Album of the Month: March 2021


Image courtesy of Stereogum

Adam Matos and Anthony Millan

As I expected, March’s trophy goes to Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club. This new project from Del Rey, released March 19th, is a tasteful follow up to her critically acclaimed 2019 album, Norman ——- Rockwell, which many year-end review lists ranked as one of the best albums of that year. Lana capitalizes on the sound she discovered and experiments with it more on Chemtrails Over the Country Club. Del Rey is often described as a creator of folk or singer-songwriter music and this album proves she has mastered the arts of songwriting and singing. Lana does most of her work over minimalistic production where her vocals are the focal point along with the rare guitar, piano, or synth. Many fans thought she would not be able to top her previous album but I believe she definitely has. I always like shorter albums because I have a moderately short attention span and Chemtrails Over the Country Club is 11 songs at 45 minutes while Norman ——- Rockwell is 14 tracks at 68 minutes. This led me to like the predecessor more; it is just as consistent and good but also shorter. 

Along with this Del Rey just experiments more with Chemtrails Over the Country Club, “White Dress” the opening track and is something most Lana Del Rey fans never thought they would hear from her. It is much more poppy and strays away from the style she was so comfortable with on her previous albums. I have known for a while now that Lana Del Rey is one of the best singers in the industry and this album has solidified that for me. The album is very slow-paced as it is an alternative pop/folk project but if you can remain patient and enjoy slower songs, this album is very rewarding to the listener. Lana’s voice is definitely the selling point of this record. She quite simply has one of the most beautiful voices in today’s music landscape. Lana Del Rey will never be a pop star but we don’t need her to; she is a lane of her own delivering consistently amazing albums. That’s something I will never complain about. 

The authenticity Lana gives on this album led to there being no real competition at all for this month’s award although there were some notable releases. To start, although Lana absolutely deserves Album of the Month for March my favorite track to release this month is “Sisyphus” by Quadeca. Quadeca is a YouTube rapper who, with the release of his album From Me to You, turned into an actual musician. Most people write off all YouTubers attempting to rap by labeling them unskilled but Quadeca has some serious talent. From Me to You released March 30th and has some great tracks and features from solidified rappers such as Guapdad 4000 and IDK. Quadeca is trying to find his spot in this hip-hop industry and I would say he’s being successful for the most part so far. “Sisyphus” is in contention for my song of the year partially because of how impactful the production is. I also love the message and lyricism of the song but the execution is undeniable. Even if you hate Quadeca’s voice or rapping, you have to admit his production choices are phenomenal. Unfortunately, one amazing track and a mediocre project don’t get you an Album of the Month trophy, so this month easily goes to Lana Del Rey.

Chemtrails Over the Country Club was my most hyped-up release of March 2021 because Lana Del Rey announced it before the month had even started via Instagram. I wasn’t aware of Quadeca’s release nor was I aware of any other release that would have excited me as much as Lana’s release. March’s award would have been a tougher call if BROCKHAMPTON or Drake had released their long-awaited albums–but neither did. Fortunately and unfortunately, we got singles from both of these artists but no albums. Drake released his three-song project Scary Hours 2 featuring Lil Baby and Rick Ross. All three songs were great and debuted at 1, 2, and 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Of course, it’s Drake so you wouldn’t expect anything less. Following that release of three songs, Drake still hasn’t given us a release date for his album. I’m starting to think there never really was an album as the release date has gotten pushed back from late 2020, to January 2021 and still hasn’t been released up to this point. Luckily, he released something and continues to build some hype for a potential album release. 

BROCKHAMPTON, on the other hand, is releasing their sixth studio album Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine on April 9th. They started their album rollout by releasing the first track on the album “BUZZCUT” a track that is so perfectly chaotic and has an emphatic feature from Danny Brown one of the most unique voices in the hip-hop industry. “BUZZCUT” was a huge success in my eyes and is among some of their best tracks even though there are only two verses one being delivered from someone who isn’t even a member of BROCKHAMPTON. More on Roadrunner coming next month once I’ve listened to it and either given it Album of the Month or labeled it a major disappointment. For my sake, I’ll hope it’s the former.

To wrap up this month, I feel obligated to speak on Justin Bieber’s Justice. Aside from a select few songs, namely “Peaches” and “Die For You” this album was consistently mediocre. It has some hits and I found myself nodding my head to “Holy” and “Hold On” but these were singles that were released before the album. Bieber didn’t add much substance to the actual album release of Justice barring scarce good tracks. Of course, I respect Justin’s attempt to revitalize his career but I don’t think that Justice was the most impactful of a career-saver. On the contrary, “Leave The Door Open” by Silk Sonic, an unexpected yet amazing collaboration between Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak debuted at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100– and for good reason. I wouldn’t say it revitalized either of their careers but it definitely put both of them back on the mainstream map. “Leave The Door Open” is absolutely phenomenal. Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak complement each other so well. The song is amazingly well-written, the production is as smooth as butter and their chemistry is off the charts. Some thought that their styles might clash but they mix their own styles of R&B together to make a hybrid between their styles and it delivers well. I am ridiculously excited for when their collaboration project will release.

That just about sums up March 2021 in terms of music. Some other tracks I was somewhat excited for like “DAYWALKER!” by CORPSE and Machine Gun Kelly and “no sense” by Baby Keem released but both of these tracks were not interesting enough in my opinion. “DAYWALKER!” is exactly what you would expect from the emo-rapper CORPSE, the lyrics and vocals are bland but the production is very spooky and entertaining. “no sense” by Baby Keem is great but pretty forgettable and bland. The production is fantastic and Baby Keem has great lyricism but the song itself is not anything special. March was definitely a month where singles thrived but I thought Chemtrails Over the Country Club can become an Album of the Year candidate for 2021. From Me To You is also a very promising album from Quadeca who I can’t wait to hear more from in the future. Overall, I am very happy with this month’s music and I have decided to give my award for Album of the Month for March 2021 to Chemtrails Over the Country Club by Lana Del Rey.