I listen to a lot of music, and I write a lot about music. But, unfortunately, I do not get to write about all the music I listen to. So I thought it would be fun to review some of my favorite albums from 2021 to 2022 so far.
“Blue Weekend” (June 4, 2021) by Wolf Alice is the album that made me into a Wolf Alice fan. It made me go back and revisit their two previous releases, “My Love Is Cool” (2015) and “Visions of a Life” (2017). The opening “The Beach” is a track that is a little over two minutes, but it does so much in that short amount of time. The track distorts towards the end, making the last few minutes of the song turbulent as the instrumentals melt into each other and lead singer Ellie Rowsell joins a choir of different voices as they all try to sing over the loudness that has slowly crept into the song. “Lipstick on the Glass” takes listeners on a more psychedelic route and shows a softer side to “Blue Weekend” that will be seen more on songs such as “Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love),” “How Can I Make It OK?” and “The Last Man On Earth.” But Wolf Alice is never too far from that rock sound that marked their previous two albums. “Smile” and “Play the Greatest Hits” show us that they can still make headbanging music with an underlying message.
“Jubilee” by Japanese Breakfast has been getting critical acclaim since its release on June 4, 2021. It deserves all the praise it gets. Michelle Zauner’s ethereal voice shines on the orchestral filled opener “Paprika.” The opening lyrics to “Paprika” have been stuck in my head since the first time I heard it, “Lucidity came slowly/I awoke from dreams of untying a great knot.” Zauner is at her most playful in the danceable, “Be Sweet.” From its first hint of shimmering synth at the beginning to its catchy chorus (“Be Sweet to me baby/I wanna believe in you, I wanna believe”), it captivates the listener every second it is playing. “Slide Tackle” has a more laid-back vibe with a saxophone solo that transcends the song and compliments the lyrics. “Jubilee” is a perfect name for this body of work because this album celebrates life and everything that comes with it.
Mitski’s “Laurel Hell” (Feb. 4, 2022) is full of songs about love and the heartbreak that can come with it. Her disillusionment with the music industry is explored in the sparseness of horns and percussions in “Working for the Knife.” A cathartic release of emotions can be felt back to back in “The Only Heartbreaker” and “Love Me More.” The upbeat tempo of “Should’ve Been Me” contradicts the lyrics that deal with feelings of isolation and regret that can form from lack of communication in a relationship and how that can disintegrate it. But the contradictions work in “Should’ve Been Me” favor; it made me look past the sound and pay close attention to what Mitski is singing.
“Crash” (March 18, 2022) has cemented Charli XCX as one of the top pop acts of the 21st century. This is a stark departure from the hyperpop that marked her previous album “how i’m feeling now” (2020). “Crash” is always one foot in the past and one in the present. Especially in the pulsating beat of the 80’s-esque electronic stylings of “Good Ones.” Featuring Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polacheck, “New Shapes” is the perfect tune for the dance floor, and a current of emotions is a throughline. All three of the voices in “New Shapes” fit perfectly together. The deep cut “Used To Know Me” sees the singer breaking free from a bad relationship and finding self-worth, “I’m like a flower blooming since I left you behind.” “Crash” revels in the excess of pop, and I loved every minute of it. Charli XCX embraces her pop star status, but in her own way.
I hope reading this has inspired you to give at least one of these albums a listen.