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Best Chinese Albums of 2021

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

Our editors' picks for the best Chinese albums of 2021!

Accusefive - Easy Come, Easy Go
Released digitally on the last day of December in 2020 (and physically in early January), Accusefive's sophomore album was the best way to kick off 2021 with good vibes. Packed with genre-hopping songs, Easy Come, Easy Go drifts through a diversity of emotions coming from romance, family, chance and a sense of security. Megahit title single "Where I Lost Us" lyrically revisits heartbreak over six minutes of soothing and evocative music, while the unplugged "Easy Come, Easy Go" showcases the band's clear vocal tones amid a mix of acoustic guitar and nature sounds. Feel Accusefive's energy in the stunning guitar and bass lines of "Mischief" and the funky retro-style WEWE, but also resonate with their deeper emotions in their ode to youth "The Same" and the bluesy "The One and Only." "Beyond The Sea" captures a person's thoughts before confessing to his love, and "Fool's Paradise" seizes the moment when reality hits.

Arrow Wei - How Are You?
Known for her "girl-next-door with an acoustic guitar" image, Arrow Wei determinedly expands her soundscape in her third self-composed studio album. Blending her signature folk and ballad with elements like electronic rock, classical music and alternative rock, How Are You delves into duality – dream and reality, pureness and growing up, past and present lives – and shares relatable stories in eight easy-listening tunes. The opening title track "How Are You" expresses longing in a melancholic mood while "The Hero," penned by 831's Up Lee, is dedicated to everyone who's striving through life. Also on the album are the solo and duet (with Bestard's Kidding Chiu) versions of the sweet confession hit song "How Much I Love You," "Sing Again" inspired by the fairytale Town Musicians of Bremen, "Tough Generation" that reminisces of the good old days when we were young, and "Good Bye, Old Times" that marks a farewell to childhood. With her mellow voice and songs, Arrow Wei becomes a ray of light that helps us cope through unsettling times.

Crowd Lu - healism
With an album title like healism, one may be expecting some healing messages, but Crowd Lu has no use for motivational platitudes. The cynically optimistic "C'MON" amusingly declares: "Who has a life that doesn't collapse on a large scale? / If you want to completely bury a failure / Dig an even deeper hole." The Taiwan singer-songwriter pairs down-to-earth compositions with down-to-earth lyrics for laid-back rock hybrid tracks that assuredly mix electronic, disco, chill-hop, bossa nova and Latin elements. The subtly groovy "Crazy Disco," "MySoulMemory" and "ASK Yin Yang" reveal a new dimension of Crowd Lu's staple music style, while gentler numbers like "in peace," "There You Are" and "iRipple" are movingly direct.

Hins Cheung - The Brightest Darkness
Hins Cheung started off the year strong with The Brightest Darkness to accompany listeners in their darkest days. The album grandly offers 11 Cantonese singles, four covers of timeless Mandopop hits and two unreleased tracks. The captivating, genre-blending compositions delivered in Hins's euphonious and flexible vocals bring out the best of Cantopop – whether it's his signature R&B style Sweet Escape about "getting sensual," the ballad "Empty Hands," the dynamic dance-pop YOU, the feel-good love song "Antique Lover," "Restart" about the beauty of letting go, or "Big Lightning" which inspires listeners with positivity. The masterpiece "Meet or Not to Meet" is especially well blended with the harmonious classical sounds of string instruments.

MC Cheung Tinfu - Have A Good Time
Signed under Warner Music, King Maker II's first runner-up MC Cheung had a remarkable debut year with multiple hit singles, making him a strong new name in Cantopop. Stealing hearts with his soulful singing, MC Cheung genuinely connects with listeners in the chart-topping megahit "Overruled" and its English version How Many Times penned by R&B talent Jay Fung. The two versions of the song delicately give off two totally different moods in love. He further delves into romance and relationships in other heartrending pieces – sinking in the mire of heartbreak in the #1 single "Pillow Talk," enjoying sweet moments in Good Time, surrendering to love in the lo-fi R&B Loser, and bidding farewell in the bittersweet "About Time."

oaeen - Strange Pool
The members of Sodagreen were forced to return under the new name of oaeen due to a trademark dispute with their former company, but the important thing is that they're back in full making music together. New name aside, Strange Pool reveals a more experimental side of the band. Many of the album's songs are indeed stranger and more unfettered in composition, structure and arrangement than the band's previous works. Starting with the intro "Once Upon a Pool" that merges into the rapidly evolving notes of the genre-defying "I'm Weird," this record moves at its own pace through a bold, busy and surprising soundscape. At the same time, the band's highly melodic and lyrical sensibilities are plenty intact as the album floats to an end with the soaring crescendos and gentle fadeouts of the characteristic rock ballads "Star, Moon, Sparkle" and "Start from The End."

Serrini - Gwendolyn
Run, run, run, Gwen, run away... Serrini's album, named after the alter ego of Gwendolyn (a reference to Gwendolen from The Importance of Being Earnest), opens dramatically with the ambient "Burning Plain" which seems akin to the mood of her dark 2019 album Songs of Experience. But then the chameleon singer-songwriter proceeds to distill pain and hope through dangerously catchy retro dance beats. From the very throwback "Network Security Risk" and "The More You Live, The More Trouble" to the airy Li Yuan and bubblegum-ish "Long-Term Romance," Gwendolyn boasts a distinctly 80s-inspired base of dance music interlaced with dreamy electropop. This album is the soundtrack for living in the present and running to the future while dancing to sounds of the past.

Tanya Chua - Depart
"Raindrops falling on a Saturday morning, wind chimes blowing in the wind." Tanya Chua returns to the essence of music in a mostly acoustic album that's breathtakingly beautiful. The singer-songwriter took care of the composition, arrangement, acoustic guitar accompaniment and recording of the entire album in her own studio, while collaborating with Golden Horse-winning film score composer Ricky Ho on arrangement and orchestration. The result is a minimal yet meticulous gem of an album that retreats into an introspective space to uncover a new universe of sounds. Tanya's deep, rich vocals calmly reach out to listeners in intimate, expressive numbers like the acoustic ballad "Romanticism," the strings-infused Bluebirds and the majestic Breakdown. There are two duets on Depart, including the atmospheric, Chow Yiu Fai-penned "Into the Wild" with Ayanga, her partner on the music program Our Song.

Terence Lam - SEVEN
Following a fruitful 2020 that brought him numerous trophies, Terence Lam continues to show off his limitless creativity and songwriting talent in 2021 with his second solo EP SEVEN. After singing about emotions and rationality in Major in Minor, the Hong Kong singer-producer ambitiously created his sophomore release in a more conceptual, playful manner. Terence exhibits seven superpowers through seven magical-sounding tunes that venture into a surreal musical wonderland. Leave everything behind and explore Terence's soul-stirring electronic "Wonderland." There you'll discover the cutesy "self-shaming" rhythmical bossa-nova "Virgo" written by Wyman Wong, magical "Pills" that keep us foolishly happy, a mysterious "Wormhole" that takes us to another world, the evocative ballad "Time" about wishing to turn back time, and the "Moment" of embracing freedom – all of which create a relaxing ambience that allows us to take a break from our hectic life.

TRASH - Holy Trip!
During the pandemic last year, Taiwan rock band Trash took a journey to the mountains to create the full-length album Holy Trip! They dig into our inner worlds with an emotionally charged cross-section of punk, metal, electronic, hip-hop, alternative rock, 80s new wave and more. Holy Trip! starts off powerfully with the strong intro "Game Start" and the heavy metal Home, which fully show the band's rock spirit, and then brings a wave of soft emotions with the emotive "LOVE." Trash continues to indulge in different moods in the side tracks, including the dreamy retro-influenced Give It A Try with a tinge of disco-pop, "Super Hero" about a promise to their families, the empowering "Blooming" and "Change," and the balladic "Leaving Taipei." From "Game Start" to "Leaving Taipei," Trash lays out a series of sentiments we come across as we search for "the answer" – that is love.

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Published December 31, 2021

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  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
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