Exclaim!'s 31 Best Albums of 2021 So Far

Exclaim!'s 31 Best Albums of 2021 So Far

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30.

St. Vincent - Daddy's Home
May 14, 2021
Critic Score
84
36 reviews

While Daddy's Home may not be her best record, it's a bold and rewarding one. And if what we expect from our artists is art — uncompromising, singular, sometimes clumsy and rife with feelings or stories both understandable and not —  then few comprehend the exchange quite like St. Vincent.

29.

Zao - The Crimson Corridor
April 9, 2021
Critic Score
92
2 reviews

28.

McKinley Dixon - For My Mama and Anyone Who Look Like Her
May 7, 2021
Critic Score
88
4 reviews
Dixon's storytelling shines throughout this whole album. He not only has a compellingly verbose and, at times, boastful rapping style, but he also wields an impressive level of lyrical complexity.

27.

Yu Su - Yellow River Blue
January 22, 2021
Critic Score
79
3 reviews
Tying ambient soundscapes, borderline IDM and subtle snapshots of traditional music into a coherent, yet distinctive, body of work, this auspicious debut forecasts a promising future for Yu Su.

26.

serpentwithfeet - DEACON
March 26, 2021
Critic Score
82
28 reviews

Under a charmingly simple exterior of love and passion lies powerful depth and expertise. DEACON's memorable songwriting and jovial themes compellingly manifest Wise's affable side.

24.

Dorothea Paas - Anything Can't Happen
May 7, 2021
Critic Score
81
6 reviews

Try to image Joni Mitchell fronting Shellac at a coffee shop and you might get some idea of Anything Can't Happen's beautiful tension.

23.

J. Cole - The Off-Season
May 14, 2021
Critic Score
74
9 reviews

The Off-Season — an earnest return to blood, sweat and ink — doesn't need much more to hit like swish.

22.

TiKA [] - Anywhere But Here
February 26, 2021
Critic Score
80
2 reviews

21.

The Armed - Ultrapop
April 16, 2021
Critic Score
82
10 reviews

ULTRAPOP is a beautiful storm, dense, monstrous, vital, and aching to break free.

20.

Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee
June 4, 2021
Critic Score
86
26 reviews

Jubilee isn't about pushing the pain away; rather, it's a validation of whatever it is you feel. Zauner wants you to know with this record that you have the capacity to find joy in whatever mess life throws your way.

19.

Cadence Weapon - Parallel World
April 30, 2021
Critic Score
76
2 reviews

Though the music of Parallel World is powerful, the message is infinitely more so.

18.

Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime
May 21, 2021
Critic Score
84
19 reviews

Afrique Victime is a decidedly Tuareg expression, furthering the distinction that Mdou Moctar holds as one of the most exciting, innovative and provocative artists to emerge from the area.

17.

Gojira - Fortitude
April 30, 2021
Critic Score
78
16 reviews

If there was any doubt still about Gojira's potential, Fortitude proves unequivocally that the band are MVPs of modern metal.

16.

Vanille - Soleil ‘96
January 29, 2021
Critic Score
80
1 review

15.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!
April 2, 2021
Critic Score
81
27 reviews

Contrary to many email greetings from the past year, these aren't "unprecedented times," a fact of which Godspeed are well-aware. That's why they're business as usual on G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!, even if that's a mode they've typically before gone out of their way to avoid.

14.

Genesis Owusu - Smiling With No Teeth
March 5, 2021
Critic Score
84
18 reviews

13.

Squid - Bright Green Field
May 7, 2021
Critic Score
85
27 reviews
Here, they embrace vulnerability, taking time to address modern issues (read: symptoms of capitalism), while also imbuing a real sense of fun, artistic merit and instrumental democracy in the record's 11 tracks.

12.

Joyce Wrice - Overgrown
March 19, 2021
Critic Score
70
1 review

11.

Mustafa - When Smoke Rises
May 28, 2021
Critic Score
79
6 reviews

When Smoke Rises is a succinct and well-crafted album that serves to tell the story of Mustafa's pain, grief and loss in way that honours his unique voice.

10.

Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview On Phenomenal Nature
February 19, 2021
Critic Score
82
9 reviews
It's a near-complete reimagining of the New York songwriter's sound; an iridescent folk-jazz odyssey dizzyingly rich with detail and craft. At only seven tracks, it feels as vast and accomplished as a record twice its length.

9.

Brand Of Sacrifice - Lifeblood
March 5, 2021
Critic Score
90
1 review

8.

Madlib - Sound Ancestors
January 29, 2021
Critic Score
77
12 reviews

Sound Ancestors is a mixed bag if ever there was one. It's funky, it's psychedelic, it's jazzy, dirty, clean, and mean. It's Madlib.

7.

Julien Baker - Little Oblivions
February 26, 2021
Critic Score
81
35 reviews

Little Oblivions is generous and giving; it's not only a public display of personal catharsis, but also an act of collective commiseration and an invitation to heal.

6.

black midi - Cavalcade
May 26, 2021
Critic Score
80
31 reviews

Cavalcade is an album of extremes, fluctuating between lounging wizardry and an angular, prog-rock nightmare. It's smart and well-calculated, expressing their range as musicians. Most importantly, it's the best path forward to keep speculators on their toes.

5.

DijahSB - Head Above The Waters
April 23, 2021
Critic Score
75
2 reviews

Head Above the Waters is soothing and satisfying — where their previous projects succeeded by speaking the truth about Dijah's problems, Head Above the Waters succeeds by being a cure in and of itself.

4.

Olivia Rodrigo - SOUR
May 21, 2021
Critic Score
78
20 reviews

Rodrigo has established her voice and showed listeners that she's not afraid to be vulnerable. SOUR is a strong debut that vividly illustrates the beautiful chaos of being inside a teenage girl's brain.

3.

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises
March 26, 2021
Critic Score
88
25 reviews

A recording that is more of a transcending mind meld than it is a collaboration.

2.

The Weather Station - Ignorance
February 5, 2021
Critic Score
85
23 reviews

Ignorance is a record in search of that silence. Across ten tracks of jazz-influenced, liquid-silver art rock, Lindeman grasps at the world thrumming just beyond our punishing screens and endless news cycles, beyond our emotional and physical walls.

Original Source: https://exclaim.ca/music/article/best_albums_of_2021_so_far
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