The last two years were remembered in music for lockdowns and Covid, as bands struggled to play live. While the cost of living crisis is dominating the headlines this time around much of our Top 10 Albums of 2022 selection offers an escape from financial uncertainty and the post-pandemic future.
There are moody moments of reflection in our list, but also some wonderful moments of escapism and euphoric pop.
Here’s our Top 10 Albums of 2022 list for you to enjoy.
10. John Howard – The Unknown Story of Danielle Du Bois
The late transgender rights champion April Ashley is the inspiration for John Howard’s latest concept album, one of two this year by the 1970s singer songwriter, who is continuing his excellent return as an independent artist.
It’s a whirlwind English pop album, befitting a very English pop culture icon in Ashley, as the tracks appropriately veer from ballad to cabaret. Read our full review here.
9. Personal Trainer – Big Love Blanket
Big Love Blanket is the debut album from the Amsterdam based seven piece lead by vocalist Willem Smit. It veers all over the place taking in a wide range of pop styles, equally influenced by the UK indie scene and US chart pop. From that starting point we get a range of eclectic and frenetic tunes to enjoy.
It doesn’t hit the target every time, but when it does it is something special. Check out The Lazer and Rug Busters to hear two of the best tracks this year.
8. Destroyer – Labyrinthitis
Albums by Destroyer, fronted by Dan Bejar, are regulars on our end of year lists. It is perhaps the production that so often recaptures the perfect pop of the 80s. It most certainly is the tunes such as June, on this his 13th album.
And his voice, so meloncholic, like a world weary showman, is another draw. Where does this sit in his back catalogue? Arguably one of his best, certainly since 2011′ s similarly enthralling Kaputt.
7. The Bug Club – Green Dream in F#
Welsh three piece The Bug Club have been building a following for a few years now, and quietly releasing some of the best noisy guitar pop around. Green Dream in F# continues that pattern and burst out of your speakers from track 1 onwards.
There are elements of The Lovely Eggs to them, a hint of Half Man Half Biscuit, but also a pretty exciting sound all their own. It is great fun from start to finish and if you don’t get some joy from songs like Only In Love and It’s Art then you may be a but dead inside.
6. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You’s slice of Americana, with tracks including Change and Time Escaping shuffling across the start of this timeless collection that beautifully blends American folk with alternative rock.
There’s more great folk music on tracks such as Spud Infinity and Certainty, before the album cranks up the amps on Little Things and Flower of Blood.
Packing a century’s worth of American music into one album is no mean feat.
5. Let’s Eat Grandma- Two Ribbons
An album that chiefly focuses on loss, be that the loss of a loved one or a type of friendship sounds like a difficult list. This album, the third by the duo of Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton, is an emotional record, but a very enjoyable and refreshing one.
There are big slabs of pure pop, there are acoustic ballads and there are throw your hands in the air dancefloor moments. It is a thoughtful and beautifully written record, and the lyrics to the songs like Happy New Year and Levitation demand your attention.
4. Fontaines DC – Skinty Fia
From the hair tingling opening of In ar gCroithe go dep to the pop savvyness of Jackie Down the Line, this will be remembered as one of their finest albums.
Full of stadium sized tunes, driving bass and rhythms it is no wonder that the last time we saw them live, in Swansea in November, it was part of an arena tour, with thousands singing along. A far cry from the tiny Glastonbury Festival tent in 2019 where we first saw them.
Other highlights on this fine album are the sumptuous guitars on Big Shot and the wonderfully moody I Love You.
3. Erin Rae – Lighten Up
This beautiful album from Nashville’s Erin Rae could have been recorded at any time between 1967 and this year. There’s a 60s summery feel to the songs, with the production giving occasional more contemporary sounds to remind you that this is 2022.
Americana, folk, pop and more are heard throughout this consistently strong collection, that on one or two moments reminded us of Laura Marling’s also timeless 2020 album Song For Our Daughter.
2. Mountain Goats – Bleed Out
Bleed Out by The Mountain Goats is a banger from start to finish, packed full of punches, hits, sing-along choruses and in Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome it has arguably the best song title of the year.
Bleed Out feels as action packed as the crime and thriller movies of the 1960s to 1980s that have inspired it. Bleed Out is a great entry point for those unfamiliar with the band. Read our full review here.
1. Horsegirl – Versions of Modern Performance
Chicago three-piece Horsegirl clearly love their influences. You’ll hear echoes of Pavement, Yo La Tengo and British post-punk bands on the album. Sonic Youth also pop-up, literally, on the album with Steve Shelley and Lee Ronaldo making an appearance.
This isn’t a derivative record though. It is the sound of a band who know what they love and a worthy top placing in our Top Albums of 2022 list. Read our full review here.
Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers