• Brad H

THE 40 BEST ALBUMS OF 2021

*In my humble subjective opinion of course :)



Does the order of these really matter? NO! But I guess it's a bit rough but as you go down I do enjoy them a bit more. Also yeah that's all the albums in the picture above, do you recognise more than a few of them though? Uh, fair play if so, but if not read on my friend!


Check out my favourite top 10 best EP's here


Check out some honourable mentions here


Check out some more albums I liked but didn't make the arbitrary Top 40 for arbitrary reasons


And finally maybe check out my 51 favourite songs of the year 2021


But, uh, you can stay on this article first it's the best one I think :)

 

40)

Bicep - Isles

Genre: House


UK electronic duo Bicep make very nice house music. This sophmore album from them is a collection of, what is indeed, very nice house music. To me it feels like a more subdued evolution of their dancefloor ready debut, which of course is fitting to be released in a year largely absent of dancefloors being open.


It's very consistent, has a brilliant flow between songs and is for sure to perk up your ears at a few points per song. Often calming, yet still very danceable.


 

39)

Men I Trust - Untourable Album

Genre: Dream Pop


Surprised released this year with no prior singles, Men I Trust return with their sophmore album, arguably their first proper album, as their 2019 debut Oncle Jazz was a large collection of 24 songs including many reworked singles. Untourable Album is more modest in comparison, but shows the band still has more to prove.


This is a bit more melancholic and perhaps even a chiller album than their pervious work, mining the sleepier edges of the dream pop genre to make for an album of what I associate with late summer malaise. The trio work incredibly well together, making a very pleasant record. There's even some surprises like the track 5am Waltz which sounds a bit like something Boards of Canada would make, and convincingly so!


 

38)

Employed to Serve - Conquering

Genre: Metalcore


UK based metalcore band Employed to Serve are a pretty exciting voice in the genre right now, offering some technical and hard-hitting tracks. With a mix of male and female vocals, as well as a set of mostly everything you'd need out of the genre to start a moshpit going.


This is some of their heaviest stuff yet and we're at the point in culture where we can look back at groove metal and nu metal, take the best parts of each and tastefully insert it into something new and forward thinking. Conquering is definitely a great metalcore album in a year which wasn't slacking on great metalcore releases.


 

37)

Mom - Owari No Caricature

Genre: Japanese Indie / Hip-hop


Japanese artist Mom makes hip-hop music that seems distinctly his own, kind of a blend of indie-pop and hip-hop to make for a very fun project. It's also very Japanese so I kinda don't understand what's going on but the production is great, the vocals are infectious and a lot of this is so sunny I found myself listening to it a lot.


There's great variety across the record and generally this is something that if it wasn't for the language barrier, I feel could be massive in the indie scene. Many wonderful, creative moments throughout.


 

36)

Pond - 9

Genre: Psychedelic Pop


Pond have been making quality music for quite a while, but for me I've been finding that they're getting better with each new album, now on their ninth effort, 9, which is the first album in a while to not be produced by Tame Impala's Kevin Parker. I found this to be possibly their most consistent record front to back, there's always a few tracks on each Pond record that get me going, but here things are pretty exciting from start to finish.


Nick Allbrook's lead vocals are for sure a highlight with a sort of glam-rock swagger. While the band have skirted between rock and pop before, the poppier tracks here are definitely some of their freshest sounding stuff in a while, like Pink Lunettes which is very infectious and danceable.


 

35)

Spiritbox - Eternal Blue

Genre: Metalcore


After showing incredible promise and bubbling under in the metalcore scene for a few years, 2021 was where the three piece group Spiritbox released their first complete body of work and, for me, it definitely lived up to the hype. Female fronted metalcore bands aren't particularly common, let alone bands that are pushing such a fresh sounding take on the genre.


It's fairly varied as well, offering tracks that are more technical, more atmospheric or simply straight up bangers. Vocalist Courtney LaPlante is what keeps this a great listen front to back with such an assured vocal performance.


 

34)

Sematary - Screaming Forest

Genre: Experimental Hip-hop


This was the year I dived into the bizarre work of Sematary, who makes a a particularly odd brand of hip-hop which is essentially Chief Keef style drill mixed with spooky witch-house production, often blown up to comically distorted levels (as seen in his other 2021 project Rainbow Bridge 3 - which I think might just be a bit too overdone with a long track list, but still a fun album).


Screaming Forest is one of his more appetizing projects, it's a good starting point for Sematary and also works as a showcase for his crew of collaborators. What he's doing is pretty novel, absolutely not for everyone and I can really respect that he's produced such a unique sound for himself and his crew.


 

33)

CHAI - Wink

Genre: Japanese Indie-pop


A new album from previously scrappy garage j-rock band CHAI is a turn into something fairly sonically different, but nonetheless charming because of it. This collection of indie-pop and smooth R&B tracks are very comfy and fun to listen to. This is a very happy band and their music sounds joyous because of it. Lots of quirks and a consistently pleasant mood make this one of the easier, but still vastly interesting listens of the year.


Cool little surprises like a slick feature from rapper Ric Wilson and the very danceable track ACTION. It's a great indie-pop record and if you class it as j-pop, it's definitely not your typical j-pop album.


 

32)

Injury Reserve - By the Time I Get to Phoenix

Genre: Experimental


Rap trio Injury Reserve were making some of the most fun and fresh sounding hip-hop that was dancing around the edge of the mainstream, until tragically one of their two rappers Groggs passed away in 2020. So it's perhaps surprising to hear that such a hell turn of an album was envisioned and mostly completed before his death. This sometimes barely even feels like it's hip-hop, the production from Parker Corey is out of this world, eerie and chaotic.


Performances from the rappers Ritchie and Groggs often feel more like warped spoken word passages. It's definitely unlike any other hip-hop album and I think it transcends the genre to becoming something fully experimental. For that reason it's not particularly accessible, but also unlike anything else you'll listen to from the year of 2021, and art like that definitely deserves celebration.


 

31)

Parannoul, Asian Glow & sonhos tomam conta - Downfall of the Neon Youth

Genre: Shoegaze


A collaboration between three artists who had a breakout year in 2021 with solo records, but this combination of the three seems the chief pick of all their output to me and a good starting point as you can pick the moments you like best and go from there to solo efforts. Primarily it's a mix of shoegaze, lo-fi indie rock and blackgaze metal from two South Korean artists Paranoul and Asian Glow as well as Brazillian sonhos tomam conta.


It's a pretty exciting mix of genres and features many ambitious tracks which crossover the talents of the three artists to make for one of my favourite shoegaze-adjacent records of recent years.


 

30)

Lone - Always Inside Your Head

Genre: Electronic


UK electronic producer Lone returns with his first full-length project since 2016 and I think it's one of his very best. Leaning away from the bounciness of his acid house and breakbeat output, and instead providing something more laid-back, but still hugely detailed.


The electronic soundscapes on show are a very fun mix of styles but mostly with a downtempo vibe. I thought this had some of his very best tracks on and generally the album is a wonderful little trip to but on both in the background and for active listening. One of the most lush and detailed electronic albums of recent years for sure.


 

29)

Small Black - Cheap Dreams

Genre: Synth-pop


Small Black emerged as an underrated act in the 2009-2012 'chillwave' movement. Since their last record in 2015 there's been less of an spotlight on that sort of synth-pop and so it's somewhat refreshing to have this late summery album filled with lush and understated production across the board. For me, this captures a certain atmosphere, a sort of just past sunset, warm summer's night and that's a fun feeling for the record to inhabit.


It might just be their best record to date and hardly feels redundant despite how much the 'chillwave' genre got ran into the ground across the '10s. Also whew what a nice album cover, the album definitely sounds how that cover looks.


 

28)

Sega Bodega - Romeo

Genre: Electronic


Electronic producer and song-writer Sega Bodega's new album has a bizarre concept, that being the record is a chronicle of his relationship with a girlfriend who's made up of pure light (as seen on the album cover). Don't think too hard about that though as deceptively this has some of the most moving and genuine songs I heard all year, in amongst some stunning production and just moments that you will not hear anything close to on another album.


Switching from oddball electronic tracks to more subdued and honestly written ballads, this is a brilliant album to sit through and one that has numerous highlights outside of the album's thematic context.


 

27)

Dltzk - Frailty

Genre: Glitch Pop


An incredibly cathartic 'glitch pop' record from 17 year old(!) producer and song-writer. It's an emo record by ways of someone who clearly grew up listening to the early '10s EDM boom, with artists like Skrillex, Porter Robinson and so on feeling like influences on the production.


But it's the level of personality put into the glitchy pop production and interestingly fresh ways of self-expression that make this album such a blast. There's a bunch of young artists somewhere along the 'hyperpop' movement making interesting new takes on pop, but I think Dltzk's album (his second of the year as well!) was the one that showed the most personality and exciting production choices that were determined to stray from more mainstream pop conventions.


 

26)

Erika de Casier - Sensational

Genre: R&B


This ode to '90s and '00s R&B oozes confidence and still manages to find time to look to the future. Erika de Casier's taking the best of what worked from the golden age of top 40 R&B and combining it with soft, but assured vocals and some fun ideas for songs.


The smoothness on show and warmth attained from both the beats and Erika's voice make for a pretty brilliant series of songs. I'm not usually one to usually fall so hard for R&B records but I loved this one and will be eagerly awaiting whatever Erika does next.


 

25)

Deafheaven - Infinite Mass

Genre: Shoegaze


Deafheaven's pivot into making pure shoegaze, rather than the more novel mix of black metal and shoegaze: 'blackgaze', is one that I think was well chosen. While not as novel as their earlier releases, the more direct focus on shoegaze is impeccably well produced and still features some of their metal roots amongst the blissed out guitars.


Mostly this is a great listen as to how amazing it sounds, a real testament to the production to have this shoegaze sound so polished and yet not without its trademark fuzzy edge. A lot of songs build up to killer finales, often bringing in some of the screaming that previous Deafheaven releases were reknowned for in a quieter, but still powerful setting.


 

24)

Chief Keef - 4NEM

Genre: Hip-hop


Chief Keef's first project in almost three years, newly independent and seemingly motivated to experiment, 4NEM ranks among his best work. While initially gaining fame at 16 years old for his 'Chicago drill' style of rap, this takes influences from his past work as well as introducing new flows, new production choices and lovably silly lyricism to make for a very creative and banging album experience. From the triumphant intro of Bitch Where I was absolutely hooked.


It definitely was nowhere near my radar that Chief Keef would randomly drop one of his very best albums in the year of 2021, but thank god my radar sucks because this was one of my favourite surprises of the year!


 

23)

Aries - BELIEVE IN ME, WHO BELIEVES IN YOU

Genre: Pop, Alternative R&B


Making fresh sounding pop music that's enjoyable and also strong enough in terms of both production and hooks to not appear out of place on the radio, Aries' self-made major label debut is a lot of fun. While ostensibly being the same brand of Post Malone style pop music that was on his summery 2019 debut record, this a massive step up in terms of how strong the production is, how catchy his hooks are and how consistent this record its. It delivers one of my favourite collections of pop music this year for sure.


 

22)

Surf Gang - SGV1

Genre: Cloud Rap


Up and coming New York rap collective Surf Gang presents a statement of intent with this collection of songs. The members of Surf Gang are numerous, though this project is centered around their pseudo-leader and main producer Evilgiane. This post-internet take on rap music which combines drill and trap and plug into a series of posse cuts with collaborators making the most of the novel production choices and chances to channel energy from each other's performances.


It's a good intro to the group's ethos, even if it will be hard to get a grip on who's rapping what and so on. While I would cop out and class this as cloud rap, surf gang sound pretty distinct and their DIY charm (despite this release being one of their most polished) makes for a great album and an exciting new voice in hip-hop.


 

21)

No Rome - It's All Smiles

Genre: Indie-pop, Alternative R&B


A smart debut album for No Rome, who focuses in on alternative forms of pop music and R&B to make for one of the most exciting pop records of the year, in terms of both production and song-writing. Experiments with noisy guitars and detours into trip-hop make this a fairly distinct album that leans on the past as much as it powers on into a new future. Lyrics on lovesick melancholy aren't new for No Rome, but are probably in their best instances here.


Highlights for me would be the shoegazed out Secret Beach, the fantastically produced trip-hop styled Remember November and a fantastic album close with Everything which is a delightful ode to psychedelic self-acceptance. No Rome took his time crafting this debut, but I think it was well worth the wait!


 

20)

nothing,nowhere. - Trauma Factory

Genre: Pop-punk


nothing,nowhere. was initially a very strong case for emo-rap, though his music always skewed more towards classic emo than rap, and his strengths lay in crafting great hooks and heart on sleeve lyrics than actual rapping skill. Trauma Factory is his big crossover record, combining emo, pop-punk and some light hip-hop elements to make for one of his best projects are certainly the most crowd pleasing.


Going from festival ready pop-punk adjacent bangers like fake friend and buck to a powerful emo closer with barely bleeding. This project really shows his versatility and powers to be an alt-rock star. It'll be interesting to see which direction nothing,nowhere. takes his talents in next.


 

19)

Silk Sonic - An Evening with Silk Sonic

Genre: Soul, Pop


Bruno Mars has a made a career out of making nothing but hits, and it’s somewhat refreshing to see his latest project is a joint effort with the considerably less mainstream Anderson .Paak to create some of the most breezy, fun throwback R&B and Soul of the year, of course with a pop tinge. I really like that this album has a sort of loose plot of a guy who falls madly in love, out of love, takes a detour to the casino and then finds hope again.


The chemistry between Mars and .Paak is excellent, especially shining on a song like Smokin Out the Window. It’s often genuinely funny, always catchy and the addition of the legendary Bootsy Collins as the album’s “host” just feels like the cherry on top. This is probably my favourite "mainstream" album of the year by a long shot.


 

18)

Porches - All Day Gentle Hold !

Genre: Indie-pop


A return to form for Porches who had a really good synth-pop album with his sophmore effort Pool. Two albums of varying quality later, we have All Day Gentle Hold ! which sounds like Porches main man Aaron Maine has loosened up a bit and is not afraid to get weird. And as such, this is a very fun and charming record! While sometimes it's silly, there's also a lot of genuineness behind the song-writing and his lyrical delivery can oscillate between flamboyant and heartfelt.


It's a very playful record and often surreal in a great way. It's a pretty short album, but one I revisited a bunch in 2021 and likely will in the future too!


 

17)

CFCF - Memoryland

Genre: Electronic


CFCF has been making an assortment of electronic music over the years, his previous album of liquid drum & bass was a curiosity for sure, but his latest feels like a nostalgic tour of some of the best electronic music of years gone by. This is quite the beast of a release considering the diverse sounds and strength of emulating certain sounds. While some might see redundancy in a song like Self Service 1999 deliberately feeling like a Daft Punk B-side, the isolated instance combined with all sorts of other novel sounds makes for a great album experience.


I thought this was excellent and full of life, it feels somewhat underrated considering how well produced it is, but I'm here repping for it at least !


 

16)

Remi Wolf - Juno

Genre: Indie-pop


Remi Wolf's brand of indie-pop really feels refreshing! Not just the infectious production but Remi Wolf herself is a very funny and honest song-writer. The album's got a wonderful flow to itself, filled with fantastic hooks that are made for chanting along to. It's very groovy and lightweight, despite some of the admirable honestly shining through the silliness of the record.


There's not many other records this year that instantly struck me as having such a fun personality to itself through both Wolf's persona and the fantastic indie-pop production that feels fairly distinct.


 

15)

SASSY 009 - Heart Ego

Genre; Electronic, Pop


Atmospheric electro-pop that feels pretty distinct in this "mixtape" from Norwegian pop artist and producer SASSY 009. Her lyrics invite us into her thoughts on contemporary love and its various pitfalls. While her singing is great and the lyrical content is often catchy and delivered well, the overall dreamy and sometimes moody atmosphere is what sets this apart from other pop albums.


t's leaning more into electronic than pop simply because there's no mainstream pop or even synth-pop that sounds like this at the moment. It's sometimes danceable and has a bunch of great production quirks to make this feel a bit alien. It's really cool!


 

14)

SeeYouSpaceCowboy... - The Romance of Affliction

Genre: Metalcore


An unflinching metalcore experience that marks the best thing SeeYouSpaceCowboy... have done since their inception. Brutal lyricism, unapologetically 'in your face' instrumentation and no shortage of killer breakdowns are present here. While often the genre and especially the '00s throwback might invite an idea that the lyrism is overblown melodrama, Connie Sgarbossa really puts her heart out on this album and it's sometimes harrowing and sometimes cathartic.


It's incendiary, but also has brilliant clean hooks and great personal subject matter to attach to the great metalcore compositions.


 

13)

Tyler, the Creator - CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST

Genre: Hip-hop


After unlocking his potential with the summery, lovesick album Flower Boy in 2017, Tyler, the Creator pivoted into making woozy R&B in 2019 with IGOR. CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST is Tyler's new attempt at making a great back to basics hip-hop record, one that's inspired by '00s mixtapes and hosted by DJ Drama, acting as hype man across the record. However, while it does pine for the past, the production and thoughtful lyricism offer something that a simple pastiche of that bygone era of hip-hop could've never managed.


Tyler's still not afraid to get introspective, to call out his critics or just to air out his problems. He is a wonderfully compelling character and this album features his best rapping and some of his sharpest production. All sorts of fun twists and turns appear as well like the R&B inspired WUSYANAME and a lot of the lyrics are funny and clever as per the par for Tyler.


 

12)

Iceage - Seek Shelter

Genre: Rock


Iceage were one of my favourite rock bands to emerge in the 2010's delivering amazing album after amazing album each which seemed to one-up the last. They really hit a stride with the deliriously anthemic Plowing Through the Fields of Love and after that with the excellent Beyondless. So their first album of the new decade is also great, continuing their run of great albums up to five in a row! This one has a different sort of anthemic quality to a lot of songs, with bigger hooks and some choruses that are made for chanting.


An inclusion of a gospel choir for backing vocals and a more optimistic set of lyrics set the band on a new path that feels like a natural antidote to the doom and gloom times we are living in. Frontman Elias Rønnenfelt’s vocal performance is also typically fantastic here, offering a sort of passionate delivery that not many other rock bands can match.


 

11)

Cochise - Benbow Crescent

Genre: Hip-hop


Cochise seems to be the definition of a singles artist, gaining his initial buzz of TikTok as most young artists do these days, but his 18 track album Benbow Crescent managed to carry his madcap energy for just over 40 minutes. This album is pure fun and a sugar-high back to front. Cochise, seemingly set free by the success of Playboi Carti's high-pitched "baby voice" and assortment of other weird flows, offers an album of all sorts of wacky tongue twisting with accompanying excellent production.


This has a lot of character and has a great flow, with certain shorter songs flowing really well into one another like the wonderful transition from Totoro to Usopp. It's pretty consistent, even if I can't make quite manage to enjoy the brief turn into making dancehall with the track Double much fun even if Cochie's vocal inflections are typically hilarious.


 

10)

Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend

Genre; Rock


I'd always enjoyed Wolf Alice's music, though they were the sort of band I'd pick out highlights from their album rather than slap the whole record on. This year is seemingly the year where they levelled up with the excellent concept record Blue Weekend. This is a record that really rewards a full listen and makes for a satisfying listening arc from fron to back. It features some good variety, with the best track in my opinion being Delicious Things which is excellently fuelled by frontwoman Ellie Roswell's curious whisper-singing which blooms into a fantastic chorus. Smile is festival ready and unashamedly so, with a massive chorus and great riffs. But it's also the more subdued cuts on the record that make it a pleasure all round, ending with a very pleasant shoegaze finale in The Beach II.


Wolf Alice have been a pretty prominent band in the UK for a while now, but this absolutely seems like the record that'll send them up to the next level, and rightly so in my opinion!


 

9)

Baby Keem - The Melodic Blue

Genre: Hip-hop


Baby Keem produced one of my favourite albums of 2019 with his project DIE FOR MY BITCH which was mostly kinda breezy and fun takes on trap music. But for his breakout new album he steps things up and it's immediately apparent from track one that he's going for something a bit more ambitious than his previous work. I think Baby Keem's rapping and twisty flows that often border into nonsensical territories are very fun, but he also ground his album with personal tracks and more low-key stuff than his more aggressively toned trap music of old.


While there's a bunch of nepotism discourse around Baby Keem, given that he is the young cousin of the world's arguably most talented rapper, Kendrick Lamar. I think it's clear despite influences from Kendrick, Kanye West or Travis Scott that he has a distinct path forward he can carve for himself and his versatility shown over different sorts of production shows this to be a breakout project for who may just well continue to be a rising star based on his current trajectory.


 

8)

Sewerslvt - we had good times, don't forget that

Genre: Electronic


There's all sorts of discourse around Sewerslvt, with a artist name intended to shock, edgy song titles and provocative visuals, it's sometimes a bit exhausting to declare yourself a fan of their music. But this "final" album from the artist is their best and also one of the very best electronic albums of the year, using a mix of genres and mix of ambience and banging noise to create a special cathartic experience.


After gaining popularity through the YouTube algorithm with some stellar atmospheric drum & bass, there's been various Sewerslvt projects and they began experimenting with other genres as time went on, with this final album being the endgame with all sorts of little experiments to make for the ultimate party at the end of the world, where the intensity is an experience.


 

7)

ERRA - ERRA

Genre: Metalcore


Sometimes you just need a series of absolute metalcore shredders and ERRA's self-titled 5th studio album is absolutely that. This is the band truly coming into their own, marking what I think is their best release by far. Just song after song with great breakdowns and mixes of more technical metal and all sorts of interesting ideas between songs, it's clearly a very creative album and powered by absolutely soaring choruses, detailed instrumentation and unclean vocals that sound absolutely incensed when combined with unrelenting metalcore instrumentation. It's just great track after great track.


 

6)

JPEGMAFIA - LP!

Genre: Hip-hop


JPEGMAFIA has cemented himself as one of my favourite artists working today and once again his new album, his fourth studio release, is an absolute belter. His glitchy electronic leaning production sounds unlike anything else in hip-hop right now, and he's not a one-trick pony. Listen to this compared to his previous albums and while there's similarities, this has a distinct sound. He's rapping his ass off as usual, though with some autotuned R&B detours, and he's sounding as confident as ever.


The full version of the album available on bandcamp runs at 20 tracks and almost an hour, but it flows so well. The production was constantly making me turn my head and the rapping was great front to back. JPEGMAFIA is for sure one of the most consistent and exciting voices in hip-hop right now and I can't wait for more.


 

5)

The Armed - ULTRAPOP

Genre: Hardcore Rock


What is the future of rock music? Is it dead? Is it dying? NO! The Armed have the answer and the future of rock music is LOUD, NOISY and CACTHY, but not necessarily in the way you might expect. This album is a blast as pure and exhilarating as they come. Maximalism personified as an album. A combination of hardcore rock, noise rock and most interestingly pop, as alluded to in the album title.


Beyond the vast noise and wealth of breakdowns there is a stunning melodic quality to a lot of these tracks, not to mention some really strong lyrics that capture a punk ethos. It's cathartic, shockingly catchy at times and largely just a very exciting record. Loved this one and it's the peak for The Armed so far, will be great to see where they go next!


 

4)

For Those I Love - For Those I Love

Genre: Spoken Word, Progressive House


This is something quite outside the (arguably pretty large) bubble I listen to, a spoken word album over progressive house music. There’s nothing else I can think of that’s come out in recent years that sounds like this, and perhaps it’s because I’m a genre tourist, but this just feels excellent and unique. For Those I Love is the project of Dublin based artist David Balfe, which is primarily spoken word poetry and spoken word passages over some pretty fantastic sounding house music.


Balfe provides engaging delivery and a very personal touch to the songs, and if that’s not for you, the instrumental version of the album is readily available and features some of the best house music of the year. Though I think his spoken word passages have real weight to them and palpable emotion, encapsulating nostalgia and current strife in the world. Sometimes it feels like he’s spitting venom, while at other points he’s getting lost in a dream. Really something special for sure.


 

3)

Turnstile - GLOW ON


Genre: Rock, Hardcore


Turnstile have gotten themselves something special here. The hardcore band was previously best known for a killer live-show, but often that's hard to translate into studio recordings. But with GLOW ON they try a bunch of new things to form a hugely gratifying album experience. Not only are there a whole bunch of songs here that absolutely ROCK, but they smartly integrate interludes and dreamy segments, including a couple appearances from UK singer-songwriter-producer Blood Orange that you'd never expect to see in a hardcore record, but it works incredibly well.


A lot of this feels like rock music for a dance floor, but without sacrificing much of the power behind the riffs and hardcore energy. The vocal performances from Brenden Yates feature many anthem worthy moments and killer hooks. It's a very positive album that is also a ton of fun, for somebody who's big into hardcore or never even tried the genre before. A wonderful crossover record.


 

2)

Magdalena Bay - Mercurial World

Genre: Synth-pop


I was not aware of Magdalena Bay until this year and specifically this album put me onto them, and boy did I find out that I missing out hard. Though even backtracking through their already promising discography, this debut album is clearly their breakthrough. Front to back this is just a joy, excellent synth-pop with silky vocals and entrancing production. Some of the transitions between tracks are so smooth it's unbelievable. This is just impeccably sequenced and put together to make for a really outstanding synth-pop album experience. I don't really think there's been a time since Grimes' Art Angels, of which some influence can be heard on this album, has a synth-pop album been so exciting to me.


While the "hyperpop" movement and semi-mainstream artists like Charli XCX have been making great pop music, I feel like something so unassumingly traditional, yet forward thinking in both production and lyrical choices has been lacking in the pop landscape. I think Magdalena Bay offers something truly excellent here. A proper album experience that also you can just take your pick of any song and it's of enough quality to be a single. Outstanding work from the duo!


 

1)

Porter Robinson - Nurture


Genre: Electronic


My favourite of the entire year has to go to Porter Robinson's grand return with Nurture. Back when I was in secondary school, that was the peak time for EDM, and one artist in particularly I enjoyed for a more novel sound in the genre was Porter Robinson back with his hit single Language. This direction was continued on his first full-length album Worlds, which at the time of release one one of my very favourite albums (though back then I had barely listened to anything of note). SEVEN YEARS LATER, we are back with the second Porter Robinson and for someone like me who has been eagerly awaiting a follow-up for all this time, it's amazing that Nurture not only is good but also (for me at least) holds up to the insane level of expectations and hype that a long-gestated release can garner.


I'd be happy with whatever direction Porter had taken, but this seems like the natural evolution of his style employed on Worlds, only way better! A great mix of life-affirming electronic anthems, which feature Porter on vocals for the first time, often masked with effects but the sincerity of the lyrics can still be felt due to their heart on sleeve nature. Front to back this album has a sunny vibe, though often having a melancholic tone to balance out the radiant positivity of songs like Look at the Sky or Musician. The singles are all great, but the deep cuts leave room for interesting experimentation and weirder IDM-esque experiments that feel novel and cool.


 
Thanks for reading xo
 


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