20. PINKPANTHERESS- TO HELL WITH IT
Early twenty-something British singer-songwriter and producer who blew up last year on Tik Tok. builds short songs out of recognizable hooks from nineties and early 2000’s dance music. Simultaneously innovative and nostalgic.
Best Tracks- I Might Apologise; Break It Off
19. LANA DEL REY- BLUE BANNISTERS
Second full-length release of 2021, “Blue Bannisters” affirms Del Rey’s status as one of the most prolific and important singer-songwriters of our new decade. Less conceptual and more free-wheeling and loose than her other recent albums.
Best tracks- Dealer; Textbook
18. JULIEN BAKER- LITTLE OBLIVIONS
Third album by another stand-out young singer-songwriter in her mid-twenties. “Little Oblivions” shows Baker beefing up her sound to that of a full band even though she plays nearly every instrument. It may be a slight step down from “Turn Off The Lights”, but it’s still a consistently rewarding listen.
Best tracks- Ringside; Song In E
17. THE WEATER STATION- IGNORANCE
Fantastically gorgeous album of jazzy, synth-driven indie music focused on environmental catastrophe and the absolute beauty of our natural world. Includes late-period capitalism take-down “Robber”, one of the best songs of 2020.
Best tracks- Robber; Atlantic
16. JAZMINE SULLIVAN- HEAUX TALES
Thirty-minute concept album about love and sex, sung by R&B vocal phenom Sullivan, with spoken interludes from various women who embody the subjects of each beaux tale. Includes stand-our tracks “The Other”, “Lost One” and “Pick Up Your Feelings”
Best tracks- Pick Up Your Feelings; The Other One
15. THE WAR ON DRUGS- I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
Fifth album by Philly rock band who have quietly become one of the most consistently quality rock bands of the past decade. TWOD continue to reappropriate the sounds of eighties boomer synth-rock (think “Tunnel Of Love” and Dire Straits among others), with more focus than before on tightly constructed songs and melodies.
Best tracks- I Don’t Live Here Anymore; Living Proof
14. ADELE- 30
Fourth album release by the biggest artist in music today. “30” finds Adele transforming her life in the wake of her recent divorce. It’s her most sonically ambitious and musically varied album to date and should generate tons of radio airplay for years. Adele remains as heartbreaking but relatable as ever.
Best tracks- To Be Loved; Oh My God
13. LOW- HEY WHAT
Previous album “Double Negative” was a huge musical about face by this long running slow core indie dup institution. “Hey What” continues in the same vein and while it lacks the thrill and shock of the new of its predecessor , Low are able to find fresh angles and sounds and once again seem to capture the sociopolitical zeitgeist of the moment.
Best tracks- The Price You Pay (Must Be Wearing Off); Days Like These
12. LITTLE SIMZ- SOMETIMES I MIGHT BE AN INTROVERT
Fourth album by UK female rapper who has long been bubbling just under most people’s radar for a number of years. “Introvert” looks like it has blown her up bigger than before, at least critically where she topped a pile of year end lists, while receiving accolades from her heroes like Lauryn Hill and Kendrick Lamar. Little Simz struggles to balance her public persona with her private self raising relatable questions on the nature and problems of fame.
Best tracks- Woman; I Love You, I Hate You
11. Billie Eilish- HAPPIER THAN EVER
Second major label album and follow up to Grammy sweeping “hen We Fall Asleep Where Do We Go”. “Happier” lacks a world conquering hit like “Bad Guy” but may be an even better overall than it’s also great predecessor. The wildly talented Billie and brother collaborator Finneas are one of the most unique and best musical voices of the modern era. Features 2020 hits “Therefore I Am” and “My Future”.
Best tracks- Therefore I Am; Billie Bossa Nova