[sic] Magazine

[sic] Writer Lists – Gavin Fearnley’s Albums Of 2021

Gavin Fearnley’s Albums Of 2021

The verdict from our man in Cologne.

1. Benjamin SchoosThe Love Note
Just a year after 2020’s Doubt in my Heart, this is the fantastic, latest release from the Belgian, Fall-loving crooner from Liege. Magical. Like romantic soundscapes to films which haven’t yet been made in post-industrial lowland towns of Europe.

2. Dry CleaningNew Long Leg
The year’s great-new-guitar-pop hope, right? A South London Life Without Buildings? Florence Shaw’s unique vocals consist of the spoken word sprinkled with overheard snippets from being out and about, so don’t make much sense out of context. This wouldn’t work without brilliant angular music to accompany lyrics like “Spent 17 pounds on mushrooms for you” and “I’ve been thinking of eating that hot dog for hours”. Luckily, Dry Cleaning pull it off.

3. Lost HorizonsIn Quiet Moments
A second full-length release for the duo of Simon Raymonde and Richard Thomas featuring guest appearances from the likes of C. Duncan, John Grant, and Tim Smith. Latest single, Florida featuring KookieLou (aka Lily Wolter from Penelope Isles) is also worth anyone’s time.

4. Jackie LevenStraight Outta Caledonia
Ten years after his death at the age of 61, this compilation reminds us of Jackie Leven’s genius pop sensibilities, with perhaps some of the greatest lyrics to come out of Scotland over the past 20 years.

5. Adrian Borland2 Meter Sessions 1987 – 1995 / The SoundWill and Testament
More posthumous releases from the beyond-belief talent of Adrian Borland thanks to Dutch mega-fan Jean-Paul van Mierlo, also the driving force behind the Adrian Borland documentary Walking in the Opposite Direction. 2 Meter Sessions are recordings for Dutch radio, while Will and Testament is a series of live recordings and demos with beautiful inner-sleeve notes on every song by Mike Dudley, drummer with The Sound. Heartbreakingly perfect. You are so greatly missed, Adrian.

6. Mogwai As the Love Continues
The Glaswegians deliver the goods once more. Surely 2021’s best title for an opening song, too: To the Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth.

7. Jon HopkinsMusic for Psychedelic Therapy
Included in this list, alone for the album’s last song Sit Around the Fire, which is as life-affirming as it gets.

8. Black Swan LaneHide in View
Not quite as good as 2019’s Vita Eterna, but Hide in View is still better than most albums being released in the (sometimes tired) post-punk genre, at the moment. Still listed on Wikipedia as being a band with one foot in Atlanta, Georgia with the other in Middleton, Greater Manchester; but to what level that’s actually still true these days isn’t clear.

9. DOTN (Stephen Jones of Baby Bird) – Death of the Neighbourhood 3
Stephen Jones is one of the most prolific artists in world music. That’s right, the world. I’ve lost count of how many albums Jones has released but there are volumes. The 26 tracks on this “have been around” for quite some time, apparently. All of which are bloody good. This man does not get the credit the deserves. He’s on tour next year – go and see him and doth your caps.

10. CHVRCHESScreen Violence
This was the closest we got to a release from The Cure’s Robert Smith, collaborating with Chvrches on How Not To Drown. The rest of the album is a joyful foray into keyboard driven pop, which if released by New Order or an 80s Madonna would be celebrated ad infinitum.

Special Mention – Meetsysteem Heel Even Niets
Incredible second album from the Amsterdam-based mystical pop outfit of Ricky Cherim. The album of 2020 for me. Dropping before last Christmas it missed out on a feature then but no longer. If it was all in English, I’m sure he’d be the toast of indie nights from Aberdeen to Athens. Personally, I’m glad he uses his mother-tongue – more of this, alsjeblieft.