MUSIC FEATURE: Bring The Noise UK – Our Favourite Records Of 2021

As another year draws to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of our favourite albums and EPs from 2021. With live shows having made a comeback earlier this year, there’s also been a vast amount of great new music for us to listen to. Some tough decisions had to be made to narrow down our lists, but read on to find out who we absolutely loved listening to this this year. Let us know your favourite releases by tweeting us @BringTheNoiseUK!

Hannah Gillicker – Editor 

1. Citizen – Life In Your Glass World

2021 was the year of new discoveries, including Citizen and their outstanding fourth album Life In Your Glass World. What a brilliant introduction that was. I can’t fault a single moment of this record, it’s got shout-from-the-top-of-your-lungs moments, it pulls on your heartstrings and is just a joy to experience. I’m yet to explore the rest of their discography, but I’m confident that Citizen have found a new fan for life.

2. Turnstile – GLOW ON

This was probably the most surprising album of the year for me and to be honest, it could share the number one spot with Citizen in my Top 10 list. When I hit play for the first time, I did not expect what lay ahead in those 35 minutes. I absolutely adore Turnstile‘s experimentation on this record, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Here’s hoping their upcoming UK tour goes ahead, because I really can’t wait to witness these tracks live.

3. Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb

The otherworldly Sleep Token have once again blown me away with their sophomore album, This Place Will Become Your Tomb. Highlights include the alluring Hypnosis, which could be a contender for the next James Bond theme, and the acapella Fall For Me, which shows yet another side to these extremely talented beings. A stellar offering from a group that makes up their own rules – who knows which direction they’ll take next? I can’t wait to find out.

4. Holding Absence – The Greatest Mistake Of My Life

5. Death From Above 1979 – Is 4 Lovers


7. Leprous – Aphelion

8. KennyHoopla & Travis Barker – Survivors Guilt: The Mixtape

9. BRUIT – The Machine Is Burning And Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again

10. Every Time I Die – Radical

Nicola Craig – Head of Live

1. Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under

2021 has truly been an incredible year for Sam Fender, topped off by the release of my (and many other people’s!) favourite album of the year. Seventeen Going Under is simply Fender doing what he does best; creating musical masterpieces with divine, personal and storytelling lyrics. The simplicity of this release is what makes it so powerful as seen on Aye and The Dying Light, which let the unfiltered lyrics do the talking. The saxophone moments from Johnny ‘Bluehat’ Davis throughout the release are a much-welcomed addition, more artists should definitely feature a sax on their tracks! Standout moments for me include Paradigms and Long Way Off, both of which feel like a great summary and indication of what the release is really about. Finally getting to see Sam Fender live this year and hear some of these tracks live felt a bit magical (Get You Down at Brixton was a special sing-along moment!) and I’m excited to do it all again in 2022. Sam Fender is one of my all-time favourite singer-songwriters, so I could truly go on for DAYS about this album but instead I’d encourage you to check it out for yourself.

2. Holly Humberstone – The Walls Are Way Too Thin

Brits Rising Star 2022 winner Holly Humberstone made an appearance in my 2020 Top 10 and it really is no surprise that she’s back again for another year. Thanks to the emotive, sincere lyrics written by Holly, I find myself being drawn to a new part of the track after each listen. A great example of this is during electronic-edged, Please Don’t Leave Just Yet; co-written with The 1975’s Matt Healy sees new notes and musical highlights leaping out after each play. The title track also frequently swirls around my head, thanks to the gorgeous, sing-along vocals and lyricism shown within it. The EP’s power pairing of Thursday and Scarlet which navigate through the story of a break-up and emotions and experiences connected to them, help build a story-picture within your mind whilst the melodies ring in your ears. It simply is one of those release which has a little bit of everything; emotions, delightful melodies, sassy lyrics and it’s just simply superb.  

3. Airways – Terrible Town

This debut album felt incredibly overdue but completely worth the wait. Airways announced this album with a hyped-up announcement and a video looking back at their time as a band, pretty much fooling us all into thinking the end was near for them. But we were all very wrong. Featuring a fair few of my most played tracks of the year, it’s a real pick and mix album in the best way possible. There’s the incredibly funky Even If I Lose Again for example, which is complemented by the reflective, sombre effort of Best Friend. There are also plenty of prime singalong opportunities thanks to the bold, catchy choruses on tracks such as Listen To Your Friends and Slow, so hopefully I’ll be singing along to these at an Airways live show in 2022.

4. Anne-Marie – Therapy

5. You Me At Six – SUCKAPUNCH

6. The Snuts – W.L.

7. Olivia Rodrigo – SOUR



10. Holding Absence – The Greatest Mistake of My Life

 Florin Petrut – Writer 

1. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

The minute I first heard Holy Roller back in the summer of 2020, when a friend of mine showed it to me, I knew their album would be a musical behemoth – and so it turned out to be! From the first few seconds of opener Sun Killer, to the final notes of Constance, every single song on this album is phenomenal. Circle With Me, Secret Garden and Halcyon are among my favourites, but it’s tough to choose when all of them are this good. Then you go and see live footage of the band, and they’re all killing it, especially Courtney LaPlante whose live vocals are so stellar, you’d have to nit-pick in order to find any quirks. Congratulations to her, as well as everyone in the band and behind the scenes – they all deserve it. 2022, please let me see a Spiritbox concert sometime!

2. Royal Blood – Typhoons

I’d been a fan of Royal Blood before, but had previously only heard the singles from their first two albums, and not much else. When Trouble’s Coming and Typhoons dropped though, announcing the third album, there was a spark that wasn’t there before. When the full album dropped, I was glad to see the elements of the two aforementioned songs carry throughout the whole package: infectious melodies and grooves which harken back to the disco days of yore. Boilermaker and Oblivion are still on heavy rotation, even more than six months after release. That’s a testament to the quality of Typhoons. Go check it out if you haven’t, it’s really good stuff.

3. Leprous – Aphelion

In the past few years, I’ve started to become quite disillusioned when it comes to progressive music – not that it’s bad or anything, not at all, it’s just no longer quite my cup of tea. The only exception, however, has proven to be the work of the Norwegians in Leprous. Having released their previous album in 2019, Pitfalls, it’s pretty safe to say that not a lot of people expected Aphelion to drop at the end of August. A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one!

Combining many of the more soothing aspects of Pitfalls with the dynamics of 2017’s Malina, I didn’t think I’d like this new album as much as I did. Listening to Castaway Angels whilst on a two-tier bus in Greece, in the scorching heat of August was something else entirely, and I think it’s why I have a different appreciation for Aphelion. Running Low and The Shadow Side are still among my favourites, all these months later. I can’t wait to see these Norwegians again – two of their live shows have taught me that they’re even better in concert, and it’s something all progressive music fans should experience at least once.

4. Normandie – Dark & Beautiful Secrets

5. Maggie Lindemann – PARANOIA

6. Lil Nas X – Montero

7. Bo Burnham – Inside (The Songs)

8. Finneas – Optimist

9. Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood

10. Mothica – forever fifteen EP

Louis Tsangarides – Writer 

1. The Armed – ULTRAPOP

You know, if all albums were as utterly mesmerising and ridiculous as this, in both concept and execution, global conflict would cease and a utopia would dawn for us all. An ULTROPIA, if you will. Taking inspiration from a far wider pool of influences than almost everyone else in the hardcore game, The Armed crank up the intensity like its the last day on Earth with ULTRAPOP, an album that will have you feeling so blissed out you think you’re on a beach sipping beverages out of a glass with a novelty umbrella straw one minute, and then fighting the Loony Tunes the next. AVERAGE DEATH is my song of my year, the perfect synthesis of chaos and utterly hypnotising serenity. The Armed ate everybody else’s lunch, and then made them all pay the bill.

2. Turnstile – GLOW ON

The other great “we are taking hardcore to strange, new places” story of the year, Turnstile go from being the most fun act in hardcore to being the most likely to break massive. Baltimore’s finest can now call on songs with monster hooks like Holiday, Blackout, Mystery and the dancefloor dominator that is Don’t Play. It’s thirty-four magic minutes that cannot help but bring joy to the listener, and make them want to dance like both everyone and no-one is watching. Now it really is a holiday!

3. Unto Others – Strength

The answer to the question “what if Robert Smith started a metal band?”, Unto Others handled their step up to Roadrunner Records with aplomb. The follow-up to 2019’s Mana is another triumph, with more “uhhs” than a sixth form drama piece, and the most awe inspiring use of an eagle call outside of Springwatch. Unto Others are a unique and wonderful band who bulked out their already impressive catalogue with more bangers than a butcher shop. If you aren’t “Huhing” along to When Will God’s Work Be Done?, we can’t be friends. I don’t make those rules.

4. Employed To Serve – Conquering

5. Trivium – In The Court Of The Dragon

6. Every Time I Die – Radical

7. Dying Wish – Fragments Of A Bitter Memory

8. Diablo Swing Orchestra – Swagger And Stroll Down The Rabbit Hole

9. Violet Cold – Empire Of Love

10. Failure – Wild Type Droid

Katie Conway-Flood – Writer

1. Architects – For Those That Wish To Exist

On album number nine, For Those That Wish To Exist, Architects are switching up the status quo in more ways than one. The fifteen-track full-length defies the short, sharp releases of singles and EP’s in a fast-paced industry, in favour of a lengthy LP that serves up a heavy dose of lyrical reality, analysing our collective actions that are directly affecting planet earth’s destruction and, moreover, our ability to rally round as a society to strive for a better, brighter future.

2. Royal Blood – Typhoons 

Taking influence from dance, disco and French electronic music, circa Daft Punk and Justice, the self-produced and third LP Typhoons gets its groove on to mark a notable shift in Royal Blood’s soundscape. Refreshing the duo’s roots in raucous rock music and sliding in shimmering dance, disco and funk sounds, Typhoons not only takes the listener to a brightly lit dance floor complete with a iridescent disco ball, but lyrically this record represents deep and dark themes disguised under an infectiously groovy guise.

3. Rise Against – Nowhere Generation 

Rise Against’s voice is turned up tenfold on their ninth studio album, Nowhere Generation. The record takes a lyrical deep dive into the promise of The American Dream’s ideals, that Millennials, Gen Y’s and Gen Z’s aim to aspire to in the chase for lifechanging desires. The band turn the tables on the record, with their blazing blend of aggressive alternative rock and raging punk. Its straightforward songwriting calls out big corporations for stacking up the social, economical and political deck against the younger generations of society, in the chase for the unrealistic ambitions that The American Dream dares to misleadingly offer.

4. The Vaccines – Back In Love City 

5. Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

6. Inhaler – It Won’t Always Be Like This

7. The Snuts – W.L.

8. Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes – Sticky

9. Don Broco – Amazing Things

10. Biffy Clyro – The Myth Of The Happily Ever After 

Joe Loughran – Writer 

1. Sleaford Mods – Spare Ribs

Being from Nottingham, Sleaford Mods are undeniably a band very close to my heart, so naturally when picking my album of the year, the Mods would be an obvious choice. Of course, I want to avoid any kind of bias in my list, but I would simply be lying to myself if I did not pick this record as the best album of the year. Andrew Fearns‘ production value has increased hugely, Jason Williamson’s abstract opinions on the world that surrounds him are at their very peak, and the features from Amy Taylor (Amyl and the Sniffers), and Billy NoMates are the best I have heard in 2021. It is a punk record that came out at the very start of 2021 that poetically set the tone for a year of Tory misdeeds, just don’t expect this one to be played at any of their parties anytime soon.

2. Bicep – Isles

When Belfast electronic duo Bicep released their sophomore record Isles, they further enhanced their growing reputation as the best electronic producers the UK has to offer. The way the duo use alternative rhythms and structures to their music is like no one else out there. You can listen to any song from the album 20 times, and on the 21st go, you’ll hear another layer you previously didn’t know existed. Tracks like Atlas and Apricots will have you dancing around the room, whilst Saku and X will provoke emotions you didn’t realise electronic music could. This album is 49-minutes of pure gold.

3. Black Midi – Cavalcade

Black Midi are one of the strangest bands around, although they are widely regarded as the most talented young bands in Britain. Cavalcade is an apt name for this beautiful chaotic mess of an album. John L sounds like the soundtrack to an intense acid trip, Marlene Dietrich could be a song that a couple would have their first dance to, and Iron Maiden would be proud of the final minute of Chondromalacia Patella, and those are just the first three tracks. It’s a huge record that quite simply has a bit of everything, but still keeps a structure to keep the chaos ever so slightly organised.

4. Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

5. Gojira – Fortitude

6. Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark

7. Architects – For Those That Wish To Exist

8. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

9. Amyl and The Sniffers – Comfort To Me

10. Lorna Shore – …And I Return To Nothingness

    A 20-something year old journalist and freelance PR often found at a gig, a festival or holding a dictophone to a band and asking them all kinds of questions. I'm a sucker for whiskey and vinyl.