Opinion: Top Albums of 2021

Senior Indrani Maitra takes us through her top six songs of 2021. 

Black Country, New Road

Senior Indrani Maitra takes us through her top six songs of 2021. 

Indrani Maitra, Executive Content Editor

Senior Indrani Maitra shares her top six albums of 2021.

Black Country, New Road

“For the First Time” (2021)

British experimental rock supergroup Black Country, New Road has released a wholly dazzling debut. I would like to say it is a debut on par with the musical thrill of Arcade Fire or the manic dance-punk of LCD Soundsystem. But to me, Black Country, New Road has carved out a sound so mind-blowing and fresh, it stands alone, unparalleled in its excellence. “For the First Time” is spearheaded by a wonderfully talented seven piece ranging from vocals to saxophones to the piano. Delicate and bittersweet riffs pepper a chaotic yet refined instrumentation; restless drum grooves and infectious saxophone melodies lined by the hypnotic, regal orchestral accompaniment of violinist Georgia Ellery and pianist May Kershaw. The highlight of the album is absolutely singer Isaac Wood’s magical vocals. He hardly sings but rather speaks, even rambles, narrating deeply personal and vulnerable subjects—disillusionment, unrequited love, paralyzing anxiety. In tracks like “Sunglasses,” panoramic soundscapes crawl and soar to the cusp of ecstasy, plummeting to total and utter bellowing musical cacophony—screeching saxophones, sludgy riffage—just pure disarray. Black Country, New Road clutches the traditionalism of music structure and absolutely annihilates it into dizzying and electrifying, post-punk-infused breakdowns. It’s unbearably captivating. 

파란노을 [Parannoul]

“To See the Next Part of the Dream” (2021)

Really enchanting stuff—lush, dreamy shoegaze padded with some really marvelous emo-inspired riffs and these dark, cathartic melodies. Layers of guitars shrouded in distortion and noise can’t hide the beauty of this album. Absolutely haunting. Lyrical themes are introspective, going over themes of self-loathing and the fear of imminent change; they are best described as reflections of ugly truths and distant desires. I’m really excited to see what this South Korean student does in the coming future.

Lingua Ignota

“Sinner Get Ready” (2021)

Regal, maniacal, alluring and utterly feral manifesto. Her mesmerizing vocals deftly puncture the line between melodic and restrained, and violent, abrasive, raw, angry. With its menacing hymnal imagery, clerical-inspired instrumentals and occasionally scathing censure of papal institutions, this album is like if the Church eviscerated its own entrails and weaved a tapestry out of its own dripping organs. It’s anarchic and phlegmatic and barbaric and serene, and I love it.


“Bright Green Field” (2021)

I’m loving this new influx of frenzied, modern post punk. You can really see in the anchor track “Narrator” how much the British post-punk Windmill scene orients itself around musical catharsis: jittery riffs and yelping vocals, subtle, controlled chaos, building up to a bone-chilling, angsty climax. Bright Green Field brilliantly captures that delightful yet anxious surrealism of classic art punk. Plus, this album is very danceable. Its idiosyncrasy reminds me of Talking Heads.

Magdalena Bay

“Mercurial World” (2021)

A languid, ethereal project that beautifully synthesizes a broad spectrum of musical influences, from synthpop to house to 2010s RnB. The vocals are really magnificent, particularly in tracks like “Hysterical Us” and “Prophecy.” The airy Grimes-esque vocals and syrupy, distorted guitar licks create a soft and infectious ambience. Despite its myriad of influences, the album is not derivative in the least—its top-tier production is evident in the evocative track “Dreamcatching.” Mercurial World knows exactly what it’s doing, and it does it excellently.

The Fool

“Bladee” (2021) 

Swedish rapper, producer and CEO of the Drain Gang cult Bladee has released his most accessible album yet. In “The Fool,” Bladee adopts catchy melodies and inserts them into an ethereal cloud trap structure—a combination that culminates in a delightful, soothing record. He is deeply spiritual in tracks like “Thee 9 is Up” and “The Fool Intro,” tackling his own material indulges and relationship with God, while unraveling the boundaries of nonsensical lyricism in bouncy songs like “Hotel Breakfast.” Overall, Bladee is at both his catchiest and triumphant in “The Fool.”