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40 Most Anticipated Albums of 2021

on January 19, 2021, 3:45pm
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Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams

arlo parks collapsed in sunbeams

Release Date: Jan. 29th via Transgressive Records

Why We’re Excited: Arlo Parks is your favorite songwriter’s favorite songwriter, and in the past 12 months, she’s earned co-signs from Billie Eilish, Phoebe Bridgers, and Florence Welch. Her smoky singing is a big part of the appeal, but her musical constructions are so sturdy they could easily support a weaker vocalist. Her melodies are light and crisp, and her lyrics overflow with perfectly chosen details. Most amazing of all, she’s only 20 years old. We know she’s good now, but there’s no telling how good she can be. –Wren Graves

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Madlib – Sound Ancestors

four tet madlib sound ancestors details

Release Date: Jan. 29th via Madlib Invazion Records

Why We’re Excited: Madlib added a touch of madness to MF DOOM’s villainy and powered Freddie Gibbs’ kane train over two classic albums, most recently 2019’s Bandana. He’s a legendary producer who’s still in his prime, and with Sound Ancestors, he’ll take center stage. But he won’t be alone: this album began as loosely structured experimentations that were later given shape by English musician Four Tet. Between these two artists, one editing and the other indulging his creativity, Sound Ancestors promises to be a fascinating listen. –Wren Graves

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Weezer – Ok Human and Van Weezer

Weezer - OK Human and Van Weezer

Release Date: Jan. 29th and May 7th via Atlantic Records

Why We’re Excited: Count us in Matt Damon’s camp. Our philosophy when it comes to Weezer is “ride or die.” That doesn’t mean that we were totally down with The Teal Album or even The Black Album, but it does mean that we’ve learned that Rivers Cuomo and co. are going to make the records they want and that if we check our snobbiness, we usually have a pretty good time. So, now more than ever — especially given the sad passing last year of Eddie Van Halen — we’re ready to trust the band with two records in the first half of 2021 alone. The first, Ok Human, will be out Jan. 29th, and, according to Cuomo, it will be “all piano-based but has a ton of orchestration.” Van Weezer, on the other hand, will find the band channeling their inner guitar gods with a throwback and nod to the days of KISS, Metallica, and Van Halen. Toto, I don’t think we’re in “Africa” anymore. –Matt Melis

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Black Country, New Road – For the first time

black country new road for the first time album cover artwork science fair

Release Date: Feb. 5th via Ninja Tune

Why We’re Excited: The buzz around London post-rockers Black Country, New Road has come fast and hard as the band — colleagues of Black Midi — have already sold out test pressings and shows and played on television with no less than Kim Gordon and Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien. They now look to capture their early sound — instrumentally sprawling and bonkers experiments arranged around anxious frontman Isaac Wood’s rye, spoken-word reflections (“Just to think I could’ve left the fair with my dignity intact/ And fled from the stage with the world’s second-best Slint tribute act”)  — and the energy of their live performances on record with For the first time. If nothing else, the band promise listeners a road they’ve not already been down a thousand times before … Slint comparisons and all. –Matt Melis

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Foo Fighters – Medicine at Midnight

Foo Fighters Medicine at Midnight

Release Date: Feb. 5th via Roswell Records

Why We’re Excited: After having their 25th anniversary celebrations scrapped by COVID-19 in 2020, the Foo Fighters aren’t wasting any more time getting started on their next quarter-century. Beginning with the Foos’ reemergence on Saturday Night Live last fall, we’ve gotten a steady drip of singles in support of Medicine at Midnight. Judging by those tracks, the band’s 10th studio album should have something for every kind of fan; whether you prefer the smoky tautness of “Shame, Shame”, the straight-ahead rock of “No Son of Mine”, or the acoustic introspection of “Waiting on a War”, the album should tide you over until Dave Grohl and company can hit the road again.–Tyler Clark

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John Carpenter – Lost Themes III

John Carpenter - Lost Themes III

Release Date: Feb. 5th via Sacred Bones Records

Why We’re Excited: Six years after returning to the synthesizer for 2015’s Lost Themes, the Master of Horror is back for more with its second sequel: Lost Themes III: Alive After Death. Once again, Carpenter is working alongside his son Cody Carpenter and his godson Daniel Davies, a collaboration that’s only grown stronger with time. “We understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, how to communicate without words, and the process is easier now than it was in the beginning,” Carpenter stated in a press release, adding: “We’ve matured.” That growth is evident in the handful of singles we’ve heard thus far: “Weeping Ghost” is a midnight marauder, “The Dead Walk” is a haunting hallway, and the titular track is the Stranger Things theme we never knew we needed. John Carpenter is back, alright, and this time we’re ready. –Michael Roffman

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slowthai – TYRON

slowthai tyron album cover art 40 Most Anticipated Albums of 2021

Release Date: Feb. 5th via Method Records

Why We’re Excited: The artist born Tyron Frampton made slowthai a household name with the scorching politics of Nothing Great About Britain. With his sophomore album, TYRON, the English rapper looks to turn his attention inwards. The project is as split as his personality, with one half said to be full of “hubris, machismo, and braggadocio” and the other given over to thoughtful introspection. Both are meant to be standalone listens, which means TYRON offers an ambitious two-for-one special. –Wren Graves

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Claud – Super Monster

Claud - Super Monster - Album Art

Release Date: Feb. 12th via Saddest Factory/Dead Oceans Records

Why We’re Excited: As the first musician signed to the new imprint from our 2020 Artist of the Year, Phoebe Bridgers, of course Claud has our attention. The lovely bedroom melodies of “Cuff Your Jeans”, “Gold”, and “Soft Spot” make it perfectly clear what caught their label boss’ ear in the first place. They also have us hyped to get our own ears on their full-length debut, Super Monster. –Ben Kaye

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Lael Neale – Acquainted with Night

Lael Neale, courtesy of artist

Lael Neale, courtesy of artist

Release Date: Feb. 19th via Sub Pop Records

Why We’re Excited: A little serendipity never hurt anyone, and it seems to be the very thing songwriter Lael Neale needed. In this case, that stroke of fortune was a friend loaning Neale an omnichord. That loan led the recent Sub Pop signee to tap into a wellspring of inspiration that directly led to her upcoming album, Acquainted with Night. With three singles, including the gorgeous “Blue Vein”, to judge from, we can only hope that Neale’s friend let her keep that omnichord. They’re a perfect match. –Matt Melis

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Julien Baker – Little Oblivions

Julien Baker - Little Oblivions

Release Date: Feb. 26th via Matador Records

Why We’re Excited: Following Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher and Lucy Dacus’ 2019 EP, Julien Baker is the last member of boygenius to put out a solo effort since the super-trio dropped their debut. Already we’ve gotten a taste of how raw and aching Little Oblivions is going to be with singles like “Hardline” and “Faith Healer”. It’s been four years since Baker’s last LP, so it’s fair to say we’re ready for her to break our hearts again. –Ben Kaye

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