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Mavoy Music Top 250 Albums of 2021

250 albums this year. We couldn't really do 300 on time, but I think you'll be still satisfied with this chart (plus, technically, we will also have 50 EPs for you later). As always, I hope this chart will serve as music discovery list for you. I also hope that if you love records included here, you will find some time to buy them on Bandcamp or maybe buy some merch or concert tickets, since the gigs are generally back. The chart is highly subjective, I tried majority of "acclaimed albums" not included here, but I just didn't get them.



A few years ago, I didn’t include La La Land in the album chart, because I saw the movie on 1st January… the next year and it definitely deserved the inclusion. Still, that soundtrack had a good run in the songs personal chart. This year, I wanted to avoid that omission and since In The Heights songs, brilliant descriptions of complexity of Latin community’s everyday lives – and just very catchy numbers, composed by one of our most talented composers, Lin-Manuel Miranda – ruled my rotation, they also appear high in our charts. Unlike Hamilton, this is also actually a new recording of the musical, not something recorded a half of the decade ago.


I am not sure what to write here, because I already praised Dune multiple times in different places. I also said that I consider this film best Hans Zimmer’s work in years. Zimmer got lazy in last couple of years, he’s often accused of using ghostwriters and co-composers for doing most of the work. But it’s clear that Dune is his passion project and on this release, German composer surprises us a lot – I recommend The Art And Soul Of Dune especially, in some places it really sounds like an ambient album.


Damon Albarn’s new music was premiered live, during Glastonbury stream and I could watch it thanks to technical issues. Even then, the artist waited until autumn with releasing it and it was a right decision – it’s indeed an ideal music for rainy days of late November. His previous album, while great, didn’t even have a high place in our 2014 chart. I’m fixing this with #8 for The Nearer. Now I’m hoping for great album from another Glasto debut – Radiohead sideproject The Smile.

I already praised Britell when he released his score for If Beale Street Could Talk. I haven’t even known the film back then, but the music already moved me enormously. One of his latest achievements is the score for Barry Jenkins’ brilliant magical realist examination of dark pages from America’s history. It’s a huge release, also literally, it comes in three volumes of music, but I loved spending more time with it.

This is my favourite experimental release since Julia Holter’s Aviary, not very similar, but bringing me in a similar mood. Arushi’s modernized, synth-based take on classical Hindustani music (but, it’s worth noting, she doesn’t play sitar) is an unique sound. It’s interesting that our TOP 20 is featuring both Indian and Pakistani artists – Arooj Aftab was born in Riyadh and sings in Urdu – I hope that music can heal the differences between these two nations..


Incredible year for Michelle Zauner who ALSO published a book. Honestly I admit being late on reading Crying In H Mart. But Michelle also released a new album of her band (featuring some brilliant additional production from Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum)… and a soundtrack for a video game with some great vocal tracks (Pop Goes The Blog included one in his chart).


I was thinking this could be our first hip hop #1, and while it didn’t happen, this album would deserve it. Little Simz is one of best rappers in the world right now, and Sometimes I Might Be Introvert proves her versality – also, it’s featuring my favourite singer of the year, Cleo Sol herself.


Joy is one of these artists whom I started to follow really early, included in our EP chart first (I’m already interested who from this year’s EP chart will release a great debut LP) and I couldn’t wait for a full debut. Joy is sometimes romantic, sometimes political, sometimes heartbroken – the songs on Skin are both drastically sad or uplifting – her voice and personality always shine. I’m highly doubtful I’ll see her live soon – it’s just not the right time for it – but hopefully with album #2.


I stopped myself from giving #1, because that would really look like a favour, and Cleo is still the one record I am sure will be remembered by people in decades from now. But even then, Killing My Mind is still my most played album of the year. Even if my opinion is biased, because I’m talking about someone I know, I think it’s a really great electronic pop album, that understands its themes and concepts, and it shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s not just a collection of catchy songs, it works best heard in full. I was hyping work on this album for a few years and I’m glad to say it doesn’t disappoint, it’s somehow at least equel to Veiga’s great debut.


Cleo Sol is I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E. Only last year, I congratulated her on a rare feat of including three records in TOP 10 of our 2020 chart, but I think I wasn’t ready for what she was about to do next. I am honestly not enjoying new SAULT album as much as the other ones, but Cleo absolutely shocked me with her newest solo release, traditionally a surprise album, which I discovered only a few hours earlier. Cinematic string arrangements – provided by Inflo, who finally gets his album #1 after many years of trying- incredible songwriting and voice… she really reminds me of young Alicia Keys, and I can only hope she’ll never lose her track, the way Alicia more and more does.



  1. Cleo Sol – Mother (singer-songwriter, Forever Living Originals)

  2. Salt Ashes – Killing My Mind (pop, Radikal)

  3. Joy Crookes – Skin (singer-songwriter/soul/jazz, Insanity/Sony)

  4. Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (hip-hop, Age 101)

  5. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee (dream pop, Dead Oceans) / Sable (soundtrack, Dead Oceans)

  6. Arushi Jain – Under The Lilac Sky (experimental, Leaving Records)

  7. Nicholas Britell – The Underground Railroad (score, Lakeshore)

  8. Damon Albarn – The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows (singer-songwriter, Transgressive)

  9. Hans Zimmer – Dune/Dune Sketchbook / The Art And Soul Of Dune (score, Watertower)

  10. VA – In The Heights (soundtrack, Watertower)

  11. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Carnage (singer songwriter/rock, Goliath) / La Penthere Des Neiges (soundtrack, Lakeshore/Invada)

  12. Arooj Aftab – Vulture Prince (singer-songwriter, New Amsterdam)

  13. Ambrose Akinmusire, Michael Yezerski, Jasmine Cephas-Jones, Benjamin Earl Turner – Blindspotting (score, Lionsgate)

  14. Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders – Promises (jazz, Luaka Bop)

  15. Jon Hopkins – Music For Psychedelic Therapy (ambient, Domino)

  16. Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams (singer songwriter, Transgressive)

  17. William Doyle – Great Spans Of Muddy Time (indie pop, Tough Love)

  18. Johnny Greenwood – The Power Of The Dog (soundtrack, Lakeshore/Invada) / Spencer (soundtrack, Universal)

  19. Helado Negro – Far In (singer-songwriter, 4AD)

  20. Small Black – Cheap Dreams (chillwave, 100% Electronica)

  21. Penelope Trappes – Penelope Three (experimental, Houndstooth)

  22. Freedom Fry – L’Invitation (indie pop, Caveman Arts Society)

  23. Prince – Welcome 2 America (funk, Legacy)

  24. Sons Of Kemet – Black To The Future (jazz, Impulse)

  25. Joan As Police Woman, Dave Okumu, Tony Allen – The Solution Is Restless (experimental, PIAS)

  26. Max Richter – Voices 2 / Exiles (neoclassical, Decca)

  27. The War On Drugs – I Don’t Live Here Anymore (rock, Atlantic)

  28. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - B-Sides & Rarities (Part II) (rock, Mute)

  29. Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over The Country Club / Blue Banisters (pop, Polydor)

  30. Beverly Glenn – Copeland – Keyboard Fantasies Reimagined (experimental, Transgressive)

  31. Str4ta – Aspects / The Invicta Remixes (jazz funk, Brownswood)

  32. Brittany Howard – Jaime Reimagined (indie, ATO)

  33. SAULT – Nine (R&B, Forever Living Originals)

  34. CHVRCHES – Screen Violence (pop, EMI)

  35. Matt Berry – The Blue Elephant (singer-songwriter, Acid Jazz)

  36. Tori Amos – Ocean To Ocean (singer-songwriter, Decca)

  37. Nation Of Language – A Way Forward (indie, PIAS)

  38. Emma-Jean Thackray – Yellow (jazz, self-released)

  39. Lost Horizons – In Quiet Moments (alternative, Bella Union)

  40. Ramin Djawadi – Eternals (score, Marvel)

  41. Nite Jewel – No Sun (singer-songwriter, Gloriette)

  42. Marissa Nadler – The Path Of The Clouds (singer-songwriter, Bella Union/Sacred Bones)

  43. Snoh Aalegra – Temporary Highs In The Violet Skies (R&B, Artium)

  44. The Killers – Pressure Machine (rock, Island)

  45. Alfa Mist – Bring Backs (jazz, Anti)

  46. Coldcut & VA - @0 (ambient, Ahead Of Our Time)

  47. Curtis Harding – If Words Were Flowers (soul, ANTI)

  48. Charlotte Day Wilson – Alpha (jazz, self-released)

  49. Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine – A Beginner’s Mind (folk, Asthmatic Kitty)

  50. Ill Considered – Liminal Space (jazz, New Soil)

  51. James Blake – Friends That Break Your Heart (electronic, UMG)

  52. Claire George – The Land Beyond The Light (indie pop, Cascine)

  53. The Reds, Pinks & Purples – Uncommon Weather (rock, Slumberland)

  54. St. Vincent – Daddy’s Home (singer-songwriter, Loma Vista)

  55. Brandee Younger – Somewhere Different (jazz, Verve)

  56. Jarvis Cocker – Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top (singer-songwriter, ABKCO)

  57. Corbu – Bad Trip Reports (experimental, Trash Casual)

  58. John Grant – Boy From Michigan (singer-songwriter, Bella Union)

  59. Mary Lattimore – Collected Pieces 2015-2020 (ambient, Ghostly)

  60. Penelope Isles – Which Way To Happy (indie pop, Bella Union)

  61. Moor Mother – Black Encyclopedia Of The Air (alternative, ANTI)

  62. Steven Price – Last Night In Soho (score, Back Lot)

  63. Roosevelt – Polydans (electronic, City Slang)

  64. Electric Youth and Pickpocket – Come True (soundtrack, Milan)

  65. Irreversible Entaglements – Open The Gates (jazz, International Anthem)

  66. Robert Levon Been, Jesse Mark Russell, Giancarlo Vulcano – The Card Counter (score, Back Lot)

  67. Black Marble – Fast Idol (indie, Sacred Bones)

  68. Makaya McCraven – Deciphering The Message (jazz, Blue Note)

  69. Evripidis And His Tragedies – Neos Kosmos (indie pop, Snap Clap)

  70. Kedr Livanskiy – Liminal Soul (electronic, 2MR)

  71. Rochelle Jordan – Play With The Changes (R&B, Young Art)

  72. Durand Jones & The Indications – Private Space (soul, Dead Oceans)

  73. Blankenberge – Everything (shoegaze, self-released)

  74. Tęskno – Ginczanka (neoclassical, self-released)

  75. W.H. Lung – Vanities (rock, Melodic)

  76. Ada Lea – One Hand On The Steering Wheel… (indie/singer-songwriter, Saddle Creek)

  77. Raquel Rodriguez – Sweet Side (R&B, self-released)

  78. Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – Shyga (rock, What Reality)

  79. Mogwai – As Love Continues (rock, Rock Action)

  80. Alberto Iglesias – Madres Paralelas (Parallel Mothers) (score, Quartet)

  81. The Black Keys – Delta Kream (blues rock, Nonesuch)

  82. Flying Lotus – Yasuke (electronic/score, Warp)

  83. Fatima Al Qadiri – Mediaval Femme (electronic, Hyperdub)

  84. serpentwithfeet – Deacon (R&B, Secretly Canadian)

  85. Grouper – Shade (singer-songwriter, Kranky)

  86. Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark (rock, Rock Action)

  87. Zoe’s Shanghai – Lava Love (jazz, self-released)

  88. Haerts – Dream Nation (dream pop, AntiFragile)

  89. Femi Kuti & Made Kuti – Legacy+ (funk/Afrobeat, PKTF)

  90. Devonte Hynes – Mainstream (score, Milan) / In Treatment (score, Sony Music) / Passing (score, Lakeshore)

  91. Various Artists – Modern Love (tribute, BBE)

  92. Badbadnotgood – Talk Memory (jazz, XL)

  93. Alicia Keys – Keys (R&B, RCA)

  94. Misia Furtak – Wybory (neoclassical, Towarzystwo)

  95. Lady Blackbird – Black Acid Soul (jazz, Foundation/BMG)

  96. MUNYA – Voyage To Mars (indie, Luminelle)

  97. Tinashe – 333 (R&B, self-released)

  98. Jamael Dean – Primordial Waters (jazz, Stones Throw)

  99. Annie Hart – Everything Pale Blue (ambient, Orindal)

  100. Circuit Des Yeux - -io (experimental, Matador)

  101. Dean Blunt – Black Metal 2 (experimental, Rough Trade)

  102. Lunar Bird – Lunar Bird (dream pop, self-released)

  103. Alexandre Desplat – The French Dispatch (score, ABKCO)

  104. Ships In The Night – Latent Powers (dream pop, Cleopatra)

  105. Tirzah – Colourgrade (electronic, Domino)

  106. Ross From Friends – Tread (electronic, Brainfeeder)

  107. Aly & AJ – A Touch Of The Beat (pop, self-released)

  108. Absolutely Free – Aftertouch (indie pop, Boiled Records)

  109. Phantom Handshakes – No More Summer Songs (indie pop, 602379)

  110. Hayden Thorpe – Moondust For My Diamond (singer-songwriter, Domino)

  111. Hus Kingpin – Portishus (hip-hop, self-released)

  112. Lucid Express – Lucid Express (shoegaze, Kanine)

  113. Erika De Casier – Sensational (R&B, 4AD)

  114. STACEY – Saturn Return (indie pop, self-released)

  115. Disclosure – DJ-Kicks (electronic)

  116. Adolescentes Sin Edad – Hits Para Mortir (dream pop, SurPop - SIC)

  117. Kenny Garrett – Sounds From The Ancestors (jazz, Mack Wave)

  118. Jenevieve – Division (R&B, Joyscope)

  119. Maximo Park – Nature Always Wins (rock, Profilica)

  120. Idles – Crawler (rock, Partisan)

  121. Amir ElSaffar – The Other Shore (jazz, Outnote)

  122. Hand Habits – Fun House (indie pop, Saddle Creek)

  123. London Grammar – Californian Soil (pop, Metal&Dust – self/Ministry Of Sound)

  124. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Emile Mosseri – I Could Be Your Dog (experimental, Ghostly)

  125. Nubya Garcia - Source ⧺ We Move (jazz/electronic, Concord)

  126. Lydia Ainsworth – Sparkles & Debris (electronic, Zombie Cat)

  127. The City Gates – Age Of Resilience (shoegaze, Icy Cold)

  128. MED – Bad Neighbor (hip-hop, Bang Ya Head)

  129. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Beckett (score, Kab America)

  130. H.E.R. - Back Of My Mind (R&B, RCA)

  131. Sinead Harnett – Ready Is Always Too Late (R&B, Thairish)

  132. Mustafa – When Smoke Rises (singer-songwriter, Regent Park Songs)

  133. SG Lewis – Times (electronic, EMI)

  134. Galya Bisengalieva – Aralkum (ambient, One Little Independent)

  135. Zaz – Isa (jazz/pop, Warner)

  136. Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under (rock, Polydor)

  137. Ladyhawke – Time Flies (pop, Mid Century/BMG)

  138. Jessica Domingo – Butterfly Paradise (R&B, self-released)

  139. Fern Murphy – Violet Dreams (shoegaze, self-released)

  140. Portico Quartet – Monument (jazz, Gondwana)

  141. L’Imperatrice – Tako Tsubo (electronic, Microqlima)

  142. zake – Beliefsystems (ambient/drone, Past Inside The Present) / Weltanschauung (ambient, self-released)

  143. Soshi Takeda – Floating Mountains (electronic, 100% Silk)

  144. Fawns Of Love – Innocence Of Protection (dream pop, Kingfisher Bluez)

  145. Film School – We Weren’t Here (shoegaze, self-released)

  146. Spirits Rejoice – African Spaces (jazz, Matsuli Music)

  147. Nas – King’s Disease 2 (hip hop, Mass Appeal)

  148. The Black Dog – Music For Photographers (ambient/drone, Dust Science)

  149. Not Waving – How To Leave Your Body (electronic, Ecstatic)

  150. Theo Croker – BLK2Life || A Future Past (jazz, Star People Nation/Sony)

  151. Julia Bondar – Bonding (electronic, Endorphin.es)

  152. Django Django – Glowing In The Dark (indie pop, Because Music)

  153. Afflecks Palace – What Do You Mean Its Not Raining (rock, Spirit Of Spike)

  154. Joyce Wrice – Overgrown (R&B, self-released)

  155. Nala Sinephro – Space 1.8 (electronic/jazz, Warp)

  156. Fawning – Illusions Of Control (dream pop, NeverNotGoth / Graveface)

  157. Guilty Simpson – Ego (hip-hop, Mello Music)

  158. Theon Cross – Intra-I (jazz, New Soil)

  159. Jessy Lanza – DJ-Kicks (electronic, !K7)

  160. Holy Other – Lieve (electronic, )

  161. Corduroy – Corduroy (shoegaze, Varo)

  162. Benoit Pioulard – Bloodless (ambient, Disques d’Honore)

  163. Sarah Neufeld – Detritus (neoclassical, Paper Bag)

  164. Bachelor – Doomin’ Sun (indie pop, Lucky Number)

  165. Sting – The Bridge (rock, A&M)

  166. Rosie Lowe & Duval Timothy - Son (experimental, Carrying Colour)

  167. Eluvium – Virga II (ambient/drone, Temporary Residence)

  168. Valerie June – The Moon And The Stars (singer-songwriter, Fantasy)

  169. Felicia Atkinson & Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – Un Hiver En Plein Ete (experimental, Shelter Press)

  170. FiFi Rong – There Is A Funeral In My Heart, For Every Man I Loved (R&B, self-released)

  171. Hadda Be – Another Life (rock, Last Night From Glasgow)

  172. Mehdi Rajabian – Coup Of Gods (classical, Hundredup)

  173. Chime School – Chime School (rock, Slumberland)

  174. EERA – Speak (rock, Just Dust)

  175. Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend (rock, Dirty Hit)

  176. Luster Dust – Luster Dust (shoegaze, self-released)

  177. Jam & Lewis – Volume One (R&B, BMG)

  178. India Shawn – Before We Go (R&B, Epic)

  179. Kraków Loves Adana – Follow The Voice (indie, self-released)

  180. Golden Browne – Golden Browne (jazz, self-released)

  181. Hollie Kenniff -The Quick Drift (ambient, Western Vinyl)

  182. Cloudy Summer Days – Slow Dance (shoegaze, self-released)

  183. Coco O. - It’s A Process (R&B, self-released)

  184. Sarah Davachi – Antiphonals (ambient, Late Music – self) / Mother Of Pearl (ambient, Recital)

  185. Sir Was – Let The Morning Come (indie, Memphis Industries)

  186. Wet – Letter Blue (indie, 30SF)

  187. Toumani Diabate – Korolen (singer-songwriter), BMG)

  188. Devin Hoff & VA – Voices From An Empty Moor (alt-folk/experimental, Kill Rock Stars)

  189. Stimulator Jones – Low Budgets Environments (beats, Stones Throw)

  190. Of Montreal – I Feel Safe With You Trash (indie, Sybaritic Peer)

  191. Mint Julep – In A Deep And Dreamless Sleep (indie pop, Western Vinyl)

  192. Bicep – Isles (electronic, Ninja Tune)

  193. Low – Hey What (rock, Sub Pop)

  194. Zo – Abstractions (R&B, Foreign Exchange Music)

  195. Chihei Hatekayama – Void XXII/XXIII (ambient, White Paddy Mountain)

  196. John Carroll Kirby – Septet / Cryptzoo (jazz, Stones Throw)

  197. Pejzaż – Wyspa / Noce i Dnie (electronic/beats, The Very Polish Cut Outs)

  198. Devin Shaffer – In My Dreams I’m There (alt-folk/experimental, American Dreams)

  199. Atmosphere – WORD? (hip-hop, Rhymesayers)

  200. Stray Theories – This Light (ambient, n5MD)

  201. Adele – 30 (pop, Columbia)

  202. Dave Okumu – Knopperz (beats, Transgressive)

  203. Barbagallo – Barbaghamon (indie pop, Soleil Bleu) / Barbagallo – Les Grands Brules (indie pop, Almost Musique)

  204. The Ambient Visitor – Moonlight Serenade (ambient, Drone City)

  205. Vels Trio – Celestial Greens (jazz/electronic, Rhythm Section)

  206. Ian Hawgood – Day Falls (ambient, Home Normal) / Emerging (with Will Bolton, ambient, Hidden Vibes)

  207. Joao Donato & Jards Macale – Sintese do lance (bossa nova, Roicinante) / JID0007

  208. Alaskan Tapes – For Us Alone (ambient/drone, Nettwerk)

  209. Claire Renee – Wings (R&B, self-released)

  210. Fleeting Joys – All Lost Eyes And Glitter (dream pop, only forever recordings)

  211. Pallette – Nobody Knows (ambient/drone, 2131512)

  212. Common – A Beautiful Revolution Part 2 (hip-hop, Loma Vista)

  213. You’ll Never Get To Heaven – Wave Your Moonlight Hat For The Snowfall Train (indie, Mystic Roses)

  214. A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Invisible Cities (experimental, Artificial Pinearch)

  215. Scott Hamilton & Duke Robillard – Swingin Again (jazz, self-released)

  216. Pink Pantheress – to hell with it (electronic/R&B, Parlophone)

  217. Raheem DeVaughn – Lovesick (R&B, Mello Music)

  218. Apollo Brown – Blacklight (hip-hop, Mello Music)

  219. Perila - How Much Time It Is Between You And Me (ambient/experimental, Smalltown Supersound)

  220. JARV IS – REMIX ED (electronic, Rough Trade)

  221. Celer – In Light Of Blues (ambient, Room40) / Sunspots (ambient, Oscarson)

  222. Terrace Martin – Drones (jazz, Sounds Of Crenshaw)

  223. Tiny Fighter – Rewind (folk, Bay Terrace)

  224. Palm Ghosts – The Lost Frequency (rock, Ice Queen)

  225. Terence Blanchard – Absence (jazz, UMG)

  226. Quantic and Nidia Gongora - Almas Conectadas (jazz/funk, Tru Thoughts)

  227. Eyedress – Mulholland Drive (electronic, Lex Records)

  228. Sasha Keable – Intermission (R&B, Bad Music)

  229. Bluemoon – 1996 (dream pop, 1263333)

  230. Dean Hurley – Concrete Feather (electronic, Sacred Bones)

  231. Ben Browning – Until We Win (indie pop, Kardinian)

  232. Florian Pelissier Quartet – Rio (jazz, Hot Casa)

  233. O Future – Immaculate (electronic, One Half)

  234. Loscil – Clara (ambient, Kranky)

  235. Greentea Peng – Man Made (R&B, AMF Records)

  236. Altin Gün – Yol (indie pop, ATO)

  237. Beach Fossils – The Other Side Of Life – Piano Ballads (indie, Bayonet)

  238. Abdullah Ibrahim – Solotude (jazz, Gearbox)

  239. Michael Giacchino – Spider-Man No Way Home (score, Marvel)

  240. Teen Daze – Interior (electronic, Cascine)

  241. Royal Blood – Typhoons (rock, Warner)

  242. Robin Guthrie – Pearldiving (neoclassical, Soleil Apres)

  243. Caveman – Smash (indie, Fortune Tellers)

  244. Hiromi – Silver Lining Suite (jazz, Concord)

  245. Adrian Younge – Remixes (jazz, Jazz Is Dead)

  246. Library Tapes – Dusk (neoclassical, 1631 Recordings)

  247. Matt Martians – Butterfly Don’t Visit Caterpillar (rock, 5th Echelon Jet)

  248. Yebba – Dawn (R&B,RCA)

  249. For Tracy Hyde – Ethernity (shoegaze, P-WINE)

  250. Work Drugs – Pride And Competition (indie pop, self-released)


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