Go read the top songs list if you haven’t yet! This list probably won’t be a huge surprise if you read that. Plenty of albums I really liked this year!
The Family – BROCKHAMPTON
Honestly, Nevermind – Drake (yeah that’s right, I DID like this)
Levitation Sessions (Live) – Babe Rainbow
Luv 4 Rent – Smino
Stick Season – Noah Kahan
SOS – SZA
Sweet Tooth – Mom Jeans.
VF Vol II – Sam Gellairty
Probably a bunch of others I liked but listened to HARD for like 3 weeks then forgot about, LMK what I’m missing!
Top 10 Albums of 2022
10. Surrender – Maggie Rogers
This was probably the album I was most excited to hear in 2022, and on a first listen it didn’t really meet my unbelievably high expectations. HOWEVER, I went away from it during the summer and came back in the fall and it was like a whole new project. Maggie Rogers is Fall vibes guys! Her label shouldn’t have let her drop a July album!
This is very different from Heard It In a Past Life and yet Maggie’s voice still comes through clearly and beautifully. “Overdrive” is a great opening ballad, “That’s Where I Am” kicks up the energy and is easily a top 3 song of hers, and “Want Want” leans more heavily into the electronic rock. Those 3 songs are a hot start, and then she also gets to show off her more singer-songwriter chops on songs like “Horses” and “I Got a Friend”. Her voice is as amazing as ever and there’s great hooks and bridges all over this album. I think this project loses a little bit of points for me simply being more of a fan of her indie/acoustic sound of her last album. Overall though, a strong sophomore album from her and makes me excited to see what she does next.
9. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 – Calvin Harris
Everyone’s discourse on this album was so freaking annoying. “Kind of a let down”, “Not as many bangers”, “doesn’t live up to the first one”. FIRST OF ALL, “Slide” is the greatest song of all time so if you were expecting another one of those you’re delusional. SECOND, the majority of people only really remember and appreciate that song, “Feels” and maybe like “Rollin'”. As a huge FWBV1 head, I like “Prayers Up”, “Holiday” and “Cash Out” is my #2 on the album but those don’t get mentioned! So when you say “there’s not as many bangers” what are you talking about? Not as many as the 3 songs off FWBV1 that you remember? STFU.
“Potion” is absolute heat. You get a sexy Dua hook, you get Young Thug like right after he was arrested sounding great, that classic summer-groove you’d expect off FWBV1! It’s fire! Just because expectations were so colossal and they were comparing everything to “Slide”, this song got disrespected heavy when it came out. But look, there’s other slappers on here too. “New Money” is literally this album’s “Rollin'” and I’ll say it, 21’s flow works better than Future’s over a Calvin Harris beat! Then you get to “Obsessed” which is absolutely incredible. Yeah it doesn’t have Frank Ocean and Migos so it was dismissed but this song is so damn good and is the #2 song of the collective FWB series for sure. “Stay With Me” probably failed to meet expectations again based on the stacked cast, but that song is super fun and funky! And then you get to the nostalgic and charming “Day One” closer track with Pusha T and Pharrell! Come on! This is a great album and it really bums me out people didn’t get behind it because of impossible expectations.
8. Melt My Eyez, See Your Future – Denzel Curry
This is everything I want out of a 2022 rap album. It is handled with so much care and thought that you just don’t get with a lot of the most popular rappers now. Denzel dropped multiple fire singles with videos leading up to this album, it’s a concise 14 songs all which help tell a central narrative, and when he dropped the “Deluxe” version it wasn’t just to get more streams by tacking on 7 songs he cut, it was renditions of the best songs on the album with a live band backing them! Like it’s own Tiny Desk concert! (Which he actually did and was also unreal).
Denzel talks a lot about mental health, self-reflection, things he’s struggling with in such an honest way, but does it in an engaging way. “Walkin” is the best rap song of the year where he discusses all of those things over a DOPE beat, the “Worst Comes to Worst” beat is crazy hard, and then you get to “Troubles” which talks about personal struggles but over a wicked fun Kenny Beats beat and has a catchy-ass hook from T FREAKING PAIN!
He goes conscious and lyrical on songs like “The Ills” and “X Wing” both of which are great, but also gets to bring out the hard almost-screaming side of his flow that made him famous on songs like “Ain’t No Way”. I really appreciate a rapper like Denzel really taking the time to differentiate his sound, have a full marketing campaign planned out for the project, and show that he cares about the quality of his music rather than just the number of streams it’s getting. It’s a real shame this wasn’t nominated for any Grammy’s.
7. Wet Leg – Wet Leg
This album gave me the same feeling as a lot of the alternative/indie music that I loved getting into in high school like Young the Giant, Two Door Cinema Club, etc. and I immediately fell in love. I first found “Chaise Lounge” after it popped up on a Youtube Playlist I was listening to and the goofiness, creativity, and energy packed into the song immediately made me want to check out more from them. So when their debut full length album came out in April I ran it front to back constantly and was not disappointed with what I heard.
I think they discuss a lot of the things people in their twenties are frustrated dealing with but in a unique and irreverent way. “Angelica” for example is punky, has the simple yet catchy hook of “I don’t wanna follow you on the ‘gram” and comes to a very sick conclusion of smattering guitars. “Wet Dream” is more upbeat and sexy and kinda reminds me of a Cage the Elephant type sound. “Ur Mum” is another addicting song to listen to with self-aware lyrics dissing an ex in the most confident way. B-sides like “Oh No” and “Supermarket” do more than enough to support the stand-out singles and then it all concludes with “Too Late Now” which is one of the most refreshing songs I’ve heard in a minute. There’s so many twists and turns in the instrumentals, in the pacing, even in the singing but I love every second of it and it’s probably the best closer to an album I’ve heard in a while (the guy screaming “ohhh my goddddd” faintly in the background is literally me). Highly recommend giving this a listen if you were the person in high school who would show people Vampire Weekend and be like “yeah, you probably don’t really know the stuff that I’m into”.
6. Gemini Rights – Steve Lacy
Absolute fire flames. I actually had Steve Lacy’s album Apollo XXI on my honorable mentions of 2019 after my brother introduced me a few years earlier, but Steve Lacy blew up this year for a reason: this album is 10 really really well-done songs that all sound different and yet compliment each other and the story of the album perfectly. “Helmet” has all the elements of what I loved about Steve Lacy’s other stuff with some wishy-washy drums, piano, and some cool psychedelic guitar riffs, but he pushes the envelope as well. “Mercury” has a latin flare to it, he brings in some horns, and some very cool background vocals. Get to “Buttons” and he’s slowing things down but getting emotional about how invested and in love he was with someone and the commentary on relationships this album does gets even stronger.
“Bad Habit” is obviously one of the best songs of the 2020’s so I’m not gonna say much more. “2Gether” and “Cody Freestyle” are both great supporting tracks and then you get to the romantic almost musical-theater sounding “Amber” which again just shows off how much versatility Lacy has and how great his voice sounds. I almost think “Sunshine” should’ve been the closer to this album. It tells a full story, has great vocals from Foushee, some iconic lines, and an outro that makes you shake your head and just say “damn this rocks”. I think this album will really only get better with age.
5. Harry’s House – Harry Styles
Forgot to do the right up of this but if you want my thoughts on why this rocks listen to the Harry’s House Special on Cutlet Radio! Some of my favorite songs of the year we’re off this album, Harry solidified himself as a mega-pop star and he can have fun but also show off his more emotional side while not losing a step in the enjoyability of the album.
4. MAHAL – Toro y Moi
I’ve been a casual fan of Toro y Moi’s for a while but this album really got me totally bought into him as a musician. It’s pretty cool when an artist has a clear vision in their head of what they want the look and feel of an album to be and then it gets translated and executed perfectly. The album cover is probably my favorite of any this year because of how well it captures the essence of the album. The Golden Gate in the background, Chaz sitting on a “Jeepney”, and then the surrounding red with the title and vinyl-consistent tracklist. It’s just super trippy and warm and informs you of what you’re about to get into.
The sound of the revving Jeepney is heard all over the album starting with the first track “The Medium” featuring Unknown Mortal Orchestra and there’s no words. It’s an interesting way to start an album but it works perfectly for this one. From there, you just sit back and enjoy the ride all the way through. “Goes by So Fast” is a bit more somber, but then “Postman” wakes you up with it’s goofy funk that’s almost Thundercat sounding. “The Loop” was my favorite song to toss on while going for walks in the summer, just makes you feel like a cool guy walking around his territory. “Clarity” lets him jam out a bit more too.
Once you get to “Deja Vu”, another honorable mention for best song of the year, they fall into a groove that finishes out the album strong. The chorus is catchy, the guitar is smooth, and hearing this song live this year was a treat. “Millennium” comes soon after and is in my top ten songs of the year for not much of a nuanced reason other than that it just sounds so good. The guitar lick, the bass-line, the hook, it just all works perfectly and was my favorite song to drive to this year. If you like psychedelic rock but want a more chill alternative sound this album is a must-listen. I think it had the most consistent vibe of any album this year and that vibe was a great one.
3. Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers – Kendrick Lamar
Alright not gonna lie, I was writing these last week when I had a ton of downtime but now the new year is cranking and I’ve kinda lost steam lmao, gonna blaze through the top 3 and looking at the past 7 write-ups I probably could’ve cut down on the analysis of those too but WHATEVER HERE WE GO!
Kendrick dropped this after years away and reminded us all why he has to be in your Top 5 all time. No one is doing it like him. The care he put into this album is what sets it apart and had it make an actual shift in the culture of hip-hop. He pushes the boundaries on his flow, subject matter, production, lyrics, live performances, videos and collaborators in a way that no one else is doing and it’s why he sold out dozens of stadiums this year putting on a show. He is the greatest rapper working right now, hands down. He can do introspective songs that are still enjoyable to listen to like Father Time, he can do songs with crazy beats like United in Grief that still work. Songs like N95 and Die Hard still go hard and are actually catchy. Songs you can turn up to like Count Me Out…there’s not much to say that hasn’t been said already. He is better than anyone else you think had the best rap album this year. No question.
2. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You – Big Thief
This was my comfort album in the late winter/spring when I desperately needed a comfort album. This album is chock-full of charm. It’s got an Americana-folk soul made my talented and established musicians who are playing on instruments it sounds like they found in their Grandma’s basement.
It’s long at 1hr 20 mins but it earns that run time so effortlessly. The first 5 songs are literally all insanely good. “Change” is beautiful and hits home, “Time Escaping” is wildly unique and scratches an itch I didn’t even know I had, and “Spud Infinity” made me cry on multiple occasions this year, then “Certainty” into the title track “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You” is a great one-two punch.
Then songs like “Red Moon” and “Wake Me Up to Drive” are cute as hell. Then the tail end of the album kicks off with “Simulation Swarm” which is just another indie/alternative/folky banger. It was so great to just put this on start to finish and enjoy it’s artistry for over an hour multiple times when I needed it most. Big Thief, you guys rule.
1. Being Funny In a Foreign Language – The 1975
I already gushed over this enough on the songs list.
If I had to create a Top 30 tracks of 2022 list, I think 80% of this album would be on it. People say “No Skips” all the time now and it’s kinda lost its meaning (looking at you Taylor Swift fans saying you wouldn’t skip any of the TWENTY THREE SONGS on the Midnights 3am version). BUT THIS ALBUM HAS NO SKIPS. The production, the lyrics, the world the album creates…it’s beautiful. This is hands down the best album of the year and I really like every track. So screw it we’re just gonna rip through the 11 songs on this real quick and we’ll call this list a day.
- “The 1975” – Absolute freaking ripper of an opener. It makes you feel like you’re entering an experience! It’s what an intro should be! Like the first song kicking off an epic beautiful life-changing movie. God I love it so much. This would be in my Top 15 if I wasn’t a coward who didn’t wanna put 3 of the same band’s songs in the same list.
- “Happiness” – Best song of the year.
- “Looking for Somebody (to Love)” – Catchy as all hell, has that cheeky 1975 feel you’d expect out of their kinda feel-good pop sound.
- “Part of the Band” – A great compliment to this album, comes when you need the vibe switch. They are so in their bag in the last minute or two of this song.
- “Oh Caroline” – This completely RIPPED live. We’ve all been there! We want someone back! We wanna try again! And put that into a groovy track! COME ON!
- “I’m In Love with You” – Top 10 song of the year. HEATER.
- “All I Need to Hear” – A good emotional B-side song when you need it.
- “Wintering” – Sure, let’s get a great new Christmas song while we’re at it. Why not!
- “Human Too” – Dreamy, sounds beautiful, love all of the instrumental build.
- “About You” – This was Top 15 too probably, again I just didn’t wanna crowd the list. That bridge goes absolutely insane. Song feels HUGE. I love the maximalism of this album. Matty Healy does come off as pretentious and arrogant about his music but he is actively trying to make something that feels like an event with depth and staying power and this song does that. Again, hearing it live was sick.
- “When We Are Together” – Great closer. Strings sound awesome. Some lyrics would be questionable but if you listen front to back you’re already bought in on the quirkiness of the album so it works.
Hope you enjoyed! Lemme know what I missed!
Also interesting tidbit if you made it this far, 8 of the Top 10 albums were rated between 7.1-8 by Pitchfork, the only ones outside were Big Thief at a 9 and Calvin Harris at a 5.2. Not really taking many risks in their rankings if you ask me! Just sayin! Stick with ol’ Mr. Parm for the good stuff!