Lockdown after lockdown, the Internet continued to remind us that the plague brought Europe out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. Whether or not that turned out to be an applicable adage nearly 700 years later, it made sense that the imposed isolation and unprecedentedly clear Google Cals would have some creative payoff. So what awaited us on the other side of the pandemic? Each of the year’s most resonant albums were, in some form, dispatches from the eye and aftermath of the storm, making them that much more significant. From Drake’s climactic ode to toxic masculinity to Emanuel’s poignant debut, this year Canadian artists proved that 2021 wasn’t about a return to form, but elevating the craft altogether. These are our picks for the best Canadian albums of the year.