It feels as thought we’ve seen it all this year: the good (Kanye West ascending to the heavens in Atlanta), the bad (the shock deaths of SOPHIE and Joey Jordison) and the hopeful (Britney Spears’ conservatorship coming to an end). And through it all we’ve been treated to some great records spanning dozens of genres. Here, we count down the 20 best new albums of 2021. Seeing us through a tumultuous first year of the new decade, and with the global economy and the artistic world slowly opening back up, they make the future seem brighter than ever.
Best New Albums Of 2021: 20 Essential Releases Of The Year
20: Coldplay: ‘Music Of The Spheres’
Coldplay don’t really do “normal” albums – that is, albums that go unhyped, unnoticed or which don’t come with a concept behind them – and Music Of The Spheres is very much in keeping with that tradition, adding another ambitious record to the group’s remarkable catalogue. Since their debut with Parachutes, 21 years ago, we’ve seen Coldplay cover almost everything – from post-shoegaze to post-Britpop, art pop and most points in between – and now they find themselves traversing space-rock territory, generating an electronically charged feel-good atmosphere with songs such as Higher Power, Biutyful and, especially, My Universe, which has some help from K-Pop kings BTS. Interludes named after planetary emojis tie the expansive, intergalactic concept together.
Must hear: Biutyful