2021 has already proven to be quite the year for the music industry, considering many artists have promised us new releases. As for the albums that have been released so far, we have seen a great deal of artists leaving their comfort zones to make more experimental and anecdotal music compared to their previous projects.
From The Weeknd’s “After Hours” to Taylor Swift’s “folklore” and “evermore,” it is safe to say the albums set to be released this year had a lot to live up to with so many critically-acclaimed works from 2020. This year has shown music lovers that there is much to be excited about, and that the albums released so far have gone beyond musical boundaries.
Therefore, here is a list of the five best albums of 2021 (so far):
"Chemtrails Over the Country Club" - Lana Del Rey
Released: March 19
Lana Del Rey’s seventh studio album impressed as well as disappointed many fans this year after a long wait from the artist. I personally felt that this album has carried 2021’s new releases thus far. The album received an 81% Metascore on Metacritic as well as a 4.5 out of 5 stars on Rolling Stone. On Billboard, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Top Album Sales chart on April 3, making “Chemtrails” her third chart topper next to 2017’s “Lust for Life” and 2014’s “Ultraviolence.”
"Neon Shark v. Pegasus Presented by Travis Barker" - Trippie Redd
Released: February 19
The 21-year-old rapper, alongside former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, received a great deal of praise from this deluxe version of 2020’s “Pegasus” album by Redd. I included this album on the list because of how impressive Trippie’s range is here compared to his former works such as 2019’s “A Love Letter for You 4.” The album debuted at No. 2 in the U.S. Billboard 200 list upon its release as well as reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
"PARANOIA" - Maggie Lindemann
Released: January 22
While this artist may not be considered to be as prolific as the previous two, Lindemann also impressed fans by showcasing her musical range with “PARANOIA.” While Metacritic user scores ranked this album at 60%, I believe this album was one of the best releases of 2021 thus far because we were able to see Lindemann experiment with pop rock/pop punk like never before. It is hard not to be excited by an artist changing their music style and being even better than they were.
"Heaux Tales" - Jazmine Sullivan
Released: January 8
Sullivan’s first extended play (EP) “Heaux Tales” took over the charts in early 2021. The EP was at No. 1 on the Billboard U.S. Top R&B Album upon its release, as well as receiving the No. 2 spot on the Billboard U.S. Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The EP received a great deal of critical acclaim because of the concept, which told a story through the six songs on the setlist supported by narrative interludes in between each song.
"TYRON" - slowthai
Released: February 12
British rapper slowthai’s third studio album caught the attention of critics worldwide due to the album’s soulful, punk rap tracklist. The album received a 78% Metascore on Metacritic as well as an 8.3 User score. One of the best parts of this album were the features, including appearances from A$AP Rocky, James Blake, Dominic Fike, Denzel Curry, Deb Never, Mount Kimbie and Skepta. Critics raved about the artist’s shift from local (British) styles of rap to more international styles of rap.