LIST: The Top 50 Albums of 2022
50. MOTHERMARY, I Am Your God
49. Bladee, Spiderr
48. Drake / 21 Savage, Her Loss
47. quinn, quinn
46. Yung Kayo, DFTK
45. death insurance, i’m in your walls
44. Pusha T, It’s Almost Dry
43. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
42. SASAMI, Squeeze
41. LEYA, Eyeline
On their first new project since 2020’s Flood Dream, the violin and harp duo of Marilu Donovan and Adam Markiewicz open up their creative scope to allow other voices into the fold, including Eartheater, Okay Kaya, Claire Rousay and others. The result is a haunting collaboration that continues to solidify their unique baroque sound and cement Ridgewood as the new creative vanguard of NYC.
40. Beyonce, Renaissance
While, to be honest, the luster of the billionaire pop star has worn on us a bit, it’s hard to deny the powerhouse that is Renaissance. Sure it’s a bit dishonest and ambiguous, but with the help of a massive team of writers and producers, Beyoncé solidifies herself as a legacy act and astounding performer that has many more quality projects under her belt,
39. Perfume Genius, Ugly
While Ugly Season can be at times disorganized, it is certainly the most experimental project from the Perfume Genius project that we’ve heard yet. Songs like the piano sonnet “Cenote” or the brutal “Hellbent” are the definition of ANTIART in a sense.
38. death’s dynamic shroud, Darklife
The talented, former vaporwave trio are able to blast out their progressive pop ambitions out to level 1000 with incredibly electric cuts like “Fall For Me” and “After Third Heaven”. They combine their original ‘80s skewering leanings with some genuinely compelling songwriting to make for a consistently enjoyable project.
37. Frost Children, SPIRAL
Frost Children are a self-referential electronic duo taking the music and fashion world by storm. With their new breakout record, SPIRAL, they continue to disrupt, using pop, hyperpop, break core and other genres to their advantage. It’s fun, colorful and full of outcast energy, my favorite type of energy tbh. Please follow me back on Instagram Frost Children. Highlights include: “FOX BOP”, “HARP + PONY”, “GARBO” and “LAKE OF LOVE”
36. SZA, S.O.S
SZA is still hung up on her ex, but aren’t we all? S.O.S. is an ambitious follow up to her groundbreaking debut, even if it doesn’t fully live up to the four year hype that it created in its wake. Still, with great features from Don Toliver, Phoebe Bridgers and the late great ODB, S.O.S. brings a lot to the table and SZA deserves her flowers for that.
35. Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti
On the mainstream level, 2022 is definitely the year of Bad Bunny. Whether it’s on the big screen through movies like Bullet Train or his upcoming Marvel film, in ads or on the charts, Bad Bunny has been king. His newest record feels like a logical extension of his last incredible project, but with a more sorrowful and tropical sound in the mix.
34. Mitski - Laurel Hell
On Laurel Hell, Mitski extends an olive branch to the pop crowd with a short and sweet 11 track LP that keeps the songwriting simple and unobscured by poetic frills. She is tired of being an open book, and as a result, the songs are a bit less personal. While this certainly affects its ranking on this list, what’s presented still feels like a career highlight.
33. Bad Boy Chiller Crew, Disrespectful
Maybe this exact sound has been around for years and I was unaware, but Bad Boy Chiller Crew really caught me by surprise with this mix of fast raps and earnest female choral pop. It feels like a parody album that’s better than what it’s making fun of. The over the top masculine goofiness is just too infectious to pass up, give “BMW” a listen now.
32. Denzel Curry, Melt My Eyez See Your Future
With song titles like “X-Wing” and a T-Pain feature, I really thought I was going to hate this thing. Even with mainstream festival status, Denzel Curry has still kept his skill set and the core of his soul, giving us another loosely conceptual, well produced and performed project that adds to his W streak.
31. Black Country, New Road, Ants From Up Here
This isn’t and truly never has been my particular genre of music, but sometimes performances and arrangements are just too well done to deny. Like a more modern and prime Arcade Fire, the UK 7-piece band (minus Isaac Woods now) yield an ambitious and instrumentally rich sophomore record that is deservedly their breakout.
30. The Garden, Horseshit on Route 66
The Orange County punk rock duo drop their very best record with Horseshit on Route 66, colliding electronic, crustpunk, rock and more for a chaotic but cohesive sound. The aesthetic and stylistic choices do a bit of the heavy lifting where the songwriting lacks, but nonetheless this group is still in the process of peaking.
29. FKA twigs, Caprisongs
Caprisongs is such an interesting effort from FKA twigs. While it is undoubtedly the weakest full length of her entire discography. It’s difficult to discount it as being impersonal. While she’s not singing about trauma or breakups in the same life or death manner she did on MAGDALENE, there is still an admirable level of vulnerability in the interludes. Smartly, she uses the actual songs as a celebration of life, love and her new scene, giving us what may be her catchiest material yet.
28. Beach House, Once Twice Melody
Do I believe that the world needed an hour and 24 minutes of just new Beach House material? No, they probably could’ve paired this record down just a bit. However, they fill out a shocking amount of that long run time with essential material. “Pink Funeral”, “Runaway”, “New Romance” and many more all upgrade their classic style purposefully, satisfying my rubric as a long term fan. This is no Bloom or Depression Cherry, but to be still making this record so late in their career is nothing short of a miracle.
27. Panda Bear / Sonic Boom, Reset
On their ambitious new crossover record Reset, Panda Bear and Sonic Boom throw it back to an alternate version of the ‘60s, creating this psychedelic doo wop sound that touches back to some of the very best Beach Boys material. It’s an album about living life to the absolute fullest, reaching a pop nirvana over its brief runtime.
26. Vince Staples, RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART
RAMONA PARK… is a late career stand out for Vince Staples, a rapper who feels like he’s been checked out for a while. Not only in runtime but in concept, this record reminds me of his debut, a good, bad and ugly autobiographical account of growing up in Long Beach. Highlights include “WHEN SPARKS FLY” and “DJ QUIK”
25. Chat Pile, God’s Country
If you want to be reminded of everything that’s dark and fucked up in America, whether that be homeless, heroine addiction, home invasions, whatever it may be, look no further than Chat Pile’s industrial metal debut. God’s Country takes a brutally honest and poetic angle that most music is afraid to.
24. Hyd, CLEARING
With production from all the early PC Music staples including SOPHIE, A.G. Cook, EASYFUN and others, Hyd’s crystal blue debut exceeds expectations. It feels like a natural revolution of that classic sound, breaking away from the ironic materialism in favor of romantic naturalism.
23. Steve Lacy. Gemini Rights
After years of toiling on all the Spotify vibe playlists, Steve Lacy has finally come out with his definitive statement as an artist, Gemini Rights. Sampling from classic ‘70s funk and bossanova and coupling that with modern drug, dating and zodiac references, this is some future nostalgia I’m all here for, personally.
22. Sudan Archives, Natural Brown Prom Queen
Brittney Denise Parks, otherwise known as Sudan Archives, comes through with a reflective set of ballads and bangers on her sophomore LP Natural Brown Prom Queen. This time around, the material is more deeply personal, showcasing and celebrating influences, experiences and cultural touchstones that made her who she is.
21. yeule, Glitch Princess
If you choose to include the 4 hour and 44 min dark ambient piece “The Things You Did For Me Out of Love”, our number #20 spot also doubles as the longest commercial album of the year. Without it, you still get an extensive network of cybernetic pop greatness that will take over your consciousness. Highlights include “Electric”, “Flowers are Dead” and “Perfect Blue”. Glitch Princess is yeule’s breakout moment.
20. Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
Kendrick Lamar grieves different and goes to therapy on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, his last album on his longtime label, TDE. What a way to go out too, going deeper than any of his albums have gone yet. Sometimes it can get uncomfortable, as on the controversial “Auntie Diaries” or “We Cry Together”. But all the chaotic buildup is worth the catharsis, whether through explosive moments like the opener “United In Grief” or more solemn corners of thought like “Mother I Sober”. Like Mitski and FKA twigs, he has dropped a weaker album only to show how spotless his discography actually is.
19. Perfume, PLASMA
From the opening moments of the thrilling, neon soaked Plasma, I knew I was in for an absolute treat. Even without understanding the Japanese lyrics, off pure rhythms and grooves, Perfume’s latest effort is perhaps the catchiest pop record of the year. Add to that the post-Internet romance concept revealed in the songwriting and you get a very, very special addition to the J-pop canon. Highlights include “Time Warp - v1.1”, “Spinning World” and “Flow”.
18. The Smile, A Light For Attracting Attention
Imagine if Radiohead was a math jazz band that utilized stereo sound to maximum capacity. If that sounds boring to you, then as Thom Yorke says on “A Hairdryer” from his new band The Smile, “Shame on you.” The debut of that new group, A Light For Attracting Attention, refocuses Radiohead’s time signature play and technical ability. Coupled with Johnny Greenwood’s now legendary score work, we get immaculate tracks like “Pana-vision” and “Free In The Knowledge”.
17. Charli XCX, Crash
When Charli XCX infamously said “R.I.P.” to hyperpop and dropped the very mid single “Good Ones”, many of her core fans were left scratching their heads. I was personally insulted and wrote a reactionary op-ed last year on how disrespectful that move was (the fact that I wasn’t out by that point is very funny to me). But now that I am out, and bisexual Christmas did in fact come twice this year, we got the gift that is CRASH. This will sound clique (like this album) but this is a ride from start to finish. The future nostalgic production from Oneohtrix Point Never, Digital Farm Animals, Deaton Chris Anthony and more lays the groundwork for Charli’s impassioned performances. Like Beyonce, she is more of a pop star than a songwriter, but in my opinion, she not only sells the persona better, but also finds writers who understand her perspective more. In other words, her team is better and that comes together for her pop breakout moment, that still shockingly got her no Grammy noms. Fucked up!!! Give her a fucking Grammy you cucks!
16. Ethel Cain, Preacher’s Daughter
Tallahassee, Florida’s Ethel Cain has almost ubiquitously become the Indie It Girl for the year 2022, selling out performances across the country, modeling for Miu Miu, and being the subject of many different magazine profiles. At the center of the hype tornado is her incredibly patient and experimental debut album Preacher’s Daughter. The built up barnburners of her EP days are here in spades, as on “A House In Nebraska” and “Thoroughfare”, but as are briefer and poppier moments like “American Teenager” and “Gibson Girl”. The setting of this record are the moldy, wood paneled houses of Bumblefuck, USA, whether that be in the snowy Poconos, the swamps of Tallahassee or the middle of Nebraska. We put so much artistic focus on the inner workings of the coastal cityscapes, but this album dares to take you somewhere new. This is a project to get lost in, with Ethel’s ghostly, echoed voice being the perfect guide.
15. Animal Collective, Time Skiffs
Not since their most celebrated effort, Merriweather Post Pavilion, has Animal Collective really come together for anything more than decent. Centipede Hz was too abrasive, Painting With had no friction, and the live albums were a little too loosely strung together. But make no mistake, their latest effort Time Skiffs is a sonic adventure. The elder statesmen of the indie pop avant-garde deliver nine bold and colorful cuts that flow together towards one goal, enlightenment. It’s reflective, sad, joyous and scary all at once, kind of like life.
14. Alvvays, Blue Rev
I nearly forgot to include this record on this list because I never really gave a formal review. I love this record, like the perfect lead single “Pharmacist”, the group demonstrates the mastery they have for dream pop, but also add psychedelic sounds to their arsenal. Highlights include: “Easy On Your Own?”, “Many Mirrors”, “Pomeranian Sinster” and “Belinda Says”.
13. The 1975, Being Funny In A Foreign Language
The pop rock provocateur's are back for their biennial zeitgeist posting through the lens of ‘60s aesthetics and ‘80s sonics. This time, they address incels, porn addiction, vaccine mandates and cancel culture in the style of Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen and others. It’s no question then why lead singer Matty Healy is “a millennial that baby boomers like”, his sound is palatable to both classic rock dads and high school girls. With classic rock worshiper Jack Antonoff on board, that effect gets ramped up even more, and results in a much more concise group of tracks than they’ve ever done before. Gone are the interludes, ambient breaks and robot voices, which lessens uniqueness while swapping in replayability. This is an undeniably good effort from this now ten year old group.
12. Jockstrap, I Love You Jennifer
Jockstrap, the UK duo of vocalist Georgia Ellery and super producer Taylor Skye, delivered on the promise of their EPs with their game changing debut I Love You Jennifer B. Most good debuts are spent genre hopping, trying to understand where to set into before hammering the nail on the sophomore or junior record. Jockstrap have the ambition and confidence of artists who are eighth albums in with their very first album, that’s rare, not even Bjork or David Bowie has that ready that soon. The vocal talent is on full display, the production prowess and multi-instrumentalism is ready to go, and the songwriting is top notch from “Neon” to the true closer “Lancaster Court. Highlights include “Greatest Hits”, “Concrete Over Water” and “50/50 - Extended Mix”.
11. Bjork, Fossora
On Fossora, Bjork’s tenth studio effort, she is still finding new ways to explore the depths of her experiences. Using the metaphor of the mushroom and everything that comes with that, she embarks on an ambitious but worthwhile journey that sounds like a cross between a David Attonbourough documentary and a Fever Ray album. On songs like “Ovule” and “Ancestress”, she is engaging in her usual powerful strain of vocal pop. However, she uses tracks like “Atopos” and “Fossora” to go over the top with gabbers and bass clarinets at full strength. Like Animal Collective’s latest, she uses ornate orchestration and sound effects to create a 4-dimensional sound, it’s almost like a musical city that you can physically walk through. While it’s not quite as polished as her greatest work, I think new and old fans will find something to love on Fossora.
10. Weyes Blood, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow
Coming through with a much needed sequel to her perfect sophomore effort Titanic Rising, Weyes Blood graces us again with her vintage sound and songwriting style. While And In Darkness… finds its best moments in deep meditation on the decade thus far. Concepts like COVID isolation and internet outrage lie in the periphery, but are never directly referenced or reacted to. Instead, Weyes Blood makes timeless pop rock music that processes these concepts and gives us the lessons learned. The music is consistently well-produced, measured and effective in its approach, only getting emotional at its grand crescendos. Highlights include: “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody”, “Hearts Aglow”, and “The Worst Is Done”.
9. Shygirl, Nymph
If you listen to a single debut album this year, please for the love of God make it Shygirl’s excellent Nymph. This has been my most hotly anticipated record of 2022, and it exceeded expectations. Shygirl is still toying with her sound for sure, experimenting with genres like rap, trip-hop, dream pop and house, but every attempt is a success for the most part. “Heaven” meets the moment that Drain Gang are setting in place with a floaty, stimulating and cool track that is instantly replayable. More abrasive, Rico Nasty-like moments such as “Woe” and “Little Bit” show a darker side of Shy, while “Coochie (a bedtime story)” highlights her sexual, playful half. She keeps it brief but packed with hits, just like we thought she would.
8. Nilufer Yanya, PAINLESS
Using similar rock time signature tactics as The Smile but with a fresher approach, Nilufer Yanya’s sophomore album is undoubtedly her best. It cuts the conceptual fat of her debut, leaving in its wake music that is both straightforward and lyrically complex, not sacrificing purpose for pop appeal. Highlights include: “the dealer”, “stabilise” and “anotherlife”.
7. The Weeknd - Dawn FM
The Weeknd comes back, and this time, he’s dead! From the opening crawl of “Dawn FM / Gasoline”, the tone is set. We are in for a dark ‘80s trip soundtracked by Oneohtrix Point Never. What follows are some of the very best songs of Abel’s entire discography, including “Sacrifice”, “Out of Time” and soaring closer “Less Than Zero”. He processed and rejected the instant pop success that was After Hours, he could’ve repeated it for the accolades but he decided against it. He made the conscious decision to forgo getting the number one album on the Billboard Charts in order to make weird ass sci-fi cuts like “Every Angel is Terrifying” and allow Quincy Jones an interlude to talk about how his mother was taken to a mental institution. Like After Hours but to a higher degree, this is an album you need to listen to from start to finish on good headphones with no skips, and so is every other album I’m about to list.
6. Bladee & Ecco2k, Crest
From the thrilling opening moments of “The Flag is Raised”, Crest promises to be something very special and foundational. The first full collaborative effort between the illusive Drain Gang members Bladee and Ecco2k is a forecaster of what comes next for pop and rap music, in my opinion. It’s this LSD infused intertwining of genres and feelings that came together at the perfect time, just before their US tour. I had the honors of seeing these songs performed live for the first time on that first tour stop, and have been Drain-pilled ever since. The combined powers of Bladee’s aloofness and Ecco’s over the top pop vocalizations mixed with White Armor’s experimentation just makes for a top notch record full of surprises.
5. black midi, Hellfire
Hellfire is by far the best black midi album so far, and gets the bronze metal for rock album of the year. On a purely technical level, I don’t know if any other album impressed me to quite the degree that this one did, these boys are setting their instruments on fire to sell these crazy stories they tell on here. Whether it’s the tale of an evil miner baron on “Eat Men Eat”, a boxer assassin on “Sugar/Tzu” or a race between disparate black midi universe characters on “The Race Is About To Begin”, the group doesn’t let up on the gas for even a second, unless you count the combo breaking “Half Time”. The record is steeped in sin and is a really surreal but accurate portrait of the flawed human condition.
4. Big Thief, DragonNew Warm Mountain I Believe You
20 tracks is a tall order for any artist, nonetheless 20 actual songs, not just a bunch of interludes. On this ambitious double album, Big Thief provides us with pure strength in numbers. It’s a risk to have this much material, but if it’s all great and varied, that has to count further in their favor. It’s all guided by band leader Adrienne Lenker, who’s songwriting talents are tripled by the interplay coming on the side of her band. Dragon New Warm Mountain… is bursting at the seams with vocal and instrumental chemistry, and a natural charm that you just can’t get anywhere else this year. Highlights include: “Change”. “Time Escaping”, the title track, “Flower of Blood”, “Red Moon” and “Simulation Swarm”.
3. Soul Glo, Diaspora Problems
Just as SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE did last year with ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH, Soul Glo comes together with a bold, uncompromising sound that is certain to put Philly on the map as an independent music hotspot. Soul Glo’s hardcore (if you could even call it that) completely subverts genre labels. Is “Driponomics” hardcore? What about the G-funk inspired “Spiritual Level of Gang Shit”?? This is the poetic ramblings of Pierce Jordan soundtracked by whatever he and his want in the background. Most of the time, as “Coming Correct Is Cheaper”, “We Wants Revenge” and “John J”, it is a sort of Suicidal Tendencies Cali hardcore that is pervading, and we love it all. The point is that just like the black diaspora that it is commenting on and trying to uplift, Diaspora Problems is a unique record that uses many forms of expression to paint a specific picture.
2. Alex G, God Save The Animals
God, are you there? It’s me, ANTIART. I have been listening to the new Alex G album, God Save The Animals, all year. Am I good to get into heaven? No other piece of art this year made me almost go full on religious than this record right here. It’s a sobering batch of beautiful rock tracks that are life affirming in a realistic and grounded sense, never acting like life is shinier than it actually is. Songs like the opener and “Blessing”, sounds like a man hanging on for dear life, repeating mantras like “everyday is blessing,” as a means not to let go of it all. It’s an album about change, about putting bitterness behind and crossing the sea to a new path. The dark clouds are always there, but so are the breaks of sunlight that let us know it’s all worthwhile. I was not a fan of Alex G at all before this and now I’m a stan, and for a music snob, that is no easy task.
1. ROSALIA, MOTOMAMI
I might get some flack for picking this album above all the other great ones that came out this year. Especially in the genres of Spanish and Portuguese language music. But fuck it, I’m going to be the bold one and just say that there has been absolutely no doubt in my mind that this was the album of the year since the first time I listened to it. I printed out the lyrics to it in English and took notes multiple times, and I truly cannot find a flaw in this album, other than maybe “CHICKEN TERIYAKI” and that’s a heavy MAYBE. Are we going to say that “SAOKO” is not a flawless statement? A stamp that signifies everything ROSALIA seeks to do not only on this record, but in her career going forward? Are “HENTAI” and “SAKURA” not incredibly moving ballads that were made even more powerful with their unique live performances on the MOTOMAMI tour? Are “BIZCOCHITO” and “LA COMBI VERSACE” not bangers of the year? If not, I guess we don’t share the same set of ears. ROSALIA’s vocals are as exceptional as her taste, and the creative control she holds over her mainstream pop record is admirable. She is the female Frank Ocean, period. She does what she wants, when she wants and it sells out every time. The cover is sick, the concept is killer, the photoshoots have all been A1, what the fuck else do you want from an artist? This is the collision of experimentation and accessibility that we look for on this page every year, and this just happens to hit the sweet spot the best. This is a desert island disc, an instant classic that will be dissected and celebrated for years to come.