Album of the Week: 2021 Hangover

In 2022, I’m going to try to review one new album every Friday.  However, since not that many new albums are released at the beginning of January, I’m going to use this time to catch up on some of the buzziest albums I missed last year.  So here are three albums arranged from youngest to oldest artist.

Album:  Sour
Artist: Olivia Rodrigo
Release Date: May 21, 2021
Label: Geffen
Favorite Tracks:

  • brutal
  • drivers license
  • good 4 u
  • happier

Thoughts: Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album was all the rage this year, as the child actor made the transition to pop star but with a heavier rock edge than is typical for child actors who become pop stars. Her angry breakup songs are reminiscent of Alanis Morissette, but I think Rodrigo also brings a new insight on teenage anger and frustration in the 21st century.  Being 48 years old, I wouldn’t expect this to resonate with me but I do remember being 17 and have children approaching that age so I can feel the rage.  Anyhow, I’m belatedly adding this to my Favorite Albums of 2021 list.
Rating: ****

Album: Happier Than Ever
Artist: Billie Eilish
Release Date: July 30, 2021
Label: Darkroom | Interscope
Favorite Tracks:

  • Oxytocin
  • Not My Responsibility
  • Therefore I Am
  • Happier Than Ever

Thoughts: It doesn’t seem so long ago that Billie Eilish was the 17/18-year-old with the big breakout debut album.  Now on her sophomore effort, Eilish is “Getting Older” as the opening track is titled. The album is almost entirely downtempo compared to When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? But there’s a great variety of downtempo from early 70s singer-songwriter style to trip hop reminiscent of Portishead to Laurie Anderson avant-garde recitation.
Rating: ***1/2

Artist: Adele
Release Date: November 19, 2021
Label: Columbia | Melted Stone
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Easy on Me”
  • “Oh My God”
  • “Can I Get It”
  • “I Drink Wine”
  • “To Be Loved”
  • “Love Is A Game”

Thoughts: It’s funny that Adele names her albums after her age, because any time I listen to 21 I ponder how she seems to have so much life experience at such a young age.  Now at 30, I’m equally amazed that someone who as seemingly been a pop culture phenomenon for so long is still so young.  Adele’s voice is lovely as always.  She does more than emote but also reflect and reconcile on songs about her recent divorce, motherhood, and the price of fame. If there’s one flaw, it’s that some songs and the entire album go on to long, which makes me sad, because one should never feel that they have too much of Adele.
Rating: ***1/2

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