The Soundtrack to 2021
While I think everyone agrees that 2021 was another bad year in general, it was at least a good year for music. A combination of album releases that had been previously postponed because of the pandemic and a collective sense of fear and dread fuelling artistic expression produced some great records. What I spent the most time listening to was fairly predictable - according to Spotify my most listened artist was, quelle surprise, Car Seat Headrest, which was something of a relief given I now have one of their album covers tattooed on my arm. My top 5 songs were all from Teens of Denial and every song from that album was in my top 100 most played this year. The rest of my most played artists, in order, were King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Nekrogoblikon, Infected Mushroom and The Murlocs, which is quite a bit more psych heavy than I’d expected. I listened to just shy of 80000 minutes worth of music throughout the year, which I don’t think is too shabby.
In terms of music that was new this year, the 2021 release that I listened to most was quite comfortably Black Country, New Road’s For the first time which I adored. I think the best record of the year was Lingua Ignota’s Sinner Get Ready, but I didn’t listen through it all that many times given how jarring, and in parts terrifying, it was. Some other new records I loved were black midi’s Cavalcade, Arlo Parks' Collapsed In Sunbeams, Arooj Aftab’s Vulture Prince, Lucy Dacus' Home Video, The Murlocs' Bittersweet Demons and Tricot’s Jodeki.
Perhaps most excitingly, this year I got to go to a festival and a handful of gigs, which were without a doubt highlights of the entire year. IDLES' headline set at Wide Awake Festival was my favourite live performance in a long time, and Metronomy’s solo show in a warehouse somewhere in East London was another experience as I loved, as I got to belt out all the words alongside a few hundred strangers.
I feel like music is what gets me through any kind of difficult emotion, and this year that has been just as valuable to me as ever. There are already records announced for early 2022 that I’m eagerly anticipating, and I have a handful of gigs lined up that I’m super excited about. Hopefully next year there will be just as much great music as this year but without it being the soundtrack to the world falling down around us.