PopMatters' 50 Best Albums of 2021 So Far

PopMatters' 50 Best Albums of 2021 So Far

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Altın Gün - Yol
February 26, 2021
Critic Score
77
8 reviews

Yol proves Altın Gün’s versatility, reassuring listeners that the group can walk down many paths and still take us on a fabulous trip.

Andy Stott - Never the Right Time
April 16, 2021
Critic Score
73
7 reviews

Andy Stott's Never the Right Time may be the most inviting record in his catalogue, an entry point into his funereal sound-world. It's also one of his best.

Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark
March 5, 2021
Critic Score
83
22 reviews

Arab Strap's comeback album 'As Days Get Dark' stirs fond memories while making a quantum leap forward.

Bachelor - Doomin’ Sun
May 28, 2021
Critic Score
80
13 reviews

Alternately bitter and sweet but invariably vulnerable, Doomin' Sun is indie music at its most engaging, and Kempner and Duterte make a relatable pair.

Balthazar - Sand
February 26, 2021
Critic Score
76
3 reviews

With a turn toward loungey, jazz-inflected pop, Belgian rockers Balthazar hit a new career-high on Sand.

Basic Rhythm - Electronic Labyrinth
May 14, 2021
Critic Score
80
1 review

Bicep - Isles
January 22, 2021
Critic Score
77
22 reviews

Bicep's sophomore release Isles is much more grown-up and conflicted. However, this is not to the detriment of their characteristic eclectic abandon.

BIG|BRAVE - Vital
April 23, 2021
Critic Score
68
5 reviews

They have refined their sound into a powerful stormfront that strikes aggressively but with a gracefulness that welcomes the listener into the electrified space the band create ... Listen mindfully, and you may feel revitalized.

Black Country, New Road - For the first time
February 5, 2021
Critic Score
82
29 reviews

Black Country, New Road show us what a "rock band" or "rock outfit" can achieve on For the First Time. For those bands labeled as experimental, we now have an expectation and a new benchmark.

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

Throughout Cavalcade, Black Midi display superlative skills, fierce chemistry, and avant-garde vision, offering spellbinding performances while also, and perhaps inevitably, falling prey to sonic tautologies and circuitousness.

CHAI - WINK
May 21, 2021
Critic Score
77
20 reviews

Just as bubbly and sincere as any of the group's grittier work, Wink is unashamedly both fun and vulnerable, calls to self-love and social understanding embedded in peak pop musicianship and some of the year's catchiest melodies so far.

Cloud Nothings - The Shadow I Remember
February 26, 2021
Critic Score
77
18 reviews

Cloud Nothing's The Shadow I Remember caps a remarkably prolific 12 months for leader Dylan Baldi with a reminder about the possibilities for community that music can provide.

Dawn Richard - Second Line
April 30, 2021
Critic Score
75
12 reviews

Dawn Richard’s Second Line is a gorgeous record featuring fantastic, strange, esoteric sounds playing with house and club conventions. It’s a pioneering record and easily one of the best of the year.

Delgres - 4:00 AM
April 9, 2021
Critic Score
70
2 reviews
A cohesive and moving response to the forced migration of people of the Global South.

Django Django - Glowing in the Dark
February 12, 2021
Critic Score
78
24 reviews

A seemingly mix of contradictions that work wonderfully. The album is full of bright, poppy hooks as well as interesting, brainy sounds that make for a thrilling and engrossing listen.

Elkka - Euphoric Melodies
May 21, 2021
Critic Score
80
1 review

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

Perhaps it's reverence for the power of the expansive that makes Floating Points and Pharoah Sanders such a dynamic combination on Promises, their breathtaking collaboration.

Garbage - No Gods No Masters
June 11, 2021
Critic Score
73
29 reviews

Arguably Garbage's most political record, No Gods No Masters is simultaneously novel and familiar. It's a stark reflection of the recent overwhelming angst.

Genghis Tron - Dream Weapon
March 26, 2021
Critic Score
84
6 reviews

Genghis Tron turn 180 degrees from their metal past for one of the most breathtaking re-inventions in heavy music history on Dream Weapon.

Georgia Anne Muldrow - VWETO III
May 21, 2021
Critic Score
68
4 reviews

Goat Girl - On All Fours
January 29, 2021
Critic Score
79
26 reviews

What we have on Goat Girl's On All Fours are some hazy but deeply unsettling observations, carried along effortlessly on a bed of delirious voices, sailing over music quieter, slicker, and tighter than that on their debut.

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

The best record the Montreal Godspeed You! Black Emperor have put together since 2000’s Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. And that is no small feat.

Gruff Rhys - Seeking New Gods
May 21, 2021
Critic Score
82
18 reviews

Gruff Rhys' Seeking New Gods is another wonderfully adventurous, multifaceted, stirring, and all-around eternal collection from this psychedelic pop artist.

Hiatus Kaiyote - Mood Valiant
June 25, 2021
Critic Score
81
14 reviews

It’s effortlessly likable and rich with heart and soul.

Jane Weaver - Flock
March 5, 2021
Critic Score
82
16 reviews
This album is perfectly complete, hermetically sealed while suggesting any number of influences and reference points that never usurp the originality of the songs themselves.

Jupiter & Okwess - Na Kozonga
April 23, 2021
Critic Score
90
1 review

Lake Street Dive - Obviously
March 12, 2021
Critic Score
76
5 reviews

On their latest album, Obviously, Lake Street Dive once again make smart, soulful pop that hums along with the integrated precision of an Indy race car.

Liz Phair - Soberish
June 4, 2021
Critic Score
74
23 reviews

On Soberish, Liz Phair pens a collection of tunes that marry her candid musings with polished, accomplished California rock sounds.

Loraine James - Reflection
June 4, 2021
Critic Score
83
9 reviews

North London producer Loraine James finds romance and hope on her extraordinary album, Reflection. It’s a work of seductive, heartfelt brilliance by an artist at the peak of her powers.

MARINA - Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land
June 11, 2021
Critic Score
76
16 reviews

Marina re-embraces her inner strength and quite possibly creates her magnum opus with Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land.

Mariza - Mariza Canta Amália
November 20, 2020
Critic Score
83
3 reviews

Modest Mouse - The Golden Casket
June 25, 2021
Critic Score
72
19 reviews

Modest Mouse’s The Golden Casket is a lively and soulful return; one marked by a distinct sense of clarity and appreciation of life.

Paul Weller - Fat Pop (Volume 1)
May 14, 2021
Critic Score
77
16 reviews
Even if it doesn't wind up being one's favorite Paul Weller album, there's no way these songs will be leaving your head without a fight.

Pom Poko - Cheater
January 15, 2021
Critic Score
76
10 reviews

The sophomore release from Norwegian art-punk quartet Pom Poko is full of the same kind of sweet, distorted pleasures that made their first album so much fun.

Rochelle Jordan - Play with the Changes
April 30, 2021
Critic Score
83
4 reviews
A masterpiece of club beats, deep hooks, and sweet vocals. Like a post-millennial Donna Summer, Jordan brings warmth and passion to the icy synths and the tailor-made beats.

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

DEACON delivers on the fantastic promise that Wise's earlier work – most notably his debut LP soil – has shown. He brings a creative, eccentric, and intelligent sound to alternative soul.

shame - Drunk Tank Pink
January 15, 2021
Critic Score
79
28 reviews

Shame's Drunk Tank Pink emphasizes something that's become even rarer than a rock star: a legitimately exciting band.

Slayyyter - Troubled Paradise
June 11, 2021
Critic Score
80
3 reviews

On Troubled Paradise, Slayyyter strips the cynicism from hyperpop, invokes the best parts of the last generation of pop powerhouses, and fills the void in culture left by the last time Katy Perry went #1.

Sleaford Mods - Spare Ribs
January 15, 2021
Critic Score
80
22 reviews

Sleaford Mods' 11th studio album runs a glorious gamut from righteous anger to poignant introspection in a masterpiece of incisive cultural commentary and fully realized artistic vision.

slowthai - TYRON
February 12, 2021
Critic Score
76
33 reviews
He has responded to the global pandemic with an album that not only acknowledges but revels in the complexity and, yes, the ugliness of human relationships. But in response, he's made some beautiful music.

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

A shining, spectacular addition to her discography, one you had no idea you needed, in many ways a return to her old, Marry Me/Actor era sound with all the aural benefits of being post-Masseduction. This is St. Vincent in the '20s and she is glorious.

Tune-Yards - sketchy.
March 26, 2021
Critic Score
77
24 reviews

It's the artist's duty to sing and dance, teach and sermonize. Tune-Yards practice what they preach there, even if their conclusions may seem a bit... sketchy.

Vijay Iyer, Linda May Han Oh & Tyshawn Sorey - Uneasy
April 9, 2021
Critic Score
83
6 reviews

Vijay Iyer Trio's Uneasy is a set of modern piano jazz covering a remarkable range, featuring three brilliant musical imaginations playing well together.

Original Source: https://www.popmatters.com/50-best-albums-2021-so-far
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