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The Top 100 Albums of 2021

Another rotation around the sun means its time for yet another great Album's of the Year list! For the second year in a row, we here at The Soundtrack present the 100 best albums. While artists were holding off on some albums last year, nothing stopped them this year. Some touring cycles started up before screeching to an end, others never left the house. But hopefully some of the music that soundtracked your life this year made the cut below.

Albums were nominated by a team member and if it reached a specific threshold of votes, it was eligible to make this list. A total of 309 albums and EP’s were nominated.

As The Soundtrack is a Canadian publication, we feel it is our duty to highlight the many great acts from this country as denoted with a flag (🇨🇦) next to the title.

Additionally, find out which 2021 album you are by taking our quiz here.

100. Lil Nas X - MONTERO

There’s no denying that 2021 was the year of Lil Nas X. Despite having won a Grammy with his 2019 debut song “Old Town Road”, it was MONTERO that really announced his arrival. Creating explosive controversy with his risquée (see: super queer) music videos for singles “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name” and “INDUSTRY BABY”, Lil Nas X has cemented himself not only as a queer icon, but as a pop superstar. Full of catchy dance tracks and sultry slow jams, MONTERO is an honest, authentic, and exciting album by an artist who seems to have only just begun his climb to the top. - Amanda McMillan

99. Justin Bieber - Justice 🇨🇦

98. Tash Sultana - Terra Ferma

97. Weezer - OK Human

96. Drake - Scary Hours II EP 🇨🇦

95. Angel Olsen - Aisles

94. Twenty One Pilots - Scaled and Icy

93. Viagra Boys - Welfare Jazz

92. Demi Lovato - Dancing With the Devil... The Art of Starting Over

91. Cold War Kids - New Age Norms 3

Since 2019 LA based band Cold War Kids have been releasing projects under the banner New Age Norms, with the second coming in 2020 and the trilogy finishing off this year. CWK have a tried and true sound, they blend Alternative Rock with a bit of Blues and filtered through a Pop lens. Nathan Willett’s crooning vocals soar over smooth riffs, the same as it has on every album. The album is anchored by the single “What You Say”, but there are plenty of more hidden gems throughout. - Dakota Arsenault

90. Halsey - If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power

89. Kanye West - Donda

Donda is the tenth studio album by critically acclaimed American rapper Kanye West. The album is predominantly a hip-hop record, while also incorporating gospel and pop elements. Kanye’s devotion to Jesus is a major theme in this record, as well as his struggles with addiction, family matters, and his mental health. The album features many established and up and coming artists, including the Sunday Service Choir, Jay-Z, Playboi Carti, Lil Baby, The Weeknd, André 3000, Vory, DaBaby, and Marilyn Manson. Highlights include, “Jail”, “Hurricane”, “Believe What I Say”, and “Off The Grid”. - Jared Burke

88. Gorillaz - Meanwhile EP

Damon Albarn and his cartoon friends in Gorillaz have been hit or miss since their return in 2017, some people argue they jump on bandwagons a little too quickly and frequently but it shows the malleability of the group which has never stayed the same release over release. This three song EP continues to show the evolution of the band, with the highlight being “Jimmy Jimmy”, a Two-Tone Ska song with guest rapper AJ Tracey dancing all over the track while Albarn does his best English Beat and The Specials impression. - Dakota Arsenault

87. Various Artists - The Metallica Blacklist

86. Real Estate - Half a Human

85. Dee Gees - Hail Satin

For 2021’s Record Store Day, the Foo Fighters released an EP covering Bee Gees songs (Dee Gees as in Dave Grohl’s, get it?). Back in 1979 when Disco Demolition Night occurred in Oakland and caused a riot of people protesting Disco music it would be unthinkable that one of the most straightforward Rock N Roll bands would record music by arguably Disco’s poster child. Grohl does a fantastic job imitating Barry Gibb, while the rest of the band flawlessly recreates the era of all things satin and velour. The B-side to the record is live versions of cuts from their Medicine At Midnight album that just barely missed the top 100 cut for us. If you don’t like the A-side, do you even know what fun is? - Dakota Arsenault

84. Angels & Airwaves - Lifeforms

83. Beach Bunny - Blame Game

82. Steady Holiday - Take the Corners Gently

81. Widowspeak - Honeychurch

80. Ron Gallo - PEACEMEAL

Ron Gallo is one of the most eclectic artists out there when it comes to Alternative Rock. He incorporates elements of Jazz, Pop, Metal, R&B, and Indie Rock and somehow makes it all sound cohesive. On PEACEMEAL he meshes all of these elements and has created a record that is timeless and fun for all who enjoy such an eclectic mix. - Gemma Mastroianni

Read our interview with Ron Gallo here.

79. Kacey Musgraves - star-crossed

78. Lorde - Solar Power

77. Born Ruffians - PULP 🇨🇦

76. Vince Staples - Vince Staples

75. Ben Browning - Until We Win

Listen to our interview with Ben Browning here.

74. Cloud Nothings - The Shadow I Remember

73. Kings of Leon - When You See Yourself

72. Julien Baker - Little Oblivions

Known for her emotional yet conversational lyrics and ambient songs, singer-songwriter Julien Baker’s Little Oblivions brings this unique style of storytelling to our ears. Dealing with topics such as substance abuse, heartbreak, and the struggles of growing up gay in a Christian home, the album is tough to listen to at times. Her storytelling is bleak and emotional, but lyrically it is heartbreaking to hear. Songs like “Faith Healer” or “Hardline” showcase Baker’s ability to shift genres yet maintain her unique sound. - Josiah Botting

71. DJ Seinfeld - Mirrors

70. The Black Keys - Delta Kream

69. The Tragically Hip - Saskadelphia 🇨🇦

This is the iconic Canadian band’s first release since the tragic passing of lead singer Gord Downie back in 2017 of brain cancer. Saskadelphia is actually six songs that didn’t make the cut for the band's third album, 1991’s Road Apples. Originally the group wanted to call the record Saskadelphia, but the American label didn’t like it, so cheekily they submitted the name Road Apples, to which the unassuming American brass didn’t realize it was Canadian slang for horse crap, thus a legendary album title was born. This release even contains a live version of “Montreal” recorded in 2000 at the Molson Centre in Montreal. For longtime fans of the band, it’s a sad reminder of the void we feel since Downie left us on this mortal coil. - Dakota Arsenault

68. Briston Maroney - Sunflower

Emotional yet effortlessly cool, Sunflower is a well-produced confessional album that feels perfect for driving late at night, windows open, and nothing but open road ahead. While not particularly remarkable in terms of a unique sound, there is a ton of Post-Punk and early Aught-Rock influence that keep it feeling familiar and likeable. Super singable melodic hooks, punchy guitar, and solid beats make this album a fun one to come back to when you’re in the mood for a drive. - Amanda McMillan

Listen to our interview with Briston Maroney here.

67. Royal Blood - Typhoons

Mainstream rock has been dead for quite a while now. Outside of acts like Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers, most alternative acts just don’t do business like they used to. UK’s Royal Blood has been growing with every release and Typhoons builds on their impressive base, this time adding some keyboard riffs to their guitar and drum combo. If “Typhoons” and “Trouble’s Coming” doesn’t get your heart beating faster and head banging, go see a doctor so you can get back to rocking out. - Dakota Arsenault

66. Teen Daze - Breathing Tides 🇨🇦

Listen to our interview with Teen Daze here.

65. J. Cole - The Off-Season

Inspired by his time away from rapping to hone in on his craft, J. Cole’s The Off Season shows the improvement of an already impressive artist’s style and flow. The beats are some of the best on a rap album released in 2021 with full and deep bass, and lots of hi-hats. Songs like “t h e . c l i m b . b a c k”, which blends the story of his love for rap and addresses some of his past trauma, or “p r i d e . i s . t h e . d e v i l” that features Lil Baby and is a highlight from the album. - Josiah Botting

64. Men I Trust - Untourable Album 🇨🇦

63. willow - lately I feel EVERYTHING

An unexpected genre exploration from willow, who has quickly become an Internet darling. The addition of pop-punk legend Travis Barker (Blink-182) on three tracks, including the single “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” brings an energy and polish to an album that is intentionally youthful. Catchy hooks, killer melodies, and smart lyrics bring together a super fun album, packing a refreshing punch and ushering in a new generation of diverse artists during what appears to be a Pop-Punk revival. - Amanda McMillan

62. Luna Li - jams EP

61. Houndmouth - Good For You

Houndmouth was the heir apparent to boozy Alt-Country to shout and sing along to, but after the departure of founding member Katie Taupin (who put out the excellent EP Little Heart this year) the band went on an uninspired Pop escapade. Thankfully they went back to their roots, with Roots music. Good For You sounds like the band woke up with a bad hangover and kept things low key while getting back to the basics. This isn’t the band that made “Sedona” but thankfully it’s also not the band that made Golden Age. - Dakota Arsenault

60. Cadence Weapon - Parallel World 🇨🇦

An experimental and engaging LP with elements of hip-hop and electronica, influenced by the upside down world we are currently residing in. It features a variety of collaborations which adds a ton of flavour to this already exciting collection of tracks, including last year's Polaris winner Backxwash. - Gemma Mastroianni

Read our interview with Cadence Weapon here.

59. Hayley Williams - FLOWERS for VASES / descansos

Intimate and warming, this folk sophomoric album has melancholic melodies over through modest, sparse production. Here, she speaks gently on the past, old heartbreaks and self-reflection but there's an air of desperation and in her lyricism. A tribute to her own healing and her pain, this project is boldly unique compared to her previous works. - John Mendoza

58. Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever

Eilish’s sophomore album takes on a more sophisticated and mature sound, representing growth from her debut album WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO. This album tackles heartbreak, transitioning into womanhood, and empowerment. The title track is certainly the highlight of this album, and possibly one of the most impactful songs released in 2021. - Gemma Mastroianni

57. Keys n Krates - Original Classic 🇨🇦


55. James Blake - Friends That Will Break Your Heart

54. Wild Pink - A Billion Little Lights 🇨🇦

53. Taylor Swift - Red (Taylor's Version)

52. Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

51. Lord Huron - Long Lost

While best listened to uninterrupted from front to back, Lord Huron’s Long Lost sounds both nostalgic and uniquely original. Made to sound like an old television program or an old radio station from the 50’s, the album features intros and outros from a talk-show host to make the hour-long album runtime feel like a performance or program. Whether you like upbeat tracks like “Mine Forever,” a sad ballad like “I Lied” or a 14-minute instrumental “Time’s Blur” that perfectly closes off the album, Long Lost has something for everyone to enjoy. - Josiah Botting

50. Jon Batiste - WE ARE

Most people likely only know Jon Batiste as the band leader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert with his adorably awkward laugh and great fashion sense, but he is one of the most accomplished modern jazz musicians working today. He won an Oscar back in April for his scoring work on the Pixar film Soul. He’s back with a new solo record documenting the modern black experience in America that allows him to look at the current political landscape, into the past of his community and into the future for the next generation. It’s a poignant and touching album of celebratory resistance and banging tunes with plenty of fellow New Orleans friends. - Dakota Arsenault

49. Citizen - Life in Your Glass World

Bands like Royal Blood and Citizen are keeping the torch burning of rock and roll. Sure Citizen likely has more in common with such subgenres like Emo, Dance Punk and Pop Punk, but whatever you want to call Life in Your Glass House, it rocks really hard. Hailing from Ohio and Michigan, the three piece put out their fourth album and big breakthrough this year allowing guitar aficionados to rejoice. Go ahead and head bang your way through “Pedestal” and “Fight Beat”. - Dakota Arsenault

48. Taylor Swift - Fearless (Taylor's Version)

Say what you want about Taylor Swift, the woman knows how to make money. It’s admirable, for lack of a better word, that she has decided to re-release her music in her own way. Released 12 years after the original, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) has an undeniable maturity infused within it. Her voice, now that of a 32 year old, brings with it a new wisdom, even as she sings about boys from high school. Now, the songs feel like she’s reading back old diary entries, a knowing understanding of how it all turns out in the end, rather than singing as these things happen in real time. For fans of her catalogue, it’s a new take on old classics. For haters, it’s nothing special. But then again, Taylor Swift has shown, if nothing else, that she takes her work very seriously even when the haters hate hate hate. And that kind of integrity has to count for something. - Amanda McMillan

47. Lucy Dacus- Home Video

Nostalgia is spoken through soft and poetic words with Home Video as Lucy Dacus recalls memories of childhood and coming of age throughout the album. Dacus takes on a fresh approach towards the modern indie rock scene as Home Video takes on melodic instrumentals but not before having catchy guitars with the song “VBS”. Dacus’s lyricism is strong and descriptive throughout the album giving a visual image of her personal anecdotes with songs such as “Thumbs”, which Dacus describes as a personal story of her relationship with her Dad. - Jayben Favila

46. St. Vincent - Daddy's Home

45. Kiwi Jr. - Cooler Returns 🇨🇦

44. Pinegrove - Amperland, NY

43. Jeremiah Fraites - Piano Piano