On the record 2021 - wrap up
Published December 31, 2021
Somehow another year of music has flown by, I’ve banked another 100 albums, both new and old, and now I have to decide which were the cream of the crop and which weren’t worth the download speeds. Each week, for fifty weeks, I’ve listened to one new album (usually from this year, or 2020 at a push), and one older album (any time before that), and have listened to each twice because I’ve found just one listen through isn’t always enough to full appreciate what’s going on.
I track my thoughts as I go, but it’s always worth a wrap up at the end of the year, and so I have selected my top five 2021 albums.
1. Sour - Olivia Rodrigo
“…Regardless, with this album she’s absolutely earned her spot at the top of current pop royalty - it’s brilliant. A bit Taylor Swift, a bit Lennon Stella, but with her own stamp firmly on it. Kicking off with some grungy pop, before leading into the soul-searching pop that seems incongruous from a 17-year-old but somehow works perfectly. I loved it.”
2. Screen Violence - CHVRCHES
“Yay, loved this! If I’m honest there haven’t been a lot of stellar albums this year but this latest from CHVRCHES is going straight on the list. Great songs, great length, it sweeps you in and envelopes you in their synth-electro-pop fun. One notable thing was how much stronger Lauren’s accent was compared to the previous album - not sure if that was intentional or not, but I really liked it.”
3. The Ultra Vivid Lament - Manic Street Preachers
“Wahey, this is such a good album. Great tunes and good lyrics as always - a bit more serious in tone than the previous album, and dipping into weightier subjects, but still with the engaging and powerful feeling that draws you in right from the start. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the previous album, which is a proper classic and favourite, but it’s certainly a highlight of what has been a pretty poor year so far.”
4. Human - OneRepublic
“Another fantastic OneRepublic album, I’ve been looking forward to it for ages. Some of the songs stand out and stick in the mind, Run and Didn’t I are the top two for me. But the whole album works as a whole really well, the usual great anthems and enthusiastic pop that you get from Ryan Tedder and his crew. Top work!”
5. lately I feel EVERYTHING - WILLOW
“This surprised me: it’s a short, sharp burst of angry pop and I loved it! There are particularly highlights, the first song and the one where Avril Lavigne pops up stand out but the rest of it doesn’t pale in comparison, it holds its own. What’s weird is I think I only know Willow from whipping her hair back and forth, so this was a whole new sound and her voice has matured greatly. Loved it.”
Honourable mentions go to Inhaler, which I liked a lot more than I had expected to, and Halsey, which is a fantastic album but just didn’t quite make the cut.
I don’t think any of the albums I’ve listened to this year make a dent on the top ten albums of all time - that remains constant from last year.
- Come On Over by Shania Twain
- Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
- Millennium by Backstreet Boys
- Parachutes by Coldplay
- Staying at Tamara’s by George Ezra
- Who Built the Moon? by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
- Chaleur Humaine by Christine and the Queens
- Days Are Gone by HAIM
- Achtung Baby by U2
- Storyteller by Carrie Underwood
I have to admit that outside of the prescribed albums, I’ve not listened to a lot of music, and it’s something I really want to do more of. It’s just finding the time and motivation and then once those two things are in place, deciding what to listen to. Let’s see what 2022 brings us!