It was the year that should have been so different. Just 52 weeks ago we were celebrating the fast-approaching end of what was a year we’d sooner forget. After the shitshow that was 2020, 2021 was going to be our year.
And while 2021 still tested our patience with more fucking lockdowns, Harry and Megan’s Oprah interview and the Sex & The City reboot, it also had a few little treasures. Think of the pure delight that was Squid Game, the 10 minute version of Taylor Swift‘s ‘All Too Well’, or the fact that Britney is finally free. We also made fun of Triple J announcers at a rate that feels both overdue and hilarious. Love you guys.
What stayed true was the quality of Australian music. Here we celebrate the 10 best Aussie records of 2021.
10. The Jungle Giants – Love Signs
A decade on from their self titled debut E.P, The Jungle Giants have never sounded more assured. Their indie roots are faint, but present, while they let their glossy dance flag fly – never sounding better.
Fave Track: ‘Sending Me Ur Loving’
9. Amy Shark – Cry Forever
This release was always going to be the most telling of Amy’s career – the big question being, was Love Monster a fluke or is she the real deal? With Cry Forever, she proved both to be correct. While, forgivably, not as ground-breaking as her debut, Amy’s lyricism and melodic choices on this record show the restraint of an intimate storyteller, in a business that demands stadium-filling bangers.
Fave Track: ‘Love Songs Ain’t For Us’
8.The Rubens – 0202
A “forward-thinking album for a backward year,” The Rubens captured the heartache of unavoidable delay and the longing for normalcy. But unavoidable delays also bring the gift of time, and the time spent perfecting the production on this record ensured it was worth the wait.
Fave Track: ‘Thank You’
7. Allday – Drinking With My Smoking Friends
Tom Gaynor delivered a pop record, and somewhat surprisingly, it’s his best ever work. Was it entirely intentional? Who cares when it looks like Matt Healy, tastes like Bunnings snags and feels like MDMA.
Fave Track: ‘Stolen Cars’
6. Baker Boy – Gela
A revolutionary record that makes building bridges and mending hearts a good time. The instrumentation and production are both exceptional, but as you listen you won’t care, because while the gravitas of this record is lost on no one, its true genius is making it feel like a party.
Fave Track: ‘Meditjin’
5. Rufus Du Sol – Surrender
Rufus Du Sol haven’t changed their winning recipe here, but instead given us more of what we’ve so desperately craved. Pulsating beats, tentative lyrics and transcendent climaxes envelop you with a familiarity that’s still interesting. The only thing you’ll want when they’re done with you is a cigarette.
Fave Track: ‘On My Knees’
4. Gretta Ray – Begin To Look Around
Gretta’s debut album finds her in the sweet spot between pop princess and melancholy poet. This triumph of songwriting is an attest to someone wise beyond her years, exploring the sadness of endings while only just beginning to tap into what she’s capable of.
Fave Track: ‘Bigger Than Me’
3. Middle Kids – Today We’re The Greatest
The irresistible second record from Middle Kids saw Hannah Joy and co level up in a way that is both effortless and intimate. Expertly balancing fragility and ferocity and full of interesting choices, this record proved Middle Kids shouldn’t be neglected.
Fave Track: ‘Questions’
2. Ruby Fields – Been Doin’ It For A Bit
This record feels like the suns going down and you’re five bevvies deep, with the genius idea to text your ex creeping in. It’s a carefree record from an artist that makes messing up sound really fucking beautiful.
Fave Track: ‘Song About A Boy’
1. Genesis Owusu – Smiling With No Teeth
The making of a legend. Genesis Owusu’s giant debut record is politically charged and perfectly produced, and is the only true must-listen of 2021.
Fave Track: ‘Don’t Need You’