Courtesy of Loma Vista

December 6, 2021

Arts & Culture’s 2021 Album Picks

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  • MONTERO by Lil Nas X 

I had high hopes for Lil Nas X’s debut album, and I have to say, it did not disappoint. Not only does he deliver some classic dance-able songs like “MONTERO (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME),” but he showcases a variety of genres with his more introspective tracks like “SUN GOES DOWN,” exploring themes of identity and struggling under pressure. I was impressed with Lil Nas X’s range, all displaying a depth of emotions fit for any mood. He also has some unique features on the album, such as Elton John and Miley Cyrus. Lil Nas X really shines on MONTERO, moving listeners from dancing to crying, leaving me replaying it for months.  

— Emma Leynse ’23

  • See What’s On the Inside by Asking Alexandria 

The seventh studio album from the British rock group, Asking Alexandria, See What’s on the Inside was a contemplative look at the changing identities of a world that has been locked inside for almost a year. This is their first album with their new label and is a reminder of what made them so popular in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Notable singles include “Alone Again,” which grapples with similar themes as their 2017 hit “Alone in a Room.” Other hits include “Faded Out” and “Find Myself,” help audiences really connect with the despair and slivers of hope that a lot of people have felt in the past two years. 

— Tom Sandford ’24

  • Donda by Kanye West 

After the mess that was his 2019 Jesus Is King release, Kanye bounced back hard with Donda, a sprawling album that channels his new religious themes in a much more interesting manner than his previous work. From the epic “Heaven and Hell” to the introspective “Jesus Lord,” Kanye delivers something for everyone on this project, while giving it strong emotional weight with its connection to his mother. He’s shown he can still be a heavy hitter in the modern rap game, and I’m excited to see where he goes next. 

 — Nihar Hegde ’24

  • Let It Be: 50th Anniversary Edition by the Beatles 

Released in tandem with the Peter Jackson-helmed documentary The Beatles: Get Back, Let It Be: 50th Anniversary Edition contains a remixed version of the Beatles’ final released album, overseen by producer (and son of original Beatles producer George Martin) Giles Martin along with songs and sequences from the album sessions in January 1969. Early versions of songs such as “Get Back” and “Don’t Let Me Down” appear along with early versions of Beatles solo songs, including “All Things Must Pass” and “Gimme Some Truth.” Complementing the renewed interpretation of the tone and atmosphere of those sessions, the remixed album rings out with a crispness and vitality which cast a new and well-deserved light on what has traditionally been seen as an album marred by discord and acrimony.

— John Colie ’23

  • Daddy’s Home by St. Vincent

Daddy’s Home, the sixth studio album from St. Vincent, is an homage to 1970s New York and a meditation on her father’s imprisonment. After 2017’s Masseduction, Annie Clark and her co-producer Jack Antonoff have turned away from glam rock to a more psychedelic and blues sound. The groove in “Down” and “Daddy’s Home” teems with blistering discontent and anger. In the latter, Clark explores the idea of reparenting, a process of fulfilling the needs not met in one’s own childhood and then becoming her own “daddy”. More subdued tracks like “…At the Holiday Party” and “Live in the Dream” are sonic gold mines, glistening with exquisite production, sitars, lap steels, and stirring background vocals. Clark’s sublime guitar skills continue to be a revelation, and Daddy’s Home only further solidifies her status as a modern rock legend. 

—Violet Gooding ’25

  • Call Me if You Get Lost by Tyler, the Creator

I didn’t expect anything from this album because I always know that Tyler likes to switch up his style. However, I really liked that he didn’t try to make another IGOR, and he went back to his rap roots. Songs like “SIR BAUDELAIRE” and “LUMBERJACK” have these heavy boom-bap rap sounds that are reminiscent of 90s New York rappers like the Gravediggaz and Nas. In contrast “WUSYANAME” has a pop feel to it with a surprise feature from NBA Youngboy. “HOT WIND BLOWS” has a beautiful sample that makes you feel like you’re on a vacation in Greece. “RISE” has a great message about being oneself and proving people wrong with your success. The album has deeply inspired me, and although I wouldn’t say it’s his best album, it’s a high contender. 

— Adesuwa Carlton ‘24

Courtesy of Columbia Records
  • Obviously by Lake Street Dive

The latest effort from this genre-defying band from Boston finds them at their collaborative prime. Produced and engineered by Mike Elizondo, Obviously is a sonic thrill ride. While the band is able to maintain their signature blend of 60s soul, vintage rock and R&B, their sound is cleaner on this record, though their songwriting is just as adventurous. With the addition of new keyboardist Akie Bermiss, the group is able to strike a new pristine balance as collaborators, with bassist Bridget Kearney, drummer Mike Calabrese and guitarist Mike “McDuck” Olson eagerly creating a classic landscape for Rachael Price’s jazzy vocals. While upbeat highlights “Hypotheticals” and “Same Old News” will likely garner the admiration of many listeners unfamiliar with the band, slower moments like “Nobody’s Stopping You Now” and “Anymore” are those in which their musicianship capabilities truly shine. In this album, the band has created a cohesive record that presents a listen unlike anything else out this year. 

— PJ Brown ‘25

  • The Incompatible Okay Kaya

A hybrid release of covers and new songs, the newest album by indie Swedish siren singer and actor Okay Kaya is absolutely enthralling. The cover versions slow down her art pop hits “Psych Ward” and “Dance Like U” among others. Her raw voice and twisted poetry will gore your heart from your chest. In her new single “Book of Love,” Okay Kaya gives a waterfall of soothing melodies. The book of love is filled with “things we’re way too adult to know.” If you’re sad and sexy, you’ll listen to this album. 

— E.D. Plowe ’23