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10 highly anticipated albums in 2021, from Adele and Kendrick Lamar to Rihanna and Weezer

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 31, 2020

By Julien A. Luebbers For The Spokesman-Review

As far as new music is concerned, 2021 is looking like a force to be reckoned with for fans. From Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar to Weezer and back, hundreds of artists are expected to release albums this year.

The numbers seem especially high as artists who delayed their releases due to COVID-19 are expected to contribute. Here are 10 artists we expect to hear from in 2021:

Rihanna: Originally expected in 2019, there is good reason to believe Rihanna’s next album – widely referred to as “R9,” though yet untitled – will drop this year. Given all the delay, it’s not clear what that album will look like, but it’ll probably rock the charts when it drops. Her previous album, “Anti,” was a crowd-pleaser and critically acclaimed, too.

Kendrick Lamar: Lamar has been hard at work since the 2017 release of “Damn.” His headlining the “Black Panther” soundtrack resulted in thrilling and dynamic collaborations, and now we are expecting something new from the critically acclaimed rapper. From such a master of cross-genre composition, we could be getting something really special.

The Staves: The Staves, a folk group comprised of three sisters, are responsible for a few truly wonderful albums (2014’s “If I Was” is the best of the lot). They have been releasing singles steadily for the past few months, hinting an acoustic and composed sound for their new album “Good Woman.” So far, the results are promising; “Good Woman” and “Satisfied” are brilliant tracks.

Julien Baker: Tennessee artist Baker is one of the most gifted songwriters on the indie scene, known for her slow, profound and electrifying ballads. Her upcoming album “Little Oblivions,” featuring the stunning single “Faith Healer,” will be out this February. With Baker’s almost ambrosia-like guitar as a foundation, little can go wrong for her.

The War on Drugs: Alternative rock group the War on Drugs is expected to drop a new album this year, following up on 2017’s “A Deeper Understanding.” Their guitar and drum-driven rock is catchy, tight and polished. With sonic breakthroughs coming in the early 2010s, it’ll be interesting to see where the band takes their sound.

Weezer: “Van Weezer,” which was originally set to release in May, will now be released almost exactly one year later. Perhaps they’ll reschedule their show in Spokane, as well. Frontman Rivers Cuomo described “Van Weezer” as “a super-rock album” in an interview with Billboard, and he is more than capable of living up to that.

Adele: Also slated for a 2020 release, Adele’s fourth studio album was delayed until at least 2021. It’s already been five years since Adele last topped charts worldwide with “25” (remember “Hello”?), and there’s no indication she’ll take her foot off the gas on this next one.

Arcade Fire: Arcade Fire can and will bring some serious rock to the new year. Following up 2017’s demanding hit album “Everything Now” will be tough, but Arcade Fire is ready. With their members scattered across the world during the early lockdown, the recording process has been slow, but expect an album sometime soon.

Denzel Curry: With features this year on the Avalanches and Glass Animals’ new albums as well as an album of his own, Curry has been on the forefront of everbody’s minds. 2021’s “Melt My Eyez, See Your Future” will be completely new, according to Curry on Twitter. All we know is that Curry’s style is something different, and whatever he produces will push the envelope of rap.

Arlo Parks: Up-and-coming indie star Parks has produced a number of remarkable singles and EPs over the past few years. This month will see the release of “Collapsed in Sunbeams,” Parks’ debut album. As debuts go, this one is hugely anticipated. Her feature on Glass Animals’ album and her previous releases are enthralling, so the bar is set high.

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