Updated: Jan 14, 2021
Let's speculate. The evidence that new albums will be released this year from your favourite indie artists. Featuring Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, The Vaccines, The Cure, The Killers and Phoenix.
Last week, we took a look at the most anticipated albums being released from artists with confirmed album releases. Now it's time to discover who might be about to drop a record in 2021.
The following is based on rumours, evidence and a dash of wishful thinking.
Excitement amongst the Arctic Monkey fandom exploded back in October 2020 when fine art photographer and director Andreas Neumann shared a picture of Matt Helders sitting behind a studio drum kit. "Surely this means new material!" was the cry all over Twitter that day. Let us weigh up the evidence...
The picture led to intense speculation that the Sheffield band's seventh studio album was on the cards. And it would make sense. It had been two and half years since the divisive Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, a concept album about a rockstar hotel on the moon, their only release since 2013's banger-filled AM.
Though, at the same, the picture only said so much in isolation. Helders is a busy man after all. Another theory was that he had been working on Queens of the Stone Age's new album which isn't a wild suggestion considering his friendship with their frontman Josh Homme and the fact they'd worked together in the past on Iggy Pop's 2016 record Post Pop Depression.
Then, on 10 December, we got the evidence we'd been waiting for. Arctic Monkeys manager Ian McAndrew, in an interview with Music Week, revealed that the band were working on new music.
"In this disjointed time, the guys are beavering away and I hope that next year they'll start working on some new songs, new ideas, with a view on a future release."
And with those words, Christmas had come early! McAndrew admitted that the band had planned to record over the summer, but this was scrapped due to travel restrictions. Despite this, and with nowhere to go, lockdown had forced the band to focus their efforts on writing new music. Perhaps the best news we've heard since the pandemic started.
Earlier this week (16 January), Matt Helders broke his silence to tell us that Arctic Monkeys were in "the early stages of trying to write a (new) record", though had been faced with difficulties to overcome. Speaking on Instagram Live he revealed that band were "all eager to do it - we would have been doing it by now in a normal time."
Will this be the year for a new Arctic Monkeys album? Hmmm, it remains to be seen on that front, but they're at least writing new music. The right noises are being heard from their camp for now and I guess it all lies on how the COVID-19 situation develops. Now let's all collectively cross our fingers.
In November, the Canadian indie stalwarts returned with a political song on Colbert's Election Night 2020 Special on SHOWTIME. It was the first piece of new music from the band since 2017's divisive disco-inspired Everything Now record and, for us, very much a return to form.
Win Butler revealed on the Broken Record podcast with Rick Rubin (21st October 2020), that the band were writing new music prior to the coronavirus pandemic, though the distance between band members had halted recording. During the lockdown, Butler admitted he'd written "two or three" new albums and the band were planning on returning to Texas to record the next record.
When prompted on the direction the new record would take, Win simply answered: "I think you'll be surprised". It leaves us wondering if they'll stick with the dance-rock theme of Everything Now, return to the baroque art-rock of Funeral or perhaps give us something different altogether. Either way, it won't be a dull affair.
What gives us hope is that in early 2017, Arcade Fire released the political 'I Give You Power' to coincide with Donald Trump's inauguration, before then releasing a new album several months later. Let's make the same parallels with their November 2020 performance of 'Generation A' and hope that 2021 is the year for their sixth record.
Ok, a confession. This one is more wishful thinking than anything else but bear with me.
Firstly, if we look at the time gap between their previous albums, we're due a Radiohead album. Their largest gap between records was five years from 2011's The King of Limbs to 2016's A Moon Shaped Pool. This year marks the fifth anniversary of their last album so you can assume (and pray...) that the band are working on their follow-up.
To back that up, the band have made just about the right amount of noise to provide us with some level of hope. Ed O'Brien told the NME in April last year that the band were having online meetings and were planning some live dates for 2021. Nothing ever came of those live dates for obvious reasons, but would they even be considering them if a new album wasn't on the cards? Don't tell me I'm clutching at straws with that one...
Last June, the guitarist, during his promotion of debut album EOB, revealed in an interview with Guitar World that a new Radiohead "will definitely happen", again giving us fans faith that they would somehow be able to put an album together this year.
Alright, so this year might be a push with the current restrictions, but who knows what's going on behind the scenes. In October 2007, the Oxford band announced In Rainbows' release with just 10 days notice. Similar occured again in June 2016 with A Moon Shaped Pool, an album which saw minimal promotion and minimal fuss, the band seeing fit to just get the music out with no hype.
Is 2021 the year for Radiohead's tenth studio album? Time will tell on that front. Sadly the odds are against us.
Another eagerly anticipated album this year is The Vaccines follow up to 2018's Combat Sports. The evidence is pretty strong with this one.
It's hard to fathom that it's been 10 years since the West London indie band broke through with their excellent debut What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?. It was the fastest-selling debut album of 2011 in the UK and their last record, Combat Sports, still landed a top 4 position in the Official UK Album Chart proving their enduring popularity.
In July 2020, frontman Justin Young, speaking on the MyFirstMatchPodcast, revealed that a new album had been recorded at the end of 2019.
"We ended up going to Texas at the end of last year (2019) to record it, but we're tying the shoelaces on it. We have a record that isn't quite ready to go, but is recorded essentially".
On the style itself, Young had told NME that the album was going to be heavier than their previous work with lots of riffs and even described it as "face-melting".
By July 2020, the band tweeted that the "next album is our best x 10000" and we got the news we'd been waiting for in December when they tweeted the word "mixed" with a picture indicating that it would be 13 songs over 47 minutes. It sounds like it's a definite goer!
For a band still touring and seemingly very much in the limelight, it's crazy that we haven't had a new record from The Cure since 2008's 4:13 Dream. But fear not, the goth rock legends have been working on their follow-up. It's just that it's taking them an age to do so.
Robert Smith teased the new album on a number of occasions last year. In February, he told the NME that the new album would be "downbeat and heavy", inspired by a family tragedy, though admitted it was taking a long time to put together. Back then he revealed he was putting the final touches on the final track to the album which would be “10 minutes of intense doom and gloom”. Just what we like to hear.
In April, keyboardist Roger O'Donnell was interviewed saying that the band were finishing the new record. However, time clearly wasn't of the highest priority as he admitted "there's no rush, is there? it's been 12 years".
Then in September, speaking to 6Music about his Gorillaz collaboration, Robert Smith, again provided us with more hope.
"Our whole idea for this year was really finishing off the album we started last year, me finishing off the solo album and also, finishing digitising decades of stuff in order to make this film with Tim Pope about the history of the band. So, it’s actually benefited me because there have been no other distractions, so I’ve actually got a lot of what I wanted to do, done.”
It's happening in 2021, I can feel it.
Last year we included Imploding the Mirage in our list of best albums of 2020 and it appears Brandon Flowers and his Las Vegas boys are about to release another record.
Just before Christmas, they shared a mysterious 'A List' of song titles on their social media channels. In fairness, Brandon Flowers was interviewed in August by NME admitting that they were already working on another album which was set to be released in ten months. Judging by the surprise at the tracklist by their fanbase, it appears not many actually believed him!
And finally, another band that have gathered speculation is French indie-dance band Phoenix. It's been four years since their sixth studio album Ti Amo, a time gap they've followed since 2009's explosive Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
In August 2020, they released 'Identical' for Sofia Coppola's comedy On the Rocks, having teased only a month before that new music was coming.
Watch this space.
What albums are you looking forward to most in 2021? Let us know @BFloodlights.