Top 10 Albums of 2022

Naturally, I have a few albums from 2022 that I could talk about at nauseam, despite trying to keep things concise here. These are my favourite ten which was extremely hard to narrow down with so many good records released this year. Hope you enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: Since this is a blog on my professional portfolio, I have utilized a few modified covers to ensure the content on this page is appropriate for all and doesn’t violate any content regulations. Please be aware that some of these artists’ visual expressions may be more graphic than what is shown here.

10. AMERICAN GURL – Kilo Kish

Photo taken from Genius

I grew up on pop music and, naturally, still enjoy it a great deal. While still a somewhat below-the-radar pick, AMERICAN GURL sounds radio ready while presenting musings about the dystopian nature of our increasingly tech-oriented society. This 8-bit arcade-themed concept album packs a huge punch and showcases Kish’s undeniable pop sensibilities which signals a promising future for her. I can’t wait to see what she does next!

9. Motomami – Rosalia

Modified photo taken from Music Mundial

The in-your-face experimentalism of Motomami made it Metacritic’s highest rated album of the year, and for good measure. The record projects a futurism that is rarely heard in the music, never mind by an artist as big as Rosalia. When listening to Motomami, you feel privy to an audience with the music of tomorrow, each seismic shift in tone and direction opening a sonic world of vast possibilities. This was such a huge snub for Album of the Year at the Grammys.

8. Baptized Imagination – Kings Kaleidoscope

Photo taken from Genius

This is definitely more of a personal pick. Kings Kaleidoscope’s music has soundtracked a lot of my adolescence and it always feels like they know how to articulate where I’m at better than I can. When Baptized Imagination was first released, I was thankful to feel out of step with a record that was full of so much pain and doubt. Perhaps it was inevitable then that the words began to feel prophetic for me in the months to come and have now occupied such a constant place in my mind throughout the Fall. Its organization is simple and beautiful, the euphoric bridge of Joy being the hinge moment of the entire album which, up until that moment has been solely occupied by negative emotion. It’s what makes Kings such an important band right now, especially in CCM. 

7. Dawn FM – The Weeknd

Photo taken from Genius

I’m not exactly sure when The Weeknd decided he would focus his efforts into high-premise concept albums but I’m completely here for it. And there is no sacrifice (haha get it??) on the music side itself either. Abel’s dance odyssey is brimming with groovy production and earworm hooks. The transitions alone are a work of art as well, making for an immersive sonic experience. There is perhaps no artist at Abel’s level that is competing with him. Hopefully the third entry in this afterlife-centric trilogy continues in the same vein of After Hours and Dawn FM.

6. CRASH – Charli XCX

Photo taken from Genius

CRASH is completely misunderstood. The album promo marked with violent, horror imagery, the title referring to the novel Cronenberg adapted into his well-known film, Charli’s desire to escape from her label and still be a “main pop girl”, each of these things lay the groundwork for her own analysis of celebrity and consumption. Perhaps the best example of this is the song “Baby” which starts out as a basic retropop song about desire before Charli gives way to psychopathic notes in her phrasing. Or the album’s closer “Twice” where Charli reckons she’s going “off the deep end” but still advises the listener to not “think twice about it”. She’s relishing in her own self-destruction and commercialization, not unlike the characters in the work she draws on. Through it all, Charli still refuses to compromise her sound in the favour of concept, delivering her biggest and slickest set of bangers yet.

5. Blue Rev – Alvvays

Photo taken from Genius

Five years after the release of their stellar 2017 album Antisocialites, Alvvays returned with a record that is truly “all killer, no filler”. They’ve harnessed the glitzy, sun-bleached sound in a way that can only be defined as nostalgic. “Velveteen”, “Easy On Your Own?”, “After the Earthquake”, and, of course, “Belinda Says” will be stuck in your head for weeks after listening (from personal experience) Not until the very end do the blistering guitars and stadium-size melodies cease, and even then its only to bid farewell until what I’m sure will be another fantastic entry in their catalogue.

4. SOS – SZA

Photo taken from Genius

A very late entry in the year and, therefore, hard to tell if this is just recency bias or if the album really is this good (I tend to lean towards the latter). After stunning us all on her breakout album CTRL, SZA returns with a vengeance on the fierce opener and the equally as ferocious and surprisingly violent “Kill Bill”. She’s letting it be known that no one is doing it like her and no one will go to the lengths she’ll go to for anything. And yet, as the record proceeds, there’s a sense that SOS truly is a cry for help as Solana strips back all the false pretences (“Nobody Gets Me”) and unpacks just how detrimental having one’s heartbroken is (“Special”). She resolves grimly to forgive and not forget (“Forgiveless”) but it’s not all downtrodden as she still finds ways to have fun amidst her own personal struggle (“F2F”). It’s album that one-ups her former work in every way imaginable and proves, even at her lowest, there is no one turning tragedy into triumph quite like SZA these days.

3. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You – Big Thief

Photo taken from Genius

There are very few artists that can release an album of this size and have it be continually engaging throughout. In 2022, Big Thief proved themselves right at home in that slim bunch. Not only that, but it’s their best record thus far. Each song feels entirely lived in, as if they were written and rewritten until they fit just right. After seeing them live, I’m convinced that Adrienne Lenker is one of the few true “rock stars” of this era. No one commands a stage like her and her talent is undeniable. The beauty that each of these songs possesses is enough to soundtrack a lifetime. And this is Big Thief’s fifth album in six years (an even bigger achievement given how long some artists take to release albums of this caliber). Continually, they’ve made the impossible seem not just possible but simple, releasing astonishing records without pausing to take a breath.

2. Being Funny in a Foreign Language – The 1975

Photo taken from Genius

The purest distillation of the 1975 sound. The choice to bring Jack Antonoff on board to focus the group’s usual mania was nothing short of genius. “Looking for Somebody (To Love)”, “Part of the Band”, “About You”, “Wintering”, and the gorgeous opener are immediately some of the best in their catalogue. Hopefully the band continue to work with a paired down approach moving forward. To think, I was and still am such a huge fan of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships and, yet, it’s hard to deny that this is their best record. The sequencing of these tracks, while safely about personal heartbreak, grow much broader too on the beautiful “Human Too”. There’s a sense that the band themselves are looking for genuine connection, something that was a major theme on Online Relationships and of their promo circuit this year. And this being their most honest and optimistic record seems to indicate that they don’t believe it’s too late to reach out.

1. Ants From Up There – Black Country, New Road

Photo taken from Genius

It seems that once a decade there’s one album that affects me so deeply that I find it hard to articulate the exact reason(s) why. So far, that’s been my experience with Ants From Up There. It’s such a deeply affecting listen from front to back. It feels like an intimate drama told in the most epic way imaginable (the last three songs occupying thirty minutes alone). And, despite its length, it never seems to drag. From my first listen, I knew I was hearing a masterwork and I wouldn’t be surprised if this tops my decade end list (if I’m even still doing these and, in which case, I’m deeply sorry for that). The dissolution of this version of Black Country, New Road is definitely a huge loss but after delivering an album this raw, open, honest, and delectable, they don’t owe listeners anything.

Thanks for reading!

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