While we’re still waiting for some highly-anticipated albums from leading music figures such as Drake’s Certified Lover Boy and Lorde’s Solar Power, it’s important to savour the notable releases this year before they become distant memories. The first half of 2021 has graced us with some albums that are sure to be memorable for the rest of the year, and a few that we would rather forget. In no particular order, here are 5 of the best albums released this year.
Chemtrails Over the Country Club – Lana Del Ray
The queen of melancholy returned this year with an ode to Americana in a different way than usual. Her emotional anthems provided a soundtrack for all the teenagers crafting their Tumblr profiles throughout the 2010s, yet were centred around the theme of the fast and free life by the coast. Chemtrails romanticizes midwestern states such as Nebraska and Omaha; as a result, her 6th studio album is full of folk mixed with a good helping of guitar twang. Chemtrails gives the same passionate introspective vibe that we love her for, but in the back of a pickup truck.
ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE – BROCKHAMPTON
According to a Kevin Abstract Tweet, after Roadrunner only one more album from “America’s Favourite Boy Band” awaits. Perhaps because of this or not, Roadrunner takes the outrageous energy that the group is known for and delivers it in the most precise way yet. 13 tracks of polished rap fused with pop are delivered with breezy production alongside a couple of upbeat features from Danny Brown and A$AP Rocky. Previous releases saw Brockhampton trying to squeeze in verses from as many group members as possible, while Roadrunner allows fewer members more time to shine.
Life’s a Beach – Easy Life
If it wasn’t for the production, the debut album from the Leicester-based ensemble would have you feeling pessimistic. Primarily written by frontman Murray Matravers during quarantine, Life’s a Beach equally delivers both sun-drenched pop hits and melancholy indie tracks. Subjects like mental health and summer fun are addressed across genre-bending tracks that are relatable and enjoyable. The overall energy of the album makes sense given the title and the fact that the band’s hometown is the furthest UK county from the sea.
Sound Ancestors – Madlib
For us to receive a solo Madlib album feels a bit extreme. With no MC such as Freddie Gibbs or MF DOOM coasting on his production, we are able to fully enjoy everything the veteran DJ has to offer. This instrumental hip-hop album is rife with smokey and refined that is a perfect soundtrack for a rainy day. Whether it’s the dance hall track that reworks a SnoopDog sample “Loose Goose”, or the J Dilla tribute track “Two for 2”, Madlib is at his best on Sound Ancestors.
Call Me If You Get Lost – Tyler, the Creator
Supported by DJ Drama playing the role of the hype man, Tyler delivered a kaleidoscopic album that would fit perfectly in a Wes Anderson film. Each track leads into one another, transporting the listener into Tyler’s pastel-coloured world full of Rolls Royces and passports. Shorter braggadocious tracks bolstered with features from artists like 42 Dugg and Lil Wayne are offset by a handful of deeply introspective songs. With production that ranges from Funk to Synth, Call Me sees Tyler enjoying the fruits of his labour after his journey from being banned in countries across the globe, to being a grammy-winning artist renowned for maximum creativity. Click here to read HOLR’s album feature.