Stephen White
Album Reviews News

The Last Mixed Tape’s Top 20 Albums 2021

The Last Mixed Tape counts down its Top 20 Albums of 2021.

20. Dark Tropics – Ink

Ink is an album that doesn’t forget the pop part of dream-pop. Dark Tropics weave a spellbinding record, where both the noir and pop elements are amplified with subtlety. Most importantly, the album understands how to add enough musically and lyrical mystery to invite repeated listens. Stylistically and atmospherically weighty, Ink is the perfect opening act for Dark Tropics.

TLMT REVIEW

Ink by Dark Tropics is out now.

19. WYVERN LINGO – AWAKE YOU LIE

Wyvern Lingo returns not as we found them. Awake You Lie is a shift in shape and sound, adding an abstract layer of bold, daring and unrestrained flourishes to the group’s music. Second albums can be a tricky tightrope to walk, go too far or stay in place too long and you’ll lose your balance. With Awake You Lie, Wyvern Lingo deftly continues their path, never falling, by adding new and interesting elements along to way.

TLMT REVIEW

Awake You Lie by Wyvern Lingo is out now.

18. DANI LARKIN – NOTES ON A MAIDEN WARRIOR

Notes For A Maiden Warrior lingers long after listening. As I mentioned at the start of this review, there’s music to be found here that will rest in your bones. Dani Larkin’s songwriting reaches far within us, to a musical sense of tradition and place we all feel in the present. The past is relatable because we’ve lived it, no matter how distant. With Notes For A Maiden Warrior, Dani Larkin melds these themes perfectly. 

TLMT REVIEW

Notes For A Maiden Warrior by Dani Larkin is out.

Home album Elaine Mai

17. ELAINE MAI – HOME

Home is an album of artistic catharsis. Elaine Mai’s debut is perfectly tempered. Showing that as attractive as the journey may be, the destination is the reason you’re travelling in the first place. Home is where Elaine Mai is now, and it’s the right place at the right time.

TLMT REVIEW

Home by Elaine Mai is out.

16. FEARS – OÍCHE

self-confrontation through sonic brutalism. Fears’ Oíche is an album that delves deep into its creator while never leaving the listener feeling stranded or apart from the meaning. A challenging album where everything is laid bare, Fears adds enough to the music and the words to create a sense of artistic catharsis. Indeed, this is a record where the music and the artist is one and the same. Fears is OícheOíche is Fears.  

TLMT REVIEW

Oíche by Fears is out now.

15. RA GERRA – NEW VESSELS

Ra Gerra is a new voice in the ever-evolving conversation that is art and New Vessel is their first expression. Styles, sounds and meaning are all in unison within an album created by two artists clearly dedicated to the craft. New Vessels is an album alive with the act of expression heard in both the performance and the creation. 

TLMT REVIEW

Ra Gerra by New Vessels is out now.

14. ORLA GARTLAND – WOMAN ON THE INTERNET

Woman On The Internet is an album about Orla Gartland but one that can be transposed to being about everyone who has felt lost, directionless or less-than. It’s a relatable record, wrapped in pop sensibilities and moments of emotional subtlety. Woman On The Internet is a self-portrait of Gartland as well as a mirror for the listener.

TLMT REVIEW

Woman On The Internet by Orla Gartland

13. SENU – JETLAG

On Jetlag, Senu paints two places at once. Melding urban concrete, bustling subways, tiring airports and the slow comedown, the artist casts figures and shapes into an album of abstract brilliance, never straying too far from view. Like most art, Jetlag makes the most sense when you look and listen a little closer. Because, within each edit, line of dialogue and stroke of paint, you might just find yourself. 

TLMT REVIEW

Jetlag by Senu is out now.

12. COSHA – MT. PLEASANT

Cosha’s Mt. Pleasant is all about the joyous motion of music itself. The feel, the mood, the way music plays with our own vibe. Cosha’s presence and love for the medium of music are undeniable. An artist with a vision of how her music sounds and feels, this debut marks a striking beginning. As I said before, Mt. Pleasant is an album that pulls you into its world, and after listening, you won’t want to leave.  

TLMT REVIEW

Mt. Pleasant by Cosha is out now.

11. A RITUAL SEA – A RITUAL SEA

 A Ritual Sea raises soundscapes from deep atmospheric tides. All too often, albums that aim for nuanced moods and tones end up becoming engulfed by them. Their debut, A Ritual Sea, finds the right balance and never isolate the listener; instead, they compel us to follow. A the beginning of this review, I said music has the singular ability to create shared worlds between artist and audience. A Ritual Sea is one such place. 

TLMT REVIEW

A Ritual Sea by A Ritual Sea is out now.

10. HAVVK – LEVELLING

Levelling is a courageous album in many respects. Courage in concept, courage in expression, and courage in execution. Sharp in sound and meaning, Havvk’s sophomore builds on the first by not being afraid to know when to get loud and when to pull back. Resulting in a record that is thematically and sonically one.

TLMT REVIEW

Levelling by Havvk is out now.

9. VILLAGERS – FEVER DREAMS

Villagers story continues into the weird and the wonderful. It’s easy to expect greatness from Villagers and not be surprised when said excellence is achieved. But Fever Dreams finds Conor O’Brien setting a high bar and vaulting right over it. There’s a thread here that can be found all the way back to Becoming A Jackal pulled through in Darling Arithmetic and threaded once more into the immense tapestry of Fever Dreams. If this is indeed Act 2, then it’s been a compelling story with plenty of twists and turns so far. 

TLMT REVIEW

Fever Dreams by Villagers is out now.

8. DAVID KEENAN – “WHAT THEN?”

David Keenan went away to dream it all up again and returns every bit the vagabond artist. What Then? is a whirlwind of ideas that come from all directions. Much like Pollock’s paintings, What Then? is an album where performance, words, and sound all rush and blur into one primal expression. While Keenan resides at its core, our charismatic unreliable narrator is interested only in telling the tales he’s collected since our last meeting. 

TLMT REVIEW

What Then? by David Keenan is out now

7. SODA BLONDE – SMALL TALK

 Small Talk is about life in progress. The road to this point, where every stop sign and crossroad is relived with stark perspective. Understanding their own songwriting, Soda Blonde swing for the fences on an album that could have quickly fallen under the weight of such ambition and end up delivering a record of the year contender. Balancing the personal with the musical, Small Talk conveys its meaning in a way that’s worth repeating time after time. 

TLMT REVIEW

Small Talk by Soda Blonde is out now.

6. SAINT SISTER – WHERE I SHOULD END

Where I Should End is the sound of Saint Sister working on a larger canvas with a more extraordinary colour palette. Threading the needle from Shape Of Silence to now, Where I Should End highlights the duo’s ambition to add layers to their music. As I said initially, colour isn’t my strong point, but Where I Should End alludes to a more vivid world through the medium of sound.  

TLMT REVIEW

Where I Should End by Saint Sister is out now.

5. THE ALTERED HOURS – CONVERTIBLE

Convertible is not an album to be played in the background. It’s an album that demands to be heard, that fights for your attention through remarkable dynamic, sonic and melodic contortions as only The Altered Hours can deliver. Nothing is welcoming about Convertible, and that’s the point.

TLMT REVIEW

Convertible by The Altered Hours is out now.

4. MARIA KELLY – THE SUM OF THE IN-BETWEEN

The block of marble was delivered, and the artist has carved and shaped what they feel. The Sum Of The In-Between is an album that only Maria Kelly could make. Every word, sound and harmony is wrapped in its creator, and in turn, she is bound within it. There is no artifice, only openness. A debut that delivers on everything that’s proceeded it, The Sum Of The In-Between is as powerful as it is delicately tempered.

TLMT REVIEW

The Sum Of The Space In-Between by Maria Kelly is out.

3. NEW PAGANS – THE SEED, THE VESSEL, THE ROOTS AND ALL

The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots And All is an album that demands nothing less than your complete attention. With their debut, New Pagans make a statement of what type of band they are, do they just want to be here, or do they have no fucking choice? This album suggests the latter. 

TLMT REVIEW

The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots And All by New Pagans is out now.

2. FOR THOSE I LOVE – FOR THOSE I LOVE

Music is about creating a voice. How an artist uses that voice is what draws us in. On his self-titled debut album, For Those I Love shouts so the world can hear, and in turn, gives us the listener the license to view the world through his different perspective. And, that’s something that lasts, that’s something great. 

TLMT REVIEW

For Those I Love by For Those I Love is out now.

TLMT’S ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2021

KOJAQUE – TOWN’S DEAD

Heads are gonna roll soon, no warning. This town’s not dead. It’s just dormant.”

For a society trampled by the greed-driven machinations of others and asked to pay the price. For the potential that still thrives within and the fear of that potential not being realized. For a génération perdue, scarred and no longer willing to maintain the status quo. With Town’s Dead, Kojaque has captured not just the sound of a city but its mood. 

TLMT REVIEW

Town’s Dead by Kojaque is out now.

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