While we've been busy getting on with our daily lives, over half of 2021 has uncharitably whizzed on by. The year may have had its challenges but the world of music has been in rude health, with a heap of exceptional album releases and vinyl album sales up 108% in the first six months. We've canvassed the (largely) knowledgeable staff of your friendly neighbourhood Townsend Music to select a few albums that have ticked their boxes this year. Just - please - remember to play them at the correct speed.
Senior Account Manager
Tyler, The Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost
For me album of the year (not just so far) is done and dusted, and this is it. There are so many good things about it. From the fact it covers a whole range of genres and styles to the incredible array of not just high-profile and well=placed guest spots.
Brockhampton – Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine
If this is to be the band’s final album, as has been touted, then it’s going out on a high. Introspective as ever lyrically, but the levels of production and cohesion of the album raise it above anything they’ve done to date, almost like previous releases were rough drafts for this (potentially) final masterpiece.
Roisin Murphy – Crooked Machine
I really wanted to include Roisin Machine before looking to see it came out in 2020, so I’ve gone with companion piece/remix album Crooked Machine which is equally brilliant. In a couple of years span where a lot of female pop artists wanted to ‘go disco’ whilst we were all locked in our houses, only Roisin’s releases truly recreated the sound and feel of a banging night out.
D2C New Business Manager
Arlo Parks - Collapsed In Sunbeams
I spent a good chunk of 2020 with these songs but it was great to hear Arlo Parks’ debut Collapsed in Sunbeams in its full-blown wonder. Old favourite 'Eugene' still shines brightly, but is joined by new treats such as 'Caroline', 'Black Dog' and 'Green Eyes'.
A statement of intent, that has already seen her pick up the Breakthrough Brit, nominated for Female Solo Artist and Album, with a Mercury Music nomination for her debut to boot.
Account Manager Leon Vynehall - Rare, Forever
Really f*cking intense and all over the place in terms of its influences and what it actually sounds like, but it's rich and properly fun and engaging all the way through!
Business Development Manager
Bicep - Isles
2020 was a great year for album releases and we all hoped 2021 would live up to that standard, any concerns it would not were quickly quashed when Isles landed in January. ‘Atlas’ and ‘Apricots’ will remain in many of my playlists for years to come.
Dave - We’re All Alone In This Together
Dave delivers once again on his second album. The nature of the content - introspection and social commentary - makes the album a heavy listen at times, Dave’s delivery and poetry get me every time.
Billie Marten - Flora Fauna
Melodies, lyrics and a voice that just makes you want to return to this album again and again, it’s a beauty.
D2C Plus Manager
Stoner - Stoners Rule
The title says it all...
P Barney Barnes:
Head Of Digital
Perturbator – Lustful Sacraments
With a sticker that proclaims "the reigning master of cyberpunk guides us on a dystopian odyssey through the underbelly of hedonism, addiction and madness", it's safe to say I was not expecting sweetness and light from this record. Nor was I expecting the punishing, uptempo synthwave style that the French producer had a hand in popularising and has since somewhat distanced himself from. But I was not prepared for the slow, sluggish beats and ultra-detuned vocals that oozed from my speakers. When my girlfriend asked what I thought of the record, I was honest: it was bold, but a little downbeat for me.
Imagine my surprise when I eventually realised that for the first several weeks of owning it I had been playing the record at 33rpm rather than the requisite 45rpm; no wonder it sounded slow. At the risk of stating the obvious, played at the correct speed, it's a whole lot better, mixing Perturbator's trademark soundscapes with post-punk influences - think John Carpenter meets Siouxsie and the Banshees. And with that, I found a further seven (honestly) records in my collection that I'd been playing consistently at the wrong speed all of which are vastly more engaging played at the correct tempo. And, admittedly partly because of that, this is my record of the year so far.
Junior Account Manager
Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
I’ve been playing this non-stop since it was released. Ellie (Rosewell)’s vocals on this record are nothing short of dreamy. My favourite tracks are 'The Beach II' and 'How Can I Make It OK.'
Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg
This has been a firm favourite album of the year for me so far. The lyrics are weird, wacky and wonderful. Stand out tracks for me are 'More Big Birds' and 'Unsmart Lady'.
I'm waiting for DONDA. 🤷♂️