I Ranked All 110 Albums I Listened To This Year
Last year, as part of my unending endeavour to listen to as much music as possible, I started cataloguing every new album I listened to. I wasn't comparing them to each other, just listing each album out in order that I heard them. I think I managed listening to about 60 albums in total that came out in 2020. This year, I promised myself I'd hit at least 100.
As we bring 2021 to a close, I count that I've listened to 110 albums in total. Now, this isn't by any means a comprehensive guide - there's definitely some gems I've missed or not got around to listening to - but it's a pretty damn extensive one. Here are all 100 albums I've listened to, ranked in order of preference. Each album is accompanied with a 10-word review - no more, no less.
As a disclaimer before we get started: please know that I enjoyed the vast majority of these albums. If your favourite record of the year is ranked quite low, I promise that's not a reflection on the record itself - I probably really enjoyed it! I also didn't seek out albums that I knew I wouldn't enjoy - all these opinions come from a genuine appreciation for the artist. Even my least favourite album here was made by undeniably talented musicians, even if it's not my jam overall. Conversely, it was incredibly hard to order some of the albums at the top of the list - I really, really loved a lot of music that came out this year.
I hope you enjoy reading this list as much as I enjoyed compiling it. At the end of the rankings, there's a playlist featuring some of my favourite songs from each record. Whack it on shuffle and discover a new favourite artist.
Now, without further ado, let's get right into the rankings of all 110 albums I listened to this year!
#110 - For The First Time - Black Country, New Road
The opener is good. Not my kinda thing overall, though.
#109 - The Melodic Blue - Baby Keem
Worth hearing Kendrick go "Top of the morning". Meh.
#108 - Convocations - Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan's done instrumentals before. Aporia was interesting. This didn't click.
#107 - Shut The Fuck Up Talking To Me - Zack Fox
Nothing here beats Jesus Is The One (I Got Depression).
#106 - Let Me Do One More - Illuminati Hotties
Pool Hopping is really great. The rest didn't grab me.
#105 - Solar Power - Lorde
Lorde and Jack Antonoff fumbled the bag a little here.
#104 - I Know I'm Funny Haha - Faye Webster
I know that this is a pretty good album haha.
#103 - Montero - Lil Nas X
Montero itself's a great track. Megan Thee Stallion's here, too!
#102 - Blue Banisters - Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey's weakest album of the year isn't bad.
#101 - Planet i - Squirrel Flower
A nice vibe across every track. A pretty good listen.
#100 - Dream of Independence - Frida Hyvönen
The piano on this album sounds incredible. A dreamlike experience.
#99 - Heartbeats/Heartbreaks - caro♡
Solid solo record, but didn't grab me like Planet 1999 did.
#98 - Soberish - Liz Phair
How can you not love Liz Phair? Bad Kitty rocks.
#97 - Prioritize Pleasure - Self Esteem
Their best record yet. Fun electropop, some really great lyrics.
#96 - Pray for Haiti - Mach-Hommy
What a phenomenal voice. Intricate art-rap with great production.
#95 - im hole - aya
Texturally complex EDM. Some interesting sound collages and excellent synths.
#94 - 30 - Adele
While overlong, still a good record. Last two songs - wow.
#93 - Queensway Tunnel - Zuzu
Solid indie-pop building on promise of her earlier EP's.
#92 - Fearless (Taylor's Version) - Taylor Swift
One of Taylor's weaker albums, but rerecorded excellently. Fifteen's timeless.
#91 - Bright Magic - Public Service Broadcasting
This time based around Berlin, the PSB boys don't miss.
#90 - Sour - Olivia Rodrigo
Well, good for you, you look like a great album.
#89 - Ignorance - The Weather Station
Tried To Tell You is a phenomenal opener. Good record.
#88 - Star-Crossed - Kacey Musgraves
If Dolly is country music's queen, Kacey is her heir.
#87 - Rainbow Heartache - Megawave
A smorgasbord of styles and textures. Dizzying but enthralling listen.
#86 - Sucker Supreme - Rosie Tucker
Habanero is one of the best songs of the year.
#85 - Daddy's Home - St. Vincent
Mid-tier St. Vincent is still great. The singles rock.
#84 - Mt. Pleasant - Cosha
Beautiful production and excellent lyricism. Cosha is so underrated.
#83 - The Cold in Every Shelter - I Feel Fine
Shout-along emo is fun. Great gang vocals throughout. Nice.
#82 - Crawler - Idles
Better than the disappointing Ultra Mono. Some nice sonic departures.
#81 - Blue Weekend - Wolf Alice
Smile is their best song since Don't Delete The Kisses.
#80 - Thee Hitz - Staysie Atoms
I'm a sucker for hyerpop rap. Staysie Atoms is great.
#79 - Hushed and Grim - Mastodon
Most double albums are overlong. So's this. It's still great.
#78 - Troubled Paradise - Slayyyter
Cowboys is one of the funnest songs I've heard. Yeehaw!
#77 - The Hole Around My Head - Will Varley
Best Varley album since Postcards from Ursa Minor. Great stuff.
#76 - Woman on the Internet - Orla Garland
Things That I've Learned is such a fucking brilliant song.
#75 - twopointfive - Amine
Super fun pop-rap. Pokémon references always make me smile.
#74 - Emphatically, No. - Cheekface
Are they indie? Are they dance-punk? Whatever - fun record.
#73 - Any Shape You Take - Indigo De Souza
Stunning production and excellent guitar work. Really good sophomore record.
#72 - The Ultra Vivid Lament - Manic Street Preachers
"Manics do ABBA" isn't as bad as it sounds. Solid.
#71 - This House Is Too Big, This House Is Too Small - Brutalligators
Underrated emo record. Beautiful cover art and excellent lyrics, too.
#70 - For Those I Love - For Those I Love
A powerful but difficult listen. Give it your undivided attention.
#69 - Yasuke - Flying Lotus
Great soundtrack album by one of the world's best producers.
#68 - As Days Get Dark - Arab Strap
Scottish slowcore sentinels return with one of their best records.
#67 - Laura Stevenson - Laura Stevenson
Her best record yet? Probably. An excellent singer-songwriter album.
#66 - Collapsed in Sunbeams - Arlo Parks
This year's Mercury winner absolutely deserved it. Really beautiful lyricism.
#65 - Razzle Frazzle - Beatricks
Genre-defying emo-pop-punk brilliance. A brilliantly fun listen.
#64 - Fishmonger - Underscores
Their weakest album this year is still phenomenal. Great stuff.
#63 - The Million Masks of God - Manchester Orchestra
Following up Black Mile was difficult, but they managed well.
#62 - Illusory Walls - The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am Not Afraid To Die
Incredible production that's uncompromisingly heavy. Seriously, heavier than Mastodon's album.
#61 - Start Again - Lakes
Emo pop goodness. The weirder moments are the best ones.
#60 - Bob's Son - R.A.P. Ferreira
The weaker of his two new albums. Still fucking great.
#59 - Graceful Rage - Harmony Woods
Grossly overlooked emo album. God's Gift to Women is excellent.
#58 - Like a Stone - Remember Sports
Indie-pop brilliance. Out Loud is possibly their best song.
#57 - t.i.a.p.f.y.h. - Left at London
Her debut album doesn't disappoint. The opener is especially incredible.
#56 - To Hell With It - PinkPantheress
Bite-sized garage-pop brilliance. Just For Me's so catchy.
#55 - Fortitude Valley - Fortitude Valley
Features the best song you'll hear that's about a cat.
#54 - Ultrapop - The Armed
Heavy as ten thousand elephants. Music that could kill you.
#53 - The Golden Casket - Modest Mouse
Unexpectedly excellent follow up to the underrated Strangers to Ourselves.
#52 - Femmedorm - GFOTY
Her best album yet. Equally hilarious and full of bangers.
#51 - Glow On - Turnstile
Really fucking fun punk album. Makes me miss live concerts.
#50 - All Day Gentle Hold! - Porches
Ridiculously fun electro-indie-pop goodness. WaterGetsInside slaps.
#49 - Mood Ring - Kississippi
One of this year's funnest pop albums. The opener's beautiful.
#48 - LP!- JPEGMAFIA
Peggy's best album yet. One of the best rappers around.
#47 - Chemtrails Over the Country Club - Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey's best album of the year is excellent.
#46 - Drunk Tank Pink - Shame
Can't stop thinking how someone called them Brexitcore. Great album.
#45 - Other People's Lives - Dan Campbell
Gull Lake's the most heartbreaking song about aging I've heard.
#44 - I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and my Dresses - BACKXWASH
Fucking incredible industrial horrorcore rap. Terror Pockets is especially amazing.
#43 - The Myth of the Happy Ever After - Biffy Clyro
Their best album since Only Revolutions. Captures their best qualities.
#42 - Megabear - ME REX
The best choose-your-own-adventure you'll ever listen to.
#41 - Unlimited Ammo - Namasenda
The best pure hyperpop album of the year. Goes hard.
#40 - An Evening with Silk Sonic - Silk Sonic
The funnest half-hour of music you'll hear this year.
#39 - Just Popping In To Say Hi - Crywank
I never expected another Crywank album. Miracles happen. It's amazing.
#38 - Driver - Adult Mom
Their best album yet. A masterclass in indie-pop songwriting.
#37 - boneyard AKA fearmonger - Underscores
Their best album this year is also phenomenal. Brilliant stuff.
#36 - I Became Birds - Home Is Where
Look at all the dogs! Look at all the dogs!!
#35 - Clothbound - The Sounder Bombs
The first new album I heard this year. It rules.
#34 - Fuck These Fuckin Fascists - The Muslims
Hardcore punk at it's best. The title track is vital.
#33 - Harlecore - Danny L Harle
Banging the piano, banging the piano, all day all night!
#32 - Early Spring Pt. 2: Visions of the Bug Princess - Pure Mothman
Beautiful high-concept bedroom-pop. Witchfinder is a goddamn masterpiece.
#31 - Vince Staples - Vince Staples
His best album yet. Not a single second is wasted.
#30 - Something for Thee Hotties - Megan Thee Stallion
Meg's collection of loosies is better than most people's albums.
#29 - Apple vs. 7G - A.G. Cook
Takes the best bits of his last albums. Nonstop excellence.
#28 - We're All Alone In This Together - Dave
A different beast to Psychodrama. Gorgeous, vital, stirring, and unique.
#27 - Sling - Clairo
This album hasn't stopped growing on me. Beautiful, whimsical folk.
#26 - Texis - Sleigh Bells
Their best record since Treats. SWEET75 and Rosary are unforgettable.
#25 - Things Take Time, Take Time - Courtney Barnett
Barnett's minimalist masterpiece. Timely and tender, possibly her best album.
#24 - The Light Emitting Diamond Cutter Scriptures - R.A.P. Ferreira
The stronger of his 2021 releases. Dazzling lyricism, incredible artist.
#23 - Gender, Trauma and Friendship - Slash Fiction
Life-affirming emo goodness. Every song's a highlight, especially The Lighthouse.
#22 - Devotion Deluxe - Planet 1999
Absolutely gorgeous, chilled-out electronics. Beautiful lyrics, beautiful production, beautiful band.
#21 - A Good Winter in June- Anyone's Ghost
Haunting emo-folk that transcends its influences to create sheer brilliance.
#20 - Screen Violence - Chvrches
Horrorcore synthpop? Count me in. Robert Smith is here too!
#19 - Queens of the Summer Hotel - Aimee Mann
Perennially underrated songwriter makes another modern classic. Every track soars.
#18 - Wink - CHAI
Dance-punk legends keep getting better. I can't listen without smiling.
#17 - Red (Taylor's Version) - Taylor Swift
Her masterpiece, better than ever. Rest in peace, Jake Gyllenhaal.
#16 - Sable (Original Video Game Soundtrack) - Japanese Breakfast
Gorgeous instrumental soundscapes. Dreamlike, beautiful. The vocal tracks are ethereal.
#15 - Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land - Marina
The princess of Wales delivers. Her best since Electra Heart.
#14 - Marriage Licence - Drinking Boys and Girls Choir
Breathless skate-punk. In a perfect world, they'd be massive. Wonderful.
#13 - Thirstier - TORRES
Megalodon-sized anthems. Impeccably produced, achingly stunning lyrics. Romantic and thrilling.
#12 - Contender - Fightmilk
Indie-pop emo bangers. A non-stop emotional rush, catharsis-inducing anthems. Lovely.
#11 - Little Oblivions - Julien Baker
Colossal record. Devastatingly heavy, with phenomenal arrangements and peerless vocals.
#10 - Dark in Here - The Mountain Goats
Their best record in years. Headless Horseman's a perfect song.
#9 - Jubilee - Japanese Breakfast
Michelle Zauner can't make an album any less than perfect.
#8 - Homecoming - Du Blonde
An indie-rock masterpiece. Tightly written pieces of pop perfection. Legendary.
#7 - Death of a Cheerleader - Pom Pom Squad
Nostalgic yet cutting-edge brilliance. Absolutely gorgeous, brutally intense, yet joyous.
#6 - Another Kill for the Highlight Reel - Save Face
Theatrical emo gold. Impossible to listen to without grinning maniacally.
#5 - Nurture - Porter Robinson
Absolutely stunning electronic bliss. It sounds like warm, uplifting sunshine.
#4 - Take the Sadness out of Saturday Night - Bleachers
The best Springsteen album since The Rising. Gorgeous pop music.
#3 - CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST - Tyler, the Creator
Tyler's most thrilling writing yet. An art-rap masterpiece. Wilshire devastates.
#2 - Draw Down the Moon - Foxing
The best emo album of the decade so far. Masterful.
#1 - Home Video - Lucy Dacus
One of the best albums of all time, no exceptions.
Listen to highlight tracks from each of these albums below:
AC is the Head of Written Content at QSO Media. Follow them on Twitter.
Header graphic made by AC, featuring album art from A.G. Cook, Arab Strap, Backxwash, Bleachers, CHAI, Cheekface, Cosha, Dan Campbell, Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, Fightmilk, Fortitude Valley, Harmony Woods, Idles, Indigo de Souza, JPEGMAFIA, Kacey Musgraves, Lana Del Rey, Liz Phair, Mach-Hommy, Mastodon, Namasenda, Olivia Rodrigo, PinkPantheress, Porches, Pure Mothman, R.A.P. Ferreira, Remember Sports, Slash Fiction, Slayyyter, Taylor Swift, The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am Not Afraid To Die, Turnstile, Underscores, Vince Staples, Will Varley, and Zuzu.