2021 Ranked

Every 2021 album that I listened to RANKED, based on personal opinion. (100+ albums)

(I added my original review for each album to their corresponding blurb.)

Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is one of the BEST RAP ALBUMS I have ever heard.
Black Country, New Road - For the first time
Black Country, New Road debut album is an absolute masterpiece! It's erratic, experimental, and the intense instrumentals, the creative song structures, the crisp production - they all work together flawlessly. A definite contender for AOTY 2021.
Parcels - Day/Night
What a magnificent album! Day/Night is effortlessly smooth, incredibly mesmerizing, and overall a highly enjoyable listening experience, front-to-back.

Disc 1 or the day part of the album is bubbly, bright in sound, and at moments unbelievably beautiful, such as the Disc 1 closer "Outside" which absolutely blew me away. The day part could represent many things, eg the optimistic child part of us, the masked extroverted exterior we display, the honeymoon phase of a relationship, a literal day part of our lives or something completely different.

Disc 2 or the night part of the album gives a neat contrast to what was heard previously. It's slower in tempo, gloomier, and more introspective. It could represent reflective nights, dreams, adulthood, our inner selves, hardships in a relationship etc. I enjoy disc 1 an inch more, but both are sublime and they complement one another well.

Day/Night flows seamlessly, it's coherent and it truly feels like a fully completed project. There's a large variety of crisp instrumentals which are only elevated by the impeccable production. I listened to the album 3 times in a row now and I can't get enough. 100% recommend!
St. Vincent - Daddy's Home
"If life's a joke, then I'm dying laughing."

That's what this album feels like. It's bold and inventive, crisp and entertaining, cool and abstract. A vividly colourful album filled with soul.
Injury Reserve - By the Time I Get to Phoenix
Dystopian, abstract, and experimental.

Does that instantly turn this into a 90+ record? No, but it's a very good and ambitious project regardless, displaying deranged atmospheres, melancholic lyrics, creative manipulations of rhythm, and overall painful confusion.

Also, to note, I would consider this more of a front-to-back listening experience, something like "A Crow Looked At Me", which you primarily consume as a whole to undergo a certain emotional ride. I won't be randomly bopping to "Postpostpartum" on a Sunday evening - dipping my toes, not jumping in, and moving onto something else.
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises
Dreamy, light and minimalistic. It took a little while for the album to connect with me but the more I listen to it, the more it does. I adore the delicate little touches that subtly appear and fade away, the recurring core musical idea which comes and goes like waves on a beach, the vibrant saxophone matched with atmospheric synths and electronics. A beautiful listening experience best enjoyed with your eyes closed, floating away.
Armand Hammer & The Alchemist - HARAM
Dreamlike eerie atmosphere matched with fluid transitions, trippy beats and MF Doom like smooth delivery. Impressive and well executed.
Villagers - Fever Dreams
Fever Dreams is a bright indie-pop/folk album displaying colourful palettes, diverse instrumentals, and light-as-a-feather atmospheres. At times, listening to it feels like cloud surfing in a lucid dream. And with every listen, there are new intricate details to be found. It's not perfect but it is an incredibly serene and beautiful listen.

Oh, and So Simpatico is a damn masterpiece!
Lucy Dacus - Home Video
75 = GREAT -> I highly enjoy and will re-listen multiple times.

Poetic, emotive, raw, and beautiful. If you are a fan of the 2020 project Punisher, this album should be right up your alley.
Turnstile - GLOW ON
Impressive how much energy, variety, and creativity this 34 minute album displays. What a fun, invigorating listen.
Silk Sonic - An Evening with Silk Sonic
A fun album with smooth production, crisp instrumentals, and playful lyrics. It's nothing life-changing or overly innovative but it is an excellent feel-good listen.
CRAWLER is ambitious, chaotic, and aggressively energetic. It took me a bit for it to click but once it did, it become thoroughly enjoyable. The lyrics are unique and gloomy, yet surprisingly cathartic. The production is crisp and the instrumentals intense.
Although not without its flaws, it's an incredibly thrilling listen.
Marissa Nadler - The Path of the Clouds
A gorgeous chamber-folk album displaying dreamy vocals and poetic lyrics. It's highly atmospheric, rich in production, and home to some hauntingly angelic moments.

Favourite tracks: The Path of the Clouds, Couldn't Have Done the Killing, Elegy. From Vapor To Stardust.
Poppy - Flux
On Flux, Poppy has successfully balanced her noisy mayhem through the use of shoegaze and wiser song-structures.
Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee
70/100 = GREAT --> I highly enjoy and will re-listen multiple times.

A colorful, full of life pop chamber album that often focuses on rather melancholic subject matters through poetic lyrics, maturity and wisdom. There were some tracks which I wasn't quite sold on due to their blandness or certain odd sonical decisions, but as a whole, I found Jubilee to be bubbly, peachy (or should I say Kaki?), and surprisingly beautiful.
black midi - Cavalcade
A colourful mess that is thrilling at its best but not overly easily accessible.
Porter Robinson - Nurture
Cute Japanese type poppish album. Nothing extraordinary but a lovely listen.
Low - Hey What
The album is unique, puzzling, and inventive but besides a few tracks, I struggle to connect with it or pull anything deeper out of it. Still, an admirable project with incredible soundscapes.

Note: "Don't Walk Away" is one of the most beautiful tracks I have ever heard.
The Killers - Pressure Machine
Update: This album has grown on me. The bittersweet lyrics click with me much more now, as does the overall sound of it. A lovely project, filled with nostalgia, tragedy, and beauty.

Favourite tracks: West Hills, Quiet Town, In The Car Outside, Pressure Machine.
Least favourite: Terrible Thing, Desperate Things, The Getting By.
Original Score: 65
Original Review:

Pressure Machine is a good folk-rock project with both its good and bad. The wide variety of crisp instrumentals was a big highlight for me, from heavy guitars to light flutes and strings. The album opener West Hills took me by surprise and quite blew me away with its rich sound, great production, and solid vocal delivery. The follow-up Quiet Town kept the tempo going and was another solid song.

Unfortunately, the album began to drag as it progressed due to tracks becoming blander and more repetitive. Some of the lyrics were questionable throughout this album and a couple of tracks just felt a bit hollow or stretched.

Overall, it was a decently enjoyable project which I likely won't return to as a whole any time soon but I'll definitely keep coming back to the standouts.
Pauline Anna Strom - Angel Tears in Sunlight
Quaint, serene, and at times surprisingly emotional. The track "The Eighteen Beautiful Memories" feels like a bittersweet farewell, but a hauntingly beautiful one.

R.I.P. Pauline Anna Strom.
Nas - King’s Disease II
70 = GREAT.

King's Disease II is more blunt and lyrical than its predecessor, with fresh beats, crisp production, and sharp deliveries. Not life-changing but definitely a very solid rap album.

Hot Take: The blind hate of Eminem on this site is quite silly. It's valuable to constructively criticise something but being obsessed with the idea of disliking something or someone to the point where you hate it no matter what is unhealthy and not beneficial to anyone.
Lana Del Rey - Blue Banisters
Lana Del Rey's newest album is optimistically sombre, showcasing a variety of instrumentals, dreamy melodies, and poetic lyrics. If you liked Chemtrails Over the Country Club, you'll probably enjoy Blue Banisters as well. The production is rather laid back which is fitting for this lyric focused of a project. I do think it could use some more energy at times but other than that, I really like this album.

Favourite tracks: Text Book, Blue Banisters, Arcadia, Black Bathing Suit, Wildflower Wildfire, Sweet Carolina.
Least favourite: If You Lie Down with Me, Dealer, Nectar of the Gods.

Sidenote: When initially the track Arcadia was released, I wasn't the biggest fan of its out of nowhere beat drop at the end but in the context of the album (now the drop is separate from the track as "Interlude - The Trio"), it really works, giving a much-needed tempo change.
Magdalena Bay - Mercurial World
A decent album with some fillers, and some tracks that were absolutely incredible.
Jeff Rosenstock - SKA DREAM
A fun, almost goofy album, with some erratic, explosive moments.
Spellling - The Turning Wheel
"Always" sounds quite a bit like "My Baby Wants a Baby" by St. Vincent but with better production yet worse vocals & energy. And that's how I feel about the album as a whole in comparison with St. Vincent 2021 album "Daddy's Home." The production by Spelling is absolutely incredible - the layering, the instrumentals, the density - all outstanding. That being said, some other aspects of the project just aren't as good, such as the vocals or the lyrics. I also struggle to build an emotional connection with this album and I haven't been returning to it much at all. As dense as it is in sound, it still feels kind of hollow to me. I admire what "The Turning Wheel" is but no matter how hard I try, it isn't quite for me.

Favourite tracks: Little Deer, Always, Emperor with an Egg, Boys at School.
Least favourite: Turning Wheel, The Future, Sweet Talk.
Faye Webster - I Know I'm Funny haha
70 = GREAT --> I highly enjoy and will re-listen multiple times

First time listening to Faye Webster and I'm quite pleasantly surprised. This indie project is nothing life-changing, but the soft vocals matched with melancholic lyrics and atmospheric instrumentals make it a very enjoyable listen. There were a few tracks that were a little repetitive but as a whole, I like this album a fair bit.
Indigo De Souza - Any Shape You Take
A colourful bedroom pop album with plenty of variety, creativity, and personality. There are a few weaker tracks and at times it can be a bit fragmented, but overall, it's a very solid project.

PS: Love the tracks Real Pain and Bad Dream.
Lingua Ignota - SINNER GET READY
It's a good project but I do think it's somewhat overrated.
The War on Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore
I Don't Live Here Anymore showcases dreamy, almost shoegazy atmospheres, amazing production, and a large variety of intricate sonic details. The tracks do mush together quite a bit by the end but it's not a biggie when they all sound so pleasant.
Kanye West - Donda
Donda carries some unnecessary fat that could be trimmed into a much more easily digestible album. Instead of almost 2 hours of decent yet incohesive music, it could be a 50 minute long, properly structured music album. that truly does deliver.

I love the atmosphere created in many of the tracks, such as in God Breathed, and the production ranges anywhere between okay and amazing. Lyrically, it is quite solid and without a surprise, rather religious and at times very emotional, eg. in Jesus Lord. There are some goofy vocal effects that I'm not a fan of, Keep My Spirit Alive is a solid example of that, but the biggest issue I have with Donda is its lack of cohesiveness and polish. Some tracks are filler, bland, or just not suitable for this project that is already unnecessarily long. And that's a bummer as Donda does hold some incredible tracks such as Come To Life, Jail, Off The Grid, Jesus Lord, Pure Souls, or No Child Left Behind

I don't think I will ever return to this album as a whole, but I will most definitely return to its tracks and moments that truly did shine.
Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark
William Wallace going through an existential crisis, somberly rambling over disco beats, gloomy soundscapes, and intricate instrumentals. The poetic lyrics are definitely the highlight of the album, full of vivid imagery and bleak truths.
I also think that both the production and instrumentals are quite solid, although lacking in variety at times.

However, as a whole, As Days Get Dark is rather inconsistent and incoherent. Some tracks are below par and the great moments are just that, moments. They don't amount to anything larger in the context of the album. For those reasons, I don't think I'll be returning to the full album but I will definitely be visiting the highlights.
Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime
A fun rock album, full of energy and soulful guitar solos. Some tracks were a bit weak but for the most part, it was an enjoyable listen.
Strange, genre-bending, and innovative. Not everything works on the album but it offers a lot of variety and creativity. Plus, its druggy qualities make it rather addictive. A solid project.

Favourite tracks: Human Fly, Styrofoam, Discard.
Least favourite: Hostage Master, Beach harness, Stock Car.
Clairo - Sling
65 = DECENT --> Well-made but nothing life-changing or overly memorable.

Sling is a well-made album with strong instrumentals, soft vocals, and reasonable production, but as pleasant sounding as it is, I don't find it to be anything life-changing or overly impressive. I also feel as some of the harmonizing and lyrics were not as high-quality as they could have been, and perhaps the album could have been a bit crispier in production. Overall though, it's a warm and rather beautiful album, but not something I would return to much in the future.
Damon Albarn - The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows
Pleasant, intimate, and poetic. The atmosphere on the album is icy yet oddly cosy, resembling sitting by the fireplace during a stormy snowy night. I do wish there was more inventiveness or intrigue to the album but overall, it's still an enjoyable listen.
Squid - Bright Green Field
A creative, bold but slightly pretentious album. The band is talented but the execution requires some more work.
Alessia Cara - In The Meantime
A mellow pop album with crisp production and expressive song-writing. However, I do feel it lacks some punch or variety at times.
Gruff Rhys - Seeking New Gods
Seeking New Gods is an upbeat baroque pop album, displaying crisp and inventive instrumentals, silky smooth transitions, and some psychedelic qualities. I'm not a big fan of the vocals and a few tracks are misses but overall, it's a pleasant feel-good listen.
Drug Store Romeos - The world within our bedrooms
This dream-pop/indie-pop debut album is both incredibly charming and immersive. Unfortunately, a lot of the tracks do mush together and become quite forgettable, but the overall listening experience is still very pleasant.
Deafheaven - Infinite Granite
Main positives:
- The ending of pretty much every track is absolutely incredible, often exploding with sound and heavy emotion.
- Great production with excellent instrumentals.
- The shoegaze melancholic atmosphere is created quite well.

Main negatives:
- First 75% of basically every track is rather forgettable and they all end up blending together by the end, which is truly a shame as the endings are amazing.
- This might be more of a personal issue but the lyrics feel to be too abstract, to the point where I struggle to pull anything out of them.

Overall, a good album but I would only return to parts of it.
Genesis Owusu - Smiling With No Teeth
I thoroughly enjoy the experimental synths and instrumentals, and lyrically, this project is quite solid as well. That being said, the majority of the tracks aren't overly memorable, nor do they do a good job at encapsulating emotions.
Panopticon - ...And Again Into the Light
65 - Decent/Good

A solid metal project with a couple of extremely great sections such as the second half of Rope Burn Exit. Harmonizing on this album was surprising gorgeous, eg. in the track Dead Loons. The instrumentals were solid and I especially enjoyed the use of string instruments, it paired superbly with the theme and sound of this album.

I do feel that the tracks could do a better job at more naturally building up instead of 3 minutes of staleness paired with a jump scare out of nowhere. Building it up more gradually, or even by just adding some ominous patterns slowly in into the instrumentals could do quite a bit, or at the very least make a track more cohesive.
Jane Weaver - Flock
A decent pop album that stands out for its great production and groovy melodies, but lacks originality and creative song-writing.
Gazelle Twin & NYX - Deep England
Experimental, dark, and mystical. Listening to it does feel like partaking in some sort of a ritual. There are sections that are highly intense and immersive, but there are also some sections that feel a bit dull and needless.

Favourite tracks: Glory, Fire Leap, Better In My Day.
Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend

The album is well-produced and pleasant-sounding. The majority of the instrumental decisions were on point and the harmonizing was rather charming. That being said, I find this album to be relatively empty and unmemorable. I found many tracks to be mediocre or slightly better, and I also feel as some of the tracks don't work as well together as a collective, as they would by themselves or perhaps on a different project. Lyrically, Blue Weekend is quite bland and underwhelming, definitely a weaker area.

As a whole, Blue Weekend is not a poorly made project, but a project where nothing really stood out or blew me away. There also were some weaker areas on this project which I disliked quite heavily and for those reasons, I can't see myself returning to this album besides a couple of tracks.
Twenty One Pilots - Scaled And Icy
60/100 = DECENT -> A few tracks are great, rest are mediocre.

I saw some lengthy reviews so I'll keep it relatively short.

The project sounds crisp, pristine, and is production & instrumental wise very solid. Unfortunately, the beginning and mid section of the album is just bland and formulaic, to the point of it being boring quite often.

And overall, the album was poorly structured. It lacked in progression for 9 tracks and then flipped like a morning pancake. A more gradual album development would have made it more coherent while also constantly breathing new life into it without it becoming stale.

That being said, the last 2 tracks are great, especially "No Chances", which had a gloomy choir representing the bishops, exciting instrumentals and an overall sinister mood. Sonically and song structure wise, It reminded me of "Pet Cheetah" quite a bit. And the album finisher was just as well executed.

The album is quite mediocre, and even though it doesn't sound bad by any means, it struggled to execute and keep the excitement in.
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J cole below Tones and I and Imagine Dragon :0
The turning wheel at 28 noice
@I Stand With Kristin Hayter

Thank you, I very much appreciate the kind words!
Cool list! Interesting to read your thoughts on what you felt about each record, especially the best and the worst of the year. Great job!
@reptilia0000 Thanks! :)

@DL Verdict Much appreciated! :D Cool to hear that we share similar views and top spots. Parcels album was incredible indeed, been returning to it A LOT.
Keul list
Awesome list!! I'm so happy to see Parcels up there so high, getting the recognition they deserve! We share many similar views, especially on BCNR, Injury Reserve and Promises, all Top 10 placers for me as well 😊
Much appreciated:))!
Great List, I really agree with what you said on Poppy's album.
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AOTY July Playlist