Wednesday 18 January 2023

My Top 20 Favourite Albums of 2022

I’ve put off this list long enough. So without further ado, here are my favourite albums of 2022.

Don’t forget to check out my favourite tracks of the year and my least favourite tracks if you love end-of-year lists!

20 – 11

20. It’s Not Comfortable To Grow - Plastic Mermaids

This psyched-out indie rock album from UK band Plastic Mermaids is full of fun and creative indie anthems. It probably would be higher in this list if I hadn’t discovered it so late!

Favourite tracks: ‘It’s Pretty Bad’, ‘Disco Wings’

19. Ramona Park Broke My Heart – Vince Staples

Long Beach rapper Vince Staples contrasts bright summery g-funk beats with melancholy lyrics about stolen youth and gang culture on his fifth album.

Favourite tracks: ‘Magic’, ‘When Sparks Fly’

18. Horseshit on Route 66 – The Garden

The Garden fine-tune their lo-fi dirty-pint-mixture of punk rock and harsh electronica while throwing in some horror themes. It’s challengingly abrasive and noisy, but also entertainingly playful.

Favourite tracks: ‘Freight Yard’, ‘Orange County Punk Rock Legend’

17. Louie – Kenny Beats

Originally intended as a private gift to the producer’s ailing dad, this selection of woozy and rough hip hop beats is hypnotic stuff – I’m so glad he decided to share it with the world.  

Favourite tracks:  ‘The Perch’, ‘Hot Hand’

16. Component System With The Auto Reverse – Open Mike Eagle

42-year old rapper Open Mike Eagle gets reflective over some rugged boom bap beats. Both the introspective bars and nostalgic production is top notch.

Favourite tracks: ‘I’ll Fight You’, ‘Burner Account’

15. Renaissance – Beyonce

I’ve never been a huge Bey fan, but this gauntlet of raunchy dance-pop jams is so fun that I’ve been won over. Take me to the Beyhive.

Favourite tracks: ‘Church Girl’, ‘Pure/Honey’

14. Super Champon - Otoboke Beaver

Kyoto all-female punk band Otoboke Beaver deliver this absolutely berserk album featuring hyper-speed guitar riffs, whiplash-inducing transitions and provocative chanted/screeched vocals.

Favourite tracks: ‘Yakitori’, ‘Pardon?’

13. Famously Alive – Guerilla Toss

The Boston art rock band deliver a selection of life-affirming pop tracks. They feel much more melodic and sugary than the band’s previous work, while still sporting a chaotic edge.

Favourite tracks: ‘Famously Alive’, ‘Live Exponential’

12. Malign Hex – Meat Wave

Brilliantly-named Chicago punk band Meat Wave deliver this loud and angry album. Each track plays out like a raw outpouring of frustration.

Favourite tracks: ‘Honest Living’, ‘What Would You Like Me To Do’  

11. Dawn FM – The Weeknd

Taking the form of a purgatory-based synthpop radio station, The Weeknd’s latest album is his most conceptual, while also containing some of his most infectious tunes.

Favourite tracks: ‘Take My Breath’, ‘Best Friends’

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10. Ants From Up There - Black Country New Road

UK art rock band Black Country New Road tame down their unhinged side on their second (and possibly final) album, instead honing their songwriting and exploring a less guitar-centric sound that doesn’t sound like any other band out there.  

Favourite tracks: ‘Chaos Space Marine’, ‘Good Will Hunting’, ‘Snow Globes’

9. Stumpwork – Dry Cleaning

Alternating between hilarious and profound, Florence Shaw’s deadpan spoken word poetry continues to be just as entertaining as on the post punk band’s debut.  The instrumentation meanwhile feels a lot more varied, helping to make the band all the more unique.

Favourite tracks: ‘Anna Calls From The Arctic’, ‘Hot Penny Day’, ‘Don’t Press Me’

8. Few Good Things – Saba

Chicago rapper Saba continues to refine his soulful style of hip hop, taking a more energetic direction and throwing some super-catchy choruses into the mix. The To Pimp A Butterfly influence is obvious, but the rapping is still very unique.

Favourite tracks: ‘Fearmonger’, ‘Come My Way’, ‘Few Good Things’

7. Melt My Eyez See Your Future - Denzel Curry

Over some of the most stylistically diverse beats of his career, Florida rapper Denzel Curry takes a less aggressive and more introspective approach on this album. His flow continues to be one of the most playful of any rapper in the game.

Favourite tracks: ‘Walkin’, ‘Ain’t No Way’, ‘Zatoichi’

6. Blue Rev – Alvvays

Canadian indie pop band Alvvays branch out into dreampop and shoegaze on this new album – delivering a selection of songs that are both catchy and very atmospheric. There’s a sad sense of longing and regret in all of these songs that’s amplified by the hazy production.

Favourite tracks: ‘Pharmacist’, ‘Very Online Guy’, ‘Tile By Tile’

5. NOT TiGHT – Domi & JD Beck

Don’t believe the album title. It’s incredible how rhythmically-tight this American-French jazz duo sound. They also deliver some really quirky chord sequences and the mix of urban vocal guests keeps the album feeling modern.

Favourite tracks: ‘U Don’t Have To Rob Me’, ‘Moon’, ‘Take A Chance’

4. Hellfire – black midi

Hellfire is a theatrical and zany art rock album centred around death. Geordie Greep and Cameron Picton deliver some of their nuttiest vocals yet as they tell the tales of various eccentric characters. The musicianship is meanwhile some of the most impressive on any album this year.

Favourite tracks: ‘Sugar/Tzu’, ‘Welcome To Hell’, '27 Questions’

3. God’s Country - Chat Pile

I don’t think I’ve listened to a rock album this terrifying in a while. The band’s vocalist, Raygun Busch, delivers a mix of tortured spoken word and pained screaming, while covering an array of dark subject matter ranging from the horrors of homelessness to a nightmarish trip involving McDonald’s mascot Grimace. This is all accompanied by pummelling drums and sludgy riffs. It’s frightening, but it also has just right amount of humour and headbangability to keep it fun.

Favourite tracks: ‘Slaughterhouse’, ‘Why’, ‘grimace_smoking_weed.jpeg’

2. Mr Morale & The Big Steppers – Kendrick Lamar

The rapper’s first album in five years was definitely worth the wait! It’s a deliberately uncomfortable album that takes a lot of risks – and I can see why it’s not been everyone’s cup of tea - but I personally love it for how willing it is to push boundaries. It’s also loaded with hook and some insane production, which gives it a surprising amount of replay value for a double album. I think some fans wanted a more mainstream DAMN-like project, but this more adventurous album was exactly what I wanted.

Favourite tracks: ‘United in Grief’, ‘We Cry Together’, ‘Savior’

1. I Love You Jennifer B – Jockstrap

UK duo Jockstrap’s experimental debut is a true roller-coaster of a listen. It not only plays around with every music genre under the sun, but also takes these genres to places you’d never imagined. The lyrics are an array of bonkers and twisted sexual encounters, sung in a hypnotic whisper-sung delivery atop chaotic instrumentals that shift direction at a moment’s notice. The level of detail is impressive, and yet the music feels fun rather than laboured. I’m truly excited to see where these guys go next.

Favourite tracks: ‘Greatest Hits’, ‘Concrete Over Water’, ‘50/50’