It really is album season at the moment, and the rollout of your 2021 soundtracks aren’t slowing down any time soon. So we thought we’d give you a little breakdown of some recent releases we haven’t spoken about yet that you really should check out.
Kanye West – DONDA
Ahhh yes ‘DONDA’ is probably the most talked about and the most controversial album of 2021, and we aren’t really collectively surprised by this fact are we? There are moments of brilliance on this record that will have you praising the visionary of his artistry again, but there are also bitter moments of “what the fuck is happening” like in the babbling ‘DONDA’ intro or the absolute disregard for who he’s collaborated with and given a platform on this very highly anticipated record.
But Kanye is a a key pop culture icon, and listening to this record is sort of a must for context, well, at least once anyways. It’s a hit and miss album that had a whole lot of hype, a whole lot of confusion, and a whole lot of questionable talking points where it became more about the plot line than the actual music.
Must Listen Tracks: ‘Jail’, ‘Hurricane’, ‘Jonah’, ‘Heaven And Hell’
Drake – Certified Lover Boy
Drake saw that Kanye West was dropping his album and really said “let me show him how it’s done” and dropped his highly anticipated sixth studio album ‘Certified Lover Boy’. Immediately receiving mixed reviews, the 21 track collection is a little self-indulgent and also shares some “what the fuck” moments like a questionable R Kelly sample on ‘TSU’ which is a disappointing development in 2021.
But the record is definitely a more cohesive and palatable body of work compared to ‘DONDA’ and shares some classic Drake moments. There are a whole lot of quotable lyrics ready for Instagram captions over the next 12 months, as well as some possible hits. But where this album is let down is by it’s length. It’s too long and lacks the punch it could have had.
Must Listen Tracks: ‘No Friends In The Industry’, ‘7am On Bridle Path’, ‘Fair Trade’
Halsey – If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
Commemorating her recent experience with pregnancy, Halsey has teamed up with Trent Raznor and Atticus Ross from Nine Inch Nails for a very important concept album. ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’ is an immersive and celebratory exploration of the joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth. Intended to be listened to from start to finish, this record takes you on the journey from the haunting opening ‘The Tradition’ that details an exchange of a girl being bought and sold which commentates on a woman’s independence in this world, right through to the beautiful closer ‘Ya’aburnee’ which is an ode of devotion to her husband and child.
Sonically the album drifts between cinematically scored pop and heavier rock-punk influences that have always been layered in her music in the past, but have been really highlighted with her Nine Inch Nails collaborators. It’s a beautiful record from start to finish that continues to grow on you with each listen.
Must Listen Tracks: ’Easier Than Lying’, ‘Honey’, I Am Not A Woman, I Am A God’, ’You Asked For This’ and ‘Ya’aburnee’
Imagine Dragons – Mercury – Act 1
ImaImagine Dragons are an incredible live band who have continued to create some euphoric anthems about overcoming fears and demons, and to learn to embrace the light in moments of darkness. And their fifth studio album ‘Mercury – Act 1’ is another embodiment of that sentiment, in a grittier and even more obvious way.
Layered in honest unravellings about struggles with loss, grief, and addiction, lead vocalist Dan Reynolds opens his heart to listeners in a even more candid way than previously. Contrasting these introspective thoughts with an experimentation of production elements, this album bounces between a radio ready pop soundscape, and some heavier rock elements in songs like ‘Giants’ and ‘Dull Knives’. It feels like it’s been very much created with the live show in mind, and the messaging they want to keep giving to audiences while still pushing the envelope on their growing sound.
Must Listen Tracks: ‘Lonely’, ‘Easy Come Easy Go’, and ‘Monday’