With the 12 months of 2022 behind us, and the first of 2023 nearly over, the time is ripe to look back and decide: What are the best albums of last year?
The following is an unranked collection of some of the greatest, catchiest and most innovative major releases that dropped in 2022, which, overall, proved to be a fruitful year in the music industry.
“Ants From Up There” — Black Country, New Road
The British post-rock band Black Country, New Road (BC, NR) exploded onto the scene in 2019 with their instant-classic single, “Sunglasses,” and has been the indie-rock community’s focus ever since.
Their sophomore album, “Ants From Up There,” takes BC, NR’s trademark cynicism, heaviness and fusion of punk, jazz, psychedelia and everything in between to a whole new level. The album feels much more mature and focused than their previous work and stands out easily as being the greatest rock album of 2022.
The very young band has yet to reach the height of its potential, but after the departure of vocalist Isaac Wood, BC, NR’s future lies in uncertain territory. “Ants From Up There” may be the last we get from what could’ve been a historic movement in music.
“The Gods We Can Touch” — Aurora
The singer-songwriter from Norway has been a recognizable figure in the art-pop genre since her 2016 debut album, “All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend,” and while her latest release may not stand out as being immediately new or revolutionary, Aurora’s singing and production has become so refined that “The Gods We Can Touch” is undeniably enjoyable.
The 15 tracks range from soft and emotional to dance anthems, with each one of them presenting a memorable and catchy sound. There is not a single skippable track on the album, but some songs, like “Exist for Love” and “A Temporary High” stand out as being especially impactful.
“The Gods We Can Touch” offers a clean, easy and extremely replayable listen that stands as one of the pop genre’s best of 2022.
“Melt My Eyez, See Your Future” — Denzel Curry
For the first time in years, mainstream trap took a backseat in 2022 to the many alternative forms of rap out there. Styles like rage spread through the underground scene like wildfire, and a strong resurgence in conscious rap, boom-bap and jazz rap took place.
And among the countless classics that dropped, Denzel Curry’s “Melt My Eyez, See Your Future” stands out ever so slightly.
The Florida rapper delves deep into his inspirations of jazz and the aesthetics of Akira Kurosawa to generate an album with some of the best production, vocals, lyricism and flows in recent memory.
Curry still utilizes his hardcore style that propelled him into popularity in the 2010s, but it is in a much more concentrated and tuned-in form on this album.
Aside from being a beautiful fusion of sounds and styles, as well as an ode to the constant struggles of daily life, “Melt My Eyez, See Your Future” is simply a banger to listen to.
“Once Twice Melody” — Beach House
Beach House returned from a nearly five-year hiatus with a four-part release of their longest and most ambitious album yet: “Once Twice Melody.”
The dream-pop duo explored and experimented with more sounds and styles than ever before in this 84-minute epic. And while all of it may not live up to the band’s best work, the colorful range and variety the album offers is something that anyone can find enjoyment in.
Amidst all the new directions Beach House takes, the soaring guitars and heavenly vocals that made the duo so popular still find their place.
“Once Twice Melody” is a testament, if any further is needed, to Beach House’s unique and revolutionary talent.
“Sleepy Soldier” — Tanna Leone
Tanna Leone, who was completely unknown this time last year, released his debut album, “Sleepy Soldier” after being signed to Kendrick Lamar’s label “PgLang.”
The debut showcases Leone’s array of talents, each song rapidly swaying from trap to rhythm and blues to pop. What “Sleepy Soldier” becomes is a statement of Leone’s unique and great potential within the ever-evolving rap industry.
Emotional and intimate at its core, Leone expresses a range of feelings and passions with a colorful mixture of vocal styles and production, which makes “Sleepy Soldier” a very promising debut release.