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 🇨🇦


56. BACKXWASH - I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES 🇨🇦


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


42. Rhye- Home 🇨🇦

When Robin Hannibal left Rhye after their first album, Mike Milosh failed to make the same quality of music as heard on Woman, but he seems to have finally nailed the landing with Home. We get the lush strings, flirty reeds and of course sensual falsetto from Milosh that we have come to expect. Next time you’re looking for some good bedroom tunes, light up some candles, close the drapes and press play on Home. - Dakota Arsenault


41. Selena Gomez - Revelacion


40. The Beaches - Future Lovers 🇨🇦

Toronto’s own The Beaches don’t need a lot of runway to make a big impact. Their latest release is a five track EP that goes hard all the way through. Lead singer Jordan Miller brings pop punk energy to tracks like “Blow Up”, “Bad Behaviour'' and “Slow Mo” while the rest of the band provide punchy backing vocals and musically landing somewhere between alt-rock and synth vibes. The band never needs to put out another full length album again if they keep putting out plenty of head banging singles and EP’s. - Dakota Arsenault


Listen to our interview with The Beaches here.


39. Dizzy - Separate Places 🇨🇦

If you enjoyed Dizzy’s previous album, The Sun and Her Scorch, you’ll be in for a treat with their latest EP release, Separate Places. Dizzy takes five tracks from their sophomore album and reimagines them, each with a little help from their friends. Separate Places sheds new light and brings fresh meanings to each song, making it a real gem of a listen. - Stephanie Prior


38. Dominique Fils-Aime - Three Little Words 🇨🇦

Three Little Words is a warm, lush, soulful album overflowing with emotion. Fils-Aimé's vocals are pure and beautiful, taking centre stage amongst some great acapella work and grounding drums. This album manages to balance between old nostalgic genres without being too warm and fuzzy, by bringing in modern arrangements and contemporary lyrics. It's a heartfelt listen that'll leave you wanting more. - Stephanie Prior


37. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - The Distance EP


An EP filled with dance bangers from front to back. Producer Orlando Higginbottom's talented skills present a collection of songs with lush layers, synths, and exciting beats. - Gemma Mastroianni


36. Monowhales - Daytona Bleach 🇨🇦

Monowhales came in strong with their debut LP Daytona Bleach. The Alternative Pop/Rock record features a variety of upbeat tracks that will have all listeners singing along. Highlights include ‘Out With The Old” “RWLYD (Really Wanna Let You Down)” and “All Or Nothing” which have all received radio play. This is truly just the beginning for them- an exciting one! - Gemma Mastroianni


35. Beach House - Once Twice Melody EP (Part's 1 +2)

It has been an agonizing four years since Beach House last put out music (7), and Dream Pop's greatest band finally returned to give us two parts of a four part project, with the rest scheduled to come out next year. Singer Victoria Legrande sounds more hopeful than ever on the eight tracks released so far. On the first part we get traditional soaring guitars and twinkling beats, while the second part sees them playing with their formula a bit. This is shaping up to being an excellent project, and who knows maybe it appears on our list again next year! - Dakota Arsenault


34. Half Moon Run - Inwards & Onwards - EP 🇨🇦


33. Chet Faker - Hotel Surrender

After releasing one album and several EP’s under the name Chet Faker, singer and producer Nick Murphy decided to drop the moniker to start putting out music under his real name. He unexpectedly returned to the Chet Faker moniker in 2021 with Hotel Surrender along with making sensual electro tinged RnB like he used to at the start of his career. He led the era off with “Low”, a song that could have been a B-side to “No Diggity”, his original breakthrough hit. - Dakota Arsenault


32. Clairo - Sling

Clairo’s sophomore album Sling represents a huge change in sound moving from lo-fi Bedroom Pop into a collection of Folk inspired songs produced as sleek as ever in collaboration with Jack Antonoff. The album is intimate and quiet, as Clairo shares some of her most personal struggles transitioning into womanhood. - Gemma Mastroianni


31. Somni - Somni Presents: Up Too Early Vol 2


30. Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee



29. CHVRCHES - Screen Violence

The Scottish Synth Rockers put out their fourth album Screen Violence and got a healthy dose of inspiration from their favourite horror movies. The band used the movie lovers social media site Letterboxd in order to promote the record and create lists of movies that influenced them. The band even got horror icon and synth master John Carpenter to remix “Good Girls” making a deadly (and fun) combo! - Dakota Arsenault


28. Leon Bridges - Gold-Diggers Sound

While he returns to his roots in 60's soul music in this project, Bridges' old school crooner vocal stylings are paired with 808's, trap drums and synths. It's a refreshing, anachronistic take on alternative R&B and a glimpse of what Leon has in store for the coming years. - John Mendoza


27. Arkells - Blink Once 🇨🇦

Despite the omnipresence of Arkells on Canadian radio and media, it has actually been three years since the Hamilton, Ontario band put out their last record. They are now three albums into being a pure Pop/Rock band in the mold of modern Coldplay and the genre suits them well. The band brought in singer/rapper K. Flay to add a jolt of energy to “You Can Get It”, while the band shows off their stadium ready chops on tracks like “Years in the Making”. Songs that feature the Northern Soul Horns, the band's brass backing band, are ones that rock the hardest. - Dakota Arsenault


26. Snail Mail - Valentine


25. Durand Jones and the Indications - Private Spaces

The soul revival is in full swing. You have acts like Black Pumas, The Revivalists, Leon Bridges and others. One of them is Durand Jones and the Indications who put out their third album this year. They are probably the best group currently at making their music sound fresh and exciting while still eliciting classic Stax and Chess label vibes. Jones’ soaring falsetto transports you to another world. If you enjoyed this album, make sure you check out the band's percussionist Aaron Frazier who put out his own solo album in 2021 Introducing… - Dakota Arsenault


24. Arlo Parks - Collapsed In Sunbeams


23. The Dirty Nil - Fuck Art 🇨🇦

Fuck Art mixes mundane life events with buzzy Metal-Rock riffs and it’s just the right combo that everyone needs. Throw away all your cares and just rock along with lead singer Luke Bentham as he sings about Dodge Caravans, concussions and that dude that stole his bike. - Stephanie Prior


22. The Staves - Good Woman


21. Madison Beer - Life Support

Beer has been on the come up for a while now, but Life Support is actually the singer’s first album. Her music is more ambitious and experimental than someone like Ariana Grande, who occupies the same realm of RnB Pop. While “Selfish” may have been the big breakthrough on TikTok, other songs like the trippy “Follow the White Rabbit” or the empowering anthems “Boyshit” and “Good in Goodbye” all deserve top marks. - Dakota Arsenault


20. DARKSIDE - Spiral

DARKSIDE is the project of Nicolás Jaar and Dave Harrington. The duo put out only one full length studio album back in 2013 called Psychic and immediately were heralded as the best thing in electronic music. Then they broke up. Jaar continued his ascent into one of the best electronic artists by making music like an ominous cloud surrounding you late at night and always propelled by deep foreboding bass lines. With the surprise return of DARKSIDE it is great to hear the jangly guitars Harrington brings to Jaar’s production. The music still sounds like a dream ever teetering towards a nightmare, but it was well worth the wait. - Dakota Arsenault


19. DijahSB- Tasty Raps, Vol 1 🇨🇦

Following up their 2021 Polaris Music Prize nominated album Head Above the Waters, Toronto rapper DijahDB keeps the train moving with their excellent follow up EP. DijahSB gets some high profile friends to drop guest verses in Mick Jenkins and Harrison. If you’re looking for the freshest hip hop to impress your friends who you get passed the aux cord, add Tasty Raps Vol 1 to your rotation and watch as everyone gets their head bobbing on “New Balance” and “Here to Dance”. - Dakota Arsenault


18. Olivia Rodrigo - Sour

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album Sour, is the definition of Gen Z within this new decade of music. Rodrigo gives a fresh approach to pop music with the hit single “Drivers Licence'' that created a spark with power ballads that made us fall in love with her. The track list of the album starts out sour with the opening track “Brutal'' and slowly transitions to sweet with songs like “Deja Vu”. Sour has a feeling of a modern day 2000’s aesthetic and sound giving deja vu to a time period where you would drag your parents to the local music store just to get the CD and play it in the family car driving home. - Jayben Favila

17. The War on Drugs - I Don't Want to Live Here Anymore


16. Zoon - Bleached Wavves 🇨🇦

Shoegaze has typically been, like many genres, dominated by a sea of same (ie mostly white artists). With Bleached Waves, Hamilton-based Anishinaabe musician Zoon makes way for new voices, new creative inspiration, and a new name for the sound: Moccasin-gaze. - Amanda McMillan


15. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - The Future

What started out as a last ditch effort to make a living off of music, Nathaniel Rateliff’s side project The Night Sweats ended up bringing him the most notoriety of his career with the breakout “S.O.B.” back in 2015. After taking a short break and releasing a solo album, The Night Sweats returned with their third album The Future. While the group is still a world class Rock N Soul band, here we get more Alt-Country and Folk influences more often found in Rateliff’s solo records. Rateliff’s ever present gravelly voice that is always yearning continues to soar over the bands horn section and blistering guitar work from Joseph Pope III. -Dakota Arsenault


14. Jungle - Loving In Stereo


Buckle up for one of the grooviest rides of 2021 yet when you put on "Loving in Stereo." Through another long and hard year, this album was like this are a breath of fresh air. With a ton of disco and dance hits scattered throughout this record, it has all listeners moving and grooving in a great mood with their bold instrumentals, and choir like sound. - Gemma Mastroianni


13. BADBADNOTGOOD -Talk Memory 🇨🇦