What a year 2022 was for new music! There was a flurry of cracking debuts as artists saw the results of their hard graft over lockdown come to life as well as some standout albums from artists who showed they are going just as strong after 10/15 years in the game. There are so many that we didn't get a chance to mention here but we hope you enjoy our rundown of our top 10 albums from the last 12 months.
10. YUNGBLUD - YUNGBLUD
The Gen-Z Alternative hero Yungblud returned this autumn with his third record. His decision to self-title the album gives an indication of how he felt this new collection of tracks full embodied what he is about as an artist. Back to back anthems that blend the retro drama of 'Black Parade' era My Chemical Romance with modern Alt Pop stars such as MGK and The Kid LAROI make the perfect soundtrack for his hoards of devotees to dance to, whether that is in their bedrooms in front of their mirrors or at one of Yungblud’s high-octane live shows. The album features his most infectious melodies to date while tracks like 'The Boy In The Black Dress' continue to preach the free expression ethos of Yungblud’s fanbase and his collaboration with WILLOW sees two of the titans of the next Alternative wave come together in fantastic fashion.
9. Fontaines D.C. - Skinty Fia
The third album from the Dublin rockers saw them dive deeper into gloomy atmospherics while exploring their Irish origins. Even if you aren’t quite hooked by the hypnotic melancholia of ‘Bloomsday’ or the electronically warped, industrial psychedelic groove of title track ‘Skinty Fia’, the record still provides many earworming single-worthy moments. ‘Jackie Down The Line’ mirrors the up-tempo rhythms and sing-along lyricism of their previous album and offers the most memorable vocal hooks. Meanwhile, ‘I Love You’ could perhaps be their most impressive track to date. It switches between a lamenting despair and an angsty attack that delivers some of their best ever lyrics including the encapsulating line “I loved you like a penny loves the pocket of a priest - And I'll love you 'til the grass around my gravestone is deceased”. This album has cemented them as the new European Rock heavyweights.
8. Loyle Carner - Hugo
London rapper Loyle Carner returned to the limelight this year with his third album ‘Hugo’ inspired by the birth of his son. He has become known for the refreshingly unfiltered self-reflection that is wrapped inside hisn lyricism yet, this new record takes that reflection to a whole new level as he unravels the factors who have built up his character from a gritty analysis of childhood to a poignant examination of his racial identity. ‘Hate’ kicks off the record with a poignant, atmospheric and introspective analysis of his personal heritage and the wider restrictions placed on Black children. ‘Nobody Knows’ follows up with an equally thoughtful lyrical expression that is matched by anthemic gospel chants. ‘Georgetown’ pairs up a slick hip hop groove with possibly his best lyrical performance to date and a fantastic feature from John Agard. ‘Hugo’ is Loyle’s most mature and in-depth album so far and covers intense lyrical themes whilst still maintaining his smooth sonic rhythms.
7. Sports Team - Gulp!
Lively Indie Rock stars Sports Team followed up their 2020 debut with a sophomore album that is explosive both in its artwork and musical content. Tracks like ‘The Game’ and ‘R Entertainment’ stay true to the hectic, rambling energy that flowed through their first record and provide the perfect addition to their live set that makes them undoubtedly one of the best live Indie bands around. However, neighbouring songs ‘Dig!’ and ‘The Drop’ brought something new to the Sports Team discography. The former blends a range of vocal tones that bring a moodier, tense build up before a lively ending while the latter sees them lead with a big brass hook which adds a more grandiose drama to their sound. ‘Fingers (Taken Off)’ is perhaps their most mosh-worthy track to date and peaks in an album of Indie bops. When listening through, you may begin to think that the album lacks depth in parts. Yet, before this thought has time to marinate, you are met with the album’s closer ‘Light Industry’ which journeys through Radiohead esc melodies before crashing into an uplifting, anthemic finale which brings a fantastic album to a euphoric end.
6. Kid Kapichi - Here's What You Could Have Won
The sophomore record, ‘Here’s What You Could Have Won’, from Hastings based Rock outfit Kid Kapichi established them as one of the country’s most ferocious and out-spoken new bands around. After signing with Universal earlier in the year, they released this new record that radiates with an aggressive unrest. Their trademark big riffs and harsh yet melodic chorus’ are abundant throughout yet, their lyrical content has turned from the more localised critiques of London commutes, the working class lifestyle and the unfulfilled promises of those who dream of escaping it. Now, the quartet are pointing their lyrical angst straight at the government and capitalist culture with tracks like ‘Party at No. 10’ that are unapologetically uneuphemistic and ‘New England’ that delivers an uncompromising attack on the Brexit rhetoric. This opening track is a standout as the band team up with rapper Bob Vylan. This record sees Kid Kapichi dive even deeper into a gloomy realm that needs to be explored. Full on Rock in their heavy sonic choices yet fully Punk in their lyricism, this is an album that needs to be heard and is a great timestamp of life in 2022 Britain.
5. Baby Strange - World Below
After a 6 year gap since their debut record it is understandable that a lot has changed for the three members of Baby Strange, both personally and in their musical careers. Label changes, major world events and inevitable personal growth have changed the way that the band approach all aspects of making an album and this period has allowed them time to mature and meditate on exactly how they want themselves to sound. It certainly feels like they have reached this point as their new album is a cohesive onslaught that blends the very best distinctive elements that are 100% Baby Strange with a new, sharper and more electronically influenced edge that has incorporated clever hints of the new Post-Punk wave whilst still staying true to their roots. Tracks like ‘World Below’ and ‘Midnight’ have a dark, industrial, Dance-Punk twist while ‘Beating In Time’ offers a brighter, more complex rhythm and ‘Under The Surface’ provides an intense rolling energy, huge chorus and angular middle-eight breakdown that make it one of our songs of the year!
4. Jack White - Fear Of The Dawn
After the experimental, left-feild turn that guitar virtuoso and all round music icon Jack White took with his 2018 record ‘Boarding House Reach’, this year some him return more closely to his high-intensity Blues Rock roots while still creating tracks that are perpetually unpredictable and filled with tonal experimentation. Unofficially labelled as the Willy Wonka of the music world, he lived up to his title once again in 2022 by releasing not one, but two albums. Yet, it was the heavier, more angst-ridden ‘Fear Of The Dawn’ that made the biggest impact.
Singles ‘Taking Me Back’, ‘Fear Of The Dawn’ and ‘What’s The Trick?’ are explosive sensory overloads packed full of thrashing drums, intensely gritty guitar lines and attack minded vocal deliveries while ‘Into The Twilight’ and ‘Eosophobia’ have a looser, more improvised feel using both the sheer expressionist talent of his band and a slew of digital samples to create a truly unique concoction that incorporates elements of all his previous work, from The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather to his time working with Beyonce and A Tribe Called Quest (with Q-tip even featuring on the album). Each track is peppered with bold and surprising sonic choices that keep you guessing whilst returning to his undeniably infectious Rock blueprint that will leave fans of his The White Stripes ear plenty of moments to indulge in.
3. Jamie T - The Theory Of Whatever
Indie icon Jamie T returned after a 6 year hiatus this year with his fifth album ‘The Theory Of Whatever’, a record that serves to encapsulate every element of his work over the last 15 years. From the first moments it is apparent how fresh the album feels with ‘90s Cars’ and ‘Thank You’ combining Jamie’s love for clever production elements and haunting aesthetics with bright, drifting chorus’ that ring of a Damon Albarn number. Tracks like ‘The Old Style Raiders’ and ‘Between The Rocks’ perhaps feel more like classic Jamie T than any song he’s ever written. Their tightly rolled lyricism, guitar lines inspired by the likes of Elvis Costello and The Clash and impassioned, coming-of-age sing-along chorus’ shine a light on all his best qualities as an artist and have instantly sailed towards the top of any ‘best of Jamie T’ list.
Neighbouring tracks ‘The Terror Of Lambeth Love’ and ‘Keying Lamborghinis’ see him return to the fractured, bedroom beats of his earlier work while he explores urban life in a gloomy style, a common theme throughout the album. However, the most impressive moments come in songs such as ‘Talk Is Cheap’ and ‘50,000 Unmarked Bullets’. These stripped-back, heartfelt performances bear all as they tackle some of Jamie’s past mistakes with gut wrenching honesty. As an artist know for his witty one-liners and clever blend of electronic production and Indie guitar riffs, these tracks demonstrate the raw beauty of his songwriting. The album sees Jamie show some of his best ever vocal performances, particularly on ‘St. George Wharf Tower’, some of his most infectious ever chorus’ and some of his most visceral and emotive lyrics. A must listen from 2022.
2. Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B
The debut album ‘I Love You Jennifer B’ from Jockstrap, the new duo made up of Taylor Skye's somewhat abstract textural production and Georgia Ellery’s naturally crisp vocal tones, is a cohesive and comprehensive collection of tracks that lay down the pairs manifesto; to never stay static and to subvert sonic expectations at every opportunity.
By alternating between a minimalistic production that centre’s around Ellery’s performance and a super-charged production that enthrals you in dense layers of textural noise the album consistently impresses with its sharp turns, diverse array of atmospheres and bold sonic blends. Together, Ellery and Skye manage to combine soft, ethereal beauty and twisted electronic textures to create a sound that never relaxes. Ellery is audibly comfortable drifting between gentle vocal caress and sharp, soaring performance while Skye seems completely devoid of fear in his choice of production. A successfully adventurous debut that bears countless relistens.
1. Yard Act - The Overload
Leeds outfit Yard Act completely took over this year as their debut album only just missed out on the number 1 spot to Years and Years as well as earning them a Mercury Prize nomination and collaboration with Elton John. Combining witty musings on finance, fame and the failing state of ‘Britishness’ with snappy rhythms, they now find themselves placed at the forefront of the new Post-Punk wave (although the band would probably hate that categorisation). Huge chorus’ in tracks like ‘The Overload’ and ‘Payday’ have become true northern anthems filled with a definitively English irony and cynicism and have proved the perfect songs to ignite the mosh pit at their constant string of ever-growing sold-out live shows.
However, it is the lyricism of frontman James Smith that has really captured the imaginations of so many. Channelling elements of The Fall and John Cooper Clarke, Smith takes swipes at capitalism and the small town mindset while still leaving room to advise the listener to “book yourself an appointment and get yourself checked” and believe in your true self. He dances the line between sincerity and cynicism with tact while the band do a miraculous job fitting his refreshingly unsuperficial lyrical ramblings into infectious Rock grooves.
READ THROUGH OUR ALBUMS OF THE YEAR, 2023 ONES TO WATCH, NORTH WEST NEWCOMERS + INTERVIEWS WITH CRAWLERS, CHLOE MORIONDO, SPECTOR, ABBIE OZARD, OPUS KINK AND MORE IN OUR 'BEST OF 2022' MAGAZINE. Order now.