The 50 finest albums of 2021: 50-7

This listing is drawn from votes by Guardian music critics – every critic votes for his or her High 20 albums, with factors allotted for every putting. Test in each weekday to see our subsequent picks, and please share your personal favorite albums of 2021 within the feedback under.


Agnes – Magic Nonetheless Exists

The Swedish pop star’s long-delayed fifth album embodies the platonic ideally suited of pop disco, steeped in Gaga (invigoratingly stern vocals about liberating one’s thoughts and physique), Abba (piano stomps and trills), Donna Summer season (the thumping 24 Hours) and Queen (melodramatic balladry). It transcends pastiche on the energy of her songwriting (you could possibly swap nearly something right here on to Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia) and the going-for-broke depth of all of it. LS


MØL – Diorama

Faith no more ... cult survivor-singer Kim Song Sternkopf (centre) with band MØL.
Religion no extra … cult survivor-singer Kim Track Sternkopf (centre) with band MØL. {Photograph}: Sebastian Apel

Mixing the blast beats and acid-gargling glottal mayhem of black steel with the uplifting, even sentimental guitar dynamics of shoegaze, “blackgaze” has develop into a vibrant nook of heavy music – and Danish quintet MØL grew to become one among its finest exponents with their second album. The moody breakdowns permit the explosive choruses to land all of the extra righteously, with vocalist Kim Track Sternkopf – a survivor of religion cults as a toddler – venting majestically into the mic. Tracks reminiscent of Serf usher in a groove steel sensibility to assist all of it swing. BBT


Lucy Dacus – Home Video

Among the 12 months’s finest musical storytelling lived within the Virginia songwriter’s third report, her writing newly amplified by refined hints of pop propulsion and grit that evoked how Elliott Smith expanded his sound. Dacus displays on her teenage years – of church and bible camp, of budding queer want amid a tradition of disgrace and damnation, of the fantasies that allow her escape these limitations – with such tender curiosity that these vignettes really feel much less like mounted recollections than forensic crime scene reconstructions. Read the full review. LS


Chai – WINK

The really confident hardly ever make a noise about it, and so it’s with the third album by Japanese lady group Chai. To blissed-out, dreamy synth-pop that buoys you alongside like a lazy river – often spiked by basic rap throwbacks and arcade-game electro – the four-piece dreamily hymn the fun of meals, self-acceptance and protest, nurturing their very own laid-back tackle pleasure activism. LS


Stephen Fretwell – Busy Man

Melody maker ... Scunthorpe singer-songwriter Stephen Fretwell.
Melody maker … Scunthorpe singer-songwriter Stephen Fretwell. {Photograph}: David Levene/The Guardian

A songwriters’ songwriter beloved of Elbow and Arctic Monkeys, Stephen Fretwell was washing pots in a Wetherspoon’s pub, his music profession having flatlined amid fatherhood. He hauled himself up and gave music one other shot, apparently at the price of his marriage. So these songs are the work of a really inveterate musician, and it exhibits – Fretwell has such a pure facility for an affecting flip of melody, his easy fingerpicked guitar made eerie by the refined ambient tones that sit behind it. BBT


For These I Love – For These I Love

Poignant recollections appear to elongate and soften as we age, however this album is a reminder of how a lot jagged heft they’ve once you’re wanting again after only a few years or months. David Balfe, 30, displays on a useless finest pal, poverty, trauma and the extraordinary vibrancy of younger friendships and creativity, in lengthy recitations set to music that reaches in the direction of techno and home. “You’re informed you’ll want to develop chilly to develop previous,” Balfe says, however he stays charged up with human heat on these songs. Read the full review. BBT


Black Nation, New Street – For the First Time

‘Timeless tenderness’ ... Black Country, New Road.
‘Timeless tenderness’ … Black Nation, New Street. {Photograph}: Max Grainger

You don’t are likely to get many High 5 charting albums from bands who mix klezmer, post-punk, jazz and prog with lyrics about failed romance at a science truthful, however Black Country, New Road managed it. That success is testomony to how explicit and recent their sound is amid the bizarre boys of British indie, additional helped by a extremely arresting frontman, Isaac Wooden. Whether or not it’s actually him or a persona, he’s haughty, simply damage, lustful, clumsy and incurably romantic – a beautiful, flawed character. Read the full review. BBT


Chris Corsano and Invoice Orcutt – Made Out of Sound

For this album, made remotely final 12 months, guitarist Orcutt improvised to Corsano’s drum tracks, observing the waveforms as he recorded “so I may see when a crescendo was coming or when to deliver it down”, he mentioned. It’s paying homage to a surfer’s mentality, and Made Out of Sound feels thrillingly just like the trusty unpredictability of broaching the ocean: absurdist guitar begets quieter contemplation; burnished riffs harden and soften, then collapse. All through, the open-ended sense of magnificence is undimmed. LS


Gojira – Fortitude

Steel’s potential for thunderous anger makes it probably the most naturally expressive music to vent the concern, confusion and even disgrace of the local weather disaster. “The best miracle is burning to the bottom,” laments Joe Duplantier with bafflement and urgency, singing concerning the Amazon however maybe additionally your complete planet. Different songs are direct rallying cries to save lots of Earth (Into the Storm, Sphinx); One other World turns jaded and escapist, however is offset by The Chant, whose hearty refrain is the type of factor a post-apocalyptic band of survivors would sing whereas rowing throughout a flooded metropolis. Fortitude is an album that surveys humanity’s idiocy, but in addition its tenacity. BBT


Eris Drew – Quivering in Time

The joyous ecclesiastical power of home enriches your soul on listening to this full-length from the US producer, which additionally chimes with the need for optimism and gregariousness amid the waning pandemic. Like a number of one of the best underground dance artists lately (Skee Masks, Anz and so on), she firmly embraces the breakbeat-driven sound of the early 90s – Experience Free even has the identical Peter Fonda pattern as Primal Scream’s Loaded – and additional enriches these busy, cymbal-heavy rhythms with zesty detailing: rave melodies, declarative vocal samples, penetrating bass notes. Read the full review. BBT


Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Nation Membership

Who’s Lana Del Rey actually? The query that has animated her decade-long profession has generally riled her, however the first of two albums she launched this 12 months turns introspective to think about the matter. Was she happiest as a 19-year-old waitress listening to Kings of Leon, as she sings in gorgeous falsetto on White Gown? Is she most herself as a sister, a lover, a star, an adopted Californian – or embracing her wanderlust and escaping all that? The parable and melodrama, at the very least, stay unchanged on a Lana album made with an unusually mild contact. Read the full review. LS


Hayley Williams – Flowers for Vases/Descansos

With pop-punk surging this 12 months, Paramore’s affect could by no means have been stronger – however the band’s flag bearer continued to burrow away from incandescent rock into stranger, subtler sounds. Williams’ second solo album in two years noticed the dying days of her marriage, and the way the reliability of unhappiness grew to become its personal type of secure harbour. That unusual sense of comforting desolation hums by way of in acoustic guitar and ghostly piano, though Williams’ innate manner with a vocal hook supplies the defiant life power. LS


Goat Lady – On All Fours

Using synths to crack open a portal out of the drab ... Goat Girl.
Utilizing synths to crack open a portal out of the drab … Goat Lady. {Photograph}: Holly Whitaker

The south London quartet’s debut was storage rock with a contact of psych; this sophomore album grandly scaled that second component up, utilizing synths to crack open a portal out of the drab, repressive on a regular basis. The larger ambition was partly predicated by one member surviving most cancers, and the band don’t shy from massive questions on life and demise: the local weather disaster, capitalism and the wrestle to be allowed one’s fact and id are among the many subjects broached. BBT


Erika de Casier – Sensational

Any crush has a fragile alchemy, and liable to lurch in the direction of obsession or revulsion because the fantasy of somebody duels with the fact. On the second album by the Portuguese-born Danish songwriter, her would-be lover could also be a braggart who’s impolite to waiters, however that smile is irresistible: what are you gonna do? Her minimalist tackle turn-of-the-millennium R&B shivers with sensitivity, essaying each coronary heart flutter and intestine punch in plush bass, glassy percussion and chic strings, whereas De Casier’s coy supply brims with a beguiling sense of thriller. Read the full review. LS


Aya – Im Gap

That is the type of slippery, humorous, explosively artistic report that maybe may solely be made within the UK. Yorkshirewoman Aya Sinclair mulches varied bits of membership tradition in to a fetid, sweating mass – grime, breakbeat, drill, the off-kilter electronics of Autechre, the hyper-contemporary bass shudder of the late Sophie – and threads vocals by way of it, her surreal non sequiturs and physique horror hovering on the sting of rap. BBT


Aly & AJ – A Contact of the Beat Will get You Up on Your Ft Will get You Out and Then Into the Solar

It’s one among pop’s sweetest narratives: former little one stars escape the machine to make an amazing, offbeat report. Fourteen years after their final album, one-time Disney performers Aly and AJ softened their synth-pop pedigree on this dreamy assortment of west coast pop-rock, a imaginative and prescient of Robyn-gone-Laurel Canyon that additionally would possibly sate anybody left hoping for a bit extra brooding from this 12 months’s Kacey Musgraves album. LS


The War on Drugs – I Don’t Dwell Right here Anymore

The psychedelic, shoegaze-y haze has steadily lifted from Adam Granduciel’s band, burned off beneath a rising solar as their success has grown. He now stands within the noon of his profession, with this fifth album totally embracing vivid, mainstream basic rock. Powered by these distinctive WoD backbeats, which match the tirelessness of Granduciel’s seek for love, perspective and contentment, these songs are enormous in scale: each the preparations and the energy of feeling. Read the full review. BBT


PinkPantheress – To Hell With It

An after-hours rite of passage ... PinkPantheress.
An after-hours ceremony of passage … PinkPantheress. {Photograph}: Brent McKeever

Within the TikTok phenomenon PinkPantheress’s micro-pop gems (solely two songs on her debut venture exceeded two minutes), basic drum’n’bass samples double as nagging recollections and overwhelming rushes of adrenaline, swirling round lyrics about obsession and disappointment made extra sinister by her harmless, breathless voice. Fourteen years in the past, Burial’s transient, lonely, sodium-lit sound grew to become related to the expertise of sitting on the night time bus. PinkPantheress makes music befitting one other after-hours ceremony of passage: that bleary-eyed, rueful stumble by way of vivid lights and swarming crowds as you attempt to maintain it collectively. LS


Cassandra Jenkins – An Overview on Phenomenal Nature

The New Yorker’s second album is nearly confrontationally nonetheless: brass like wisps of smoke, guitar a mild thrum, softly puddling cymbals. As soon as the aftershocks of a loss have settled, Jenkins takes inventory of what’s gone for good – Ambiguous Norway orbits her recollections of David Berman, whose band Purple Mountains she was set to tour with previous to his demise – and the way studying the way to belief once more would possibly but retrieve her stolen sense of peace. LS


Low – Hey What

Low’s final album, 2018’s Double Negative, was a complete reinvention 25 years right into a nearly undented profession – a staggering achievement for any band. But one way or the other Alan and Mimi Sparhawk transcended it with this follow-up, bridling its predecessor’s swashbuckling noise till it splintered, and contrasting it with digital reimaginings of the forlorn atmospherics that made their identify. The sheer invention contrasted devastating lyrics about hitting a wall – drawn from the couple’s experiences coping with Alan’s despair – imbuing these static hymns to limits and perseverance with a superhuman sense of dedication. Read the full review. LS


Greentea Peng – Man Made

There’s a beautiful sense of liveness to this report, evoking a dive bar with a fug of weed smoke sitting at shoulder peak. On stage is London-born Aria Wells, whose supply is pure and improvisatory: vowels that bend drowsily downwards, or rap stream that sits on high of the beat with out being too fussily exact. Behind her a band shuffle by way of a collection of grooves – reggae, neo-soul, hip-hop – that add as much as a sensual, instinctive album that you could possibly think about Amy Winehouse making on a distinct timeline. Read the full review. BBT


Clairo – Sling

A powerful self-preservationist streak ran by way of a number of extremely anticipated albums by pop’s younger ladies this 12 months, with the likes of Billie Eilish, Lorde and Kacey Musgraves choosing lower-key sounds that poured cool water on heightened expectations. Amongst them was Clairo, whose second album left behind bed room electro-pop for completely turned miniatures of Carole King’s heat classicism. Irrepressibly, sweetly funky, it gave the impression of music for pushing the furnishings again and dancing on the lounge rug – and Clairo’s lyrics, about breaking with relationships that not served her, underscored that joyful intimacy. Read the full review. LS


Kacey Musgraves – Star-Crossed

Each stage of a breakup is sung in chronological order right here: marital worries, hope for the connection being adequate, worsening arguments, cut up, poignant looking at previous pictures, perspective gained, thrilling/miserable ventures on to relationship apps, eventual feeling of true freedom. Swerve a few tepid chillout-compilation moments and alongside the journey you alight at a few of Musgraves’ prettiest songwriting, properly leavened along with her straight-talking, wearily dismayed tone of voice. Read the full review. BBT


St Vincent – Daddy’s Dwelling

St Vincent at the 2021 Pitchfork music festival, September, 2021.
Wealthy lyricism … St Vincent on the 2021 Pitchfork music competition, September, 2021. {Photograph}: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Pictures

It was maybe barely overshadowed by its backstory: Annie Clark’s father’s launch from jail, which, for some listeners, forged your complete report in an unsympathetic mild. However its lyricism was a lot richer than one man, and its 70s-inspired music richer nonetheless: psychedelic soul, cabaret songcraft, prog ballads, cosmic funk. Clark stays a extremely literate and shapeshifting songwriter, the place half the enjoyable is understanding how a lot is ironised and the way a lot is actual. Read the full review. BBT


Mogwai – Because the Love Continues

In a feat of lockdown recording, Dave Fridmann produced Mogwai’s tenth studio album over Zoom and Atticus Ross directed an orchestra in Budapest by way of distant connection from Los Angeles. The basic Mogwai physicality remained undimmed by these digital limitations, nevertheless, swerving between twinkling magnificence (Dry Fantasy) and pleasingly barbed dirges (Ceiling Granny), and chucking in a brand new bag of glitter (Supposedly, We Have been Nightmares) for good measure. Fortunately for all concerned, it grew to become their first UK No 1 album. Read the full review. LS


Madlib – Sound Ancestors

Communing with sound ... Madlib.
Communing with sound … Madlib. {Photograph}: Roberto Flores

A comparatively austere and critical launch from the collagist hip-hop beatmaker, letting his fabled samples actually stretch out and inhabit the songs as an alternative of chopping between them – a results of Kieren “4 Tet” Hebden arranging the album. There’s nonetheless room for Madlib’s trickster power although, as present in a chaotic blurt of mayhem-inducing rap duo MOP. The title observe is religious jazz, however that style’s temper pervades your complete album, as Madlib communes with greater than half a century of sound. Read the full review. BBT


Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

On her second album, Billie Eilish not solely defied the tacit assumption that there’s nothing much less interesting than complaining concerning the ravages wrought by fame however reinvigorated the cliche by toying deliciously with concealment and publicity. She sings about sexual fantasies and clandestine assignations and the facility she will wield to maintain her companions quiet, flexing her capacity to hold on in secret – regardless of manifold violations of her privateness – as if it have been a coveted jewel. She and her collaborator brother Finneas introduced the identical thrill to intimacy as they did to adolescent fears on her debut, tracing the scope of Eilish’s newfound dedication to her personal pleasure in dreamy golden-age classicism and hormone-spiking techno. She let her listeners share in sensation even when the main points have been off-limits. Read the full review. LS


Floating Factors, London Symphony Orchestra and Pharoah Sanders – Guarantees

Guarantees is an album that rewards endurance. Not solely was it Pharoah Sanders’ first main recording in a decade – and a report 5 years within the making itself – however its 9 actions unfolded with a uncommon subtlety. A chiming chorus written by Sam Shepherd (AKA Floating Factors) and performed by the LSO sparkled like daybreak’s first mild, its sense of potential undimmed over 45 minutes of repetition. Sanders’ saxophone enjoying, lightyears softer than the blazing assault that made his identify, activated that magic. The concord between them generated its personal sense of orbit, with cello and violin solos and the transferring spectacle of Sanders’ singing voice balanced in a type of celestial concord. Read the full review. LS


Laura Mvula – Pink Noise

After enduring the humiliation of her previous label dropping her with a seven-line electronic mail, Mvula donned the musical equal of shoulder pads – particularly the Nineteen Eighties’ gated drums, pugilistic bass and immaculately buffed synths – for this supreme show of confidence towards the percentages. The stylisation by no means comes on the expense of coronary heart, both: Mvula delves deep as she searches for freedom in want, artwork and inside her personal physique, stretching her voice into majestic, wild anthems of liberation. Read the full review. LS


The Coral – Coral Island

Ballads for lonely fishermen ... the Coral.
Ballads for lonely fishermen … the Coral.

Few of their friends from the 00s indie growth are so hale and hearty; 20 years into their profession, the Merseyside band made their most bold album, and one among their finest. It’s a double idea album a few seaside resort, and captures these cities’ mix of buckets-and-spades buoyancy and out-of-season malaise; attractive harmonies stream by way of jangling psych-pop and touches of northern soul, although there’s additionally creepy rockabilly emanating from the ghost prepare and ballads for lonely fishermen on the finish of the pier. Read the full review. BBT


Arooj Aftab – Vulture Prince

The year’s biggest musical revelation ... Arooj Aftab.
The 12 months’s greatest musical revelation … Arooj Aftab. {Photograph}: Vishesh Sharma

The 12 months’s greatest musical revelation got here from Pakistani composer Arooj Aftab, who set conventional Urdu ghazals (and an adaptation of a poem by Rumi) amid harp and strings that rippled and ran as clear as a recent stream. In her wealthy, meditative vocals, Aftab weighed the fantastic thing about a single phrase and tenaciously addressed existential disappointments; her small ensemble shapeshifted between intricate filigrees and paring again to make a advantage of area. Made in response to the demise of her youthful brother, and launched into an unprecedented international expertise of grief, Vulture Prince was a refuge for solace and contemplation. LS


Dave – We’re All Alone in This Collectively

“It’s like flying top quality on a crashing airplane,” Dave says of his fame and wealth on the outset of his second album. Few rappers have sounded so unwell comfy with important and business success as him – even when firing off bars about attractive ladies, there’s a cautious, jaded tone to his voice. And in some ways, nothing has modified: he stays offended on the authorities over immigration and social mobility, and relationships definitely haven’t acquired simpler. “Love’s a movie and I’m simply flicking by way of the elements I’m in.” That sense of a person wanting down at his personal life is Dave’s tragedy, and what makes his tracks such, effectively, psychodramas. Read the full review. BBT


Turnstile – Glow On

The compressed, febrile sound of 80s punk rock is resurrected for this terrifically entertaining report, the place the jams usually are not simply kicked out but in addition despatched off the closest cliff. The monstrous chug of cock-rock rhythm guitar underpins lead strains made for whipping a mane of hair round to, and Brendan Yates’s vocals have one thing of Perry Farrell’s yelled pronouncements to them. However there’s a dream-pop softness, too – not least in two songs with Blood Orange guesting – that provides emotional vary. BBT


Tirzah – Colourgrade

South Londoner finds a new singular language ... Tirzah.
South Londoner finds a brand new singular language … Tirzah.

The intimacy of recent parenthood, the place the world shrinks to some rooms, is expressed in a brand new singular language by the south London musician (she additionally evokes the strangeness of these circumscribed Covid lockdowns). Breath, contact, kisses and sleep fill her songs, which conjure dub, hip-hop, post-punk and people as if making an attempt to recollect them from a earlier life. This album has the type of completely pure magnificence that different artists attempt in the direction of, however won’t ever attain due to that very striving. Read the full review. BBT


Deafheaven – Infinite Granite

For his or her most mainstream album but, the band’s screams abated, the drums slowed their gallop, and the guitars took on a prettiness that recalled Coldplay at instances. For sure metalheads, these are unforgivable sins and Deafheaven stay a divisive band – however for the remainder of us, it is a stirring mix of area rock and shoegaze that appears to fill the sky. Read the full review. BBT


Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – Carnage

The spirit of Scott Walker fills this idiosyncratic and sensible album, which pumps with blood as vivid and oxygenated as its pink cowl textual content. Free of the often sentimental and over-sumptuous backings of latest Unhealthy Seeds albums, Cave and Ellis stalk off right into a wilderness fringed with cyberpunk detritus: unusual bits of manufacturing prowl on the edges of those violent songs. In its second half, the sky turns gentler as Cave ponders ageing throughout 4 ambient ballads: “I’m 200 kilos of packed ice / Sitting on a chair and within the morning solar” is nearly as good a picture for the inevitability of demise as you’ll discover. Read the full review. BBT


Lil Nas X – Montero

Witty and frank ... Lil Nas X in LA, November 2021.
Witty and frank … Lil Nas X in LA, November 2021. {Photograph}: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

One of the vital proudly queer pop data ever launched, the place intercourse isn’t veiled in metaphor however detailed proper right down to the place the ejaculate lands. Lil Nas X writes wittily about lust and witheringly about his rivals, however there are additionally frank admissions of loneliness and doubt as he navigates his manner into the lasting fame that’s assured by his stunningly good high line melodies. Read the full review. BBT


Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

Michelle Zauner (pictured above) weaves beguilingly unusual fantasies of how fulfilment would possibly look all through her third album as Japanese Breakfast. The rapturous Paprika considers how it will really feel to “stand on the peak of your powers” as an artist, however different songs about want – for different folks, and for all times – discover company and submission in hanging shades of gray. The musical roles on Jubilee are simply as mutable, shapeshifting convincingly from New Order-era pop to the brassy filigrees of early 2010s indie, and the preparations give Zauner area to surprise. LS


Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales

The facility wrestle between purpose and want fuels the Philadelphia songwriter’s fourth launch, which intersperses soulful swagger and forlorn blues with interludes by ladies describing what they imply by proudly owning their sexuality. Sullivan’s compassion resonates in how freely her interviewees specific what some would possibly see as contradictions (threatened with a intercourse tape leak, the topic of Ari’s Story shrugs, “That dick spoke life into me”). And her personal songs may very well be righteous – Choose Up Your Emotions snaps impatiently, and she or he makes no bones about her personal pleasure on the languid On It – however they’re additionally clear concerning the ways in which freedom and dignity don’t at all times look the way you would possibly count on. “I simply wish to be taken care of / ’Trigger I’ve labored sufficient,” she sings on The Different Aspect. LS


Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Below

… Sam Fender.
A reckless style for the epic … Sam Fender. {Photograph}: Charlotte Patmore

The North Shields songwriter’s second album begins with a grim picture of teenage desensitisation: a chronically unwell guardian, snuff movies, fist fights and arrests; rinse and repeat. The forecast hardly improves throughout Seventeen Going Below, on which hope is elusive amid Fender’s bitter depictions of feeling trapped by political alienation and inherited dangerous habits. And but the sheer power of feeling on this report – tenaciously euphoric sax a la Springsteen, tempos that bob like a featherweight boxer hungry for his or her shot, a reckless style for the epic – signifies a life power that gained’t be stamped out so simply, one which, going by the rabid response to the album, has mass revivifying potential. Read the full review. LS


Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime

In Mdou Moctar’s world, riff and rhythm depend however the solo is king. His grounding within the nomadic Tuareg model of assouf (desert blues) made him a well-liked possibility on Niger’s wedding ceremony circuit, however the guitarist breaks from conference by at all times doggedly following his fingertips to some place new. A decade’s value of refinement has led to Afrique Victime, which streamlines the hooky onslaught of Moctar’s 2019 breakout LP, Ilana: The Creator, into one thing extra well-rounded. Bassist and producer Mikey Coltun’s sequencing affords breathers between levee-breakers, giving essential hush to introspective ballads Bismilahi Atagah and Tala Tannam, whereas permitting the molten psychedelia of Taliat and Asdikte Akal to sprawl. True to the music’s Saharan origins, there’s ample area right here. Typically Mdou’s voice is barely above a whisper earlier than the band be part of him in skyward invocations. Read more. Gabriel Szatan


Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams

As the start of 2021 marked nearly a full 12 months of the pandemic, many people have been experiencing some type of affect on our psychological well being. So when Arlo Parks launched her debut album in January, she discovered herself chiming with common considerations. Addressing points that had been triggered or exacerbated by lives caught inside 4 partitions – unrequited want, sexuality, poor physique picture, prejudice, betrayal and despair – Parks emerged as an empathic, comforting voice. What makes Collapsed in Sunbeams so efficient is that the music is the hanging inverse of her themes – mild, ethereal, her conversational voice susceptible and childlike. Her songs are delicately however cleverly constructed, with ear-worm choruses and beneficiant hooks; soulful, folky tones, mild R&B and jazzy drumming; a shimmering sea of balm-like sound beneath which lurk these lyrical depth expenses. Read more. Dave Simpson


Olivia Rodrigo – Bitter

Olivia Rodrigo on her Sour album cover.
Olivia Rodrigo on the quilt of her album Bitter

Not since Britney Spears shimmied her manner down a hallway dressed in class uniform has a debut single had such a right away cultural affect: inside 4 days of Olivia Rodrigo releasing Drivers License, the track had damaged Spotify’s report for probably the most single-day streams for a non-holiday track; it will spend 9 consecutive weeks at No 1 on the UK charts. Like Spears, Rodrigo additionally acquired her begin with Disney, nevertheless, Rodrigo’s pathway to pop dominance wasn’t constructed on dance routines and Max Martin-penned bangers. Bitter is an intimate, barbed, anxious and brilliantly crafted debut album concerning the butchery of heartbreak and the emotional hurricane that’s being a young person. Image Rodrigo swooping in sporting a cheerleader outfit and Doc Martens whereas brandishing a baseball bat, her face nonetheless moist with tears. Read more. Alim Kheraj


Dry Cleansing – New Lengthy Leg

Dry Cleansing frontperson Florence Shaw captures a technology’s inner monologue like by no means earlier than: these bitchy, distracted, completely unmindful ideas {that a} consciousness poisoned by metropolis life and digital media is powerless to cease. Shaw doom-scrolls by way of her personal life, but the London band’s debut album is commonly breezy and filled with little state of affairs comedies; her humour given ample area by the sturdy guitar-bass-drums trio who cleave to diversified strains of stoner-garage rock. In the end there’s a profound poetry in how her observations cling collectively, a reminder that one thing might be constructed from the dumb flotsam of bizarre life. Read more. BBT

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