As the holiday season wraps up and 2021 barrels on, a new slate of albums are set to be released. While several of our favorite artists—like Lorde, Adele, and St. Vincent—have yet to announce specific release plans, there's still plenty of great music to be excited for over the next month. Currently, Street's got our eyes on Arlo Parks' highly anticipated debut record, the follow–up to slowthai's Mercury Prize-nominated Nothing Great About Britain (2019), and Julien Baker's first solo project since 2017.
Collapsed in Sunbeams, Arlo Parks, January 29
Arlo Parks has spent the past few years releasing a steady trickle of singles, each showcasing her ability to weave poignant scenes of melancholy and heartbreak. After the release of two EPs in 2019, Super Sad Generation and Sophie, the 20 year–old British singer/songwriter will finally be releasing her long–awaited debut LP, Collapsed in Sunbeams, on January 29.
Collapsed in Sunbeams comes hot on the heels of a pretty great year for Arlo Parks' career, considering the current state of the music industry. She was featured on the cover of NME last summer, received a shoutout from Billie Eilish earlier this winter, played an NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, and even covered Radiohead with fellow indie darling Phoebe Bridgers. Perhaps the melancholic mood that the coronavirus pandemic thrust upon the world allowed for Parks' similarly pitched music to flourish. The new album will feature some of her most exciting work to date, including "Black Dog," "Caroline," and "Green Eyes."
TYRON, slowthai, February 5
Tyron Frampton—aka slowthai—thrust himself into the public eye with the release of his debut album in 2019. Nothing Great About Britain was a hard–hitting tour de force, with slowthai emerging as a new titan of UK hip–hop. His debut album was largely a political affair, combining punk's sense of unrestrained, youthful rebellion with innovative beats and sharp verses aimed at Boris Johnson's jugular. "Doorman" was crafted perfectly for a dank, sweaty mosh pit and features a sinister, incessant beat, courtesy of Mura Masa. With lyrics that largely discuss apathy and drug addiction, the track perfectly encapsulates the disaffected-yet-impassioned ire that runs through slowthai's music.
Since the release of Nothing Great About Britain, slowthai's music has only improved. "My High," featured on UK house duo Disclosure's latest album, Energy, displayed slowthai riding a high–octane club beat. Conversely, "feel away," the lead single for his upcoming album—TYRON, out February 5—is pointed and intimate, a tribute to the anniversary of the death of his brother. "nhs" adopts a similarly weary tone, and also contains some of the political commentary espoused in the rapper's debut.
Beyond the diverse run of singles that slowthai has released in anticipation of the new album, TYRON is also set to feature a gamut of highly anticipated collaborations. "Feel Away" was made with James Blake and Mount Kimbie, and another single, "MAZZA," features A$AP Rocky. In addition, Skepta, Dominic Fike, Denzel Curry, and Deb Never are expected to pop up throughout TYRON.
Little Oblivions, Julien Baker, February 26
Julien Baker's bandmate, Phoebe Bridgers, essentially dominated 2020. With multiple Grammy nominations and a cavalcade of critical acclaim, Bridgers' latest album, Punisher, was a clear highlight from last year. Although it's been a few years since Baker and Bridgers have released music with their indie rock threepiece boygenius, both artists have forged new paths for their solo careers. Indeed, Baker is poised to dominate 2021 with the same Sapphic energy carried by Bridgers last year.
Baker's upcoming album, Little Oblivions, is her first since 2017's Turn Out the Lights. Her previous albums were decidedly small–scale: most of Baker's prior work has featured little more than straightforward guitar and her clear, unrestrained voice. However, the currently released singles for Little Oblivions—"Faith Healer" and "Hardline"—are much more expansive than the majority of Baker's work so far. Both tracks incorporate deeper, more thoughtful instrumentation, but Baker's vocals remain a powerful centrifuge, with swooping guitars, drums, and synths spiraling around her evocative cries. "Faith Healer," though remarkably thoughtful, is criminally short—a blissfully explosive three minutes. In a way, my thoughts on the single are indicative of my excitement toward Little Oblivions: Julien Baker, I want more.