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Exclaim!’s 50 Best Albums of 2021 | Exclaim
By Exclaim! StaffPublished Dec 01, 2021After 2020’s many delays and cancellations, 2021 was a year of blockbusters. Pop superstars returned after several years of silence, the world’s biggest rappers went head to head, and rock icons continued their historic runs.
And yet, most of those huge albums didn’t make our year-end list. Instead, the best albums of 2021 were more of a mixed bag: surprising debuts from new talent, the career pinnacle of a beloved Canadian indie songwriter, and rising rappers whose artistry reached new heights. No one could have predicted the events of 2021 — so it’s only fitting that the best albums of the year are just as unexpected.
Scroll down for Exclaim!’s top albums of 2021.
41. The Zolas
Come Back to Life
On their fourth LP, the Vancouver trio feel the compression in their infectious, rib-sharp hooks: end-weighted lines steeped in pop culture quips and sociopolitical commentary (from governmental abuse of First Nations communities and the HIV epidemic to the climate crisis and wealth disparity), revealing themselves anew with continued attention. Britpop nostalgia finds modern urgency in eclectic, lurid textures alchemized from ’90s cult classics — and not a frame is wasted, unspooling both timely and timeless.