This year has been an absolute blinder for fantastic albums, with so many talented artists heading back into the studio. It’s a beautiful feeling, but presents me with the (albeit privileged) problem of having to condense the very best of the last twelve months into a short list of only 10. So, after much deliberation, here they are…
The Smile - A Light For Attracting Attention
Fresh on the scene with their debut album, The Smilehave done an excellent job at curating a haunting, guitar-forward, and synth-driven record worthy of your time. Comprised of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood, and Tom Skinner of Sons of Kemet, it’d be difficult to dismiss the absolute mastery of this record and the talents poured into it. Providing a fresh take on their respective careers, the trio have honed in on their skill sets and used them to create an enthralling record that is equal parts soothing and intriguing.
Nick Mulvey - New Mythology
Nick Mulvey held June in the palm of his hand with the release of New Mythology, his third studio album. Upbeat, introspective, and laden with intricate guitar melodies, this record really became a summer staple. Exploring interesting themes within the songs, providing instrumentals as soft as a summer’s breeze, combined with dreamy vocals; this record has everything you could possibly need for an uplifting and peaceful hour.
Daniel Avery - Ultra Truth
Ultra Truth is a fantastic, explorative album that almost forces a trance-like state upon the listener. An electronic masterpiece with a collaborative effort from Avery’s friends, including the likes of fellow electronic musician Kelly Lee Owens on vocals, this hour-long LP really has a unique way of soothing and transfixing its audience. More of an emotional journey than an album, it is unrivalled in its ability to help you get lost and block out the surrounding world. Creating an almost Lynchian universe that is equal parts engaging and supernatural, it’s not difficult to appreciate how much devotion has been poured into the crafting of this record.
alt-J - The Dream
I’ll admit, this record dominated my Spotify Wrapped to an almost embarrassing extent. Alas, I have no shame – this is truly some of alt-J’s finest work. With a real peak-and-trough timeline spanning both tempo and energy, the trio have explored a range of musical dynamics with The Dream. Covering themes such as true crime, familial relations, and a touring member’s love of Coca Cola, it makes for provocative listening to say the least. There’s a reason that it topped my listening habits this year, and that reason is difficult to put into words, so… just listen for yourself.
Working Men’s Club - Fear Fear
Need something to blow the cobwebs away? Have no fear, Fear Fear is here! A second instalment within the Working Men’s Club discography, this record has proven that Yorkshire really can inspire some of the most exciting dance-electronica that the industry currently has to offer. Tactical use of harmonies, synths and drum loops promise the intent of, as the youth of today call it, ‘cutting shapes’. Try not to dance along.
PVA - Blush
With a dancy electronic amalgamation of groovy beats and entrancing vocals, PVA have put themselves in the line of command with their debut LP, Blush. If music could be intimidating, this is exactly how it would sound – an album that, perhaps, I would cross the street to avoid, upon first glance. However, once you lean into the swagger and shape of this unique sound, you become a part of it; and it, in turn, becomes part of you. I suspect great things are ahead for this fresh-faced trio, as they break onto the scene with vigour.
Fontaines D.C. - Skinty Fia
Skinty Fia is undoubtedly one of the greatest albums of the year, with the Irish post-punk lads swinging from strength to strength with their third release. Paying homage to their Irish heritage, the record draws heavily from their Dublin roots to form songs with massive presence. Tending to a stormy, moody atmosphere with undertones of yearning and nostalgia, the album paints a dreary backdrop to your day along with a sense of familiar comfort.
Confidence Man - TILT
If 2022 needed anything, it was an injection of energy and life, and Confidence Man brought it like no other. TILT, the second studio album from the Australian four-piece, combinines dance, pop, synthwave and their own iconic influence to create an album that could turn 80s disco green with envy. They have pioneered a flawless subgenre all for themselves, with their live shows containing multiple outfit changes, perfectly choreographed dance routines, and really embracing the root of nature of performance. This record will get you moving within an instant, and keep you doing so for its duration. Exquisite vibes, a reason to dance, and an inflation of self-confidence; TILT really does do it all.
Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers
Kendrick brought it back in 2022 with another absolutely phenomenal album. Partnered with his Glastonbury headline slot that will undoubtedly go down in history, the determination to seize the year for himself does not go unmissed. Tackling so many difficult and personal themes across the album in an artistic way proved as an effortless feat for Kendrick, who turned his pain into powerful and potent art with a clear message. This record stays true to his other four studio albums in both masterful penmanship, and in his use of unparalleled beats.
Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
Earning my top spot for album of the year 2022 is the fantastic Ants From Up There by Black Country, New Road. An early release in the year, and how it’s stood the test of time! A chaotic cacophony of instruments combined with a niche fragility that shines through in the vocals of Isaac Wood, who departed the band four days prior to the release of the album. There’s an intense grace and delicacy woven into the very fabrics of this record, which feels like a difficult task for a band of (formerly) seven members; however the harmony and synchronicity between the band, both sonically and collaboratively, allow for astonishing creations such as Ants From Up There.
So, there we have it. Ten of the greatest albums the year has had to offer. With a few latecomers, such as rap connoisseur Little Simz with No Thank You (released Dec. 12th), it’s tough to justify some exclusions. Other honourable mentions of the year include:
- Courting - Guitar Music
- Weyes Blood - And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow
- The Cool Greenhouse - Sod’s Toastie
- Joywave - Cleanse
- First Aid Kit - Palomino
Feast your ears, let the music carry you, and enjoy the rest of the year! May 2023 bring good fortune, good energy, and even better music.