ReviewsThe 10 best albums of 2022

The 10 best albums of 2022

The 10 best albums of 2022

#10: Melody’s Echo Chamber – Emotional Eternal  (Aix-en-Provence, France)

While we also got a lost album from Melody Prochet that is a wonderful throwback to her earlier sound, we were taken to a new world on her newest record this year. Cerebral, tonally hypnotic and a rare time where a record can truly manifest settings within your mind’s eye, this record narrowly overtakes her lost album’s throwback appeal by charming us with its singular feeling. The strings, deep bass and sublime drums set you loose through an exotic landscape between “Emotional Eternal” and “Looking Backward” with every glistening note and glossy high from Prochet perfectly smoothing out the tracks. Even the riff-laden trips between “The Hypnotist” and “Pyramid in the Clouds” take left turns that re-elevate already dense and mystical tracks into something musically satisfying. Then to top it all off, there's a sharp pop edge and smoky, French cool to “Alma” that somehow mix in the record’s whole aesthetic amidst a bit of 70s New Wave cinema in feeling to round out the album with its most iconic moment.

#9: Warpaint – Radiate Like this (Los Angeles)

The apex groove band, Warpaint returned at the height of their powers in 2022, and with all the united, cloudy harmonies we were waiting for. You can get lost in the smoke and light of “Champion” as the bass snakes across the song, or lean into the more sinister grooves of “Hips” which evolves their “Disco//Very” writing into something even more unhinged. The melodies of “Stevie” run through the layered vocal takes to create a honey-like sound, truly tapping into R&B charm within their own great roots to make one of their best tracks ever, and one that can really connect beyond their fanbase. And when they do lean back to their more cold and attacking moods on “Proof” and “Altar” their rocksteady focus on rhythm and that acoustic perfection lets you glide between riding a groove and a sonic moment to constantly feel in heaven.

#8:  Viagra Boys – Cave World (Stockholm, Sweden)

Taking their searing smoky jazz-punk one step further into the darkness, Viagra Boys are either deep into character work or fully off their rockers on their latest record. Like a scary David Lynch scene on PCP, this record is about as exciting as it is frightening. There’s the frantic drive of “Baby Criminal” that feels like it chronicles and simultaneously soundtracks the scariest film you’ve ever seen, and then “Creepy Crawlers” that plays like a satirical documentary on the anti-vax mindset. All this is scored by acoustics that can only be described as Queens of the Stone Age grime meets B-52’s franticness meets the cutting approach of early Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This ability to just take the envelope and straight up throw it into the sun makes tracks like “Ain’t No Thief” and even the cheeky “Big Boy” feel like a wholly new experience that was pulled from a primal feeling. 

#7: Tove Lo – Dirt Femme (Helsingborg/Stockholm, Sweden)

As arguably the most satisfyingly honest pop singer around, Tove Lo lets it all out in her lyrics, whether its sex, drugs, depression, body issues or toxic relationships. While her latest record veers more into catchy than fully soul-shattering pop, her lyrics venture further down into the dark, even tapping into insecurities many of her peers avoid. What’s more, this album is an amazing textural adventure through grimy and cutting synth and electronic production, and truly takes your ears through a futuristic haze while getting extremely personal.  It’s impossible to ignore the potency in Tove Lo’s connection to the subject matter on “Grapefruit,” as she takes a track about body dysmorphia, and gives it her sad-dance mix to make you want to shed this pain in any way you can. “No One Dies From Love” is a rich electronic banger, touching on all the genre’s greatest tones, while “2 Die 4” fully immerses you in a club drive while playing on touches of hits from the past. Even the flow of “Attention Whore” is too rich to ignore before you even get to the keyboards, just like booming kick of “Pineapple Slice” lifts you high so that you can sink into its lovingly sultry message to a lover. 

#6: Weyes Blood – An In the Darkness, Hearts Aglow  (Santa Monica, CA)

To many, you could hear Weyes Blood’s latest record cold and wonder when Joni Mitchell recorded her vocals so low. Now take this and run it through a sonic blender of Elton John, Nick Drake, Aldous Harding, Father John Misty, Julia Holter and perhaps Carole King, and you can see the type of company this album is keeping in pace with. While it has perhaps a downbeat moment or two that can’t match the true magic it attains elsewhere, those highs are so invigorating, you’ll be hitting replay far too often to care. Case in point “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody” and “Children of the Empire” wield strings and a menagerie of keyboards to create an unplaceable wash of heavenly sound, just taking you over in their ethereal glow. Speaking to these many influences, the whole thing feels ripped straight from that mid-70s traditional singer line of records, and could stand up with the best of them, particularly given the other secret weapon of this record, Natalie Mering’s magnificent vocal delivery. This make’s the shift from the sparse moments to soaring belts so powerful on tracks like “God Turn Me Into a Flower,” as Mering has truly stepped beyond simply singing, and now uses her voice as a malleable sonic tool.


#5: Charli XCX – Crash (Cambridge, U.K.)

It’s wild to think that Charli XCX went from a Top 40 darling to an abrasive mixtape, to a covid-era bedroom album and returned to make a radio-ready record with real depth, and the right amount of punch. You have the Lady Gaga-esque kick of “Good Ones” hitting ears with sharp synths and dance ready beats, and the all-out insanity of “Baby” that takes a make-love ballad and cranks up the energy until that same lust is tangible in the music itself. You’ll get the visceral writing of “Lightning” that feels built around a great live physical dancing component,  and then “Yuck” which is born to be chanted back and forth with Charli at shows. Whether you’re living for the collaborative back and forth of tracks like “New Shapes” (which gives us a rare non-album vocal from Caroline Polachek) or the fun bounce of “Used To Know Me” this album has amazing highs, and a strong drive that makes it all flow seamlessly.

#4: Stella Donnelly – Flood (Perth, Australia)

Rather than a light album with venomous lyrics, Stella Donnelly crafts a fully enveloping album on her sophomore release. With a sadness and yearning for growth in every moment of this album, Stella Donnelly took a huge step forward on this and it stuck with us. Expanding her sonic palette with synths and running us through a whole narrative arc here, it’s exciting to see what Donnelly will do next. “Lungs” is the biggest departure in her overall sound, filled with unease and a cold production (along with an equally chilly tale of turbulent times) providing a kind of loose setup for the rest of the record as a whole. “Flood” takes these acoustics one step further with the sharpest hook of the whole record, and a core about moving forward from a past relationship that feels so relatable it may well get your eyes a little watery. While “Cold” even gets Donnelly as tonally abrasive as her lyrics are known for, “How Was Your Day?” does a brilliant sunny jam to complement its own story about false appearances in relationships that should probably end.

#3: Beach House – Once Twice Melody (Baltimore, MD)

Following their steady rise, Beach House hit a stride that seemed to plateau for a while. But with Once Twice Melody they not only hit a new songwriting high, but managed to knockout a nearly 20-track record with zero dead weight. Every track tackles a unique yet cohesive sonic ground on the record, while also delivering its own personal, emotional experience that will shatter your soul. The opening run is perhaps their most Lynchian tracks in some time, with “Pink Funeral” presenting a haunting, theatrical goth beauty, “Once Twice Melody” presenting longing and desperation in hazy lo-fi and “Superstar” taking all this dense pathos and pushing it forward. Elsewhere “New Romance” presents their large synth celebration of the power of uplifting emotions, while “Masquerade” drops us into a shady place between allure and danger. Finally, “The Bells” presents their ability to weave the devastating feeling of a song into a few tones and hooks, and send you off into the sunset with tears in your eyes. It’s truly masterful writing and evocative production all in one.  If 7 was their experimental Fear of Music phase, then this is like Remain in Light and Speaking in Tongues as one double album that itself works as four separate EPs.

#2: Alvvays – Blue Rev (Toronto/Charlottetown, PEI)

While they had essentially made a fun pop album with many deeper moments woven into on their sophomore record, Alvvays merges their tight writing with the impactful feelings of their debut on Blue Rev. With their massive, lo-fi aesthetics finessed to the nth degree, the album works from the morose laments to the most explosive pop, and knows just how to let the dynamics ebb and burst to make every song feel like it’s dire and immediate. Though the opening run of the bright “Pharmacist” to the very watery “Tom Verlaine” is a collective standout, they highlight the albums greatest strength beyond its mesmerizing, singular sound is the amount of moments they actually create in this record, the kind that will stick in your brain for decades. For Antisocialites fans, “Pressed,” “Velveteen” and “Very Online Guy” seemingly update their simpler track work with these rainbow-like guitars and synths, turning a brisk listen into a truly transcendent journey. And at their most refined, “Lottery Noises” refocuses the layered feelings of “Archie, Marry Me” into an even more cascading track that builds and builds like singer Molly Rankin is an ethereal force amidst their nature-like sound, and uses the scale of the song to make every chorus feel bigger than the last.


#1: Confidence Man – Tilt (Brisbane, Australia)

While there’s little doubt that Alvvays delivered a magnificent sonic and emotionally decimating record, Confidence Man gave us our cathartic-fun record, and one that was in fact produced and written with a lot of genius behind the wheel. Throughout this record, the Aussie powerhouse takes layers of different dance, house and underground genres, mashes them all together, and distills them into a pure four-minutes or less experience brimming with excitement and a raw sensuality we often treat as taboo, all with a groove you can dance to and enough catchy lines that virtually every track works as a single.  There’s sheer euphoria in the club euphoria and booming tones of “Feels Like A Different Thing,” driven so hard by Janet and the production that it is easily a top song of the year contender. Soothing bangers like “Holiday” and “Luvin U Is Easy” take you to the beach, and leave you utterly relaxed. Meanwhile “Toy Boy” and “Push It Up” speak to a primal desire, cutting the point with borderline-comedic bluntness (and an extra helping of Ace of Bass energy in the latter), but because the tracks kick so hard and have so much under the hood, you get into them more with every listen.  By the time the album closes on the longer-running “Relieve the Pressure,” that extended therapeutic dance run is so satisfying that you’ll relish every moment this track is popping off with electronics, horns and ever-echoing vocals.


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