The last year may have been another difficult one, but there was one area in which things looked very bright indeed: the world of music. With the recent release of the BBC’s ‘Poll of Polls’, which identified the best albums of 2021, by compiling thirty critics’ end-of-year selections for musical highlights, the albums below and the artists who created them were some of the most effervescent influencers of last year.
And we take a look at what musical treats are in store for us in 2022, too…..
The thought-provoking lyrics and songs that have been defined as ‘orchestral’ in scope earned this album from Little Simz – her fourth – the top spot in the BBC poll that marked the best albums of 2021. The album charts Little Simz’s (real name, Simbiatu Ajikawo) past difficulties and family background, as well as her struggles within the music industry, and has received wide-ranging critical acclaim since its release last year.
Hailing from Brooklyn, Michelle Zauner, aka Japanese Breakfast, has gifted the world an uplifting, radiant album centered on the concept of joy, much needed in these times. Her third album, Jubilee, has been classed a ‘masterpiece’ by critics and explores issues such as monogamy and the accumulation of wealth and the rationale behind it.
With its beautiful synth arrangements and striking melodies, the tracks on this album will no doubt be heard for some time to come in movies and advertising features. If you’re in the process of making your own video for social media and would like an equally captivating sonic background for your creations, then have a look here for a huge variety of license free music that will take your work to the next level.
Low is a Minnesota married couple that happens to be practicing Mormons, and Hey What is their thirteenth offering. Formed in the nineties, Low was initially known for their intense guitar sound before their vibe morphed into an industrial, dissonant, dark sound that has been concerned with exploring some of the most pressing and divisive social issues of the day: the Trump presidency and the state of environmental catastrophe are just two of the issues that the duo have tackled.
The critics have pointed out that, with the blinding success of this latest album, Low is set to become one of the most influential bands of their generation.
Following the record-breaking reign of her single, ‘Drivers License’ on Spotify last year, followed by a nine-week chart-topping run, Sour has been highly rated by critics; a review by the NME called it ‘exhilaratingly real’ as well as being a confident record full of personality, that charts Rodrigo’s painful journey through a teenage breakup. Taylor Swift, The White Stripes, Alanis Morrisette, and Fiona Apple are all clear influences on the record, which the singer put together with the help of just one other person, producer Dan Nigro.
The much anticipated new release from Adele lived up to – and exceeded – the expectations of many and became the biggest selling album of 2021 almost immediately upon its release. Managing to bring both a sense of large-scale, sweeping production and heartfelt intimacy to the album, this record sees the singer exploring her recent, much-publicized divorce and its fallout.
Critics have praised the bolder choice of the artist in terms of experimenting with new sounds rather than following the patterns laid down in previous albums and have cited it as Adele’s best work since the album that catapulted her to success, 21, ten years ago.
With the list of 2021’s best albums in the bag, it’s time to look ahead at what indulgences our ears are in for over the next twelve months!
Due for release in February, expect the latest offering from Bastille to feature the futuristic sounds, sweeping melodies, and thoughtful lyrics that the band has become known for. The songs featured on the album are sure to be a hit as part of the arena tour that Bastille has coming in the spring. Look out for Riz Ahmed making a spoken word appearance on one of the tracks.
Recently signed to Domino Records, Wet Leg is in good company: Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys are on the same roster. This indie-rock band is making waves, and their debut, self-titled album (coming out in April), is a charismatic and catchy affair, with razor-sharp-witted lyrics. Wet Leg’s forthcoming tour has already sold out, and great things clearly await.
This album may not yet have an official release date scheduled but has already been tipped as the record that’s going to put reggae back into the charts and the mainstream again. Hailing from Spanish Town, Jamaica, Koffee (whose real name is Mikalya Simpson) has recently featured on singles by J Hus and John Legend, and her EP won in the Best Reggae Album category at the 2020 Grammys.