There were a whole lot of great albums released in 2021. Actually there are a whole lot of great albums released every year, so one could argue that 2021 wasn’t particularly unique in that aspect. But compared to 2020, which was a little lighter than usual on releases due to the pandemic and artists generally holding back until they could tour again, this year seemed much more normal. A lot of records came out from a number of big names, and things like touring and music festivals returned this past summer. It felt good to get back to basics! At the same time, things were still slightly off. Along with those big names and big albums came a lot of disappointment. Adele fared well, but Lorde did not. Kanye and Drake gave us new LPs, but the general reactions to them weren’t much more than a shrug. It provided the perfect opportunity for some artists to step up and make a real impact with fresh, exciting, and groundbreaking records. Many delivered, even if they didn’t always reach the widest audiences or establish a broad consensus to help certify their brilliance. The lack of a crystal clear frontrunner for the #1 album of 2021 among music websites and publications might imply that nothing was quite good enough to make a massive critical impact, but I would argue such a diversity of opinions is a huge positive. It gives a wider array of artists more of a chance to shine. A Jazmine Sullivan or Indigo De Souza or Arooj Aftab may now be on your radar when they might not have been otherwise in a more “standard” year. So embrace that difference, and dig into some music that challenges and inspires you. My Top 50 Albums of 2021 has no shortage of that. I’ve even included another 10 “Honorable Mentions” of records I genuinely loved that just barely missed the cut. In all sincerity, everything listed below is absolutely wonderful and worthy of your time to listen through at least once. Give them a shot if you haven’t already – I’m certain you’ll find something new to love.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order):
Amyl and the Sniffers – Comfort to Me
The Armed – ULTRAPOP
Dave – We’re All Alone in This Together
Halsey – If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
Hand Habits – Fun House
Home Is Where – I Became Birds
Iceage – Seek Shelter
Lost Girls – Menneskekollektivet
Rosie Lowe & Duval Timothy – Son
SPELLLING – The Turning Wheel

50. νŒŒλž€λ…Έμ„ (Parannoul) – To See the Next Part of the Dream

49. Grouper – Shade

48. Erika de Casier – Sensational

47. Crumb – Ice Melt

46. Tinashe – 333

45. Adele – 30

44. Anna B Savage – A Common Turn

43. Black Country, New Road – For the first time

42. Lingua Ignota – Sinner Get Ready

41. Helado Negro – Far In

40. Circuit des Yeux – -io

39. Navy Blue – Song of Sage: Post Panic!

38. Water From Your Eyes – Structure

37. Doja Cat – Planet Her

36. Wiki – Half God

35. Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams

34. Xenia Rubinos – Una Rosa

33. Kacey Musgraves – star-crossed

32. Armand Hammer x The Alchemist – Haram

31. black midi – Cavalcade

30. Illuminati Hotties – Let Me Do One More

29. Spirit of the Beehive – ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH

28. Dean Blunt – Black Metal 2

27. Floating Points x Pharoah Sanders x The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises

26. Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

25. Mach-Hommy – Pray for Haiti

24. Arooj Aftab – Vulture Prince

23. Faye Webster – I Know I’m Funny haha

22. Low – Hey What

21. Olivia Rodrigo – SOUR

20. For Those I Love – For Those I Love

19. Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime

18. Playboi Carti – Whole Lotta Red

17. Squid – Bright Green Field

16. Dawn Richard – Second Line: An Electro Revival

15. The War on Drugs – I Don’t Live Here Anymore

14. Self Esteem – Prioritise Pleasure

13. Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

12. Indigo de Souza – Any Shape You Take

11. Turnstile – Glow On

10. Cassandra Jenkins – An Overview on Phenomenal Nature

9. Tirzah – Colourgrade

8. Snail Mail – Valentine

7. Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg

6. Tyler, the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost

5. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

4. Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales

3. Magdalena Bay – Mercurial World

2. L’Rain – Fatigue

1. The Weather Station – Ignorance