Top 10 Albums of 2022
Yet another album list, you know what it is.
As per usual, totally unordered apart from album of the year.
Cool? Cool. Let's talk about music.
10. Polyphia - Remember That You Will Die
Favourite Songs - ABC, The Audacity
This pick is kind of my bias showing. I'm a fan, I've been long awaiting this album, and I'm just thrilled it's here. It doesn't make it perfect by any means, but it's just a ton of fun. Having read some of the discourse around this album, it feels like my opinion runs kind of contrary to a lot of people. Where lots of listeners switched off at the vocal features, those were the highlights for me. If I had my way, every Polyphia song would have a rapper on it from here on out. The thought of someone like JID, Kendrick, or Daveed Diggs rapping over a Polyphia beat is the ultimate fantasy. Make it happen.
9. Rosalía - MOTOMAMI
Favourite Songs - La Fama, Chicken Teriyaki
Rosalía's idiosyncrasy is on full display and we love to see it. It's dripping with personality, the production is exceptional, and it feels thought out and cohesive as a piece. It subverts expectations while also gratifying the listener. I just wish I'd been more proactive in Googling the lyrics.
8. The 1975 - Being Funny In a Foreign Language
*Favourite Songs - Looking For Somebody (To Love), Part Of The Band*
Not a lot to say about this album really. I just like it. It's pop songwriting that feels good in the brain regardless of how you come to this album. There's introspective lyricism and danceable groove, and neither cancel the other out. The psychology of nothing stepping on each other's toes extends to the arrangement, where everything is given space to contribute and feel essential.
7. MUNA - MUNA
Favourite Songs - Anything But Me, Silk Chiffon
As a fan of the band, this album had a lot to live up to. Their previous album, Saves The World, may as well be one of my favourite albums in recent memory. What they've come up with isn't just a followup, but almost a direct response.
For those who've played Celeste, the previous album felt like the scenes where Madeline is chased by an evil, malevolent version of herself. This album is like the end of the game, where (spoiler alert), Madeline accepts this part of herself instead of rejecting and running from it, and ultimately becoming a more powerful and rounded version of herself. This is best exemplified on a tune like Loose Garment. Katie isn't trying to shed her sadness, she's just wearing it in a way that accepts its presence, and it no longer strangles her. This, alongside the numerous references to conflicts addressed in the previous album, really make MUNA feel like a statement of self-love and hope for the future.
Great album, give the previous one and this a listen in sequence.
6. Saba - Few Good Things
Favourite Songs - If I Had A Dollar, 2012
When I was making this list, I forgot that this album basically ruled my February. For some reason this hasn't the staying power over the whole year that I'd expected, but it's still fantastic. Saba's lyricism and charisma on the mic are as present as ever. He has so much personality, his emotions are infectious. That can cut multiple ways, either he can entice you to get hype to some of his up-tempo moments, are just get you to listen to the story he needs to tell you. It's a dense album, with a lot of stylistic variety, but if you can find your way through it, there's a ton of rewarding moments in it.
5. Louis Cole - Quality Over Opinion
Favourite Songs - Let It Happen, Message
This album is just another paragraph in Louis Cole's ever-extending creative manifesto. Louis has been in his lane for a long time, and he's getting deeper and deeper into the aesthetic he's been crafting for a while, and it's great to see. There's a self-assuredness to his style that is so engaging as a listener. His quirky, DIY videos are hilarious, but just because he's calling the shots in both the audio and video departments doesn't for a second mean he's skimping on quality. The music on this album is sublime, the composition and arrangements are all thoroughly considered and executed at the top of their game, both by Louis and his entourage of fantastic musicians. This applies as much to serious tunes as goofy ones, and that's what gives Louis his edge.
Let It Happen might be my favourite song of the whole year.
4. DOMi & JD Beck - NOT TiGHT
Favourite Songs - Two Shrimps, Take a Chance
I rarely anticipate albums, but this was definitely one of the ones I was actively looking forward to. Ever since I've been made aware of this duo and their little corner of the internet, I was wondering when it would be that they made their mainstream debut, and it was frustrating to see this process drawn out in the way that it was. Thankfully it was worth the wait. Not just because DOMi and JD brought their A-game on it, but because they managed to amass a whole slew of great features that elevate this album to the apex of its' potential. Mac DeMarco, Kurt Rozenwinkel, Anderson .Paak and even Snoop Dogg weigh in on this thing. What more could you ask for?
Much like Louis Cole, this album takes joy in the creative process while also executing on the highest level we've seen in a while.
3. Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
Favourite songs - Promise is a Pendulum, Sparrow
This is a long record, and because of that, I've not revisited the whole project as much as I'd have liked. The reason this is on here is because the things that I liked initially have stuck with me for a long time. Certain songs off of this record have become not just favourites, but almost *important* to me. It's just great songwriting. No frills, no nonsense. Give it a listen, there'll almost certainly be something in it for you.
2. Patricia Taxxon - Aeroplane
Favourite Songs - Swish, Kitty
I know I said this was unranked except for number 1, but this was nearly my album of the year, so the number 2 spot is deserved here.
One of the things I've really come to appreciate about Patricia over the years is the simplicity of her process. Music gets made, and then it goes out. She doesn't entertain the complications we've attached to the music-making process. It's something I miss a lot about being 14, making music on MuLab and putting anything I finished straight on SoundCloud. It's something I want to get back to one way or another, and certainly a main motivator behind the Year of Everything. I'll probably discuss my own feelings on this more in depth at some point on this blog, but for now let's gush about Aeroplane for a bit.
Patricia has landed in a great spot in terms of her output. She releases on average 5-6 albums a year, all of which are A) received well by her listenership and B) really really good. Of course this is something you have to earn, you can't just be prolific for the sake of it and expect the world in return. Luckily for her though, this, along with everything else she's put out this year, is fantastic. I'll
In the YouTube description for this album, it simply says:
Representing the feelings I get when I catch glimpses of commercial aircraft during later dusk.
The fact that such a simple stimulus has paved the way for such a layered and complex work is just exciting. Just in a surface-level art-fan way, that's a great thing. But then the music starts playing, and the whole album is just a journey. Never has a collection of electronic music conjured so much imagery and emotion for me. Every minute of its hour-long runtime is packed with intrigue, engagement, and flawless execution. Did I mention this is one of six albums she's put out this year?
There's not a lot else I can say for this other than it does exactly what you'd expect, and then exceeds those expectations on every front. Fantastic record.
Album of the Year
I don't like comparing dogs to kids. It seems, for want of a better word, unjust. Raising a child is an evermore complex, lifelong commitment, whereas owning a dog has a steep learning curve that levels out relatively quickly. If actual parents tell me having a dog is like having a child, I take that into more consideration, but generally speaking I see these things as two entirely different situations, one being inexplicably more consuming than the other.
All that said, the first few months of having a puppy were insanely challenging.
When she was a puppy, our dog had a slew of weird health issues, we were barely sleeping, and we were trying to figure out what regular life was going to look like now there was an animal in the house. It was difficult, and disorienting, and generally quite an isolating experience for a while.
It was on those first months of short dog walks where I was trying to get my bearings and figure this new life out, that I discovered SICK! by Earl Sweatshirt.
I still have trouble with the dogs/kids comparison, but hearing Earl, who had very recently become a father when he was recording, making a record that sounds like he'd finally found his peace, was just the biggest breath of fresh air for me at the time. For me, this album is a balm for the soul, a warm soup on a cold day, just an absolute bubble bath of an experience. I can't justify it empirically, but this album genuinely deserves credit for helping me become a better dog owner. I'd go one further and say that the Armand Hammer verse on Tabula Rasa made my whole year better. I love art that connects you to the grandiosity of the human tapestry, while also reminding you how large and complex it is. That verse, and by extension the whole album, just sounds like life being lived, and it was what I needed to hear at exactly that moment.
It may not be the best album of the year, but it is far and away my favourite. I can't recommend it enough.
Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
Compelling and challenging - Kendrick constantly finds a way to push himself and his audience.
SZA - SOS
Normalise this behaviour - keeping the fans waiting so you can deliver what you want. It's a win-win situation.
David Maxim Micic - BILO IV
Exactly the same sentiment as SZA.
Little Simz - No Thank You
I have no idea how she was able to follow up to SIMBI with something so good so quickly, but I'm grateful for it.
FKA Twigs - Caprisongs
Hasn't stuck with me, but it's still undeniably fun and well made.
The Weeknd - Dawn FM
...I think I like this more than After Hours??
Denzel Curry - Melt My Eyez See Your Future
This should be made for me, but for some reason I enjoy Denzel's older catalogue more. I have no idea why, I should absolutely love this. Might have to spend more time with it.
Tim Miller - Synergy
Tim is in a lane of his own, and he's reasserting that with this collection of tunes. Origins is excellent
Kenny Beats - Louie
Delightful, both in concept and execution.
Conway The Machine - God Don't Make Mistakes
Tear Gas might be my favourite rap song this year.
JID - The Forever Story
If ten was a bigger number I could see this being in the top 10. JID doesn't let up with the stellar lyricism or production for a second.
Rae Morris - Rachel@Fairyland
Saying this is a return to form implies her second record wasn't good, but I really enjoyed this.
Snarky Puppy - Empire Central
Over the moon at their return to the live recording format, it suits them so well
Lizzo - Special
Lizzo has a way of riding the line between cheesy and classy writing that is impressive and infectious.
Charlie XCX - Crash
New Shapes could be the best pop song of the year.
Kehlani - blue water road
Similar energy to the Earl album, it's like square breathing but in musical form.
Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter
I don't know how she made pop music sound so cavernous. It's like if Boygenius were Elden Ring characters.
Beyoncé - Renaissance
What am I supposed to say here? It's Beyoncé.
The Smile - A Light For Attracting Attention
The Radiohead comparison is sadly inevitable, but this stands up against all of the recent Radiohead output.
black midi - Hellfire
This feels like the first album of theirs I actually got
phonewifey - Forever 2021
DIY aesthetic, meme-tinged electronic music excellence
Pusha T - It's Almost Dry
Great production from Pharrell Williams and Hatsune Miku
Jack Gardiner & Owane - Guardian Spirits of the Quantum Multiverse
Guitar music needs to be more self-aware, and I think this is a good first step.
Stromae - Multitude
Any attempt to verbally describe this album is to limit what it actually is, and to do it injustice.
BROCKHAMPTON - The Family
A one-man eulogy for the greatest boyband of all time.