While we are finally getting to see our favourite artists perform live at their headline shows once again (gigs! remember them?), throughout lockdown this year some truly special LGBTQ+ talent delivered some spectacular bodies of work to help us cope with the current state of the world.
In the playlist age, you have to produce a collection that keeps a listener locked in for the duration; something these 10 LGBTQ+ artists managed to with their world-building storytelling and innovative musicianship.
Here we list the 10 best albums by LGBTQ+ artists of the year so far. They’re in alphabetical order, but we have given a special mention at the end for our current Album of the Year.
CHIKA: Once Upon A Time
With her third EP, CHIKA solidifies her status as one of the most exciting and innovative lyricists in hip-hop. Hickory Dickory hears her reflecting on her ascendence over the past few years, contemplating this new life she has but wanting to remain true to her roots. On tracks like Cinderella Pt.2 you hear the artist’s soothing singing vocals, while on Fairy Tale she wraps wordplay round your ears in double time with her sharp rapping capability. Once Upon A Time is a demonstration of CHIKA’s impressive versatility and immense talent, and leaves us excited for what she has in store next.
Chloe Moriondo: Blood Bunny
Chloe Moriondo’s Blood Bunny is her unofficial-official second album, but, either way, it’s a breakout beginning for the rising star. Lining up hyper-emotive teen angst hits such as I Wanna Be With You and Bodybag, the young singer gets introspective about moving on and upwards.
Girl In Red: If I Could Make It Go Quiet
The Taylor Swift-approved debut album has been a highlight alternative release of 2021. Marie Ulven aka Girl In Red candidly unpacks her anxieties of growing up and coming of age. An eclectic mix of indie-pop bangers and sentimental hits, lead single Serotonin should be a must-add to all your playlists.
Joy Oladokun: In Defence Of My Own Happiness
Melding R&B, folksy songwriting and soulful composition, Joy Oladokun lyricism astutely meanders around topics of religion, identity, and activism. The surefire genre-blending LP venerates a powerful message of hope and humanity. Oladokun is able to carefully craft a narrative that sticks with you long after a track has finished. Trust us, In Defence Of My Own Happiness is exactly the post-lockdown catharsis you’ve been looking for.
Maggie Lindemann: Paranoia
Falling in line with the new wave pop-punk revival, Maggie Lindemann’s explosive gritty EP is exactly what you need. A compact dose of self-analysis and anxiety, the Pretty Girl singer pulls off an EP that signals a fresh new move. The eight-track EP, Paranoia, showcases a promising start from the former internet star and is a GAY TIMES must listen.
Pale Waves: Who Am I?
An ambitious sophomore record, Pale Waves have ditched their 80’s-inspired synth-pop era for a more nuanced take on identity and self-discovery. The Manchester band take the lead from Avril Lavigne’s legacy to offer up a new grungy image that lands seamlessly. While the album has some shaky moments, Who Am I? is a well-considered record teasing at what Pale Waves have under the surface.
As the world remained in the grip of a long winter lockdown, Serpentwithfeet’s second studio album Deacon was a shining beacon of heart-swelling joy. At its core, it’s a celebration of Black gay love. Highlights like Same Shoe Size and Heart Storm explore the artist’s romantic life, while the modern R&B production throughout the album draws you firmly into this world he has created.
Tyler, the Creator: Call Me If You Get Lost
Throughout his career, Tyler, the Creator has continued to subvert expectations. On his 2019 album he spoke about a relationship with a man who was also tied up with a woman. It was one of the first instances that he put his sexuality in such sharp focus. For his latest outing, Call Me If You Get Lost, the artist genre-hops across 16 tracks that hears him switch up his tone frequently, but it somehow flows effortlessly. From the smooth and soft 90s R&B of WUSYANAME to the synth-laden groove of SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE, Tyler never fails to keep things fresh.
VINCINT: There Will Be Tears
If you like your albums packed with expansive, euphoric pop, they don’t soar much higher than VINCINT’s long-awaited debut album There Will Be Tears. The US singer-songwriter uses his incredible vocal range to full effect on a record that takes you from the dancefloor with tracks like Higher and Hard 2 Forget, to fully leaning into your feelings on rousing numbers The Friend and All Over Again. It’s a classic pop album done to perfection.
Best Album of the Year (so far) – Arlo Parks: Collapsed in Sunbeams
The British singer-songwriter built up to her anticipated full-length debut album with five stunning singles throughout 2020. Arlo’s knack for introspective storytelling over warm, intricate production positioned her as a voice of a generation, touching upon themes of anxiety, mental health, romance and finding joy in the everyday. It’s regarded by critics as a near flawless debut, and at just 20 years old, sets Arlo up as one of our most promising new artists.