My Top 10 Albums of 2021
By Lily Isakson-Bell, Reporter
The thing that I did the most in 2021 was listen to music. 119,620 minutes of it to be exact. In my opinion, 2021 was not the best year for music. However, that does not mean that there weren’t a handful of albums that I can honestly say got me through this brutal year. Here are my top 10 albums of 2021, in no particular order, and my favorite song from each of them.
PRAY FOR HAITI
Mach-Hommy’s poeticness shines very bright on his 2021 album “Pray For Haiti.” His words are introspective and beautifully rhymed, layered over tracks executive produced by Westside Gunn, an old friend of Mach-Hommy’s. That’s another incredible thing about this album: you can tell that Mach-Hommy is telling a story even if you can’t catch all of the words. My favorite song off of the album is “The 26th Letter”, the first song on the album.
“Balens Cho”, Mach-Hommy’s second album of 2021 has a similar sound to the first. If there’s anything, it follows a plot more closely than “Pray For Haiti” does. “Pray For Haiti” is a more character-driven story compared to “Balens Cho”‘s carefully plotted 13 tracks. There are interludes of sorts on “Balens Cho” that prove the plot-drivenness of it all. The voice in these tracks is an exploitative one, seemingly making its way through a poorer country with plans to drill money out of it. My favorite song off of this album is “Self Luh”.
WHAT’S YOUR PLEASURE? PLATINUM EDITION
Jessie Ware released the deluxe edition of her 2021 album “What’s Your Pleasure?” in June of 2021, almost exactly a year after the initial release of the album. “What’s Your Pleasure?” is a beautiful album. It’s very atmospheric but sort of wistful and yearning all the same. The album is a dramatic return to Ware’s roots, the disco-inspired club music that she had started off her career by making. If you’re looking for a song to try out before listening to the full thing, I highly suggest “Spotlight”. Definitely my favorite song off of the whole album.
Adele returns with “30” this year, coming out of a divorce and six years since a full-length album. To state the obvious, the album is sad. It tells stories of heartbreak and recovering from experiences that leave a person in a worse state than they ever thought they’d be in. If you’re looking for a gorgeous song and a good cry, I suggest “My Little Love”, a song Adele dedicated to her son.
Something that Key does very brilliantly on his album “Bad Love” is nail a retro concept on the head. The album is full of 80s synth and drums reminiscent of the disco era, complete with a dance beat and lyrics about love. The album feels very reminiscent of a past time like Key is channeling his nostalgia for his childhood through the synth-pop that he sings. This nostalgia is most apparent on “Eighteen (End Of My World,)” the last track on the album. “Helium” still holds the title of my favorite song, though.
“Planet Her” by Doja Cat is one of those albums that you must have been living under a rock to have not heard by now. “Planet Her” is the most well-rounded release of the year, with some of my favorite songs of the year coming off of it. With everything from the alien concept to both pre-released singles getting wildly popular, the album has everything that a pop record could want. While “Need to Know” and “Woman” both deserve their success, I still think that “Been Like This” is the best song off of the album hands down.
THE ASYMPTOTICAL WORLD
“The Asymptotatical World” is the latest release from Yves Tumor. It’s experimental and hyper and definitely rock, almost like if grunge went electronic. This project from Tumor is pretty different from their 2020 release “Heaven To A Tortured Mind.” It’s a more instrumental album than “The Asymptotical World”. “Secrecy Is Important To The Both Of Them” is my favorite song off of the album.
Vince Staples’ most recent release “Vince Staples” is very neatly cohesive. It’s produced entirely by one producer, Kenny Beats, which might be the reason why it’s that cohesive. The content of Staples’ lyrics hasn’t changed very much over the years; he is still recounting childhood memories and the paranoia that he carries around in his head. My favorite song off of the album is “Are You With That?”
“Change” is Anika’s first full-length album in 11 years and it does not disappoint. Anika has a beautiful voice, almost deep and hypnotizing, and she knows which kind of music suits it best. “Change” feels like the ever so slightly more pop-y sister to Anika’s self-titled album “Anika” from earlier this year. Both albums are a little bit haunted and experimental, but “Change” has got its thumb on danceability more than “Anika” did. My favorite song off of it is “Sand Witches.”
THE LIMINANAS AND LAURENT GARNIER
“De Película” by The Limiñanas and Laurent Garnier feels like a film noir soundtrack in absolutely the best way possible. It’s electronic and ghostly, like if he wandered into a haunted mansion straight out of a late 70s horror movie. The album sounds like the plot of a movie too, dramatic and impactful. My favorite song off of “De Película” is “Saul.”