My Top 21 Albums of 2021
by Dan Sharp // D#
Here’s the official list of the top 21 albums of 2021. I will not hear any arguments for or against the ordering. Any album not included is because it is a bad album, not because I didn’t get the chance to listen to it. I listened to literally every album this year. Oh, you made an album in your room and think I’d like it? Wrong. I already heard it. It was bad. Me? No, I don’t make music why do you ask?
1. By The Time I Get to Phoenix – Injury Reserve
Injury Reserve’s by The Time I Get to Phoenix is easily the most compelling album I heard this year. It’s hard to even describe this record. The instrumentals on tracks feature synths, or industrial drum hits, or guitar, and never with a straightforward composition. Ritchie with a T’s verses is constantly changing flow and contrasting with the instrumentals while still somehow complementing it, all the while delivering retrospectives on important topics and personal struggles. Of course, the verses of Stepa J. Groggs are handled with the utmost respect and make the album truly heartbreaking. Even if this album isn’t your favorite, you will not forget it and will not hear anything like it for a while to come.
2. For The First Time – Black Country, New Road
The debut album from Black Country, New Road, For the First Time has a lot that makes me excited. The blend of freeform jazz and post punk is fun, each song being its only little anxiety filled roller coaster. The topics the album covers mostly center around the past loves of the lead singer, but still manage to be compelling and universal throughout. They’ve already started releasing new tracks for their next album, and I couldn’t be more excited.
3. Sometimes I Might be Introvert – Little Simz
The new album from Little Simz, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is a super consistent album. Combines elements of R&B, funk, and classic hip hop to provide a very conscious album. Little Simz addresses sexism, racism, and her own personal struggles on top of excellent production that remains a fun and enjoyable listen.
4. Drunk Tank Pink – shame
A post-punk album jam packed with personality. Drunk Tank Pink from shame is full of catchy riffs and choruses. I think I’ve had every song off this album stuck in my head at one point or another. They still manage to pack meaning into their songs though, while simultaneously having a bit of a laugh about the whole thing.
5. LP! – JPEGMAFIA
JPEGMAFIA’s newest LP, LP!, might be his best album to date. It has some of his best production, featuring so many different genres and sounds. Peggy’s delivery on these tracks takes the best elements from his past projects, going from singing to aggressively rapping seamlessly. Every track has its own feel, and they are all unforgettable.
6. SINNER GET READY – Lingua Ignota
A haunting album from Lingua Ignota, Sinner Get Ready is a unique listen compared to others on this list. The album uses orchestral gospel music to reflect on Lingua Ignota’s personal struggles in a deeply disturbing way. Not an album you will forget, but not exactly an album that I want to listen to everyday.
7. Pray for Haiti – Mach-Hommy
Mach-Hommy is one of the best rappers making music right now. All the instrumentals are great. He has one of the best flows. Can address serious issues and have fun at the same time. This is one of four albums he released in 2021, but this one felt the most complete. Worth checking out all his stuff though and look forward to anything he puts out in the future.
8. Donda – Kanye
Really solid Kanye album. The music really encompasses the best parts of previous Kanye projects but is more believable. The religious theme of Jesus Is King, the grittier synths of Yeezus, 808s from 808s and Heartbreaks, and mixing and introspection from the rest of his projects. Besides some questionable features and some unnecessary bonuses, the album is solid
and easily the best he’s put out recently.
9. Cavalcade – black midi
Insane. This album from black midi is such a wild ride that it is nearly impossible to accurately describe. There are some introspective moments, and some crazy moments. I guess jazz and pop and post punk are most of the genres on this album…maybe? Either way, worth the listen 100%.
10. I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES – Backxwash
Backxwash’s new album I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES is a big step up from her previous LP. ILHBWMRAMD is much more aggressive, much more oppressive, and much more confrontational. The screamo/black metal influence is all much clearer on this new LP when compared to her previous. The only downside is just how short this
project is at barely half an hour, I really wish there were a couple more tracks.
11. G_d’s Pee AT STATE’s END! – Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Godspeed You! Black Emperor has been making incredible post rock for a while now, and this album shows that they can continue to do it. If you’ve heard and enjoyed the bands previous works, you’ll enjoy this as well.
12. Bright Green Field – Squid
Another post punk album. This one from Squid has much more variety of sound compared to some of the previous post punk albums on this list. Unfortunately, the times they went out of genre or tried experimenting kind of worked against them for me.
13. Forever in Your Heart – Black Dresses
Black Dresses go in an industrial Nine Inch Nails direction for this album. Dripping with desperation and anxiety and anger and angst. Very abrasive and exaggerated. Worth the listen if this is your kind of thing because I know it’s mine.
14. Rainbow Bridge 3 – Sematary
Rainbow Bridge 3 by Sematary is a fun album. The music is a mix of metal and trap. The only thing is there is something off with the mixing of the tracks. I think the bass and rhythm is a little low and less impactful than it could be. Otherwise, an enjoyable album.
15. MONTERO – Lil Nas X
At this point everyone has heard a song from Lil Nas X. This album proved he is more than a one hit wonder machine. A lot of very addicting pop tracks on here and the occasional sentimental track as well. A lot more range than what I was honestly expecting, and I am happy about it.
16. Smiling with No Teeth – Genesis Owusu
Solid album. Reminds me of Gorillaz a bit with the funky punchy electronic instruments and more sing-songy rap. Only critique is the album is a bit on the long side but doesn’t get repetitive so not that big of an issue.
17. CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST – Tyler, The Creator
A lot of hype for this album died out surprisingly quickly. I think this album being a combination of “old Tyler” and “new Tyler” played against it a bit. There aren’t many super catchy tracks on here despite all the tracks being good and memorable.
18. ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE – BROCKHAMPTON
A much more fun album compared to their previous entry. Still has the occasional touching moment but ultimately hits on the classic BROCKHAMPTON vibes.
19. TYRON – slowthai
The two-part album from slowthai has the typical grime you would expect. The first side is much more aggressive while the second is a little more introspective. A lot of hard-hitting beats and bars throughout that make the album an enjoyable listen.
20. SOUR – Olivia Rodrigo
Debut album from Disney plant Olivia Rodrigo. Listened to it as a joke and enjoyed it more than I care to admit. Probably the closest we’ve come to classic Paramore in a while.
21. OK Human – Weezer
Weezer’s response to the 24-year-old Radiohead album, OK Computer. Meant to highlight humanity or something like that. Basically, a lot of clean piano and strings. Solid but Weezer still shines brightest when they go more garage rock
Honorable Mentions (in no order)
Pono – A Great Big Pile of Leaves (Indie Rock)
volcanic bird enemy and the voiced concern – Lil Ugly Mane (Cloud Rap/Lo-Fi Rock)
An Evening with Silk Sonic – Silk Sonic (R&B)
Garbology – Aesop Rock & Blockhead (Rap)
G.A.S. Get A Star – Undo K From Hot (Electronica)
The Light Emitting Diamond Cutter Scriptures – R.A.P. Ferreira (Rap)
CRAWLER – IDLES (Post Punk)