- 11 Jan 22
Take a look at our top albums of the year, as voted by the Hot Press critics...
Despite having been served plenty of major blows in 2021, there's no keeping Irish music down – as the fantastic crop of homegrown talent in our top Albums of the Year attests. Leading the charge is Villagers, whose daring, jazz-influenced fifth album, Fever Dreams, has been hailed as one of the most mesmerisingly original projects to come out of Ireland in years.
The album, released in August, showcases Conor O'Brien's absolute refusal to settle as an artist, even with two Mercury nominations, an Ivor Novello award and a Choice Music Prize under his belt. Written over the course of two years, Fever Dreams leans boldly into the delirious whirlwind we've all been living through – and we, like the rest of Dublin, can't wait to celebrate it at Villagers' upcoming headliner at the Iveagh Gardens in July.
Coming in close second on our list is For Those I Love – Dublin artist David Balfe's potent portrait of grief. After releasing the album in March, and earning an Ivor Novello nomination over the summer, he finally got the chance to give the project a proper live airing in his hometown in November, with an unforgettable night at 3Olympia Theatre.
What's most impressive about the Irish representation in the Top 50 is the sheer range of projects – showcasing the dazzling diversity currently emerging across a multitude of genres and styles. Whether its boundary pushing hip-hop from Kojaque and Rejjie Snow, or groundbreaking pop from James Vincent McMorrow, Soda Blonde and Orla Gartland, what each of these artists have in common is a refusal to be pigeonholed into over-simplified categories or trends.
It's an approach that's equally evident among the international acts on the list – including Wolf Alice's epic blend of dream pop and alternative rock on Blue Weekend; Self Esteem's audacious, empowering pop on Prioritise Pleasure; Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' lockdown-informed Carnage; and St. Vincent's embrace of the grit and glam of the '70s on Daddy’s Home.
Despite being faced with the ongoing chaos of variants, restrictions and more postponed gigs, artists have served up classics across the board this year – providing not only escapism, but something real to connect to when everything else seemed lost.
Even during the darkest moments of 2021, there's no denying that this year has had one hell of a soundtrack...
1. Villagers Fever Dreams (Domino)
New love gleams like sunshine. Everything is brighter, everything sparks with electricity and hope, the fresh hope of a new beginning, the first day of the rest of your life. There is a joy to this best part of our brief existence, it’s the reason we’re here.
Has Conor O’Brien recently put a token in the slot of this soul carwash? I don’t know, but Fever Dreams somehow manages to bottle the sensation. I suspect it’s easier to make a record – or any piece of art – that’s mired in misery; happiness is a trickier thing to put a net around. Love and joy are the purest form of escapism, a holiday from mundanity, a fever dream.
This record staggers into that light and swirls into earshot, “When your blood is pumping and it’s all or nothing you get the sense of something bigger than you.” Shadows are banished as the glorious, epiphanic sheen of ‘The First Day’ fills the room, “there’s a strong sense that you can’t go wrong, it’s a fine line but you’re getting it right, on the first day of the rest of your life.” O’Brien’s melodic sensibilities are sharper than ever and the arrangement is magnificent melange of trumpets, mellotronic effect and clattering drums. “Feels like falling in love, feels like sunshine.”
What more could you hope for than someone who’s on your wavelength? The key changes and the extended sax solo that spirals off into the heavens of ‘So Simpatico’ constitute a song that is, somehow, infused with the wild exuberance of being alive and not alone. “The more I know, the more I care’ – a lyric that’s repeated later in ‘Full Faith in Providence’ and then by various voices in ‘Fever Dreams’ – is the record’s central tenet, a declaration of faith and love, a realisation of life’s meaning.
Villagers have made some fine records before but this lifts O’Brien to a different level. The piano that opens ‘Momentarily’ where love drives out dread, the strings that fight against the squeal of those who are “fucking up his favourite dream” in ‘Circles In The Firing Line’, enemies who are banished by a guitar solo before the song morphs into something else altogether. The sweet, breathless pop of ‘Restless Endeavour’ as the horns overrun it and the gentle ebb and flow of the closing ‘Deep In My Heart’ as O’Brien pans in “the goldmine of sweet memory.” The ghosts of Flaming Lips’ masterpieces like The Soft Bulletin float in the background, but these touches are O’Brien at his most free. Fever Dreams is a beautiful record, full of hope and colour and - that word again - joy.
– Pat Carty, August 2021
2. For Those I Love For Those I Love (September Recordings)
Ghosts loom over the self-titled debut from the artist known as For Those I Love, aka David Balfe. Initially born out of a desire to capture the embattled spirit of the Dublin in which David grew up, the project took on an even darker hue, with the loss of the singer’s close friend and bandmate, Paul Curran, who tragically took his own life in 2018.
Curran’s sad death has been marked by other artists, including Kojaque, whose ‘White Noise’ video is dedicated to him. Here, Balfe offers his own deeply personal recollections of the musician and poet, baring his soul right from the start, on the emotional opener ‘I Have A Love’. Throughout the record, Balfe fuses James Blake-style electronic production, snippets of conversation and hip-hop samples.
Lyrically, he paints haunting pictures of his youth in working class Dublin. On ‘To Have You’, he raps about the personal impact of grieving: “Tell me what you know about hope/ Tell me what you know about free/ There’s been blood on our knees since we were teens/ Don’t tell me you know what it means to grieve/ There’s no world that me and mine haven’t seen.”
Elsewhere, For Those I Love channels his pain and anger to powerful effect, making for socio-political commentary that’s expressed with uncompromising bite. He reflects on the fragile state of mens’ mental health in Ireland more than once, but nowhere is it more plainly-spoken of than on ‘The Shape Of You’, which opens with a sample of a man saying “Please, please be careful with yourself… get yourself home safe. I love you.” Balfe then launches into what resonates as a deeply honest, diaristic recollection of feeling depressed and de-motivated in the face of the overwhelming reality of grief.
The impact of Balfe’s lyrics is like a hard-wire, running throughout what is a consistently stirring and affecting work. On the basis of this dark and beautiful release, 2021 could prove to be a monumental year for For Those I Love.
– Tanis Smither, March 2021
3. Wolf Alice Blue Weekend (Dirty Hit)
Attempting to top 2017’s Mercury Prize winning album Visions of a Life was never going to be easy, but Blue Weekend is otherworldly, jubilant and downright riotous enough to push the golden crown from their sophomore album’s near-perfect head.
After previewing the Kurt Vonnegut-inspired single ‘The Last Man On Earth’ - full of smart songwriting and observations about the arrogance of humankind on frontwoman Ellie Rowsell’s part - and guttural guitar-riff gem ‘Smile’; Blue Weekend proceeds to showcase one of Britain’s brightest bands at their best.
“I am what I am and I’m good at it,” broods Ellie Rowsell on 'Smile', “and you don’t like me, well that isn’t fucking relevant.” It's a good thing we like her, then. She's not wrong about being good at it.
Embroiling their listeners in a rich cocktail of emotions, soundscapes and subject matter, Wolf Alice place Rowsell’s elegant vocals at the emotive forefront of the album. Her voice is used as a raw and vicious instrument at times, and an angelic force for calm within other tracks. Either way, we are powerless - compelled to listen to her every confession, every scrutinised statement, every sonic utterance.
Up-tempo tracks like ‘Play the Greatest Hits’ takes inspiration from the likes of the Ramones, Joan Jett and Courtney Love, drawing us into Wolf Alice’s brand of modern punk. Magical down-tempo numbers like ‘The Beach’ and the incredible ‘Delicious Things’ explore identity and trying to belong in Los Angeles, using orchestral harmonies and booming background instrumentals to lift the listener into another universe entirely. Each riveting, swirling song completely grips the audience.
The album title comes from Rowsell’s assertion that the weekend is a time of both deep sadness and relentless drama; essentially, it can be the catalyst for a downfall. One thing’s for certain: Wolf Alice aren’t going anywhere but stratospheric. Blue Weekend is their best body of work yet, a comeback worthy of stages re-opening. Catch Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Joel Amey and Theo Ellis live, if you get a chance post-pandemic. This is one special band...
– Kate Brayden, June 2021
4. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis Carnage (AWAL)
While I – and I'd guess many others like me – might have hoped for a fire-and-brimstone spitting, bible thumping/humping, cock-waving Nick Cave album – you know, the kind of barely-housetrained animal that howled out the harder bits of Abattoir Blues, or kicked and screamed on Murder Ballads – after the beautiful but harrowing Skeleton Tree and Ghosteen, it was never that likely given what we’re all going through, and the sort of personal pain and grief from which no human being could ever fully emerge, no matter how steely they might be.
Carnage was written and recorded as lockdown was taking hold, so the absence of the Bad Seeds’ swing may have been a practical as well as an artistic choice. One thing is for certain, Cave should light a candle every hour on the hour to give thanks for the day when Warren Ellis turned up to work on Let Love In back in 1994. As a (red) right-hand man, he is a godsend. Grinderman, film scores like The Proposition, and the rollicking and rolling album they put together around the Cave-scripted Lawless offer irrefutable proof of that, if those vital Bad Seeds records weren’t enough. The marvellous record they’ve produced here finds Cave still in a reflective place, but the arm-waving, kneel-before-Zod, old-testament-bruiser is in there, kicking at the box in which he's been confined, anxious to slouch again towards Bethlehem.
The mellow side of Carnage seems wistful for Cave’s old life on the road. ‘Albuquerque’ lists the many places he won’t be seeing for the foreseeable – “We won’t get to Amsterdam, or that lake in Africa, darling, And we won’t get to anywhere, anytime this year, darling”. OK, Mr and Mrs Cave would probably be staying in nicer hotels than you or I, but we can all feel that one. This isn’t the only allusion to travel either. In ‘Old Time’, Cave is “throwing my bags in the back of the car, just like the old times”, in ‘Shattered Ground’, it’s the moon – “a girl with tears in her eyes” – who's “throwing her bags in the back of the car”. Cave also references the spot where he has waited for permission to move. In ‘Carnage’ he’s “sitting on the balcony, reading Flannery O’Connor, with a pencil and a plan” – I know, I’d be calling for Sting’s head for less – and in the beautiful piano-led ‘Balcony Man’, one gets the feeling that he's dangling off the same loose end as the rest of us, “I am two hundred pounds of packed ice, sitting on a chair in the morning sun… I’m a two hundred pound bag of blood and bone, leaking on your favourite chair”. He is, as he moans in the album’s centrepiece, “an ice sculpture melting in the sun.”
It’s in that song, ‘White Elephant’, where the cock-and-cudgel-swinging Cave reemerges. Over a lolloping, corner boy malevolent Ellis groove, Cave declares, with salacious glee, “I am a Botticelli Venus with a penis, riding an enormous scalloped fan”. This white hunter with the gun in his pants will “shoot you in the fucking face, if you think of coming around here… if you so much look at me”. This is the Cave I witnessed claiming to be that “bad motherfucker called Stagger Lee” at an early Electric Picnic, as I stood stock still and silent, 20 yards away, wary of getting closer. This is the Cave I saw in a tent in the same field years later, moaning the ‘No Pussy Blues’ with Grinderman, The Cave who conjured up hellfire in Kilmainham, the Cave who’d batter you as soon as baffle you. He disappears again, the choir take over, the strings head off for Pepperland, and we’re told to get ready for the “kingdom in the sky”, a kingdom that's been there since the opening electro-pulse, string sweeps of ‘Hand Of God’ – surely Cave must have used that title before? - and haunts him at the closing of 'Lavender Fields'.
For the most part though, the “thing with horns” in the ominous ‘Old Time’ “steps back into the trees” and leaves Cave to contemplate the personal. Grief, as it always will, hoves back into view, and Cave knows it for what it really is, “a singular road”. “Here it comes around again, and it’s only love, with a little bit of rain, and I hope to see you again”. He "will hold your hand again", perhaps in that same kingdom in the sky, a comfort he seems to both doubt and hope for in equal measure.
Cave has called Carnage “a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe”, which is a fair summation, but there are few if any who could hope to match the manner in which he continues to mould the universal from the deeply personal. Carnage is a phenomenal piece of art, where these two giants, these wizards of Aus and old and odd, surpass themselves, again.
– Pat Carty, March 2021
5. Kojaque Town's Dead (Soft Boy Records)
From the very first bar of his debut album proper, Kojaque’s message is clear: forget everything you think you know about Kojaque. ‘Heartbreak’ kicks off the Cabra rapper’s Town’s Dead by taking a sonic sledgehammer to everything he has been advertised as in his career thus far.
Gone are the delicately textured, silky smooth beats. Gone too is the laissez-faire delivery from 2018’s mixtape, Deli Daydreams. Abrasive, frenetic, urgent, and dare I say angry, the track finds Kojaque careening away from the melancholic and the satirical alike. He experiments with pitched-up vocals, making no apparent effort to please those who were fans of his mixtape – making no apology for his audaciousness either. In anyone else’s hands, this song could be a mess, but Kojaque keeps each element tightly reined, even as he lets himself run wild.
When the then-22 year old released Deli Daydreams, it was lauded for its piercing portrayal of gritty Dublin life, its humour, its conceptual world-building. And there are certainly Easter eggs and hints at a narrative thread throughout Town’s Dead – which charts a love triangle as it falls apart across a New Year's Eve – with brief interludes from characters that recur like they’re in a sitcom. They argue over who will have a gaff party on ‘New Year, Who’s This?’, and like Susan from The Office, Betty and her fella (who’s “got a gun”) get multiple mentions.
But Kojaque’s directionless deli worker character is a puppy dog compared to the Kojaque on Town’s Dead, and this album feels significantly more autobiographical than the 2018 concept tape. Though Deli Daydreams remains relevant and poignant, Kojaque has closed the gap between himself with his persona here. He raps as candidly about his personal life on ‘No Hands’ – the first time he’s written so directly about his father’s suicide – as he does drily about the Dublin housing crisis on the album’s title track.
The injustice of the housing crisis is something he rages against frequently, but nowhere is he more searingly critical than on ‘Town’s Dead’, which features a prominent post-punk sample of Girl Band’s ‘Going Norway’. The blending of these two genres seems obvious once you hear the track: it makes sense that hip-hop and post-punk, both born from counter culture, both having had their moment as Dublin’s definitive genre, would work well together.
Kojaque critiques the cultural wasteland he fears Dublin is becoming and the idea that his friends and other creatives are being unceremoniously ousted from the city (and the country) by an unsympathetic, classist government, spitting cautionary verses like, “You could try the house share, try renting/ bit of money for the landlord’s pension/ Heads are gonna roll soon, no warning/ My town’s not dead, it’s just dormant.”
On ‘Casio’, the sprawling, gospel-tinged penultimate track (with a gorgeous assist from Maverick Sabre), Kojaque begins, “Used to think that I couldn’t rap with an accent/ doing my best trying to mask it.” Reflecting on his beginnings, he seems to sum up his journey, as he sizes up the space between Kojaque the rapper and Kojaque the person.
Swaggering and ferocious, polished and direct, with Town’s Dead, Kojaque has cemented his position as the gatekeeper of Irish hip-hop. But there’s no telling where he’ll go next.
– Tanis Smither, June 2021
6. Billie Eilish Happier Than Ever (Interscope)
Billie Eilish’s singularity as a pop star was revealed to the world the moment she opened her mouth and machine-gunned the chorus to her 2017 track, ‘Bellyache’. “Maybe it’s in the gutter, where I left my lover…” she crooned, delicately and dangerously.
“If you listen to any song right now – and there are a few exceptions – but I’ve found they’re all about the same thing. ‘I’m in love with this person, they don’t love me, I’m sad’,” Eilish told Hot Press in 2018. “And that’s it. Sure you can write about that and feel that way – everyone feels that way. Why not write in a different way? I’m not criticising anyone specifically. In my head that’s how I feel. You could go… ‘I’m sad…’ Well that’s fine. You could turn it around – ‘I just killed a bunch of people and I have a bellyache because of it’.”
That ferociously enigmatic quality persists with her long-awaited second album. Together with her producer and brother Finneas O’Connell, Eilish has crafted a thrillingly introverted, irresistibly stark and profoundly woozy collection. Her voice is often just an intense whisper, threatening to drift out of earshot. Arranged around it are grooves that go off like hallucinatory depth charges, imbuing the music with a ghostly and fever-dream quality. The subject matter – as it so often is with second records – is the dark side of fame. Becoming a public figure at age 16 is not, the LP warns us, an experience to be wished on anyone. Eilish, we learn, feels objectified, taken for granted and caricatured.
“Some people hate what I wear. Some people praise it,” she says on spoken word piece, ‘Not My Responsibility’. “Some people use it to shame others, some people use it to shame me. If I wear what is comfortable I am not a woman… If I shed the layers, I’m a celeb.”
Celebrities have been alerting us to the double-edged nature of fame from the moment the first Instagram influencer and their selfie-stick clambered out of the primordial ooze. There are certainly echoes in Happier Than Ever of Taylor Swift’s Reputation, another frontline report from trial by social media.
And if there is a criticism it’s that Eilish has prioritised an exploration of fame and its pressures over the phantasmagorical melancholia that was the signature of her debut, When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? But what it lacks in emo murkiness, the project more than compensates for with the sheer efficiency with which it conveys Eilish’s tortured perspective. Accompanied by a lurching groove – think ‘Bad Guy’ with some dubstep in its soul – ‘Oxytocin’ compares and contrasts a blighted romance to addiction to prescription painkillers. The irresistible deliriousness is ratcheted further on ‘GOLDWING’, which swerves from a ethereal introduction to a blitz of trippy beats.
Eilish’s relationship with rapper Brandon “Q” Adams was revealed to the world in the Apple TV + documentary, The
World’s A Little Blurry. While no longer on the scene, there are veiled references throughout Happier Than Ever to romance with an older man (Adams is five years her senior).
The suspicion, in particular, is that he is the subject of ‘Your Power’, where she sings “I thought that I was special, you made me feel/Like it was my fault, you were the devil, lost your appeal.”
Happier Than Ever closes with the freak-show lullaby ‘Male Fantasy’. “I loved you then/And I love you now and I don't know how,” she coos. “Guess it's hard to know/ When nobody else comes around.” It’s the perfect finishing touch from an artist who has scaled the peaks and, as they gaze down upon the world, seems to have become overwhelmed with a sense of isolation. And it is a reminder that, even when engaging in the well-worn celebrity ritual of bemoaning the burdens of fame, Eilish remains a pop star like no other.
– Ed Power, July 2021
7. Self Esteem Prioritise Pleasure (Universal)
“There’s a big dollop of self-assurance that wasn’t there before,” Self Esteem comments. “I’d been living life like, ‘What’s fucking wrong with me?’ Whenever I’ve struggled, I’ve been like, ‘Well, it must be me…’ That’s been ingrained in me. I’m horribly self-aware, and too grounded, in a way that’s kind of a problem. But I’d also rather be like this. The most powerful thing you can do is know why you feel something, and feel it – rather than trying to stop feeling it, or stiff-upper-lip it.
“On the first album I’m so frustrated, but on this one I’m a bit more contemplative. It’s all starting to fall into place a little bit more for me – and you can hear that.”
Read the full interview with Self Esteem here.
8. Saint Sister Where I Should End (Self-Released)
There has always been a deep-rooted power behind the soft-spoken approach of Saint Sister. From their early days, they proved that two young women and a harp didn’t have to equate to something twee, with the electronic-pop-infused Madrid EP in 2015, followed by the Choice Prize-nominated Shape Of Silence in 2018. With their new album, Where I Should End, the duo have tapped into the grit beneath the tranquility with more confidence and conviction than ever, to present a work that finds its strength in vulnerability, as a raw expression of power.
Although their ability to blur the boundaries between genres has always been a central aspect of their appeal, the new LP finds them taking this approach in a thoughtful new direction. From the disco flavours of ‘Karaoke Song’ to the soft Americana touches of ‘Date Night’, nothing about the fusion feels forced – rather, everything has a purpose within the soundscape, which feels more organic and tender than ever. The songs become multi-dimensional worlds to be explored, as landmarks on a journey that never feels jagged or rushed – moving poignantly from the cinematic ambience of ‘Oh My God Oh Canada’ to the stark acapella opening of ‘Manchester Air’. The latter track, a moving depiction of an unplanned pregnancy, feels more indebted to the rawest roots of Irish folk music than any of their previous releases, particularly as it leads into the harp-centred instrumental ‘House 9’.
Relationships – of varying kinds – are at the centre of Where I Should End, with distance often serving as a destructive force. Although created before our current reality (the album was recorded in the winter of 2019/20 at The Meadow, Co. Wicklow), it’s a theme that feels more timely than ever, in an increasingly unsettled world. But it’s in Saint Sister’s portrayal of young adulthood, and their ability to find profound poetry on the back of bikes, on the northern end of Capel Street, and at drunken karaoke nights, that the extent of their powers truly shine. It’s in these seemingly mundane occurrences and run-ins that they find the reason to keep pushing forward, despite the uncertainty – passing that gift on to us in turn.
– Lucy O'Toole, June 2021
9. St. Vincent Daddy's Home (Loma Vista Recordings)
St Vincent's career has been marked by constant reinvention – allowing her to carve out a presence as one of the most intriguing and globe-conquering presences in modern pop. Although she has once again teamed up with Jack Antonoff on her new album, Daddy's Home finds her ditching the futuristic approach of Masseducation to embrace a gritty sound rooted specifically in early '70s New York City. It was a tumultuous time, characterised by contrasting grime and glamour – and St. Vincent embraces both in equal measure.
Glam, psychedelic, folk, raga rock and soulful pop influences are worn on her sleeve – particularly on the aptly titled 'Live In The Dream', and 'The Melting Of The Sun', which features retro backing vocals from Kenya Hathaway (Donny's daughter) and Lynne Fiddmont, while name-checking The Dark Side Of The Moon, Hejira-era Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone. On 'Somebody Like Me' meanwhile, one of the album's unexpected highlights, she's channeling the spirit of some tragic doomed starlet of the era.
But rarely does Daddy's Home feel like a posturing musical period piece. Rather than revel self-indulgently in the vintage aesthetic, St Vincent's approach is grounded in a modern awareness. This is especially notable on the swaggering title-track – which directly addresses her father's release from prison in 2019, something that became tabloid fodder in recent years. Daddy's Home finds St. Vincent taking back the reins – telling her own story on her own terms, while exploring a captivating new direction in her sound.
– Lucy O'Toole, May 2021
10. James Vincent McMorrow Grapefruit Season (Sony)
James Vincent McMorrow told me only three months ago that he’s never read a single review of his previous four albums. I wonder will it be any different for Album No.5, released from his new home at Columbia Records? Maybe not, but I can still praise him when it’s due.
Since his explosion onto the scene in 2010 with debut album Early In The Morning, the now 39-year-old has learned some vital lessons about himself and his art form. One, that taking a step back, and discovering other aspects of his identity, is vital to his creativity; and two, that brevity allows his exceptional songwriting and production strengths to shine.
Produced by McMorrow alongside Paul Epworth, Kenny Beats, Lil Silva and Chairlift’s Patrick Wimberly, Grapefruit Season was recorded variously between London, Los Angeles and Dublin, for the most part before the pandemic struck. As if embracing the chaos of life, the Malahide man’s creativity feels almost completely without bounds on this 14-track effort. Musically, it incorporates everything from dancehall, soul and country to folk, R&B, pop and more. It’s insanely eclectic.
In the past, the Dubliner’s albums have been filled to the brim with bravura flourishes, but here he has beautifully showcased his newfound sense of peace with imperfection – not to mention his hard-earned confidence as an artist.
Of course, there’s an array of killer singles to which we’ve already been treated, including ‘Headlights’, ‘I Should Go’ (with Kenny Beats), hypnotic banger ‘Gone’, and the summery ‘Paradise’. But there are numerous new treasures waiting to be unearthed too, including ‘Planes In The Sky’, ‘House And A River’, ‘Tru Love’ and ‘Hollywood & Vine’, all of which blend gorgeous falsetto vocals with warm R&B beats.
Boasting direct and accessible lyrics, Grapefruit Season emphasises James Vincent McMorrow’s personal and creative growth. A raw and addictive collection, in which each track is a potential single, it is sure to multiply the singer’s ever-growing legion of fans.
– Kate Brayden, September 2021
11. Joy Crookes Skin (Sony)
12 Lana Del Rey Chemtrails Over The Country Club (Universal)
13. Christy Moore Flying Into Mystery (Sony)
14. IDLES Crawler (Partisan)
15 John Francis Flynn I Would Not Live Always (River Lea)
16 David Keenan What Then? (Rubyworks)
17 James Blake Friends That Break Your Heart (Polydor)
18. Soda Blonde Small Talk (Velveteen Records)
19. Declan O'Rourke Arrivals (Warner)
20 David Kitt Laser Days (Self-Released)
21. The War on Drugs I Don't Live Here Anymore (Atlantic)
22. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raise The Roof (Warner)
23 Rejjie Snow Baw Baw Black Sheep (300 Entertainment)
24 Little Simz Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (AWAL)
25. Silk Sonic An Evening With Silk Sonic (Warner)
26. Lonely Guest Lonely Guest (False Idols)
27. Mick Flannery & Susan O'Neill In The Game (Rosaleen Records)
28. Orla Gartland Women On The Internet (New Friends Music)
29. Various Artists In The Echo (Ergodos)
30. Ario Parks Collapsed in Sunbeams (Transgressive Records)
31. Mdou Moctor Afrique Victime (Matador)
32. Olivia Rodrigo SOUR (Geffen)
33. Lorde Solar Power (Universal)
34. Paul Weller Fat Pop (Volume 1) (Universal)
35 Tyler, The Creator Call Me If You Get Lost (Sony)
36. New Pagans The Seed, the Vessel, The Roots And All (Big Scary Monsters)
37. Japanese Breakfast Jubilee (Dead Oceans)
38 Weezer OK Human (Atlantic)
39 Adele 30 (Sony)
40 Inhaler It Won't Always Be Like This (Universal)
41 The Coral Coral Island (Run On Records)
42. Lucy Dacus Home Video (Matador)
43. The Black Keys Delta Kream (Nonesuch Records)
44. John Murry The Stars Are God's Bullet Holes (Submarine Cat)
45. Bicep Isles (Ninja Tune)
46. Brian Wilson At My Piano (Universal)
47 Brendan Tallon Love In These Times (Mercenary Records)
48 Low Hey What (Sub Pop)
49. Drake Certified Lover Boy (Universal)
50. Park Hye Jin Before I Die (Ninja Tune)