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In Review: Top 10 Albums of 2022
A list of my favourite albums of the year.
According to my Last.fm stats, I’ve listened to close to 3000 albums this year, and a vast portion of those would be new releases. That’s a stupid amount of new music for one person to sort through; however, it’s also something that brings me unending joy and provides a justifiable reason for doing this newsletter (and now podcast) week in and week out. So, you know, you’re welcome.
With that caveat out of the way, I bring you my Top 10 Albums of 2022. Enjoy!
Top 10 Albums of 2022
Cave In – Heavy Pendulum
“It’s one thing to bounce back from tragedy and return with your career-best record, but it’s another thing entirely when it’s also your first studio album in eleven years. And yet, against the painful loss of longtime bassist Caleb Scofield in 2018, Massachusetts rockers Cave In have done exactly that. Heavy Pendulum, the group’s colossal seventh LP, takes their metallic spin on spacey alt-rock textures and blasts it out like a supernova. Crushing, dense and fittingly triumphant.” (Exclaim!)
The Comfort – Experience Everything. Live and Die.
Back in 2018, I described The Comfort’s full-length debut, What It Is To Be, as “a beautiful, exhilarating and revelatory rock record that dives deep into our subjective journey for meaning, purpose and self-discovery in everyday life.” Four years on, I stand by that statement, and it pleases me to see a palpable sense of growth on display from the group with the release of their long-awaited sophomore follow-up.
Much like its predecessor, Experience Everything. Live and Die. is an album that isn’t afraid to tackle big, heady, existential questions: the meaning of life, the ubiquity of death, and the profundity of the universe. The twelve tracks on offer here are meticulously crafted, frequently engaging and arresting, inviting repeat listens and deep emotional investment.
Elder – Innate Passage
Sometimes I want a record that lets my mind drift aimlessly and float away on lofty riffs, especially when trying to study and/or write. Massachusetts-via-Berlin rock quartet Elder are one of a few bands capable of delivering on that premise in a consistent and engaging fashion and have for years now. 2017’s Reflections of a Floating World and 2020’s Omens both made by AOTY lists in their respective years, so it makes sense that their latest full-length, Innate Passage, was pretty much a shoo-in here. If you’re looking for a hypnotic blend of doom, psych rock, and progressive metal, this is your new favourite band.
FJØRT – Nichts
On their fourth album, Nichts (or Nothing in English), German post-hardcore outfit FJØRT deliver a genre-agnostic, 50-minute aural experience. It’s a record that fluidly blends visceral hardcore aggression with shades of intense screamo and delicate post-rock, making for their best batch of new material since 2016's stellar Kontakt. And look, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t speak a lick of German, so it’s a real testament to the group’s sonic prowess when foreign language music can still land as cryptic, accessible, and resolutely powerful despite these conceptual boundaries.
Freddie Gibbs – $oul $old $eparately
I’ve been waiting for the better part of a decade for Gary, Indiana emcee Freddie Gibbs to drop another home-run solo record. Of course, in that time, it’s not like he hardly fell off, instead dropping a series of outstanding collaboration records: 2018’s Fetti with Curren$y produced by The Alchemist; 2019's Bandana produced by Madlib, the follow-up to 2014’s GOAT’d Piñata; and 2020's Grammy-nominated Alfredo once again with The Alchemist.
On $oul $old $eparately, Gibbs comes through with a stunning producer showcase (Kaytranada, James Blake, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, DJ Paul) and a slew of coveted guests features (Pusha T, Raekwon, Scarface), fusing his effortless hood braggadocio with solemn introspection, energetic bars, smooth jazz samples, sticky hooks, and plenty of entertaining quotables.
Funeral Chic – Roman Candle
“Funeral Chic have managed to keep things fast, dirty, and suitably evil, dialling up the blackout party vibes to 11 while also sticking to the golden rule of rock ‘n’ roll: everything is better with sax.” (Weekly Roundup)
He Is Legend – Endless Hallway
Southern lords He Is Legend have been on an absolute tear for the better part of a decade now. After a lengthy hiatus, the North Carolina outfit returned to the fold and dropped three stellar albums in the 2010s: Heavy Fruit (2014), few (2017), and White Bat (2019). On Endless Hallway, their latest full-length and first record for their third decade of existence, the quartet keep things suitably catchy and heavy, merging their alt-metal stylings with sexy, gothic charm. It’s a dark, melodic album overflowing with cavernous drum fills, discordant, chug-fuelled breakdowns, and a big serving of stomping White Zombie grooves. All in all, it’s a rollicking good time and one of their band’s best.
No Pressure – S/T
“A few weeks ago, I described No Pressure as “What if we played Dude Ranch songs but hardcore?” I still stand by that analogy, and after several enthusiastic playthroughs, it’s only become more apt. Featuring The Story So Far frontman Parker Cannon alongside Light Years’ Pat Kennedy and Regulate’s Harry Corrigan, No Pressure’s self-titled debut LP takes this nostalgic yearning and turns it into something supremely catchy and blissfully ephemeral.” (In Review: Best of 2022 So Far)
Spirits of Leo – Gossamer Blue
“Gossamer Blue is a beautiful, energetic, hauntingly spectral record, brimming with a spacious atmosphere and sublime melodic whispers. It’s also a testament to the talents of principal songwriter Ryan Santos Phillips that something this brisk and concise (eight tracks in an ephemeral 32 minutes) can so effectively straddle the line between hypnagogic shoegaze and uptempo post-punk.” (Weekly Roundup)
Their / They’re / There – Their / They’re / Three
“If you were describing something like Minus The Bear to someone who lacked a frame of reference, how would you do it? Let’s face it, a casual “Oh, it’s math rock” probably isn’t going to cut it. However, if you said, “Well, it’s rock, but it’s also got these super pretty, twinkly guitar refrains with punchy drums and bouncy grooves sitting on smooth vocal lines that make you wanna live life like it’s a feverdream neo-noir,” that might push you over the edge and sweep up a new fan. All of this is to say that Their / They’re / Three, the new album from Their / They’re / There, is all of this but heavier, and it fucking rocks in a total “algebra not required” kind of way.” (Weekly Roundup)