Top 2021 albums

Music continues to be a mentally healing outlet during a pandemic that many thought would be over by now. Alas, here we are, still duking it out with COVID-19, but at least we’ve got our tunes to help us get through these tough times. Take a look at what we consider the top releases from last year and feel free to tell us about your favorites in the comments.

Sob Rock by John Mayer

John Mayer’s Sob Rock is without a doubt my top album of 2021. It contained several singles that he had released in the years prior, including his wonderfully funky “New Light” and his slow jam that hits closer to the heart, “Carry Me Away.” “Wild Blue” pulls you in and gets stuck in your head, and you are so thankful that it does.

— Jesse Allen

if i could make it go quiet by girl in red

if i could make it go quiet was one of the only albums released last year where the first three songs quickly grabbed my attention. The melodies are so catchy, and the lyrics have that irresistible angst. It’s the kind of music that is perfect in the background while driving or hanging out with friends, but it’s also good enough to just sit and listen to or dance along with.

— Ainsley Cotherman

MONTERO by Lil Nas X

MONTERO was promoted in a very interesting way, with Lil Nas X using social media to give the impression that the album was his “baby,” showing that it was a culmination of his music career up to this point. The album itself is about Lil Nas X’s life and his struggles to avoid getting stuck in the party culture that comes with being a famous music artist. The songs are all a mixture of rap, hip-hop, ballad, and rock. This variety of styles is blended well and makes for a 40-minute experience that anyone will enjoy.

— Samuel Heinrich

Pop Punk is Dead by We Skeem

If you’re looking for a throwback to the mid-2000s, then this is the perfect nostalgia trip. Made by independent artist We Skeem, this album hits all the right notes to encapsulate the pop-punk genre in 10 songs. This is an earworm factory of an album, in the sense that you’ll be wandering around for days or weeks humming one of these great songs. My personal favorite song is “Pop Punk is Dead.”

— Patrick Madden

sketchy. by Tune-Yards

Tune-Yards’ latest album sketchy. condenses 2021 into sound. Lyrics full of angsty social commentary are playfully set to snappy beats and rhythms. Additionally, frontwoman Merrill Garbus’ vocals, with an impressive range and unique timbre, make it nearly impossible to resist singing while the album spins. All in all, sketchy. brings catharsis to another trying year.

— Gabrielle Perry

Inside (The Songs) by Bo Burnham

A very first for me in the last crazy year: my most watched and listened-to piece of media were one and the same. Inside (The Songs) is an album comprised of the songs from Bo Burnham’s breathtaking comedy special, Inside. This album complements the special by making the listener recall their favorite bits as the songs are being performed — all while letting you appreciate the sound design even more. This album certainly adds to the experience and gives you the urge to rewatch the special over and over. You’re really joking at a time like this?

— Cale Ward

.wav by Flux Pavilion

Flux Pavilion’s first LP since 2015’s Tesla, .wav jumpstarts the dubstep genre with unabashedly catchy tunes that showcase a wide array of sonic capabilities. Flux definitely has an ear for melody, and the other musicians he collaborates with on this album each do their part to elevate the experience. Even at a generous 16 tracks, .wav is consistently excellent from top to bottom. It’s a highly enjoyable body of music that explores a variety of emotions with curiosity and vigor. A few of my favorite songs are “Sink Your Teeth In,” “Twitterbird,” “Fall To Me” and the hair-raising finale “LOVE.”

— Levi Yager

interrobang by Switchfoot

interrobang is a great rock album! It’s nice to hear some fresh, original rock sounds from Switchfoot, especially after their last two albums didn’t impress me much. “wolves” is a personal favorite track.

— Noah Yager

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