Thursday 15 December 2022

The Top 50 Albums of 2022

The Top 50 Albums of 2022
Hey! Look at me! Everyone, look at me! *does a cartwheel*

Guess how many years I've been writing these Top 50 Album articles? Guess! If you guessed "thirteen", you are correct. Congrats to your life! Normally this is the part where I complain about how stressful these posts are and how imposter syndrome prods my armpit, laughing at my self-imposed authority, calling me names I dare not repeat. But weirdly, not this year! Everything oozed into place like melted cheese, which I slapped upon a toastie and, ta-dah, done! Oh yes, I am the authority! I remember. I don't eat cheese, though.

That considered, 2022 was... alright. I swallowed up 426 releases since January, and while there were plenty of top-performers in their particular genres, I'm not sure there is much that will go down in history for steering the world into higher realms of creative articulation. And even those who licked the ceiling were generally veterans of the art, conquering the landscape with their reliable proficiencies above any newcomer smashing the scene with something fresh. But if 2022 is anything, it's the year of strong pop, especially in the dreamy arty dialogue, and usually with a female voice upfront.

Introduction ends. I've used all my good words below, so we should get to it. Just know that I compiled this list with everyone in mind, so you will find music you love or your money back. I recognise you have your choices on internet clicks, and I am grateful you chose to be here right now. These are this year's most memorable albums, according to your pal, Jared.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 50. The Linda Lindas - Growing Up

50. The Linda Lindas - Growing Up

Pop Punk
8 April 2022

When the instant classic anti-prejudice anthem, Racist, Sexist Boy, went viral, The all-female under-18 four-piece Linda Lindas quickly rose as the poster kids for online liberals. It was a complete gimmick on paper, sure, but everyone from Rage Against the Machine to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Sonic Youth were happy to share the joy. Then the album dropped. And what did we learn? We learned that novelty labels were great for mainstream attention, but their overshadowing age and progressive ideals were, in actuality, unfair distractions. Because these ladies were the real pop-punk deal. Within a compact runtime, their self-titled debut presented itself as competent and catchy, demanding a fun time with a serious message laid beneath, spoken loudly by the exact generation we need to be listening to.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022:49. Stabscotch - Prison Jar

49. Stabscotch - Prison Jar

Experimental Avant-Prog Noise Rock
21 June 2022

This is gonna hurt! Stabscotch, hey. Not like other bands. While some groups may flirt with craziness or even attempt to fabricate insanity for underground credibility, this outfit goes full lunatic without compromise. But what you'd imagine to warp into an unlistenable excessive of disarrayed perplexity, somehow manages to splatter the scene with enough catchy colour to still be somewhat... enjoyable? I don't know if that's the right word. Whatever. It's probably their best work.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 48. iANO - Life Cycles

48. iANO - Life Cycles

Electronic Art Pop
15 April 2022

When Life Cycles starts cycling, it's easy to feel comfortable within its mellow atmosphere, allowing the music to zone out and swirl freely into the ambience of space. But be careful when your ears are turned, for this album may slide away from you, and by the time you repay it any attention, it will reintroduce itself carrying far more complex emotions than you signed up for. This leaves us with something undeniably special in no obvious way, as iANO covertly flows around genre norms and skims the surface of obscure pleasantries. Such a feat makes for a complex piece to review, the adjectives slipping through the slits in my mind the moment the record ends. So I'll leave you to finish up in your own words: ___________________

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 47. Prince Daddy & The Hyena - Prince Daddy & The Hyena

47. Prince Daddy & The Hyena - Prince Daddy & The Hyena

Power Emo-Pop
15 April 2022

Without breaking the walls of the poppy punky vein, Prince Daddy & The Hyena achieve a fantastic job of bouncing around the genre's styles to cover every basic emotion allowed. Their rebellious energy swims headstrong through each track, publicly fighting their demons with sharp hooks that are so expertly crafted that even the listener's misery doesn't stand a chance. So, if you enjoy angry emo that cheers you up, here is 2022's best album you've never heard of.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 46. Diamanda Galás - Broken Gargoyles

46. Diamanda Galás - Broken Gargoyles

26 August 2022

Here comes another one of those "is it music, though?" types of deals. Surely it is. What isn't? Although this may be closer to a witchy ritual summoning animalistic demons. More of an experience, really, where a torturous ordeal is set over two lengthy disturbing songs, droning into darkness while German words screech out stuff I don't care to understand. But within its atmospheric terror, it has built a hut to call its own where no 2022 competitors can go. Hence I invited Diamanda along. It's the type of trauma I'm into, to be fair. Crazy to think I've just found out about her too, being she's a 67-year-old artist with nine albums under her robe. Oooh, I feel an obsession spell coming on, working backwards through time. If you never hear from me again, you'll know why.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 45. CMAT - If My Wife New I’d Be Dead

45. CMAT - If My Wife New I’d Be Dead

Alt-Country Indie Pop
25 February 2022

Ignoring the indefensible title, my biggest issue with If My Wife New I'd Be Dead is that it comes out swinging with some of the best country songs of 2022 but then can't quuuuite sustain the magic. That classic front-loading technique ultimately sabotages the record by setting the impossible follow-up of tracks, and, no surprises, it sags during the midsection. But please don't note me wrong! It remains an enjoyable listen throughout! And every spin exposes treasures missed previously! But, damnit, if the tunes were as satisfactory as those first ones… then what? Country album of the decade? THE CENTURY? Who is to say. It's the country album of the year, regardless. 2022 was a dud one for country, but still.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 44. Elvis Costello & The Imposters - The Boy Named If

44. Elvis Costello & The Imposters - The Boy Named If

Power Pop Rock
14 January 2022

I would never have thought Elvis Costello had another album in him remarkable enough for my precious top 50. But what's this? How could such a thing be possible? A 67-year-old man? Still singing in the way we love? His voice not ageing a day? His inspiration refusing to wane, maintaining eternal relevance? Proving what we already knew? Elvis Costello's music is timeless? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. As for how, it's because The Boy Named If sounds like another Costello classic by doing what he does best: rocking out with a scent of weirdness yet never leaning too far in any which direction. And, hey, if it sounds like a Costello classic, that means it must be!

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 43. Sudan Archives - Natural Brown Prom Queen

43. Sudan Archives - Natural Brown Prom Queen

Alternative R&B
9 September 2022

It's humbling when you loathe an album upon first listen, and then it rapidly rises as one of your year's greatest. I was quick to label Natural Brown Prom Queen as a missed-mark affair, where the themes were cringy and the production was awkwardly mismatched. In fairness to me and everyone else, however, the initial mix submitted to Spotify was reportedly the incorrect version, meaning my subsequent experiences bounded forward thanks to that technical correction. And every spin since then has rubbed harder against the g-spot between my flaps of playful R&B and weirder artsy experimentation, getting me off and up and away. It might be an overly-long product that appears to have put the commercial world to sleep, but it offers a fuckload of bang for our time; hence so many critical end-of-year lists are gifting it the gushy love it deserves. Mine too!

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 42. Carly Rae Jepsen - The Loneliest Time

42. Carly Rae Jepsen - The Loneliest Time

21 October 2022

I'd like to start this review by talking about Taylor Swift. Her 2022 record Midnights was released on the same day as The Loneliest Time and everyone proceeded to have a meltdown, Tay-Tay smashing streaming records and earning her 11th number-one. But do you see Swift on this list? No. So I'm here to sing praise for the unfairly disregarded Queen of October 21st, Carly Rae Jepsen. Her music forever brings that Friday energy to any day of the week, employing infectious hooks to blast rays of sunshine into everyone's life; hence the Rae in her name. But her party always has heart, Carly's discography essentially a collection of bright love songs, and in turn, I love her. But most noteworthy is her ability to transcend coolness, where even metalheads appear to give her a pass, and I know why. It's because her albums are calculated journeys riddled with easy stick tunes to pull you in, but these candy gems are surrounded by sneakier audio timebombs that trigger only after repeated listens, exploding at later stages, ensuring that when you're finally well acquainted with the totality of the album, every song has snagged you and holds you dearly. It's a smart technique that applies to each of her outputs, and we must recognise the consistent quality that is everything she's ever done. Meanwhile, Midnights is (dare I say it?) overrated as fuck, so I had to use this platform to release my tension. Thank you for allowing me this safe space.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 41. Real Lies - Lad Ash

41. Real Lies - Lad Ash

Downtempo Deep House
22 April 2022

Talk about nostalgia-pandering. The early 90s British club scene runs so strong through this album that the ecstasy crystals snapped off my spine, initiating a waft of chemical euphoria followed by a vulnerable sadness of days long gone. Still, a little flashback is what we need sometimes, and Real Lies revives this ambient house style with such competence that I remembered this record before it was made. It deserves this spot because there is nothing else on the list like it.

Janthopoyism: Your New Religion

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 40. Aldous Harding - Warm Chris

40. Aldous Harding - Warm Chris

Contemporary Chamber Folk Pop
25 March 2022

Just doing my part to amplify an overlooked and underrated gem in Aldous Harding’s catalogue. As per always, her bouncy mood is subdued beneath her minimalist hush, calming the world into a frictionless journey which is still super weird when you inspect it up close. Here is easily the soundtrack to your favourite days.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 39. DITZ - The Great Regression

39. DITZ - The Great Regression

Post-Punk Noise Rock
4 March 2022

Considering Post-Punky Noise Rock is a saturated scene drowning in their own choices, it's a relief when a band cannonballs the party, still thirsty for a taste. DITZ does that by slightly skewing the raw genre standards then flaring them up with production tricks and despondent observations, keeping The Great Regression's ambitions afloat for its duration. And there is something too cool about it. Something that suits my dark tastes exactly, slurp that shit right up, yum yum yum.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 38. Palm - Nicks and Grazes

38. Palm - Nicks and Grazes

Experimental Neo-Psychedelia Math Pop Rock
14 October 2022

Palm are a premium example of a band locating the ever-elusive balance between talent and a complete meltdown. Like an island holiday on very clean acid, it's wonky pop of the most engaging order, dolloping a generous share of calculated chaos upon a detailed delivery of precise mess. If it helps, think Animal Collective, except remember that Animal Collective also released an album this year—a good one at that! But it's not this good. And that is why I propose we start referring to Nicks and Grazes as the benchmark for all Neo-Psychedelia moving forward.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 37. Scarcity - Aveilut

37. Scarcity - Aveilut

Atmospheric Avant-Garde Black Metal
15 July 2022

What feels akin to a 45-minute album of pure build-up, this dense fog of death never stops growing, a constant expansion of repetitive drone until it climaxes into a full brutal murder. Your murder! Metal itself has had a less-than-inspiring year from my standpoint, but as long as bands like Scarcity hold the fort, we shall march forward victorious!

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 36. DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ - Bewitched!

36. DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ - Bewitched!

30 August 2022

If you're struggling with those dopamine flows, slap on DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ and get on with your life. It's guaranteed to uplift your euphoria with joyously mashed (surprisingly sugar-free) vocal samples, summoning those same vibes you might experience when driving on the way to the party. In fact, my only complaint about Bewitched! is that it's too freaking long! One and a half hours with 8-10 minute songs is a ballsy move and a lot to ask for, especially in the House genre, which can famously overstay its welcome. Whether that happens or not will depend on personal taste, but from my perspective, it's impressive how annoying it should be, but isn't. We're here, aren't we?

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 35. Perfume Genius - Ugly Season

35. Perfume Genius - Ugly Season

Experimental Modern Classical Art Pop
17 June 2022

Talk about a grower, Ugly Season is not the Perfume Genius you remember. Gone are his characteristic instant stick quirks and excitingly eccentric pop madness, replaced by a sombre ambience and abstract classical motions. It's a risky departure, one you're not going to be immediately comfortable with, but Perfume Genius has done his time and has earned however many listens it takes to understand his artistic decisions. And when it clicks, it's a wandering wonderment of sensual abundance, a True Artist Album comparable to an epic drama Oscar bait film. It's probably a drag to sit through live, though.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 34. Marina Herlop - Pripyat

34. Marina Herlop - Pripyat

Avant-Glitch Pop Folk
20 May 2022

Do you see that album cover? That's precisely what this record sounds like. Are you wondering how that is possible? Because I am wondering how that is possible. Maybe because the vocals are organic like a snail, but then the electronics have completely mutated the nature of the thing, and now it's all fucked? Or maybe because there is something so fresh about this modern take of folky-tronica, and the slime from snails is fresh too? But it's also perked and plucky, giving me the jitters even if it's kinda cute, which is my feelings about snails exactly. I have no idea what I'm saying anymore, so I'll fall back into the lazy reviewer technique. FOR FANS OF: Holly Herndon, Aurora, Fever Ray, and (most notably) Björk's work with Arca.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 33. Lizzy McAlpine - Five Seconds Flat

33. Lizzy McAlpine - Five Seconds Flat

Indie Folk Pop
8 April 2022

Heartbreak art will perpetually stand as the most untouchable inspirational tool because it’s a pain so profound that the words falling from your mouth will not be ones you can uncover otherwise. Lizzy has felt love and heartbreak. She understands it’s not all screams and drama. It’s often an undercurrent of misery, a softness of yearning, an almost warmth in the melancholy that you are afraid to leave. If you know, you know. Once you’ve been there, you’ve always been there, and it takes but a slight nudge to recall the absolute devastation you endured. It fucks me up, and now I’m sad again.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 32. Pan Daijing - Tissues

32. Pan Daijing - Tissues

Experimental Post-Industrial Opera
21 January 2022

Every year needs records that are so original that the necessity of their recognition amplifies. When no one is in your league, there are no competing adversaries, and you flatten the land by default. Tissues is my proposal for 2022's weirdo, taking the traditional opera genre and then modernising it using techniques usually found in horror films. It's creepy yet pleasant in its unpleasantries, and despite its repetitiveness and lack of high energy, it is never dull as it entices us to follow the sound into the darkness. An hour-long single song is a complex request in today's ADHD world, but once you surrender to Pan Daijing's unorthodox ambience, you'll realise there could be no other way.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 31. Melody's Echo Chamber - Emotional Eternal

31. Melody's Echo Chamber - Emotional Eternal

Neo-Psychedelia Dream Pop
29 April 2022

Gorgeously written pop songs aside, it's the hushed vocals of Melody Prochet that pushes this record beyond your standard dreamy psychedelia affair. Her whispered deliveries flow through the boppy compositions like a breeze, bringing a peacefulness without sacrificing any of her classy Frenchie style, which is an artistic execution so many get wrong. Moreover, my memory adores this album, constantly bugging me to put it on as if I don't already have a schedule. Fine, here you go, brain!

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 30. Yeule - Glitch Princess

30. Yeule - Glitch Princess

Glitch Art Pop
4 February 2022

Always a thrill when someone who is candidly mentally damaged turns their disorders into ambient pop music! So much self-loathing and existential anxiety repackaged as a cutsie gift from the future is something I can't precisely define but can never forget, like a leap from a tall building onto a soft pillow filled with knives. It’s 100% where I’m at in my life. But I refuse to listen to that 4h44m closing track, sorry.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 29. Madison Cunningham - Revealer

29. Madison Cunningham - Revealer

Indie Art Rock
9 September 2022

Swiped right on Art Rock, and Madison Cunningham was the perfect match. Track after track, she flexes a superior understanding of the songwriting craft, simplifying the meal by shedding the need for garnishing and, instead, adding just a pinch of tasteful melancholy, letting the talent keep it warm. Nice to be so good at what you do, eh? As for me, I felt obliged to do my part to encourage more people to hear this otherwise ignored record, so here that is.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 28. Dry Cleaning - Stumpwork

28. Dry Cleaning - Stumpwork

Post-Punk Indie Rock
21 October 2022

Dry Cleaning are so unique yet so specifically one-trick that I figured the joke was accomplished with their debut, and anything else would be a sad devolution of surprise-less futility. But if there were any concerns, Dry Cleaning were the last to notice, strolling through the impossible follow-up while doing the exact same thing as they did before, proving that there is still a gaping hole for jangly guitar work and a lady rambling absurdities to herself in deadpan monotone. Is she a crazy person? Or perhaps a poetic genius? Either way, Florence is the real deal, and I want to know her personally. I love them for every reason, and I cannot fault a move they've made (if they've even made a move whatsoever).

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 27. Weyes Blood - And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow

27. Weyes Blood - And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow

Baroque Pop
18 November 2022

Weyes Blood's 2019's offering, Titanic Rising, was an utter masterpiece, a genuine instant classic, remaining one of the most outstanding records released in my lifetime. So, for those with a similar superior pallet, I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news is that this album is Titanic Rising the sequel: Titanic Rises Again. Which was what we wanted, right? Why mess with perfection? Hence the identical adjectives apply. Glowing. Ethereal. Pure magic. But don't forget the bad news. It's that with such a faithful continuation, a certain degree of familiarity dampens the Titanic WOW factor, still unimaginably beautiful, but not the same plummet into aquatic dreamland we once felt. To be blunt, it doesn't floor me, and it almost bores me. But it's nevertheless incredible! Better than anyone else in her vein! And I'm embarrassingly aware that I stand alone here!!

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 26. Danger Mouse & Black Thought - Cheat Codes

26. Danger Mouse & Black Thought - Cheat Codes

Conscious East Coast Hip Hop
12 August 2022

All the love to The Roots' Black Thought, but Danger Mouse's production outshines the project. Like a carpenter, he calculates his every stroke to cleanly carve out flawless creations that are never dependent on luck, just a perfect craft presented time and time again. And if you build something this shiny and then stamp it with these two names, the people will come. And who came is a feat unto itself, the guestlist including the biggest of the big, such as Raekwon, Joey Bada$$, Michael Kiwanuka, A$AP Rocky, Run the Jewels, and even another posthumous contribution from the eternal MF DOOM. When we talk of expert hip hop, here it is. And the Gods of Rap know that 2022 was desperate for it.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 25. FKA Twigs - Caprisongs

25. FKA Twigs - Caprisongs

Alternative R&B
14 January 2022

FKA Twigs has a knack for impressing me, confirmed when her first two albums sliced into my top 50s with this mixtape effortlessly completing a threebie straight run. But this is not to say her releases are repeats or even comparable! As each are only similar in their high-shelf quality and FKA’s pedantic attention to detail. With Caprisongs, we hear an artist normalising her approach with less desperation to stand out as something strange, instead confident to click into a more established R&B groove—and it suits her perfectly. Admittedly, the overall theme of relationship reflections does tire my cringe, but it serves a functional purpose: to tie together an otherwise positive self-celebration that still goes out of its way to ensure everyone at the party is having a good time. And I am! Cheers for the invite into your personal thoughts FKA. It’s the deepest we’ve met yet!

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 24. Billy Woods - Aethiopes

24. Billy Woods - Aethiopes

Experimental Abstract East Coast Hip Hop
8 April 2022

Here comes my annual hipster moment, but I was (probably) pumping Billy Woods before you. It was ten years ago in 2012 when I placed his record History Will Absolve Me on that Top 50, and I've followed him with a microscope ever since. There have been plenty of highlights along the way, but Aethiopes feels like the perfect crash course for everything that makes Billy so unique. It's partially his signature laidback rhymes that impress the masses. It's also partially his choice of simplistic jazzy music that meanders across melodies rather than relying on punchy beats. But more than that, it's about his artistic integrity. Flashy pop production or scoring a hit song with an R&B hook means nothing to this guy! His love is a dedication to hip hop so old school that it's dusty, and I'm getting old now myself, which is why I hold this offering close to my heart as I yell to the sky, "modern hip hop sounds so uninspired!".

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 23. Rosalía - Motomami

23. Rosalía - Motomami

Neoperreo Art Pop
18 March 2022

Rosalía exploded across the globe with 2018's El Mal Querer, easily one of the best releases from the entire previous decade. Such an achievement surely summoned the pressure to beat the unbeatable, and it was a thrill to watch how Rosalía expertly tackled the challenge: by confidently spreading her wings into wider styles, switching up her flavour, and hitting the party way harder than before. In doing so, she successfully stared all expectations down and presented herself as a star with her eyes on further ground to conquer. And while I'm doubtful there will be many who place this record above the epicness of her forenamed work, I can't imagine too much disappointment with such a powerful feminine celebration either, particularly when it's this fucking exciting.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 22. 稲葉曇 [inabakumori] - ウェザーステーション (Weather Station)

22. 稲葉曇 [inabakumori] - ウェザーステーション (Weather Station)

J-Pop Rock
23 March 2022

One horrid thing that developed in 2022 was my fear of robots dominating human creativity. The deep fakes and AI-generated imagery challenge our visual imaginations, but these practices have also extended into the audio world for some time. For example, Vocaloid synthesisers have transformed text into singing voices since 2004, allowing grown men to pretend to be little girls without leaving their rooms. Creepy! And cute! Incidentally, creepy and cute is the perfect vibe for J-pop, and Inabakumori exploits this to the max. Because what J-whatever does better than any western genre is hiding weird subtleties in their production, and Weather Station has an endless number of tricks just like that. Meanwhile, what J-whatever does worse than any other genre is not being annoying, but Weather Station is hardly annoying at all! In fact, this is potentially the best record in the J-pop vein for over a decade, even if I see the beginning of the end within its programming.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 21. Wet Leg - Wet Leg

21. Wet Leg - Wet Leg

Indie Rock
8 April 2022

The tsunami hype preceding this band was so daunting that I was willing to bet money their debut would be a single-driven affair toppled by filler. But in some rare twist of promotional prophecy, this bouncy album is a solid ride that is very difficult to hate, thanks to instant sticks for first-timers and growers for repeated visitations. What's more, it indicates there's still space on the market for simplistic indie catchiness as long as the sexualised lyrical content can keep mustering those little chuckles. The name Wet Leg is too funny.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 20. Jenny Hval - Classic Objects

20. Jenny Hval - Classic Objects

Ambient Art Pop
11 March 2022

I'm sure I’ve written this identical review before, but here I go again: Jenny is the best. Her track record is impeccable, but what she excels at above pretty much anyone in history is transitioning from an experimental avant-garde artist into a more sophisticated pop master without accusations of commercialising. And that’s because it suits her so well that it almost appears as if a calculation from the very beginning. First, dominate the awkward underground weirdo scene but then gradually edge your way to ethereal radio-friendly sounds, taking the fans with you while sneakily grabbing extras along the way. This seamless evolution is so natural to her that nobody feels betrayed, most likely because the output preserves her flawless reputation. And the rhythmic tranquillity of Classic Objects is one of her crowning moments, which says A LOT. Like, A LOT A LOT.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 19. Gilla Band - Most Normal

19. Gilla Band - Most Normal

Experimental Industrial No Wave Noise Rock
7 October 2022

Girl Band changed to Gilla Band in 2021 as they considered it a "misgendered name" that could have been "propagating a culture of non-inclusivity". Of course, the anti-woke clan hate that type of leftie stuff, but don't misinterpret the shift as the group going soft. Because they've punched the chaos way the fuck up! Indeed, Most Normal is anything but "normal", and is instead a rather noisy affair. So much noise! But not unnecessary noise. Noise directed somewhere, like an unstoppable runaway train or a stick fashioned into a weapon boasting a small dab of demented poison on the tip. It's their third and best record, which is hardly ever the case and an exciting premise for future things.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 18. Mitski - Laurel Hell

18. Mitski - Laurel Hell

New Wave Art Synthpop
4 February 2022

Give me Mitski or give me death! Confession time: while I was never shy to shower the lady with accolades (her previous two records hit my and everyone's top 50s), it was only in 2022 that some mental wall shattered, and I intensely connected with the genius that she is. I clicked that her work is not about what you hear, but what you aren't hearing, as if she's framing something beneath our ears that we do not have the deeper perception to grasp. It's a subtle art that explodes silently within hidden reservations, and I can solely compare it to that feeling just as you are on the brink of crying but haven't burst yet and never quite get there. It takes a lot of confidence as a songwriter to pummel the audience without using bright flashes or dramatic punches, so if the general public sadly misunderstands Laurel Hell, that's their problem. I think it's as good as anything she's done. She was officially my favourite artist of the year (thanks, Spotify Wrapped), and I am embarrassed it took me so long.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 17. Kilo Kish - American Gurl

17. Kilo Kish - American Gurl

25 March 2022

Based on the cover, the title, the labelled genre, and the opening tracks, you’d be forgiven for assuming you’ve worked American Gurl out within minutes. So you zone out, and when you wake up, you wonder if you’re even listening to the same album. Without falling into the messy trap of hybrid incohesiveness, Kilo Kish’s sophomore uses gradual stylistic shifts to introduce darker and quirkier elements that are far from where we started yet not jarring enough for us to remember quite when we changed rails. Furthermore, it’s a concept record about American consumerism, just in case her ambitious intellect wasn’t clear already.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 16. The Callous Daoboys - Celebrity Therapist

16. The Callous Daoboys - Celebrity Therapist

2 September 2022

I guess with Dillinger gone, this is the best we've got? And, tbh, maybe it's a good thing? Because Celebrity Therapist SLAPS all the smarty-pants metal criteria, with hilarious lyrical content and heavy-as-fuck technical music that explodes with inventive tricks, every moment a new sneak attack. But most importantly, it does not take itself seriously, even the emotional melodic parts regularly interrupted with an HVHUqwrKF564agsYGKUsdgsbFYKUF, proving they are simply hellbent on throwing absolutely fucking everything at this album. It's a very satisfactory experience, and for what it's trying to do, it is 100% spot on.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 15. Beabadoobee - Beatopia

15. Beabadoobee - Beatopia

Alternative Indie Pop Rock
15 July 2022

The only thing better than Beabadoobee's debut is her sophomore. By maturing her skillset, she rose as 2022's Queen of Euphoric Pop for Sad People, playing with light aesthetics without escaping a tragically broken-hearted undertone. It's meeting us on our low level, then healing us with prods upwards, showing us how to be depressed and cute simultaneously. Yeah, but it's all fun and games until I trauma bond with her because now I am crushing soooo hard.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 14. The Smile - A Light for Attracting Attention

14. The Smile - A Light for Attracting Attention

Art Rock
13 May 2022

Try and find a review for The Smile that doesn't mention Radiohead. Impossible. Let's count how many times I say Radiohead in this piece. Why? Because here are the most talented members of Radiohead doing what they do better than anyone, or perhaps even better than that? The freedom away from a name as pedantically clean and critically weighty as Radiohead wipes the playing field, allowing them to shed the artsy pressures and have fun in a messier, rockier groove. And this delightful relief leaks to the listener, where we have a Radiohead album that's not a Radiohead album yet fills the gaps that the general Radiohead album lays bare; such as a raw edginess that loosens the noose of indulgences. People label it "the best record yet by a Radiohead side project", which is undeniable but also unfair. Because when it's good, it's Radiohead good, and when it's not, it's The Smile good. Hence I wish it never existed. I shudder at what it means for Radiohead's future. But the fact that I just said Radiohead 11 times highlights that we are still focusing in the right direction.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 13. Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

13. Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

Slowcore Dream Pop
12 May 2022

We're all for those lowkey vibes in our modern era, and Preacher's Daughter subtly destroys me. Ethel Cain cherrypicks styles from the most haunted of trees, plucking notes from every melancholic female-fronted project from the last decade then planting it as her own, her voice rising through the dark clearings between the gorgeously spacious production. An hour and 15 minutes of Slowcore could kill just about anyone, but each song pivots the album away from any front-loading, taking its time to warm up until it finally does, and it's so fucking cold. I have never felt such gratitude for a recording to be this long. I'd like her to go on forever, if possible.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 12. Soul Glo - Diaspora Problems

12. Soul Glo - Diaspora Problems

Hardcore Punk
25 March 2022

Allow Soul Glo to illustrate how to write the best hardcore punk album the world has heard in years. First, you need to muster your highest energy and then charge with it, never losing any steam from beginning to end. Secondly, you must wear a whole load of fancy tricks on your sleeve, including completely altering your style, at times in the middle of the song, and at other times, shifting into rap verses which somehow works(???). And finally, keep shouting and keep it raw, but never ever take the fight seriously. Because when hardcore punk takes the fight seriously, it becomes a parody. Thankfully, Soul Glo are not a parody. Or maybe they are, but they're aware of it? Or maybe not. Either way, I love it, obviously.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 11. Just Mustard - Heart Under

11. Just Mustard - Heart Under

Post-Punk Noise Rock Shoegaze
27 May 2022

Fuck yeah, Just Mustard! That industrial darkness with noisy lofi textures is exactly where post punk deserves to be today, but when Katie Ball's voice gently slices through those rhythms? Well, then we transcend into surreal realms of utter hypnoses. At the same time, it provokes mad anxiety in me, and I'm always relieved when it's over. Even that is a compliment.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 10. Björk - Fossora

10. Björk - Fossora

Post-Industrial Electronic Art Pop
30 September 2022

Björk albums are an event. She's so authentic, it makes you realise how unauthentic everyone else is. A true artist, she's such a painstaking audio perfectionist that even her worser albums are better crafted than anything ever. Her flawless track record is owed wholly to her uncanny knack of capturing a cohesive vibe per release, never repeating herself and presenting each output like a creature with a distinct personality. Noting that, Fossora is perhaps her most direct evolution from previous offerings, deepening the dainty magical winds of 2017's Utopia whilst reintroducing certain loud electronics easiest found on 2011's Biophilia. I am ecstatic about this decision, for Utopia didn't quite land for me, and this do-over is a far more progressive exploration into that lush organic world she built before, now perfecting the dampness for her awkward spores to grow. As with any decent Björk project, you can't rush your understanding, but it's within this non-stickiness that it thrives, and no matter how many listens you offer, you can always hear there is some depth to go. To conclude, here is another one of her best records in a discography of at least six best records and zero bad ones. It's beyond comprehension that a four-plus decade career is still producing work this ahead of everyone, and y'all should be ashamed of yourselves.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 9. Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

9. Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Conscious West Coast Hip Hop
13 May 2022

All hail the mighty Kendrick! Is there another modern artist who redefined and conquered their respective genre as quickly and as loudly as Lamar did? Boasting more classics under his belt than what's fair, it's a difficult matter when something new comes around, diving towards a bar nobody else has even touched yet, now burdened with an additional 70 million eyes upon him. I've written extensively about how DAMN. was a tumble for me, and I met great resistance in doing so, but I have acquired a fresh weapon: Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. For while DAMN. shamelessly dabbled in commercial trap pops, Mr. Morale experiments with jazzy soul sophistications. And while DAMN. was a collection of well-defined compositions, Mr. Morale contains what makes Kendrick albums superior: an underlying cohesive essence tap-dancing through every song, suggesting ideas that extend beyond the album itself. Maybe it isn't quite the peak he reached with m.A.A.d city or Butterfly, hindered by a midsection bloat of erratic quality, but snip snip a few songs, and it'd be snap snapping at the masterpieces. Plus, where it falters, it rebalances as Kendrick's most introspective, vulnerable, and emotionally in-tune offering yet. He remains the king.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 8. Alvvays - Blue Rev

8. Alvvays - Blue Rev

Indie Shoegaze Noise Pop
7 October 2022

The shoegazy indie pop thing is so common that it can be tricky to get it right, let alone rise above the ocean. But Alvvays! Oh, Alvvays, with their jangle angle washed over with puppy love! They initiate the sweetest dream sequence, not only here on Blue Rev, but on. Every. Single. One. of their three albums. So much so, that it's challenging to determine which is their best? This one? I'm unsure, but I do know that when I'm swimming in their world, I can't think of anything nicer.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 7. Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B

7. Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B

Art Glitch Pop
9 September 2022

Jockstrap's eclectic amalgamation of pop glitchiness and folky principles combine so well that I am furious I didn't think of it first. From the opener to the closer, my attention is transfixed by a group who understands that modern retroness is not an oxymoron and instead is an opportunity to flex their creative chops while teetering over the edge of artsy indulgence, never falling in. And yes, just like the name Jockstrap suggests, there is a subtle element of self-aware humour here, yet the music is far more stylish and invigorating than anything that's touched my groin area in a long time.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 6. black midi - Hellfire

6. black midi - Hellfire

Brutal Avant-Prog
15 July 2022

black midi are the what's-hot group of the decade gone. Three albums in, and their evolution only continues to elevate the insanity to manic decks of what-the-fuckery. Yet, despite their previous two records reaching my top 20 of respective years, this third shot might be remembered as their most outstanding achievement. So what is their seemingly foolproof method for success? It's easy to analyse but impossible to replicate. For you see, many bands try their hardest to sound crazy, but it feels like black midi are trying their best to suppress their lunacy, shoving it beneath jazzy traditions until it bursts upwards for a few brief moments at a time, then buried once again. It's funny! But also terrifying. Except the last ones who appear to realise this is black midi themselves. And that's how you describe a band who could alter the history books.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 5. Chat Pile - God's Country

5. Chat Pile - God's Country

Sludge Noise Rock Metal
July 29, 2022

When Daughters demolished the noise rock scene in 2018 with You Won't Get What You Want, bands have scrambled to rub fingers into its ash ever since. It's sad, really, watching so many fail to reach the impossible standard every time, but now... there's this. Chat Pile. God's Country. And suddenly, Daughters feel like a distant memory. The pure amount of suffocating nihilism and self-hatred force-fed into us from this record is highly concerning. Does vocalist Raygun Busch have any friends reading this article? Could you please check up on him? Regardless, the only reason why this isn't my Album of the Year is simply because I didn't want it to be.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 4. Beyoncé - Renaissance

4. Beyoncé - Renaissance

Contemporary R&B Dance-Pop House
29 July 2022

What is left to say about Beyoncé at this point? I have a lot to say, actually. My worship is public knowledge. I wrote an entire book detailing the previous decade's top 250 records, and her self-titled was Number Fucking One. Some of us just know. And if you've been paying attention to the landscape, you would have noticed more listeners are crossing over to our side. Even those who argued with us before. Even those from the darkest of contradictory genres. And now we have Renaissance, which is, oh my god. It's an album that the scholars should study for generations under the heading "Exactly What Needs to Happen When Someone Has Artistic Integrity and an Infinite Budget". She's hired the right people and pushed them to work to an impossible criterion where not a turn is ordinary or predictable, where the clubby vibe is effortless yet meticulously spotless, and where the production is... the greatest production I've ever heard in my life. Lady is feeling herself, and so she should be. I cannot fault a second of it. I refuse to state this is her best release, but I will write this sentence and leave it at that.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 3. Hatchie - Giving the World Away

3. Hatchie - Giving the World Away

Alternative Baggy Dance Dream Pop
22 April 2022

I know what you're going to ask! Where does one turn if they crave the 90's pop of, say, All Saints, churned together with the ethereal dreaminess of, perhaps, Cocteau Twins? Ask no more, people! For Hatchie has gifted us a once-in-a-lifetime record that is an absolute instant classic to my ears. The nostalgia is in high-def thanks to POW modern production so deliciously saturated in gleeful atmospheres that it almost steals the show. But it's the songwriting that dislocates my jaw, not only never placing a foot wrong but also sidestepping all expectations, getting better each spin and building a fucking empire in my memory. There is no 2022 album I adore as highly as this release, and I have lost faith in everyone else who has neglected to speak the same. What's more, she's an Aussie. Oh, of course she is. Every impressive new artist is from Australia these days.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 2. Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There

2. Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There

Post-Art Rock Chamber Pop
4 February 2022

Black Country, New Road's 2021 debut album, For the First Time, broke me as the coolest Slint since Slint, and it ground every other record into powder, effortlessly perched at the top of that list. Fast forward another 365 (minus one) days, and they stayed true to their promise by releasing their sophomore on the anniversary of that release. However, what should have been a celebration became a modern-day musical tragedy. Four days before Ants from Up There landed, lead vocalist/guitarist Isaac Wood quit due to mental health issues. Of course, I don't know what one has to go through to abandon a project that was soaring at a peak while escalating, but whatever the story, I took it personally. Isaac can't leave. He can't do this to me. Black Country, New Road were on the verge of godliness. They were the best band in the world for, like, one year, and now it's all ruined. Sure, the group is continuing, and as we noted earlier, violinist Georgia Ellery's Jockstrap is owning it, so there is hope for some legendary status to cement still. Perhaps the outfit will be remembered as a launching pad for many talents to grow into branches from this original trunk. But I doubt Black Country, New Road itself will reach its potential or regain what they captured on their two-piece discography. Not without Isaac. I guess we have what we have. And what we have is absolute perfection. Immaculate masterpieces. Two of the most instrumentally talented post-rock records ever produced. What I would assume to be the majority of publications' go-to choice for album of the year. But Isaac, why.

The Top 50 Albums of 2022: 2. Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There

1. death's dynamic shroud - Darklife

Glitch Vapor Art Pop
23 September 2022

Darklife could not exist before this moment, and it's even debatable what it's doing in our current age whatsoever. Here is what happens when you update the retro program so many times that you accidentally get sucked into the future, where even the human elements are synthesised to appear real. It is the aesthetic of excess; every song stretched to the limitation of what might reasonably qualify as pop, while each step of its production sounds deliberate as it is shined to perfection. Who knew the old thing could be a brand new thing? At least we know now, as these are the coolest songs I've ever heard in my life. It's a struggle to articulate something I hardly comprehend, but if I failed, hopefully this does a better job: it is my Album of the Year, 2022.

Honourable Mentions

Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You (I even roughed up a review for this one)
brakence - hypochondriac
Nas King's - Disease III
Natalia Lafourcade - De todas las flores
Alex G - God Save the Animals
Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler - For All Our Days That Tear the Heart
Dark Funeral - We Are the Apocalypse
Aeviterne - The Ailing Facade
Foxes - The Kick
Silvana Estrada - Marchita