Music Editor: Rating my favourite albums of the year

27/11/2021

Jack Barton takes us through his favourite albums this year through a series of mini reviews (Donda isn’t on here)

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Image by Fair Youth, Columbia Records

By Jack Barton

After a year of exciting new music here are some of my favourite albums.



CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PLAYLIST

Little Simz: Sometimes I Might Be Introvert



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Little Simz does not feel too little on her latest and best album yet. She ascends. A sense of grandiose greets the listener in the hit ‘Introvert’ as she raps over a dramatic orchestral backdrop on the duality of a boastful rapper with her vulnerability. SIMBI, described by the Guardian as ‘soul-baring brilliance’ is an instant classic, shimmering orchestral interludes alongside stunning wordplay places her at a complete cut above the rest.

Favourite song: ‘Introvert’


Arlo Parks: Collapsed in Sunbeams



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From a wordsmith to a poet, Arlo Parks has had an incredible year, being crowned the artist of the lost generation. This debut album released when she was only 20, is an incredible portrayal of a fresh look into relationships, friendships, sexuality, and the small things in between. The young artist toys with our emotions, from joyous bumps like ‘Just Go’ to the incredibly powerful yet dark ‘Black Dog’ as a devastatingly beautiful recount of depression. Arlo has cemented herself as one of my (and many others) favourite artists coming out of the UK recently.

Favourite song: ‘Eugene’


Ghetts: Conflict of Interest

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Angry, surgical bars dominate this powerful grime album. Ghetts’ instantly recognisable verses punch you in the face and make you apologise. His first major label album, the rapper clearly flaunts nearly two decades in the game. The autobiographical piece recounts his rise to notoriety. Full of the UKs brightest wordsmiths, vocalists and rappers, Conflict of Interest is a shining portrayal of the UKs grime scene.

Favourite song: ‘Skengman’


Tyler the Creator: CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST


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The sun beamin… Tyler’s bi-annual release once again takes us in a new direction with the help of DJ Drama to create a rap mixtape. Under the guise of Baudelaire, Tyler thrives in freedom as he explores his writing, producing and rapping. Clear harks back to IGOR production and the familiar Tyler sound. Blaring Soul, colourful synth, gnarly jazz, eclectic bars, this album has it all. Just like IGOR, this album is so wildly complex and confusing, it demands a few full listens to fully comprehend what is echoing down our ears. Whilst IGOR remains my favourite, Tyler’s latest album is justifiably one of the best albums this year.

Favourite song: ‘WILSHIRE’


Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth

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Those who don’t know Owusu, will quickly find comfort in this Ghanian-Australian’s impressive debut album that placed him as an immediate critic favourite. The meaning of the genre continues to be questioned, and perhaps ‘Smiling with No Teeth’ eliminates it completely like a toddler armed with crayons drawing outside the lines. With a colourful sound on the themes of depression and racism; funky hooks tinged with stronger rock places Owusu as one to watch.

Favourite song: ‘Gold Chains’


Vince Staples: Vince Staples

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This self-titled album produced by the fan favourite Kenny Beats is full of contrast as bleak lyrics are layered on top of head boppin instrumentals. Smouldering instrumentals send the listener into a trance as we can’t help but admire the effortless sound that Staples has established over the past decade.

Favourite song: ‘LAW OF AVERAGES’


Greentea Peng: MANMADE

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Broken flows and a retro-esque production set us in a trance as Peng’s debut album fills the air with a haze of nostalgia and marijuana. Funk, reggae and hip hop are merged to create a soothing feeling, this was no accident as Peng recorded the project at 432 Hz, a semitone below the industry standard for the vibration’s healing energy.

Favourite song: ‘Free My People’ (feat. Simmy & Kid Cruise)


Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats: UNLOCKED 1.5

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UNLOCKED immediately introduced me to the ability of Kenny Beats on a macbook, and Denzel Curry on a mic. Just as Marvel introduces us into the multiverse, this refurbished EP presents alternate versions, as we ponder the question ‘What if Arlo Parks shared a track with the same guy who rapped Ultimate’. This project was as enjoyable as it was to read the album credits.

Favourite song: ‘Pyro’ [Sango Leak Feat. Kenny Mason]


PinkPantheress: to hell with it

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Lockdown is where I [and many others] discovered Tiktok, and then Tiktok discovered PinkPantheress; her string of nostalgic viral songs quickly exploded as they filled playlists and our ‘for you page’. Her mixtape presents a lofi, distinct feel that would be right at home throughout warm student house parties.

Favourite song: ‘Pain’


Finn Foxell: Alright Sunshine

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Foxell continues to prove himself as an established force in West London ever since his breakout ‘Ericsson’ and ‘Buddha’ flexed Foxell’s smoky cool verses. Whilst Alright Sunshine is an EP, in 20 minutes it offers the same wealth of variation that any full length album would. Potent lyrics and funky production take us through the EP as it is full to the brim of character, genre and other members of Elevation Meditation. Alright Sunshine, is three leaps forward for the 21 year old.

Favourite song: The Night