ALBUMS OF THE YEAR- 2021
I feel like I say it every year, but this year it feels worth saying louder than ever. THESE ARE NOT THE BEST ALBUMS OF THE YEAR! There’s no way I (or I believe anyone) could write a list that could claim to be correct about that kind of personal, indefinable, impossible thing. There’s been too much music, and not enough time. Hell, the second I post my list I’ll probably stumble across another album that should’ve, could’ve made the cut. There’s also been too much terrible news, all of it so so loud.
As always though, essentially, new music makes its way past the news and the noise and the state of… everything.
There are so many records that emerged this year worthy of special mention- the rumbling, vital brilliance of Divide and Dissolve, the return of Thrice, the special something of Sour Widows, and the best work yet by The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, which is really saying something. But out of the albums I was stable and still enough to spend time with, below are the chosen few. These aren’t the BEST albums of the year, but these are my absolute favourites. These are the albums that punched me in the gut or pinched me in the heart. If i wasn’t so scared to go outside, these are the albums I would shout about in the street.
11 because Spinal Tap.
I hope you find something to love.
11. MAYBESHEWILL- ‘No Feeling Is Final’
An album of powerful post-rock, cinematic breadth, and, for having no lyrics, serious intent. Welcome back boys!
10. HALSEY- ‘I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God’
This, for me, sits in a slightly uncanny valley. Part of me wants to dismiss it as Halsey singing over the evil beats of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, rather than any true collaboration. But another part of me, the less stupid part, get swamped, gets sucked in, by cohesive, dark drama and near perfect pop.
9. FAILURE- ‘Wild Type Droid’
Despite the (I think) spacesuit on the cover, this is as close to Earth as Failure have ever sounded. Since their return from hiatus the legendary outfit have been on a wild run of form and this might just be the best part of it.
8. EVERY TIME I DIE- ‘Radical’
This record was finished before the pandemic even started but it feels tailor made to resist everyone’s annihilated attention spans. You can’t unplug in case you miss the next awesome thing.
7. MIDWIFE- ‘Luminol’
‘Luminol’ sounds like the fossil of some other album. In another time or maybe another universe it was recorded so you could hear every word. Here and now, it is warped and weird and covered in the dust of forever. I love it.
6. BOSSK- ‘Migration’
This is a record built to come back to again and again. ‘Migration’ will take you places.
5. GENGHIS TRON- ‘Dream Weapon’
I still think it should’ve been recorded under a different band name but, hey, maybe I should just get over that because every other damn thing about ‘Dream Weapon’ is pretty much perfect.
4. MOGWAI- ‘As the Love Continues’
An album that makes this list on the strength of the string section in the song ‘Midnight Flit’ alone. Its place cemented by a whole other world of sound created by a brilliant band near their best.
3. LINGUA IGNOTA- ‘Sinner Get Ready’
This isn’t just different than what Lingua Ignota has done before. I think it’s different than anything that anyone has done before. I don’t know how many more times I will want to listen to it, but I know it’s impossible to do anything else but listen while it plays.
2. TURNSTILE- ‘Glow On’
‘Glow On’ is spectacular. A damn near home run. Maybe not the shape of punk to come, but almost certainly the sound of punk right now.
1. PILE- ‘Songs Known Together, Alone’
You might have heard these songs before, but not like this. ‘Songs Known Together, Alone’ is a collection of re-imagined versions of songs from previously released Pile records, tracked live and solo by frontman Rick Maguire. You might have heard these songs before, but I have zero qualms about this album’s position here. In fact, its position here has been secured since the first time I heard it. I’ve had dreams about this album. I know, it’s weird. It’s also wonderful.
So, yeah, I want to shout about these albums, I want everyone to hear them as loud as possible, but really, mostly, I want to quietly say thank you to these albums, and to the people behind them, for getting me through 2021.
Kudos too to Miss Grit for releasing my favourite EP of the year, and to Black Wing’s ‘No Moon’ for the album that would’ve made the cut this year, except it actually came out last year.
Here’s to 2022. The future, man.