Check out our list below!
It’s been another unforgettable year, whilst the world continued to face so much, one thing we could all connect with and find solace in was of course music. Singing at home, in the car, on the dance floor and festivals (however briefly that may have lasted) our favourite musicians kept the happiness flowing. So naturally, we’ve put together a list of our top 20 favourite albums of the year. Be sure to take a gander through our website and see how many artists released new music via our interviews, news and reviews. Naturally we can’t wait for 2022 as the tunes continue! Here are the top 20 of 2021…
20. PARCELS - DAY/NIGHT
Australian electro-pop five-piece Parcels' highly-anticipated sophomore album, Day/Night is comprised of two juxtaposing sides with each side offering up different views and perspectives of the inner and outer self, and the world we exist in. With over 150 demos going into the project, the band spent three months between touring and working on the album getting reacquainted with their instruments. Intricately weaving together threads of western folk and classic pop, the five-piece explore new sonic terrain, creating a layered and textural collection of songs. Across the body of work, Parcels explore the duality of life, navigating the juxtaposition of identity vs anonymity, family vs independence, belonging vs isolation and nostalgia vs projection.
19. BIRDY - YOUNG HEART
Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Birdy delivered her bewitching fourth studio album, Young Heart. Across sixteen carefully crafted compositions, the record tussles between light and dark. The singer explores the want to hide away and find shelter, and the juxtaposing need to seek out new experiences. Where previous records from Birdy have had a magical aura around them, Young Heart navigates uncharted territory, painting a portrait of an artist in pain, looking for the light whilst taking a more organic instrumental approach when compared to its predecessor.
18. THE VERONICAS - HUMAN
Australian legends The Veronicas blessed their fans with not one, but two albums in 2021. Godzilla and Human arrived seven years after the duos third album, with Human offering up more intimate moments than its predecessor Godzilla. Featuring the singles On Your Side, Think Of Me and Biting My Tongue, The Veronicas have curated a body of work that captures the archetype of earlier albums from the duo, whilst also bringing their songwriting and sonic exploration into a contemporary setting. Full of ear worm melodies and memorable lyricism, the album is a call to know your own worth and not lose yourself to fill the voids of an other.
17. POND - 9
Laced with tongue-in-cheek lyricism that provides as many entertaining one liners as it does introspective examination, Pond have created a body of work that will fuel the fire within their fanbase, whilst welcoming in a new age of listeners with 9. There’s a more open approach to creating and writing, with their process for this record embedded within each track. Produced by Pond and mixed by Jay Watson and James Ireland, 9 flips the groundwork set on their last three records, on its head, returning to the experimental and divisive psych-rock sonics of their earlier years. In doing so, the band have offered up one of their most curated body of works to date, focusing on concise and effective lyricism and soundscapes.
16. AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS - COMFORT TO ME
Amyl and The Sniffers made their grand return, with the release of their sophomore album, Comfort To Me. Across thirteen tracks, the record is an exhibition of front woman Amy Taylor's expert lyricism, whilst also offering a more refined sonic realm. Featuring the singles Guided By Angels, Security and Hertz, the album conceptually offers an introspective look at the confines of lockdown, capturing the uneasy energy felt throughout the pandemic, playing out atop blazing guitar work and riotous percussion. Sonically, Comfort To Me effortlessly weaves together threads of old school rock and roll and hardcore punk, simmering beneath rap influenced lyricism.
15. MÅNESKIN - TEATRO D'IRA: VOL. I
Italian rockers Måneskin had a massive breakout year, taking home the Eurovision Song Contest with their track ZITTI E BUONI, taken from their second studio album, Teatro d'ira: Vol. I. Recorded live to capture their raw and electric energy, the four-piece self-produced the album alongside Fabrizio Ferraguzzo and was entirely composed by the band. Creating a collection of rebellious anthems, the album celebrates individuality, embracing the unknown and breaks down the dichotomy between love and sexuality.
14. SILK SONIC - AN EVENING WITH SILK SONIC
Multiple GRAMMY® Award winners Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak treated us with the hotly anticipated debut album from their musical collaboration Silk Sonic with An Evening With Silk Sonic. Laced with smooth and soulful sonics and upbeat grooves that will have you dancing all night long, the record is a fresh take on the signature stylings of R&B and 70's soul. Enlisting the likes of Thundercat, Bootsy Collins, Homer Steinweiss, D’Mile, Babyface and more, the nine track long release explores love, lust and heartbreak.
13. ADELE - 30
Delving deeper into her treasure trove of emotions, Adele once again delivers a complex examination of love and heartbreak, and the lingering effects of a relationships demise. On 30, we meet new sides of the singer as she explores motherhood, dating in modern times and independence. Building upon her sonic palette, the singer pushes up against the confines of her pop-soul history, introducing more overt hints of jazz and soul, with subtle moments of 70’s inspired R&B. There is a journey throughout 30. The album closes as Adele sings, “I love me now, like I love him”, reaching a new sense of self-worth and appreciation, with 30 serving as a documentation from heartbreak and loneliness, to happier days on the horizon.
12. SAM FENDER - SEVENTEEN GOING UNDER
UK rocker Sam Fender's sophomore record Seventeen Going Under takes a more intense and personal approach to songwriting when compared with his debut, Hypersonic Missiles. Transforming his own life experiences into compositional works of art, Seventeen Going Under tells a coming-of-age tale, playing out across eleven tracks. Fender recorded the album in his hometown, once again teaming up with long-time collaborator, producer Bramwell Bronte.
11. GENESIS OWUSU - SMILING WITH NO TEETH
Smiling With No Teeth marks Genesis Owusu's first full length release, and earned the musician four awards at this years ARIA Awards. Exploring themes of race, identity and belonging, the body of work defies genre and pushes the boundaries. Delving into his own mental health, the record documents Owusu’s experiences living as a black man within a white society and his own place within the world whilst also representing societies outcasts with the record’s “black dog” motif. With introspective and powerful lyricism, the musicians lyrical mastery takes centre stage as he effortlessly weaves together punk and industrial sonics within a hip-hop realm.
10. CHILLINIT - FAMILY TIES
Made complete with his signature spitfire flow and commanding lyricism, FAMILY TIES arrives as the rappers most considered body of work to date. Meandering through a variety of themes, the core of the record centres itself around the camaraderie present within the rappers community and the importance and strength of family. The album also flexes ChillinIt’s considerable success since bursting on to the scene, offering introspective thoughts and rumination, playing out atop pumping production and driving beats. The collection of songs sees the musician team up with a number of collaborators, including Huskii, Dylan Frost, Lisi, Izzy Gibbs, Wombat and Bliss n Eso’s DJ IZM. ChillinIt enlisted his longtime collaborator Badrapper and his own brother and DJ bbrock on production duties, keeping the release a family affair.
9. TYNE-JAMES ORGAN - NECESSARY EVIL
Australian singer-songwriter Tyne-James Organ unveiled his hotly-anticipated debut album, Necessary Evil, recorded with longtime creative partner Chris Collins (Middle Kids, Skegss) at his NSW Hinterland studio, Stokers Siding. The record is a rollercoaster of emotions playing out across twelve tracks, ebbing and flowing between moments of joy and triumph, to those more raw and introspective. Navigating and commenting on themes of grief and pain, power and passion, Organ brings his signature open and raw lyricism above bare bones acoustics to the collection of songs, leaving his imprint on each composition. Bringing his lyrical mastery to life, Organ's captivating vocal delivery throughout the album is effortlessly natural, soaring above warm sonics that will perfectly soundtrack your next road trip. With lush layers and mesmerising guitar melodies woven throughout the record, Organ has hit the mark on his debut.
8. THE PRETTY RECKLESS - DEATH BY ROCK N ROLL
American rock band The Pretty Reckless made their return with Death By Rock And Roll, their first studio album in five years. Fuelled by their own dealings with loss and grief following the passing of their longtime producer and collaborator Kato Khandwala and their tour mate Chris Cornell, frontman of Soundgarden, the personal collection of songs captures the pain and heartbreak that followed. Further delving into their hard rock sonics, front woman Taylor Momsen's commanding vocals stomp above captivating soundscapes, with the band enlisting Soundgarden's Kim Anand Thayil, Pearl Jam's Matthew David Cameron and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello for guest appearances across the record.
7. CLIENT LIAISON - DIVINE INTERVENTION
Divine Intervention is another sizzling collection of bangers from Client Liaison, full of fun, energetic and nostalgic tracks that perfectly accompany the thematic nature of the record. Opening with a cult-like welcome message, the main conceptual thread masterfully woven throughout the record is the joining of ones body and soul to create the ultimate human experience. With vivid nostalgic production and smooth vocals, Divine Intervention’s storytelling lyricism conjures radiant imagery, laced with holy references that lean into the overarching concept of reaching divinity. The album is also a celebration of the avant-garde and the liberation that music can bring, laced with influences from INXS and George Michael that fuse together 80’s rock with groovy threads of of new-wave dance-rock.
6. LORDE - SOLAR POWER
The bright Solar Power hides its complexity in plain sight; introspective and conversational lyricism run wild, with Lorde's talent for capturing the feelings and emotions of her generation scattered throughout the record. Teaming up once again with longtime producer Jack Antonoff, the organic-led release is a welcome change from the singers usual electronic sonics, bringing an overall natural sound through the instrumentation and samples, including recordings of cicadas. Laced with catchy melodies, Solar Power is an understated masterpiece that counts on each track to create a new realm for the singers music to exist within. Lorde’s musical prowess transcends the fame and success that arrived alongside her debut album Pure Heroine, with her latest effort proving that time away from the spotlight allows for a natural reinvention and revitalisation.
5. LIL NAS X - MONTERO
On his debut album, Lil Nas X effortlessly weaves hip-hop and pop sonics, shying away from gimmicks and instead focusing on captivating, honest lyricism and emotion-stirring soundscapes. The eclectic, sparkling debut brings high-quality production from Take a Daytrip, with additional work from the likes of Ryan Tedder and Kanye West, which will have you dancing, crying and feeling empowered. Montero is the perfect introduction to Lil Nas X, lending his birth name to the title and signifying a rebirth within the albums visual identity. Apart from creating a body of work full of awe-inspiring tracks, the album is a proclamation of self-acceptance and backing yourself throughout life’s pressures.
4. OLIVIA RODRIGO - SOUR
2021 really was Olivia Rodrigo's year, and her debut album SOUR became the soundtrack to heartbreak. Led by the 5× ARIA Platinum smash hit Drivers License, Rodrigo delivered hit after hit with Deja Vu, Good 4 U and Brutal, earning her a legion of fans worldwide. Whilst the record was met with some controversy due to songwriting credits, SOUR finds some of its most powerful moments in non-single tracks. The vulnerability and considered songwriting present on Enough For You, Happier and Favourite Crime prove Rodrigo's talent as a songwriter and vocalist, leaving a sweet, not sour, taste in our mouths.
3. RED (TAYLOR'S VERSION)
Global superstar Taylor Swift delivered one of the best albums of the year with Red (Taylor's Version). Arriving packed with thirty tracks, the record was the second re-recorded album from Swift in 2021, this time expanding upon 2012's Red. Including a number of unreleased songs that existed within fandom folklore, Swift made history topping the charts with her 10 minute version of All Too Well, replacing Don McLean's American Pie (Parts I & II) as Billboard's longest No. 1 hit in Hot 100 chart history. Bigger and better, the new recordings remain faithful to the original production, however bringing a more refined quality. Meandering between country and pop, it's hard to believe the album could get bigger, but once again Swift exceeds all of our expectations. Focusing on the original songs that appeared on Red, the re-recordings offer slight vocal variations throughout the collection of songs, with the singer offering up nine new tracks written during her time working on the record almost a decade ago.
2. HAYLEY WILLIAMS - FLOWERS FOR VASES / DESCANSOS
On her sophomore record, Hayley Williams has crafted a softer body of work that is centred around a narrower sonic palate than its predecessor. Bringing a more acoustic approach to the album, the pensive record relies on emptiness and space within its overall soundscape, creating atmospheric instrumentals that dance beneath Williams’ glistening voice. Her pulled back vocal performance paired with her evocative lyricism creates emotional moments of beauty, pain and hurt. The self reflective tracks weave together relationships and their lasting mental effects long after they’ve come to an end, themes explored in the earlier tracks of Petals For Armour, which is what leaves Flowers for Vases / descansos feeling as if it is additional material that exists within the same realm, however prior to the end point of Petals For Armour. Once again, Williams has created a beautifully poignant, and timeless body of work, that showcases the many faceted sides to one of our generations greatest artists.
1. HALSEY - IF I CAN’T HAVE LOVE I WANT POWER
If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is arguably Halsey's most considered record. Superb production from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, allows the singers evocative and captivating lyricism to run wild in a new sonic playground. Halsey has offered an in-depth analysis of their own psyche, arriving at a steady resolution, that love holds the ultimate power. The record serves as a comprehensive anatomy of the dichotomy of impending motherhood, sprinkled with Halsey's masterful lyricism that creates a sense of folklore across the thirteen tracks. The bulk of the concept record navigates the distinction between self-preservation and self-destruction, told through a lens that focuses on trauma placed upon the body. Offering moments of strength, juxtaposed with moments of intimacy, the ambitious record is a powerful, career-defining moment from one of the 21st centuries most innovative artists.