Fran Slater: There’s a trio of songs on Dave’s We’re All Alone In This Together that are so good, I was initially convinced that this was the No 1 record of 2021. I’ve since downgraded my opinion slightly. There are still too many hangovers from his much less impressive debut album for that.
But ‘Heart Attack’, ‘Three Rivers’, and ‘Both Sides Of A Smile’ show the true artist that Dave can be when at his best. Those songs blow everything on his debut out the water, and mark him out among the best rappers that Britain has to offer. The album is a cracker, too – it’s just a shame that certain songs can’t let go of the regressive tropes that hold him back.
We’re also in the middle of a bit of a nostalgia fest over at Picky Bs with various articles for our Remembering series being published or in process. I’ve particularly enjoyed being reminded about songs such as ‘When I Argue I See Shapes’ by Idlewild, ‘Pure Morning’ by Placebo, and ‘Back In The Game’ by Jamie T. I almost feel 21 again.
Tom Burrows: In a shameless move that is both horribly meta and lazy, my August highlight comes from a previous edition of this very column. Will wrote glowingly about Bo Burnham: Inside as his Best of June, and two further recommendations later I finally watched it. That was a month ago, yet I’m still catching myself repetitively wailing “and now my stupid friends are having stupid children” or “healing the world through comedy” as the soundtrack plays on a permanent loop in my head. I didn’t think that two thirds into 2021 I’d be highlighting a comedy soundtrack as the most addictive record I’ve heard this year, but here we are. If you remain unconvinced, read Will’s original words and then watch it.
Rihaab Reyaz: The best thing I heard in August was the Max Richter’s new album, Exiles. I don’t have many words for this album in all honesty. I do have a lot of feelings though.
You know, when you realize that you needed something, but you didn’t know that you needed it until you got it? That was this album for me. It wasn’t until I heard the track ‘Infra 5’ that did I have that aha! moment. Putting it simply, Exiles is beautiful. And I cannot recommend it enough.
Matt Paul: This month has been full of fuzz for me. One of the main reasons has been the album Death to the Cheerleader by Pom Pom Squad. This grungey punk album kicks off fast and loud. Packed with energy. It’s not afraid to slow things down, but it doesn’t lose its swagger throughout.
Adding to this months wall of static I have been playing an old fave a lot: Turnstile’s Time & Space. I’m getting my prep in for the new album which we are covering for a future podcast.
James Spearing: At the risk of agreeing with Fran again, there’s one clear winner this month. That winner is Anna B Savage with new song ‘Since We Broke Up’. Anna has now added a singalong chorus to her already formidable songwriting arsenal. I can’t wait for the rest of the EP and gig in October.
Also worth a mention this month are Half Waif’s ‘Swimmer’, the new mixtape from Joy Orbison and the superb compilation Next Wave Acid Punx.
Sam Atkins: It feels like the floodgates have opened for massive albums and singles as we head into the last third of the year, so I really could have gone with loads of things here. The return of Kacey Musgraves with teaser title track ‘Star Crossed’ has all but sealed her place as my pick of best of September when the full album arrives. Lorde’s album has some highlights even if it all feels a bit lukewarm. The Yola album has been a big highlight this month too, especially the song ‘Break the Bough’
But it’s Billie Eilish, arguably the most anticipated second album in a long time, who delivered way more than I had expected after the messy rollout of album Happier Than Ever. It’s much more low-key than her debut, but she’s never sounded better vocally or lyrically than she does on ‘Your Power’ and the title track. I especially loved ‘I Didn’t Change My Number’ which has been a steady slow burn for me this month. No longer ‘the biggest new artist’ Billie Eilish is now more than worthy of being included amongst the truly massive stars in Pop right now.