Though it hasn't been the most auspicious start, there are reasons to believe 2021 will be a more positive year than the one it has come to replace.
It certainly has its work cut out delivering a better crop of albums – as this list of the best albums of 2020 proves – but if these ten already promised are anything to go by then we’ve little need to worry.
The wait might be a little longer for some than others, but there are pre-orders live, singles already released and plenty of reasons to get excited.
Isles by Bicep
If Bicep’s self-titled debut album introduced the Northern Irish duo to the mainstream in 2017, Isles is surely about to launch them into the stratosphere. We’ve already heard enough to expect an even more euphoric set of festival-ready dance tunes when the new album is released on 22nd January, the trio of singles Atlas, Apricots and Saku filling us with the hope of a long summer spent with everyone we missed in 2020.
Sound Ancestors by Madlib & Four Tet
Someone likely to be sharing a number of stages with Bicep in 2021 is Kieran Hebden, who released his tenth album as Four Tet in 2020. He also revealed he's spent the past few years working with rapper and producer Madlib on an album the pair will release in January. “I was listening to some of his new beats when I had the idea it would be great to hear some of these made into a Madlib solo album,” he said. “Not for vocalists to use but arranged into an album designed to be listened to start to finish.”
TBA by The Cure
We’ve been awaiting another record from The Cure since 4:13 Dream came out in 2008, so there’s no guarantee when it’ll actually arrive, but Robert Smith hinted that 2020 had been a fruitful year for the band when he spoke to BBC Radio 6. “Our whole idea for this year  was really finishing off the album we started last year,” he said. “So it’s actually benefited me because there have been no other distractions; I’ve actually got a lot of what I wanted to do done.”
Legacy+ by Femi Kuti & Made Kuti
Father and son Femi and Made Kuti – son and grandson respectively of legendary Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti – are releasing Legacy+ together on 5th February, a double record made up of the albums For(e)ward and Stop The Hate. “I’ve learnt so much from my father politically, socially, philosophically and musically that I know this lovely project is only the beginning of more beautiful things to come,” promises Made.
As The Love Continues by Mogwai
As The Love Continues, Mogwai’s first non-soundtrack album since 2017’s Every Country’s Sun, is to be released on 19th February – exactly 25 years since the band released its first single, Tuner/Lower. The Scottish post-rock pioneers have evolved a lot since then, but it's evident from lead single Dry Fantasy that their output is set to become no less atmospheric.
As Days Get Dark by Arab Strap
It’s set to be a big year for Mogwai’s record label, Rock Action, which is also home to the return of Arab Strap. Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton released their first songs under the moniker for 15 years in 2020, with the singles The Turning of Our Bones and Compersion Pt.1, and that pair of shadowy poems will find their way onto As Days Get Dark on 5th March.
Certified Lover Boy by Drake
Initially expected in summer 2020, when he released lead single Laugh Now Cry Later, Drake’s sixth studio album was pushed back to January, which has only heightened the anticipation. It’s not as if the world’s biggest rapper has been missing, dropping his Dark Lane Demo Tapes mixtape in May, but he promises Certified Lover Boy will be “music to evolve to”.
Utopia by Travis Scott
Drake isn’t the only one of rap’s big hitters primed to release new music in 2021, with Travis Scott announcing the follow-up to 2018’s Astroworld a few months back. If the single Franchise is anything to go by we can expect some huge features, with Young Thug and M.I.A. appearing on that track, which was later remixed by Future.
TBA by FKA twigs
We’re not yet quite over the majesty of FKA twigs’s second album, Magdalene, and already she has written another. “I ended up making a whole album in quarantine,” she told the Grammy Museum’s Programs at Home series. “It was maybe one-third of the way through and I just said, ‘you know what, I’m just going to make an album’, and I just went and did it. There’s no title or release date yet, but we’ll be here for it whenever the album drops.
Spare Ribs by Sleaford Mods
Jason Williamson is someone whose thoughts we’ll always be ready to hear, for the acerbic wit with which they are delivered as much as the value of their content. And if ever there was a time we needed Sleaford Mods’s input, it is now. We’ve had a taste of the band’s Spare Ribs with the single Mork + Mindy, and we’re slavering for the album’s full release on 14th January.