There hasn’t been a year in recent memory when compiling the best UK albums has been anything short of incredibly tough—and it’s only getting tougher.
This year, several of the finest artists this country has produced in years released the very best music of their careers. It was also yet another year of new faces bursting through and keeping the old guard on their toes with their own era-defining projects. Unsurprisingly, it was one of the most hotly-debated years in the Complex UK office.
Probably the biggest album of all came from Adele, who returned to us a little older, a little wiser and a lot more soulful, with 30, and a suitably huge, headline-stealing promotional tour. British rap elite Little Simz and Ghetts gave us Sometimes I Might Be Introvert and Conflict Of Interest, respectively, scooping a load of awards and finally earning them the long overdue attention they deserved. Meanwhile, the likes of Digga D, V9, M1llionz, PinkPantheress and Central Cee all rose to the occasion with solid projects that surpassed the lofty expectations heaped on them by a scrutinising industry tipping them for greatness.
Here are the albums—and album-worthy projects—we loved the most in 2021.