2021 | Best Music Albums
Updated: Dec 13, 2021
2020 saw a prolonged period of isolation for all of us, which some artists used as an opportunity to write and compose music. As a result, a number of great albums came out in 2021, the best of which we have selected for you below. From pop-rock and piano music mixed with electronics to jazz and the beautiful sound of kora music, there should be music to everyone's taste.
Palais d'argile, Feu! Chatterton | Universal Music
Initially conceived as some sort of rock opera to be performed on stage, Palais d'argile was reinvented into a concept album after the band had to give up their tour in the Spring of 2020. The five-piece band from Paris joined forces with electronic French music composer Arnaud Rebotini to design an album on which 80s-like synth and bass sounds are more prominent than on previous albums. Palais d'argile tackles the cold modernity of our ever-connected world through poetic lyrics while delivering a groovy mix of electro, pop and rock that has a dancy feel to it.
Djourou, Ballaké Sissoko | No Førmat!
A griot from Mali and a master of the kora (a traditional harp-like West African instrument), Ballaké Sissoko explores connections with artists from distant horizons on his latest album, Djourou. The album comes with a new kora for Sissoko, after his previous instrument was dismantled and left beyond repair by border officials in New York. Sissoko alternates mesmerizing solo pieces and collaborations with some of his friends, including rapper Oxmo Puccino, French chanson singer Camille and Arthur Teboul from pop-rock band Feu! Chatterton. The result is an album of glorious hybridity, beautifully dream-like but also audaciously innovative.
MP85, Michel Portal | Label Bleu
Widely considered one of the architects of modern European Jazz, saxophone and clarinet player Michel Portal has been at the forefront of the scene for several decades. Always keen to renew his repertoire and bring innovation into his music, he delivers with MP85 a joyfully creative album which resists fixed categories. Featuring some of the best jazz musicians in Europe (including Bojan Z on the piano), the album is a treat to listen to and a fitting tribute to the 85 year old's illustrious career.
Kerber, Yann Tiersen | Mute
Multi-instrumentalist Yann Tiersen, of Amélie's fame, returns with his 12th studio album, Kerber, an ode to the small island of Ushant in Britanny, where he lives and works. Inspired by the landscape surrounding his home, the seven pieces on the album were originally written on piano before being reworked through computer processing by producer Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Nick Cave), with added synthesizers and electronic sounds. In line with Tiersen's previous works, the music has a beautiful and melancholic feel to it, the electronics offering a rich, multi-layered soundscape and a contemplative hazy ambience.
Une fille, Laura Cahen | Pias
Four years after Nord, her highly-acclaimed debut album, Laura Cahen returns with Une fille, a melancholic and intimate album in which she affirms herself as a woman and as an artist. Recorded with Dan Levy (The Dø / producer for Jeanne Added), the album was conceived as a departure from its predecessor, mixing electric guitar with electronic sounds, and more minimalist in its approach. Laura's beautifully unique voice remains as central and emotionally charged as ever, allowing her to sing about love and her sexuality in a powerful yet sensual way.