The 50 finest albums of 2021: 50-8

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


Agnes – Magic Nonetheless Exists

The Swedish pop star’s long-delayed fifth album embodies the platonic very best of pop disco, steeped in Gaga (invigoratingly stern vocals about releasing one’s thoughts and physique), Abba (piano stomps and trills), Donna Summer time (the thumping 24 Hours) and Queen (melodramatic balladry). It transcends pastiche on the power of her songwriting (you may 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 Tune 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 turn 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 Tune Sternkopf – a survivor of religion cults as a baby – venting majestically into the mic. Tracks corresponding to Serf herald a groove steel sensibility to assist all of it swing. BBT


Lucy Dacus – Home Video

A number of the yr’s finest musical storytelling lived within the Virginia songwriter’s third file, her writing newly amplified by delicate 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 need amid a tradition of disgrace and damnation, of the fantasies that permit her escape these limitations – with such tender curiosity that these vignettes really feel much less like mounted reminiscences than forensic crime scene reconstructions. Read the full review. LS


Chai – WINK

The really confident not often make a noise about it, and so it’s with the third album by Japanese woman 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 thrill 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 reveals – Fretwell has such a pure facility for an affecting flip of melody, his easy fingerpicked guitar made eerie by the delicate ambient tones that sit behind it. BBT


For These I Love – For These I Love

Poignant reminiscences appear to elongate and soften as we age, however this album is a reminder of how a lot jagged heft they’ve if you’re wanting again after only a few years or months. David Balfe, 30, displays on a useless finest pal, poverty, trauma and the extreme 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 Highway – For the First Time

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

You don’t are likely to get many Prime 5 charting albums from bands who mix klezmer, post-punk, jazz and prog with lyrics about failed romance at a science honest, however Black Country, New Road managed it. That success is testomony to how explicit and recent their sound is amid the peculiar 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 – an exquisite, flawed character. Read the full review. BBT


Chris Corsano and Invoice Orcutt – Made Out of Sound

For this album, made remotely final yr, guitarist Orcutt improvised to Corsano’s drum tracks, observing the waveforms as he recorded “so I might see when a crescendo was coming or when to convey 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 the whole planet. Different songs are direct rallying cries to avoid wasting Earth (Into the Storm, Sphinx); One other World turns jaded and escapist, however is offset by The Chant, whose hearty refrain is the sort 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 will for optimism and gregariousness amid the waning pandemic. Like a number of the perfect underground dance artists lately (Skee Masks, Anz and so forth), she firmly embraces the breakbeat-driven sound of the early 90s – Trip 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 typically riled her, however the first of two albums she launched this yr 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 beautiful falsetto on White Costume? 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, no less than, 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 yr, Paramore’s affect might 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 disappointment grew to become its personal form of secure harbour. That unusual sense of comforting desolation hums via in acoustic guitar and ghostly piano, though Williams’ innate approach with a vocal hook supplies the defiant life drive. LS


Goat Woman – 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 Woman. {Photograph}: Holly Whitaker

The south London quartet’s debut was storage rock with a contact of psych; this sophomore album grandly scaled that second factor 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 large questions on life and loss of life: the local weather disaster, capitalism and the wrestle to be allowed one’s reality 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 truth. 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 sort of slippery, humorous, explosively inventive file that maybe might 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 via 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 awesome, offbeat file. 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 yr’s Kacey Musgraves album. LS


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

The psychedelic, shoegaze-y haze has step by step 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 large in scale: each the preparations and the power 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 challenge exceeded two minutes), basic drum’n’bass samples double as nagging reminiscences 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 evening bus. PinkPantheress makes music befitting one other after-hours ceremony of passage: that bleary-eyed, rueful stumble via 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 delicate 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 reminiscences of David Berman, whose band Purple Mountains she was set to tour with previous to his loss of life – and the way studying tips on how 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 by some means 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 title. The sheer invention contrasted devastating lyrics about hitting a wall – drawn from the couple’s experiences coping with Alan’s melancholy – 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 an exquisite sense of liveness to this file, 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 move that sits on prime of the beat with out being too fussily exact. Behind her a band shuffle via a choice of grooves – reggae, neo-soul, hip-hop – that add as much as a sensual, instinctive album that you may think about Amy Winehouse making on a distinct timeline. Read the full review. BBT


Clairo – Sling

A powerful self-preservationist streak ran via a number of extremely anticipated albums by pop’s younger girls this yr, 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 appeared like music for pushing the furnishings again and dancing on the lounge rug – and Clairo’s lyrics, about breaking with relationships that now 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 gazing previous photographs, 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 pageant, September, 2021. {Photograph}: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Photographs

It was maybe barely overshadowed by its backstory: Annie Clark’s father’s launch from jail, which, for some listeners, solid the whole file 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 figuring out 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 through 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 non secular jazz, however that style’s temper pervades the whole 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 ability she will be able to wield to maintain her companions quiet, flexing her skill to hold on in secret – regardless of manifold violations of her privateness – as if it had 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 had been off-limits. Read the full review. LS


Floating Factors, London Symphony Orchestra and Pharoah Sanders – Guarantees

Guarantees is an album that rewards persistence. Not solely was it Pharoah Sanders’ first main recording in a decade – and a file 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 title, activated that magic. The concord between them generated its personal sense of orbit, with cello and violin solos and the shifting spectacle of Sanders’ singing voice balanced in a sort 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 e-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 need, 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 formidable album, and one among their finest. It’s a double idea album a couple of seaside resort, and captures these cities’ mix of buckets-and-spades buoyancy and out-of-season malaise; beautiful harmonies move via 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 yr’s greatest musical revelation … Arooj Aftab. {Photograph}: Vishesh Sharma

The yr’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 loss of life of her youthful brother, and launched into an unprecedented world 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 notch on a crashing airplane,” Dave says of his fame and wealth on the outset of his second album. Few rappers have sounded so ailing comfortable with vital and business success as him – even when firing off bars about beautiful girls, there’s a cautious, jaded tone to his voice. And in some ways, nothing has modified: he stays indignant on the authorities over immigration and social mobility, and relationships definitely haven’t obtained simpler. “Love’s a movie and I’m simply flicking via 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 file, 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 latest 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 attempting to recollect them from a earlier life. This album has the sort of totally pure magnificence that different artists try 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, this can be a stirring mix of enviornment 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 good album, which pumps with blood as vivid and oxygenated as its crimson cowl textual content. Free of the often sentimental and over-sumptuous backings of current 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 pretty much as good a picture for the inevitability of loss of life 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 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 approach into the lasting fame that’s assured by his stunningly good prime 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 need – for different individuals, 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 marvel. LS


Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales

The facility wrestle between cause and need fuels the Philadelphia songwriter’s fourth launch, which intersperses soulful swagger and forlorn blues with interludes by girls 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 could possibly 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 ailing dad or mum, 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 unhealthy habits. And but the sheer drive of feeling on this file – 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 drive that received’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 rely 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 mandatory 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. Generally Mdou’s voice is barely above a whisper earlier than the band be a part of him in skyward invocations. Read more. Gabriel Szatan


Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams

As the start of 2021 marked nearly a full yr of the pandemic, many people had been experiencing some form of influence 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 need, sexuality, poor physique picture, prejudice, betrayal and melancholy – 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 fees. Read more. Dave Simpson


Olivia Rodrigo – Bitter

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

Not since Britney Spears shimmied her approach down a hallway dressed in class uniform has a debut single had such a right away cultural influence: inside 4 days of Olivia Rodrigo releasing Drivers License, the track had damaged Spotify’s file 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 obtained 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

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