Traffic to Work? 5 Albums from 2021 to Sooth Your Troubles

Andrew Koole
· 3 min read
Rush hour is a bummer. Even with the increase in remote work this year, many of us find ourselves crawling along highways built for speed twice a day. All that boredom and stress can get to the best of us. 
Experts have actually studied the mental and physical effects of commuting, and the outcome isn’t good. Besides the obvious muscle and joint pain, long commutes can increase the chances of obesity, lung and heart disease, divorce, and decrease overall life satisfaction.
But even if life forces you to endure hours of traffic every week, something as simple as listening to music on the way to work can reduce the stress and anxiety of the trip to work.
has a few recommendations from this year’s releases.
Sitting in traffic is stressful, but it’s a great opportunity to jam out.

2021 albums without lyrics to keep your commute distraction-free

Music can take your mind off the frustration of traffic, but it can also distract you from driving. If you’re prone to getting a little too focused on the tunes, instrumental music can be a good alternative.This year saw many lyric-free releases. 
For classical, Nils Frahm’s album Old Friends New Friends and Jonny Greenwood’s two eerie soundtracks are worth hearing. Promises, jazz legend Pharoah Saunders’ record with Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra, is one of the year’s best releases. 
If you’re looking for something with a little more pep, Teen Daze’s Interior, Gary Bartz’s release with Jazz Is Dead, and John Carroll Kirby’s Septet will all get your head bopping. Legendary sample-smith Madlib also put out a record out this year, Sound Ancestors, which obviously grooves.
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Music from 2021 to sing along to while in traffic to work

Most of us can handle the level of multitasking needed to sing and drive at the same time. Plus, singing can be a great stress reliever on its own. If you want to give your lungs a little exercise on the way to work, 2021 did not disappoint.
Major hitmakers like Adele, Selena Gomez, and Coldplay all put out new music this year that fans loved. Newcomer Olivia Rodrigo’s album Sour will get you humming along on the first listen. Taylor Swift fans will no doubt gobble up her new versions of Fearless and Red
For songs from off the beaten path, check out the R&B artist L’Rain’s album Fatigue, Ignorance from the Canadian group The Weather Station, or Head of Roses by Flock of Dimes. 
Sufjan Steven’s collab with Angelo De Augustine, A Beginner’s Mind, and James Blake’s Friends That Break Your Heart are also filled with fantastic melodies.

Cathartic albums from 2021 to turn up in traffic

Sometimes, soft or happy music can just make you feel worse. If you need a safe way to let your negative steam out, a few albums from this year offer plenty of aggression so you can work it out in the car instead of taking it out on the drivers around you.
Probably the loudest record of the year was Ultrapop from The Armed. Other releases with a heavy dose of fuzz are Buds by Ovlov, Turnstile’s GLOW ON, and Norwegian band Pom Poko’s album Cheater.
If you prefer to let your feelings out with lyrics or rhythm, Julien Baker released a new batch of sad songs with Little Oblivions, Indigo De Souza expresses sufficient angst on Any Shape You Take, and Australian band Pond embodied post-punk legends Talking Heads and Bowie on 9.

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