Eight Tracks V

Well, of course apoplectic.me is back for my favourite post of every year – a round-up of the best popular music tracks of 2021. I wonder if the list will reflect the nature of the year…?

When we thought 2020 was terrible? [John Oliver detonates a huge explosion of the number 2020]
Remember the good old days?

You know, my tracks of 2020 did tend towards the distressingly fey and shoegaze-y. Well, not this year. This year’s better. You can also check this new list out on Apple Music or Spotify.

[Check out the Apoplexy Tiny Letter for a bonus track.]

I listened to Wet Leg’s Chaise Longue on repeat for an unhealthy amount of time in 2021. Yeah, 2021, look at me:

I’m young and snotty, I’m gonna hang out with my friends outside, and when I get to a gig again, I’m gonna be totally irresponsible.

Ricky Monahan Brown, age 47 & 1/4
Check out the video for the song: They’re outside! Being snotty!

Spoiler: I’m not actually young, and I’m delighted that Sleater-Kinney came back in 2021. Worry With You isn’t the sound of young, angry Riot Grrrlz. Carrie and Corin are older now, too. Pitchfork called Worry With You

[A] wholesome, Covid-era twin to Hurry On Home: a lovingly codependent couple just riding life’s highways, armed with good, vaguely psychedelic vibes.


A nice thought, but I’m not totally buying it. They’re still singing about taking wrong turns and getting lost and messing up and they still know they’re Sleater-Kinney, dammit.

Either way, I had the huge privilege of being in a lovingly codependent couple this year, armed with good, vaguely psychedelic vibes, and I kind of needed that reflected back at me.

They still *sound* snotty, though

OK: I’m old and Scottish, with a penchant for disco and miserabilism. And even I have to admit playing Arab Strap’s The Turning Of Our Bones once is unhealthy enough.

D’ye want a fish supper with that?

Aye, and a buckfast chaser

I mean, who stages a comeback singing about not giving a damn about the past, about how it’s been another seven years and it’s showing round the eyes?

Take that, ABBA

Mogwai might wear a lot of Kappa sports gear, but they’re still the beauty to Arab Strap’s beastliness. One of my favourite live bands streaming a live rendition of their new album into our living room while we were locked down was one of the gifts of 2021.

“It’s nice doing a gig without that drunk guy from Edinburgh here for once.”

Staying with boys in tracksuits, but with a New-Order-off-their-heids-on-eccies-in-1988 vibe, here’s Working Men’s Club.

Phew. That’s better!

Well, that’s quite enough of that. No more dancing at the back! Don’t you know we’re all going to die? [Isn’t that a bit on the nose? –– Ed.] Spencer Cullum does, and he’s decided to make it sound eerily beautiful in a Nick Drake-stylee.

See? I’m not just bandying those comparisons around.

I didn’t know I needed to hear Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen’s Like I Used To. Then I heard it. In the face of Spencer Cullum’s imminent shadow, it feels like a defiant refusal, a insistence to live with whatever we have left.

Give it a spin. Maybe it’ll transport you to your glory days, too, turn you around and take you back to a quiet bar late at night – or whatever your version is – where the person you loved all along is still waiting for you and promising that it’s still that day and that time.

Right. When I heard Meg Ward’s Make U Mine, I tweeted something about how it was exactly the track we needed in 2021 –

It’s the sound of a rammed club in 1991 with condensation running down the walls cos everyone’s absolutely HAVIN IT – but better!

Me. on twitter. more or less. i already told you that.

So, that’s my track of the year. Obviously. I’ll be back soon with a new Stroke Digest…

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