As another year draws to a close and I reflect on the albums that I’ve connected with most in 2022, I’ve also been thinking about a question that keeps cropping up more and more each year: is the ‘album’ an outdated concept? This question deserves a dedicated article, but at this moment in time I feel like the answer is not quite yet. Are there more innovative and creative methods to release music? Yes. Do people even listen to albums from start to finish anymore? For the most part probably not. But a lot of people still have personal attachments to artists, and the excitement of an album-release and the feeling of bingeing on an album like a Netflix TV series still holds an important place in the music industry. There were so many good albums this year that I actually struggled to select just 10, but here they are:
10. Better With You – KAWALA
I first heard KAWALA last year and couldn’t get enough of their singles that had been released at that time – notably Ticket To Ride, Searching and Good For This. Their original sound is really captivating – the staccato acoustic guitar, up-close vocals and harmonies, and insanely catchy alternative pop melodies – and their debut album Better With You does not disappoint!
Top track: Jesse C’mon
9. Mainstream Sellout – Machine Gun Kelly
Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) continued his pop-punk revolution this year with a second consecutive #1 album. Mainstream Sellout is in many ways a continuation of 2020’s Tickets to my Downfall, but it was interesting to see MGK bring in different genres and influences to his rock persona. For me it doesn’t quite have the same impact as Tickets, and I suspect he may return to hip-hop now, but Mainstream Sellout is nonetheless a solid album and proved to the doubters that his pop-punk experiment was not a fluke.
Top track: 5150
8. Please Put Me In A Medically Induced Coma – Carolesdaughter
Carolesdaughter’s Target Practice is one of my favrouite songs of the year, and despite only recently coming across this album it was a no-brainer that it would make the top 10. With only seven songs, Please Put Me In A Medically Induced Coma is technically an EP rather than an album, but it has so much energy and fun hooks that it would be a shame to leave it out on that basis and not give it the recognition it deserves. Carolesdaughter is a very exciting artist and I’m intrigued to see how her career pans out.
Top track: Target Practice
7. Self-Titled – Marcus Mumford
After almost four years since Mumford & Sons’ last album, Delta, it was nice to see Marcus back to writing and releasing music. Self-titled is experimental in its instrumentation, deep in its lyrics, but also doesn’t shy away from its Mumford & Sons influences. This is an album that unfolds more and more with every listen and an album he should be proud of before – hopefully – returning to the studio with Mumford & Sons.
Top track: Better Angels
6. Unwanted – Pale Waves
Similar to MGK, Pale Waves have continued along the pop-punk path with Unwanted after 2020’s Who Am I?, but in this case they have swayed more into the punk side rather than bringing in other influences. Every song is a winner, with hard-hitting, killer riffs and catchy melodies throughout, and a confidence and uniqueness in Heather Baron-Gracie’s vocals that offers the genre something fresh and exciting.
Top track: Reasons to Live
5. Being Funny In A Foreign Language – The 1975
With two fairly bloated albums in the space of 18 months (2018’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships and 2020’s Notes on a Conditional Format), The 1975 returned this year with a more concise and brilliantly executed album in Being Funny In A Foreign Language. It demonstrates cohesion, experimentation, familiarity, and is perhaps one of the stronger albums in their back catalogue.
Top track: I’m In Love With You
4. The Car – Arctic Monkeys
The boys from Sheffield took another long break before returning earlier this year with There’d Better Be A Mirrorball, the first single from The Car. Arctic Monkeys have shown their desire to continue exploring a more mature style of songwriting with The Car, relying heavily on strings and falsetto vocals, and it pays off as both sound brilliant and steal the show! The Car is a journey that deserves your full attention and is worth taking the time to listen to alone with headphones (on repeat).
Top track: Big Ideas
3. Return of the Dream Canteen – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been treated to a lot this year, with the return of guitarist John Frusciante and two double-albums (Unlimited Love in April and Return of the Dream Canteen in October). Both are great albums in their own right, but Unlimited Love is perhaps a little safer, whereas with Dream Canteen the pressure was off a little and they were able to release the funkier tracks from their mammoth recording session the year before. The Chilis have always had a knack for writing catchy choruses too, and there are plenty of these in Return of the Dream Canteen, such as Bella and The Drummer.
Top track: Eddie
2. Meet The Moonlight – Jack Johnson
Hawaiian singer-songwriter Jack Johnson has been in the game for a long time now, and at this point in his career is familiar with what his fans want to hear but also what he wants to write. He’s never been an artist that strays far from his signature sound, and the same can be said for his latest offering, Meet The Moonlight. What I do love this album most though is that he worked with producer Blake Mills, who also produced Marcus Mumford’s album, and I really feel that this collaboration gives the album a uniqueness and freshness to the classic Jack Johnson sound.
Top track: 3AM Radio
1. 11:11 – Pinegrove
At a time when the climate crisis is becoming a more essential topic of discussion, Pinegrove have released an important album in 11:11 that focuses on the dangers of climate change and reminds listeners of the beauty of the planet we are fortunate enough to live on. Evan Stephens-Hall has always had a gift in his ability to write conversational, meaningful and personable lyrics, and he has used this gift perfectly throughout this album. 11:11 is by no means Pinegrove’s best album, and the slicker production almost leaves me missing the rawness of their older recordings, but this is still a fantastic record with great songs and a strong message.
Top track: Cyclone