In what’s now nearly become an annual tradition – here are my favourite 10 albums of 2022, compiled on this blog for the third year in a row, along with accompanying Spotify playlist below too.
Plus you can see my previous lists for 2021 here – or 2020 here.
10. “And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow” by Weyes Blood
Not as instantly magical as 2019’s Titanic Rising masterpiece, November’s And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow instead revealed its charms more gradually. Continuing with her chamber pop by way of Karen Carpenter stylings from the aforementioned previous album, Natalie Mering’s stunningly dreamy voice adds real emotional heft to these modern day torch songs.
9. “Fear Fear” by Working Men’s Club
Strong sophomore effort from Todmorden’s techno scamps that arrived slap bang during July’s record temperatures. The beats were probably a little more developed and in yer face than 2020’s also great self-titled debut, but still as likely to equally delight veteran New Order fans and youthful ravers.
8. “Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet” by Disq
October saw the emergence of a second follow-up album by a young band who also debuted in 2020 – with the excellent “Collector” – but there the similarities with WMC end. Wisconsin based Disq instead take inspiration from a wide spectrum of 90s indie rock with clear echoes of Pixies, Pavement and even Dischord bands at times – but with enough innovation and melodic nous to steer clear of unadventurous homage.
7. “Cool It Down” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Triumphant return by the much loved YYYs. June’s fantastic single Spitting Off The Edge Of The World saw anticipation grow for the late September release of Cool It Down. And while nothing on their first album for 9 years could match that track, the beloved three piece still manage to pull off their usual trick of a totally new sound compared to what’s gone before while still being unmistakeably YYY; always helped by the presence of one of the great rock’n’roll frontwomen in Karen O.
6. “Endless Rooms” by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
RBCF’s third LP popped into view in May to complete a hat-trick of jangly pop masterpieces. Endless Rooms did see their songs get slightly looser and longer than on the last two albums, with RBCF’s recorded sound now edging ever closer to the triple guitar power of their live shows, but never sacrificing their knack of producing timeless hook upon timeless hook.
5. “Ultra Truth” by Daniel Avery
An atmospheric treat, Daniel Avery’s latest LP only dropped in November, but already bears comparison with – and arguably betters – his great 2013 debut Drone Logic. I’d lost track of Avery on recent releases, but this thrillingly varied electronic album recalls classic 90s Warp acts in particular (always very welcome) while his debt to the greats of that era is explicitly called out on the stunning Lone Swordsman, a heartfelt tribute to friend and mentor Andy Weatherall from 2020 that was also included here.
4. “Lucifer On The Sofa” by Spoon
The ever-reliable Spoon’s February return was trailed as their return to rock’n’roll after the jerky stylings of 2017’s exciting Hot Thoughts – and Lucifer On The Sofa partly is, with guitars certainly more front and centre. But Spoon could never make a record as outwardly straightforward as “return to rock’n’roll” implies, so sonic adventurousness still underpins the great tunes here, topped off by the familiar vocals of indie rock’s number 1 Edwin Van Der Sar lookalike, Britt Daniel.
3. “Chopper” by Kiwi Jr
A pleasingly quick follow-up to last year’s fantastic Cooler Returns (my favourite album of 2021), Chopper flew into view in August, with Kiwi Jr’s fantastic pop hooks and sardonic wordplay still cutting through. Chopper expanded the Canadian band’s musical palette a little further however, with synth sounds now adding to the fun; The Cars and The Strokes seeming obvious forebears – and Chopper very much feels like the Room On Fire to Cooler Returns’ Is This It, no bad thing.
2. “Blue Rev” by Alvvays
A band I’d been distantly aware of but never really paid that much attention to, Alvvays’ third album Blue Rev has been a huge breakthrough for the Canadian search engine poptimisers – with Pitchfork raving about the record as a Best New Music 8.8 review in October, followed up by Belinda Says being lauded as Pitchfork’s song of 2022. Blue Rev itself was chosen as the music site’s third best album of the year and I’m going one spot higher…boasting infectious tunes topped off with woozy MBV-lite stylings, and packing 14 breezy songs into a punchy 39 minutes, Blue Rev is a real delight.
1. ”Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You” by Big Thief
A massively welcome surprise from a band I’d previously admired more than loved, Big Thief had never properly clicked with me before. Therefore, it’s perhaps strange that a 20 song unwieldly double album should be the record to really connect. Early single No Reason dripped effortless charm to raise hopes ahead of DNWMIBIY dropping in early February, with the LP then mixing up countless gems along with some more esoteric fare (see: Spud Infinity).
Big Thief are a band that can divide opinion and it’s easy to see how their hayseed image and awkward iconography (exhibit A: the awful album artwork, as shown above) can deter many but this fifth LP does seem to have gained them many new converts, placing high in most end of year lists, including this obviously highly prestigious version.
Spotify Playlist: My 22 from 2022
Featuring songs from my 10 favourite albums listed above, plus some other favourite tunes from the year…