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22 OF ’22: HOME OF (SOME OF) THE BEST ALBUMS OF THE YEAR



YEAH, IT’S BEEN A YEAR. In some ways hellish, but still, much better than 2020 and 2021, right?


After all, the plague hasn’t killed us, yet. Putin hasn’t bombed Ukraine into oblivion, yet, man-child Musk hasn’t destroyed what was left of his reputation (… well, actually). And a hell of a lot of good albums, some of them quite brilliant, were released.


What were the best? As ever, my disclaimer is this: given so many records are made, I’ve only got so many hours to listen, I can only review a fraction, and some genres I leave to the specialists to judge, this is categorically not a definitive list of 2022’s best albums.


Instead, it’s the albums I played incessantly, the albums that did what they did brilliantly, the albums I wish I had reviewed, the albums I think you should hear. Good stuff!


(Meanwhile, if you want to hear some of the songs of the year - the singles, album tracks and stray beasts which offered four, five, six or even eight minutes of pleasure, CLICK HERE TO ENJOY.)


The top shelf is the best 22 of 2022, in no particular order. But marginally below them are another 22 that could easily have taken a spot in that first batch, so I’ve offered them up as well.


And then a bonus six to give you 50 of the best things in music this year. I know, I know …you’re welcome!


Where I’ve reviewed the album you’ll find a link to my review, and to accompany your reading, or to follow it – maybe even inspire you to hit a store online or in the flesh and buy one or more of them – there’s a playlist of these albums* with 50 tracks and untold pleasures. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THAT PLAYLIST.


(*Except for Bek-Jean Stewart, who isn’t on Spotify - but don’t worry, one act here doubles up in the playlist for good reason, as you’ll see below).



2022 IN MUSIC … START YOUR TURNTABLES


DRY CLEANING – Stumpwork

Taking the angular post-punk of their debut further, sometimes slower, occasionally even to charming, with a lyricist/singer mixing meaningful non-sequiturs with frank emotion.


Read the review of Stumpwork









DARREN HAYES – Homosexual

A gleeful, lustful, life-full Darren Hayes begins to own his space and his life. Usually on the dancefloor.


Read the review of Homosexual









LADY BLACKBIRD – BLACK ACID SOUL

Released late 2021 but really only discovered in 2022, this is an album of soul filtered through jazz, or jazz filtered through folk and intense cabaret, with a carefully balanced sensuality and captivating voice. You’ll make connections to Flack and Simone.


Read the review of Black Acid Soul






BEK-JEAN STEWART & THE SOCIETY FOR THE LOST – Fierce Attachments

This is not an album for the feebly interested or the half committed. It is certainly not an album about the feebly interested or the half committed, and these songs burn as fiercely as the characters within.


Read the review of Fierce Attachments






BEYONCE – RENNAISSANCE

She’s on a horse. And in the disco. She’s still boss of all she surveys. And she’s dedicating herself to … having fun.


Read the review of Rennaissance








LAURA JEAN – AMATEURS

Strings are added, beats expand, but Laura Englert still pulls down the curtain on the small and intimate, no matter how harsh it might be.


Read the review of Amateurs









JULIA JACKLIN – PRE PLEASURE

A record for the striving rather than the resolved, a catalogue of lessons in the process of being understood. In mid-tempo.


Read the review of Pre Pleasure










BIG THIEF – DRAGON NEW WARM MOUNTAIN I BELIEVE IN YOU

Adrianne Lenker takes her band into displaced folk, borderline home electronica, coiled rock and intense, insular indie., but always with trust, adventure, belief and anger as important as hope.


Read the review of Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You








KENDRICK LAMAR – MR MORALE & THE BIG STEPPERS

Breathtaking, brilliant and deeply connected, LA’s finest observer/writer/revealer on his town, his flaws, his mixed journey to something better.


Read Kitty Empire’s review of Mr Morale & The Big Steppers









SHARON VAN ETTEN – WE’VE BEEN GOING ABOUT THIS ALL WRONG

Exploring a rich but conflicted emotional life with sounds that wash rather than penetrate, drums that expand to fill space; and vocals that spend a lot of their time turned away just enough from you to simultaneously invite and discourage pursuit.


Read the review of We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong






BILL CALLAHAN – REALITY

Still the born again believer in people as potentially good, Bill Callahan tempers recent optimism on an album about all of us coming out of (good and bad) dreams of the plague years.


Read the review of Reality









ADALITA – INLAND

Desire and destruction, internal musings in endless settings, small scale thrown grand, hurt proving restorative and deadly. Tricky terrain, no easy answers, but a distorted damaging love explored.


Read the review of Inland









CARLY RAE JEPSEN – THE LONELIEST TIME

Disco, pop, introspection, fun, Rufus Wainwright, and bad dates. That’s only some of the fare on an album so easy to enjoy but more than just instant pleasure.


Read Andrew Peng’s review of The Loneliest Time









HANNAH MCKITTRICK – THE DAY HAS AGAIN BRUISED ME

A voice close but filtered, the sounds accompanying that voice coming from instruments through which air seems to huff as much as flow, conversational as much as delicate, and pianos which are caressed.


Read the review of The Day Has Again Bruised Me







COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS – LOOSE FUTURE

Channelling L. Ronstadt in the best way as pop engages with country. More nimble, more hopeful, more joyful than before, making even more of that delightful Courtney Marie Andrews voice.


Read the review of Loose Future









OUMOU SANGARE - TIMBUKTU

Written in Baltimore, blending African and European sounds, but deeply rooted in her Wassoulou past and present. Touched by the forlorn, still riding on hope.


Read the review of Timbuktu










BLACK CAB – ROTSLER’S RULES

Technology examined, humour unearthed, machine-meets-flesh, decades of music compressed into one disc. Most of all, this is a record to dance to.


Read the review of Rotsler’s Rules










ALDOUS HARDING – WARM CHRIS

You can try to divine the answer in opaque but always intriguing songs; you can also just let the psychedelic folk and bent pop take you where it wants to go.


Read the review of Warm Chris










NEPTUNE POWER FEDERATION – LE DEMON DE L’AMOUR

Pomp rock and metal mixed with outlandish mythology, showwomanship, and full tilt boogie playing. You can laugh and punch the air, and bow before the Imperial Priestess, at the same time.


Read an interview with Neptune Power Federation








SUDAN ARCHIVES – NATURAL BROWN PROM QUEEN

This is an album which moves in and out of percussion-driven dance and big pop melodies, bent-shaped R&B and spoken-word interludes, lean funk and slinky soul, Euro-folk loose limbed hip-hop, and briefly, even a kind of elegant Vegas.


Read the review of Natural Brown Prom Queen







ARCTIC MONKEYS – THE CAR

Instead of backing away from the lunar cabaret, The Car goes even further into its strings-and-drama possibilities, offering in addition Curtis Mayfield wah-wah guitar and higher range, and some Denmark Street delicacy and theatrics.


Read the review of The Car








CAMP COPE – RUNNING WITH THE HURRICANE

Fully embracing classic era pop - sound, vocals, feel – with both understanding and an edge in the lyrics, with the centrepiece some crucial, brilliant bassplaying.


Read the review of Running With The Hurricane










WANT MORE? HELL YEAH.


ANOTHER 22 THAT ARE JUST AS GOOD


WEYES BLOOD – AND IN THE DARKNESS HEARTS AGLOW















Read Meaghan Garvey’s review


LIZZO - SPECIAL















Read the review


TAYLOR SWIFT – MIDNIGHTS















Read the review


THE SMILE – A LIGHT FOR ATTRACTING ATTENTION















Read Ryan Dombal’s review


CONFIDENCE MAN – TILT















Read Evan Sawdey’s review


HARRY STYLES – HARRY’S HOUSE















Read the review


FKA TWIGS – CAPRISONGS















Read the review


YARD ACT – THE OVERLOAD















Read Neil McCormick’s review


KING GIZZARD AND THE WIZARD LIZARD – ALL 300 OR SO ALBUMS RELEASED THIS YEAR















Read reviews from Simon Workman and Akira Sidana


BIG SCARY – ME AND YOU















Read an interview with Big Scary


JESSIE BUCKLEY AND BERNARD BUTLER – FOR ALL OUR DAYS THAT TEAR THE HEART















Read the review


KING CURLY – SONGS















Read the review


ERIN RAE – LIGHTEN UP















Read the review


ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE IMPOSTERS – THE BOY NAMED IF















Read the review


SOUAD MASSI – SEQUANA















Read Neil Spencer’s review


AMANDA SHIRES – TAKE IT LIKE A MAN















Read the review


STELLA DONNELLY – FLOOD