Sam Atkins: Probably the biggest release month in a long time, November saw so many huge album releases from superstar names. ABBA’s first album in 40 years has some great pop tunes on it, specifically ‘Keep An Eye On Dan’, while the Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak. collaborative album has been stuck in my head for weeks.
In terms of what I listened to the most though it’s a toss up between two massive pop star names. Taylor Swift’s reworking of the album that finally pushed me into a being a fan may miss some of the Max Martin production magic, but the new music is brilliant. ‘Nothing New’ with Phoebe Bridgers is excellent and seeing the world react to one of her all time best tracks ‘All Too Well’ has been a joy.
But we also have Adele releasing the best music of her career. 30 is utterly brilliant and feels like the most accomplished and exciting album of her career so far. I’d pick out the heart wrenching ‘To Be Loved’ as the best thing I’ve heard all month, especially in the live video form it debuted. I find it impossible to focus on anything else while that song is playing, one of her greatest moments.
Tom Burrows: The War on Drugs released my favourite new album in November. The Drugs seem like the kind of band who shouldn’t appeal to my tastes; their Americana stylings aren’t really found anywhere else in my record collection. But every 3 or so years when their new albums come out, they tend to end up in my end of year top 10 – and I Don’t Live Here Anymore is no different. It just sounds great, and the instrumentation is a joy to listen to.
Aside from that, a release from another absurdly consistent band, Beach House, was a highlight this month. Once Twice Melody doubles as a new EP and the first quarter of their new album coming in full this February. It’s unfathomably good considering we’re 15 years removed from their debut – ‘Superstar’, in particular, is outstanding.
And before I finish, a shout out to Self Esteem’s ‘I Do This All The Time’. Spoken word/music crossover seems to be my jam this year and this was an unexpected delight.
James Spearing: There are two distinct sides to my picks this month. First, some music for staying in. If you didn’t catch my review, then here’s a reminder that Portico Quartet have made one of this year’s best albums in Monument. For a preview in this feature though, I’ll give you one track in ‘Ultraviolet’. The contrast of the pressing polyrhythms set against sax and synth melodies is expressive genius. It’s the most compelling music I’ve heard this year. For going out, I’ve enjoyed some party tunes from Jessy Lanza’s take on the DJ Kicks franchise plus the impossibly fun ‘Can’t Walk Away’ from TIGRA & SPNCR.
Fran Slater: When I spent the end of October and the first half of November listening to the exceptional second album from Self Esteem, I thought that my best of the month decision would be very easy this time round. She has soared with this album and it is probably still my favourite recent release.
But while October onwards is usually pretty barren for top drawer new releases, the closing stages of 2021 has given us treat after treat. Mick Jenkins has put one of the most powerful hip-hop albums of the year with Elephant In The Room. Phoebe Bridgers’s mate Harrison Whitford has given us a collection of gorgeous, timeless indie-folk songs. And Nyota Parker continued to astound me with Spectrum – I cannot understand how she still has such a small audience. If you’re going to listen to one song from her latest, make it ‘Undeniable’. It’s undeniable.
Matt Paul: Well it probably comes as no surprise that I listened to the new Idles album, Crawler. What I was surprised about was that I listened to it A LOT. After being a little disappointed with the shallowness of the last album and with feeling underwhelmed by new singles like ‘Beachland Ballroom’, I was not super optimistic about Crawler. But once I hit play that changed. It feels like a step back to their roots with something that is murky and moody. The big change is that it all feels more mature than anything I’ve heard from them. They are often opting for patient builds as opposed to going straight for the knockout from the first note. Even the singles that I was not too fussed about make sense in the context of Crawler. Is it a full return to their best? I don’t think so. But It has certainly reignited the excitement I had about this band.