2022 was a weird year for me, but an amazing year for music. Almost two years inside means there was a lot of time and nothing to do. People turned the uncertainty of this time into art and made some beautiful music out of it. I finally got to see some live shows this year. Whether it was The Stadium Tour (Motley Crue, Poison, Def Leppard, and Joan Jett) or Limp Bizkit or Alice in Chains (!!) and Bush, everyone put on a great show. You can tell how much we all missed it. Being without it has made me appreciate it in a way I never have before. Without further ado, here are my picks for the best albums of 2022.
Once Twice Melody- Beach House
Seeing Beach House live, playing songs off this album in their hometown of Baltimore, was one of the best moments of my 2022. The mystical atmosphere created by Victoria Legrand’s voice and Alex Scally’s ethereal instrumentals sucks you in and transports you to another world. The first half of this double album was on my list last year, and, as predicted, the full thing is my favorite project of the year, maybe even my favorite Beach House album ever.
Laurel Hell- Mitski
Mitski has always been the perfect blend of modern indie-rock (like Car Seat Headrest) and sad-girl pop (i.e., Lana Del Rey). Per usual, she does an exceptional job of displaying her personal maturity and artistic growth on this album. Many fans have speculated this might be her last project. Mitski’s never been shy about how she's struggled with her fame, so it would be unsurprising to me if she quietly made her exit after dropping one last record. I certainly hope she carries on making music, though- she has far too much talent for us never to hear something from her again.
Duster was a new discovery for me this year. I quickly went down the rabbit hole, and they became one of my absolute favorites. Before I wrote this, I read the Pitchfork review for this album. “Duster aren't so sad anymore,” it said. I disagree. I don't think Duster’s music has ever been as despondent and hopeless as people think. They don’t say, “My life has no purpose,” they say, “Everyone’s life has no purpose, and that's okay.” A small distinction, but it makes a big difference; It makes you feel comfort, misery. That’s what this album is to me- solace in sadness, a light in the dark.
Wet Leg- Wet Leg
This duo has started their young careers very strong. With five Grammy nominations and a number-one album, these women perfectly describe the life and emotions of a modern twenty-something woman. Working and partying, heartbreak and joy. I'm extremely excited to see what they come out with next.
A Light For Attracting Attention- The Smile
The debut album from the side project of longtime bandmates Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood sounds like a Radiohead album, which is perhaps the reason why it wasn’t a Radiohead album. Thom’s lyrics are personal. They reflect a time when the future was decidedly uncertain. The music is contrasting, going from otherworldly strings to harsh drum beats. The Smile has created a masterpiece that I’m sure I’ll be overanalyzing for years to come.
Gemini Rights- Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy is a perfect example of how TikTok runs the music industry nowadays. At the beginning of the year, he was still relatively “indie''. The songs “Static” and “Bad Habit” from his new album quickly blew up on TikTok after its release in June. Quick to hop on the trend, a sped-up version of “Bad Habit” was released. Soon after, it became a #1 song. TikTok fame isn’t like being a one-hit-wonder. On the social media platform, only 10-15 second clips of a song, usually the chorus, are used. People don't even listen to the full song. You don't get 15 minutes of fame anymore; you get 15 seconds. Steve Lacy, unlike most of these people, has genuine talent. Sure he’ll ride this wave, but he isn't stopping there.
The Overload- Yard Act I
I cannot say enough good things about this album. It’s a trip all around, and I genuinely had fun listening to it. They manage to keep their mostly political lyrics amusing and the instrumentation is uniquely varied compared to much of the rock music of today. Influences spanning from Britpop to punk rock, Yard Act creates a fresh, idiosyncratic sound that I hope is here to stay.
Preacher’s Daughter- Ethel Cain
Ethel Cain brings to mind images of a Southern Gothic dystopia. She takes you to her world with her music, a world of hot summer nights, driving down a Midwestern highway, passing abandoned motels and Jesus billboards. “The American Dream is unachievable,” the singer has said. That's what this album is about to me. What is left after we take that dream away? Ethel is one to watch out for. Despite what she might say in her music, her future is bright.
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You- Big Thief
A beautiful, sprawling collection of songs with passionate craftsmanship and quality production. Big Thief is like the love child Bob Dylan and The Microphones. The guitars, reminiscent of 60’s folk, and the stirring lyrics will definitely put you in your feels. Dragon is a lot. It took a while for me to process. Now that I have, I think I know what it's all about. Every song, every word, every note is about love. Love of each other, love of ourselves, and, principally, love of music.