem in a packed concert venue this autumn, like the warped glam rock of “The Wheel,” the 30-second grindcore slap to the head of “Wizz” and the unhinged, pulverizing bass-and-drum groove of “The New Sensation.” But there are also fresh textures and experiments that push IDLES into thrilling new territory, like the alternate universe marching band anthem “Stockholm Syndrome” and “Progress,” a “mantra of realisation” that soothes both body and mind in a way few IDLES songs ever have before.
Chosen by: Jess, PABuy Tickets
Tyler the Creator – Call Me When You Get Lost
Pitchfork said: “With DJ Drama in tow, Tyler thrives in the realm of the rap mixtape, which allows him great freedom to explore every facet of his talent as a producer, writer, and vocalist.”
Chosen by: Emma, Ticketing
JPEGMafia – LP!
Line of Best Fit said: “In all of his bluntness, JPEGMAFIA is a relatively obscure presence within the underground of hip-hop. However, there’s one thing made certain regarding the enraged Baltimore rapper — he’s a disruptor.”
Chosen by: Sophie, DigitalBuy Tickets
Joy Crookes – Skin
Skin touches on topics such as mental health, relationships, and politics all with grace and sensitivity. Joy Crookes has created what can only be described as a truly special body of work that is both perfectly of the moment, and entirely timeless.
Chosen by: Eleanor, Marketing
Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under
Though in relative terms Seventeen Going Under is coming under two years after Hypersonic Missiles, Fender’s songwriting is lightyears ahead here. Musically, the songs are far more nuanced, more detailed and more textured than before. Be it the plaintive piano blues of Last To Make It Home’s closing-time regret, the modal strings that swirl around the Levellers’ pounding confusion or the enormous boom and crunch of Long Way Off’s state of the world address. There’s a far wider scope of sounds and styles on display here. The deftness with which Fender incorporates them is dazzling.Buy Tickets
The Script – Tales From The Script
Tales From The Script compiles all of the biggest hits and fan favourites from their six albums so far. It highlights the classic cuts from the trio’s catalogue, taking in the likes of the #1 smash ‘Hall of Fame’ (featuring will.i.am) and the Top 10 hits ‘The Man Who Can’t Be Moved’, ‘For The First Time’ and ‘Superheroes’. It also includes landmark moments and staples of their live show including ‘Breakeven’, their debut single ‘We Cry’ and ‘Rain’.Buy Tickets
Coldplay – Music Of The Spheres
NME said: “Instead of hunkering down in glitchy sci-fi sounds and noodling electronics, Coldplay (with the help of Swedish hitmaker Max Martin on co-production) do what they do best. The album is full of soaring pop melodies that take you high enough to enter orbit and touching sentiments that makes the universe around you glow ever brighter.”Buy Tickets
Oh Wonder – 22 Break
This tumultuous and deeply personal time in their private lives is the subject of Oh Wonder’s fifth studio album, 22 Break. Written almost autonomously in their home studio, the songs that form it are messages about their true feelings, expressed before they were able to find the words to say to one another. It’s a brutally honest and powerfully beautiful album, and one that lets listeners into the Oh Wonder fold like never before. As Josephine puts it: “We were just writing songs. We had no idea we were writing a break-up album.”Buy Tickets
Greentea Peng – MAN MADE
MAN MADE feels like the perfect presentation of Greentea’s world. Meditative, experimental, thought-provoking, medicinal, trippy, humorous, and brimming with rich and varied influences.Buy Tickets
Little Mix – Confetti
Confetti gave Little Mix their 6th ‘Top 5’ album and included the #1 single ‘Sweet Melody’ which has reached over 200 million streams worldwide.Buy Tickets
Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
A combination of non-fiction and fantasy. Eilish steps out into the limelight as one of the most treasured, talented and intricate songwriters of her generation. Weaving razor-sharp wit, everyday observations, secrets and escapades, all-the-while exploring what it is to be a complex human being, navigating the modern world. Listeners will be left enchanted and captivated by this new chapter, as she delivers her rawest, most confessionary work to date.Buy Tickets
Royal Blood – Typhoons
Four years on from their critically-acclaimed How Did We Get So Dark? Royal Blood returned with Typhoons this year which went straight to #1.Buy Tickets
Weezer – Van Weezer
Kerrang! said: “Van Weezer still represents Rivers’ most timeless collection of songs since, well, whenever the fandom last agreed on such things.”Buy Tickets
Maluma – #7DJ (Seven Dias En Jamaica)
NME said: “The Colombian icon draws on joyous Jamaican sounds with a respectful homage that could get your abuela up and going (if she’s really down with the kids).”Buy Tickets
Anne Marie – Therapy
The new album is a collection of songs that embody Anne-Marie’s characterful artistry. Self-effacing attitude and beautiful honesty; attributes that have not only catapulted the Essex-born to platinum status in the UK to the USA and everywhere in-between, but ones that have seen her reign supreme as a fearless Gen Z role model.Buy Tickets
Leona Lewis – Christmas With Love Always
Christmas With Love Always is a special, repackaged release for Leona’s 2013 studio album, Christmas, With Love. Perhaps best known for its lead single, ‘One More Sleep’, an original song that saw Leona break the record for most Top 5 hits for a British female solo artist. It features original songs and Christmas hits, including Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’.Buy Tickets
Brett Young – Weekends Look a Little Different These Days
Country Swag says: “Reflecting on his own life and its recent changes, Young delivers some of his most authentic and honest music yet in his 8-track collection, Weekends Look A Little Different These Days.”Buy Tickets
Scotty McCreery – Same Truck
Featuring the Top 5 single, ‘You Time’, Same Track is Scotty McCreery’s 5th studio album.Buy Tickets
Flatland Cavalry – Welcome to Countryland
After years of hot trotting across their native Texas, the country outfit is primed for a breakout with the release of their third full-length album. The sonically sprawling and wistfully written Welcome To Countryland.
Countryland isn’t a cut and paste effort with Nashville studio musicians. Rather, it finds the rootsy Texans delivering their A-game due to countless tour runs zig-zagging across the country and becoming seasoned performers and musicians.Buy Tickets
Hailey Whitters – Living the Dream
On the 17-track Living the Dream, Hailey Whitters collaborates with those who helped give her a boost: Little Big Town recorded her song “Happy People”; Brent Cobb and Jordan Davis took her on the road; songwriters Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna mentored her; and her hero Trisha Yearwood inspired her.
“Realizing your dreams is relative. In a lot of ways, I feel like I’m on top of the world, but I’m also still wearing my grubby old blue jeans and driving my crusty 15-passenger van,” Hailey says. “I hope there are always goals that seem a little unattainable, because it’s the process of getting there that really is the embodiment of ‘living the dream.’”
Albums of the Year 2021