Written by Isabella Flynn
2021 seemed to be a wild year for everyone, but luckily there was some great music to keep us sane. There were many releases from many different genres, and it was very hard to narrow it down to my top five and figure out which records stuck out to me the most, but here are my top five albums of 2021.
5. "Bodies" by AFI
Favorite Track: “Escape From Los Angeles”
AFI have been around for a long time, but I only discovered them this year and I’m glad I did, especially with the release of their newest album "Bodies". While it is a bummer that a majority of the tracks on the album were singles, when listening to the record it didn’t feel that way.
Every song felt like it had just been introduced to the world so when the full album dropped it was really surprising to hear songs that I had heard before again. Comparing this album to their older work, it’s definitely a shift sound-wise. While parts of their albums were more heavy in regards to instrumentals, "Bodies" revealed a new side of AFI.
This album isn’t heavy in despite the darker genres that AFI has pulled influence from, it’s very light. Lyrically speaking, they aren’t dark, more-so emotional.
As a whole, it’s a “vibey” album. It’s an album that you can put on no matter the occasion or the circumstances in and just vibe. It’s a record that you can dance to as well and I have a really good feeling that these songs are going to be amazing live.
4. "Greatest Hits" by Waterparks
Favorite Tracks: “Magnetic”
While Fiddlehead’s "Between The Richness" is my album of the year, "Greatest Hits" by Waterparks was my most anticipated release. Waterparks has been one of my favorite bands for years, but after being underwhelmed by "Fandom", it would be interesting to see if they would rebound with this most recent album or not.
In my opinion, they definitely ended up rebounding!
"Greatest Hits" proved that Waterparks had finally achieved the sound that they've been seeming to reach for. It’s a fun album, the lyrics are light, catchy, and fun to sing along too.
Songs like “Violet!”, “You’d Be Paranoid Too (If Everyone Was Out To Get You)", and “Magnetic” really emphasize that and the accompanying instrumentals really highlight the growth in Waterparks’ sound.
It’s clear that they are closer to the pop-side of the music world than the rock-side now, but it’s clear they haven’t ditched their roots altogether and are showcasing how diverse pop-punk can be.
It’s a record that you will want to play all the time, especially on those days where nothing is working out in your favor. This album will make you want to dance no matter where you are because of the upbeat, danceable instrumentals and catchy lyrics.
3. "This Is How The World Ends" by Badflower
Favorite Tracks: “Stalker”
Badflower’s sound can be described as unique and "This is How The World Ends" emphasizes that through the growth between their most recent release to now. The album discusses topics relating to politics, the pandemic, social media toxicity, and relationships.
In classic Badflower style, a majority on the songs on this record are high energy with opening riffs that grab the listener’s attention instantly. When you pay closer attention to the lyrics, you realize that there’s a message that the vocalist Josh Katz is trying to tell us which is especially evident in the track, “Machine Gun”.
There’s also slower, ballad-like tracks that are emotional because of how deep and well written these lyrics are like “Tethered”.
"This Is How The World Ends" is a catchy album and one that makes you want to dance on the surface, but if you look close enough you’ll realize that this is an album that is calling for change in a variety of areas.
2. "GLOW ON" by Turnstile
Favorite Track: “DON’T PLAY”
When I first heard their sophomore album "Time and Space", I was instantly hooked and fell in love with Turnstile. It was like nothing I had ever heard before and suddenly I became invested in the hardcore community.
When the EP "Turnstile Love Connection" dropped in May, it was a pleasant surprise a glimpse of what was to come.
In August Turnstile dropped "GLOW ON", which quickly became one of my favorite hardcore albums. The shift in sound between this release and 2018’s "Time And Space" was quite noticeable, and it was easy to tell that the band had become much more confident in their sound.
In one word this record can be described as magical. The instrumentals with lighter tempos and more pleasant riffs paired with aggressive vocals (or the other way around) catches your attention and when you listen once, you can’t stop!
I just know the songs on this album played live are going to translate really well in a live music setting and there will never be a dull moment in the crowd.
1. "Between the Richness" by Fiddlehead
Favorite Track: “Eternal You”
"Between the Richness" is a record that is on everyone’s album of the year list, mine included. It’s an amazing album, and this these tracks live is an unreal experience.
It also brought Fiddlehead new fans and got older ones excited for the band’s future.
This album is a very high energy, upbeat record, but it has a lot of mature themes in the lyrics. "Between the Richness" made me fall in love with Fiddlehead and hearing these songs live made my love for those songs grow!
There’s a theme of nostalgia throughout the album and as someone who just experienced one big milestone (that being graduating high school), and finishing up her first semester of college, the ideas of nostalgia, love, loss, and the lessons that lead singer Pat Flynn speaks of and thinking about your own personal experiences make listening to this album an unforgettable experience.
Between the Richness is an album that you can listen to a “Million Times” and never get bored. It’s just that good.
Were any of these releases in your top favorites from 2021? Let us know on Twitter @lgndsoftmrw!