Best Albums of 2022
The Fopp Report
The votes are in, the numbers have been crunched and the records have been obsessed over. Here, in no particular order, is our comprehensive list of the best albums of 2022. The physical booklet of our top albums & films of the year is available in store for free!
What did we get wrong? What did we miss? What is your favourite record from 2022? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @foppofficial.
Horsegirl – Versions of modern performance – fopp album of the year
Right from the start, Versions Of Modern Performance is a cracking debut album, the thrashing, ragged beats of the opening track Anti-glory capturing the listener’s attention within the first 10 seconds. Slacker indie rock newcomers Horsegirl are a force to be reckoned with, oozing with confidence and the talent to back it up, and if Versions Of Modern Performance is anything to go by, this is only the beginning of a long and successful career for the three Chicago teenagers
Wet Leg – Wet Leg
Mixing wit, charm and attitude with early 00’s pop rock aesthetics produces the kind of music that puts the Skins soundtrack to shame. Wet Leg’s first album, Wet Leg, is dripping with comedy as captivating from their first single, Chaise Longue, to the endlessly entertaining ender Too Late Now. The meteoric rise of Wet Leg, from festival opener to Harry Styles support to globe trotting stars has been made all the more entertaining to watch accompanied by the lead singer’s humility. Confidently proclaiming that their lyrics are nonsense and the band is there for fun lends a sense of freedom. This is only helped by the visual component of this album, which mustn’t be missed. With a slew of hilarious and rewatchable music videos, this is an album that encourages dress up hand in hand with listening and of course, shaking a leg. For a year so often marked with world changing news, the Wet Leg show was definitely one of the funniest and most needed reprieves to be found. Long live Wet Leg.
Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
Big Thief’s Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You comes in at 20 tracks. Whilst being rooted in folk and having energetic highpoint, the overall album exudes an extremely chilled, laid back vibe. Some heart-breaking lyrical elements, interlaced with hopeful, upbeat natural imagery invite the listener to dive deeper. Spud Infinity being a perfect example of a song that has more to say than a first listen might uncover. Whilst the lyrics might seem atypical at first, they provide the ground for those who are willing to dig deep to do so. Songs like Change shine through their simple chord progression, evoking a sense of familiarity.
Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B
Jockstrap’s long awaited debut album has been one of the great success stories of the year. With Black Country New Road’s Georgia Ellery combining forces with Taylor Skye’s electronic discordance, the album is a success story in catchy dissonance. The contradictions inherent throughout with string arrangements and light vocals at odds with walls of electronic noise shouldn’t work on paper, but in reality it creates one of the most intriguing records of 2022. Nothing else sounds like Jockstrap, and I Love You Jennifer B is abstract pop music at its very finest. With inspiration coming from everything from Cilla Black to Nine Inch Nails, I Love You Jennifer B is by far one of the most unpredictable albums of the year, with twists and turns coming at every corner. The sheer genius of Skye and Ellery shines throughout, and begs the question – where on Earth do they go from here?
The Beths – Expert in a Dying Field
A melodic exploration of emotional turmoil with a hopeful twinge. Beautifully crafted instrumentation that will fill jubilant listeners’ ears with a nostalgia reserved for the likes of classic Christmas films. With lyrics that aren’t shrouded in mysticism; an honesty that will cut straight to your heart accompanied by anthemic choruses. Silence Is Golden being an upbeat stand out that gig-goers will be sure to witness as a closer for years to come, The Beths have truly come into their own on this album. Pop emboldened anguish is prevalent throughout, but always backed by hopeful instrumentals.
Cate le Bon – Pompeii
Cate Le Bon had a big task. Her last album, Reward, was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2019. However, the Welsh musician did not disappoint. On her sixth full-length studio album, Cate jumps back into the world of surrealism whilst confronting some of the world’s most personal taboos. It’s an incredibly creative album that provides tons on each new listen.
Mitski – Laurel Hell
Just when you think Mitski can’t impress you anymore, she then releases Laurel Hell. Emotional, genuine and teeming with pop bangers, Mitski’s latest album demonstrates the artist’s exceeding musical talent and ability to reinvent her sound whilst retaining the iconic indie-synth pop. Every song is its own story, as Mitski generously gives the listener a deep look into her life and thoughts, creating a spectacular result. This is an album that will make you think, make you dream and most importantly, make you dance.
Dry Cleaning – Stumpwork
Post-punk excellence. This is the sophomore effort from the South London band and they have nailed the landing. It’s a deeply introspective sounding album, but not in an overtly obvious way, the lyrical surrealism is ever present. The music reveals more and more with every listen, and the title song is a great demonstration of this. It’s a beautiful development for the band and sets them on a trajectory for big things.
Bjork – Fossora
Bjork returns with her 15th studio album Fossora, the feminine version of the Latin word for digger. The album is organic, spacious and has depth and tenderness. It’s an astonishing piece of work that is both complex yet easy to digest with a dream-like quality.Ranging through a large variety of genre-bending sounds, the album demonstrates what the artist has been doing for decades, pushing the boundaries and creating art. Björk once again gives her body and soul to this stunning album.
Courting – Guitar Music
The phrase “Half hour of power” has never been more necessary than in detailing this short, but oh-so-sweet record perfectly. It’s Hyper-Pop. It’s Trance. It’s Post-Punk. It’s Aphex Twin meets The Murder Capital. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard. A self-deprecating lyrical facade throws the audience for a curve ball with Tennis, but this sonic soundscape of utter chaos will have you throwing hands at the next Wimbledon final. The whole album sounds like a mash-up that shouldn’t work but it is so invigorating, exciting and most importantly, unique and familiar; accessible, yet phenomenally ground-breaking. What a band! Expect big things from Courting; they’re coming for you.
Foals – Life is Yours
With their seventh studio album Life is Yours trio Foals add a new string to their bow. Their flirtation with a dancier pop-rock side might come as a surprise to fans. Still, typically Foals punchy rhythms, tasteful riffs and catchy hooks remain. The more simplistic, dancier sound also shows traces of afrobeat rhythms and funk elements. As most of the singles are stacked towards the beginning of the album, this builds anticipation to discover this different side of Foals on the remaining album tracks.
Black Midi – Hellfire
Where to start with black midi. Whatever you were expecting from this album, toss it out the window because it doesn’t matter and in the flurry of groovy drums, charismatic vocals and soaring sax, it’s gotten lost already. You don’t know what’s coming next, we don’t know what’s coming next, but like the participants in a ghost ride we are strapped in and along for the ride. Only experts in detail, musicianship and drama could create an album as dramatic, wild and fun as hellfire, so buckle up buttercup.
Father John Misty – Chloe and the Next 20th Century
You can expect what you know best from Josh Tillman, stunning melodies and cinematic lyricism. It’s an album that uses the singer’s voice to paint an incredibly vivid picture. Chloe And The Next 20th Century was written and recorded between August and December 2020 and features arrangements by Drew Erickson. The album sees Tillman and producer/multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Wilson resume their longtime collaboration, as well as Dave Cerminara, returning as engineer and mixer.
Black Country, New Road – Ants from Up There
With last year’s debut, it seemed like Black Country, New Road were onto something. Now, Ants From Up There in hand we can say definitively; yes they are, and thank goodness. Heartfelt vocal work and rich soundscapes produce a band that can on a whim go from the closest and tiniest sound to humungous moments. The care with which brass, guitar, quiet vocals and drums interplay takes the recipe for a mess and makes something incredible. Strap yourself in for this one, BC,NR are going all the way up.
Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia
Packed with emotional grit, Skinty Fia (which in Irish translates to ‘the damnation of the deer’), is the latest offering from Irish post-punks Fontaines D.C.. Their third album has seen them expand into darker, heavier-hitting topics, the moodier lyrics and grave, gravelly vocals from frontman Grian Chatten setting the overall theme. With Skinty Fia, the band has taken what they’ve gone through in everyday life and offered it up to the public. They don’t want answers, they just want to make sure that they’re heard.
Sharon Van Etten – We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong
confidently stepping back onto form with her 6th album, sharon van etten’s signature stunning vocal work, dark drum soundscapes and deeply personal lyricism is on top form. we’ve been going about this all wrong roars in with a mournful and powerful set of lyrical themes exploring the difficulties of living in a world gripped in crisis and coping with personal relationships caught up in tumultuous times. in particular, the tracks home to me and come back lay these ideas out with both barrels. heart-wrenching moments are conveyed with the power of the massive sound sharon wields at will.
Yard Act – The Overload
A tongue-in-cheek take on the new wave of Post Punk, Yard Act yet again present a collection of caricatures spitting vile lamentations of the modern day over Brit-Pop, Indie and Blues laden instrumentals. Laying on vocal hook after vocal hook that are sure to be echoed throughout their career, Yard Act have outdone themselves in a brisk thirty-seven minutes. An observation on the disgruntling division that is seemingly more prevalent than ever, this record will be sure to appease left-leaning moshers’ for years to come.
Jenny Hval – Classic Objects
Jenny Hval’s eighth studio album was written in the throes of the pandemic, and sees the Norwegian singer-songwriter examine what exactly music meant to her in the absence of performances. This sense of introspection is fantastically summarised in Year Of Love’s lyric: “Who needs a stage when a man proposes to a woman?” The music found on this record is a fantastically personal thing. Jenny invites the listener to step down from the stage with her and the warmth and colourful nature of this record makes this a fantastic evening’s listen.
Yeah Yeahs Yeahs – Cool it Down
After a nine-year break, American indie-rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs returned this year with their fifth studio album, Cool It Down, and what a triumphant return it has been. Often impetuous and spontaneous on previous releases, Cool It Down, as the name suggests, has seen the band take the time to assess their sound, where they’re at and where they want to be. This has resulted in a refreshingly consistent album, intelligently executed in direction and merging of the restlessness that makes Yeah Yeah Yeah who they are but this time with an additional focused edge. Cool It Down is a new age for the band, and has been a welcome rebirth by fans who were eagerly anticipating the release of new music from the trio. Written in a post-pandemic world, the album focuses on hope and the future, the good things that are in the world, creating an anthemic and uplifting set of tunes. Pure brilliance.
Bartees Strange – Farm to Table
Bartees Strange’s sophomore record presents emo/indie/pop/rap/math rock phenomena never before heard. His voice is unparalleled, and rides some of the hookiest melodies that allows the genre-hopping to be presented so smoothly. It feels as if Strange has just opened a page of his diary, and has put melody and rhythm to his musings of the state of the world in the most comfortable and accessible musical prose. With something for everyone on Farm To Table, the dynamics throughout the whole album are inimitable, pushing and pulling you through some of the most interesting and challenging.
Michael Head & the Red Elastic Band – Dear Scott
Finding that luck, love and letting things roll works out for him just fine, Michael Head leads his Red Elastic Band into a fresh chapter with optimism and some of the best music of his career, with his new, Bill Ryder-Jones-produced album, Dear Scott. The 12-track album is dusted with both Ryder-Jones’ artistry and the heavyweight musicianship of The Red Elastic Band, which Head found had ‘stepped up’ following almost a year apart, forcing him to dig deeper himself.
First Aid Kit – Palomino
Released four years after their previous album Ruins, Palomino is an 11 song album and features the singles Angel and Out Of My Head. Discussing their new album in a statement, the duo said: “this is the first record we’ve recorded in Sweden since we made our debut album The Big Black And The Blue 12 years ago. We worked with Swedish producer Daniel Bengtson at his lovely studio Studio Rymden in Stockholm. It was such a fun experience. We really let the recording take time, we didn’t want to rush it. It’s probably our most pop sounding record yet.”
Johnny Marr – Fever Dreams Pts. 1-4
If you were to strip Fever Dreams Pts. 1-4 right back to basics, you would be left with this. An album created by a genuine music lover. This ever-present passion from Johnny Marr is what makes this album so dazzling. Along with impeccable talent, the natural love of the arts that went into composing the record is beautiful, the passion-filled guitars almost palpable with raw energy. Johnny Marr writes for himself just as much as he does for his millions of fans, creating an album that everyone will fall in love with.
Belle and Sebastian – A bit of Previous
The tenth studio album by Belle and Sebastian and their first full-length in seven years. The album was recorded in Belle And Sebastian’s hometown of Glasgow when plans to fly to Los Angeles in spring of 2020 were scrapped due to the pandemic. Says Murdoch in the liner notes: ‘We did it together, us and the city. This record was the first ‘full’ LP recording for B&S in Glasgow since Fold Your Hands Child, 1999. We clocked in every morning, we played our songs, we wrote together, we tried new things, we took the proverbial lump of clay, and we threw it every day’.
The Afghan Whigs – How do you burn?
Esoteric in the best way, The Afghan Whigs still manage to amaze after three decades in the sun. With Queens Of The Stone Age-esque attitude and finesse, they manage to dazzle with their desert rock sonics. Overarching harmonies resonant of The Beatles, are fluttered throughout the record and the palpability of their musical prowess never ceases to amaze. An encapsulation of some of the band’s best work is hidden between the sleeves of this insatiable record. A must listen!
The Smile – A light for attracting attention
The debut from Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood in a Radiohead side-project, featuring drummer Tom Skinner. This one is one of the most enticing and evocative records on offer this year. With brit-pop influences, and eerie synthesisers syncopated against the delay-drenched mumble of Yorke and Skinner’s near smoky-jazz-bar tightly produced drum kit are all very typical of the trio’s artistry with a fresh and sinister twist. Tracks like The Opposite, the band are so locked-in, it’s alien. With some of the most strident songs Yorke has come out with since Anyone Can Play Guitar, You Will Never Work In Television Again is as punky and brit-poppy as they come, while holding true to the mathy/syncopated raucousness any old Radiohead fan will be sure to be a fan of. With moments that will haunt you in your sleep with its eeriness and beauty, this record is self-aware as well as being a very apt commentary on the state of the world as we currently know it; the demand for immediate satisfaction reflected in lines such as “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” on Open The Floodgates alongside a sense of existential dread, The Smile’s debut is not one to miss.
Julia Jacklin – Pre Pleasure
Julia Jacklin is relentless on the listener’s heartstrings through Pre Pleasure, as she puts into words feelings of emotional turmoil we’ve all experienced. The juxtaposition of the album’s soft-indie folk melodies and brutal, intelligent lyrics make for a truly remarkable album. It’s inspiring to hear how much Julia Jacklin has developed her sound over her past three records and very exciting to think about what may come next from the Australian musician.
Angel Olsen – Big Time
With new album Big Time, singer-songwriter Angel Olsen has channelled her personal tragedies, her experiences with life, love and grief, into a mesmerising bunch of songs. Delving deeper into folk-country rock, each track swells with emotion, and vulnerability, leaving Angel fully exposed, but still, self-assured. She speaks her truth with her head held high unafraid of what the world might say in return. Big Time is admirable, brave and beautifully written, Angel Olsen’s powerful vocals suit the tone of each track perfectly.
Aldous Harding – Warm Chris
Aldous Harding gradually rose to prominence over the course of her first three albums. Warm Chris is Harding’s fourth album and encapsulates her development as an artist. For this record, the New Zealand musician reunited with producer John Parish, continuing a professional partnership that began in 2017 and has forged pivotal bodies of work (2017’s Party and 2019’s Designer). It also features contributions from H. Hawkline, Seb Rochford, Gavin Fitzjohn, John and Hopey Parish and Jason Williamson (Sleaford Mods).
Arctic Monkeys – The Car
In the first line, Alex Turner has the cheek to tell us to not get emotional. Hard not to. The Sheffield rockers have taken us on a 16 year ride and we’re about to arrive at the 7th stop. After a 4 and a half year wait, Arctic Monkeys have released their studio LP, The Car. It is in many ways a continuation/evolution of Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, however the band has forsaken the lunar aesthetic and replaced it with a carefully placed early-70s swagger. The retro vibe continues through the album and interlaces with some other Monkeys characteristics, the album clearly brings back some of that AM rock-n-roll punch. Alex has combined his masterful lyrical prowess with vocal performances that are at their best, ever. In summary, Arctic Monkeys are continuing their journey, and in an amazing fashion. The cinematic sound is back on this record, developed and refined. It’s clearly the next step of the evolution and we can’t wait to see where the ride continues to.
Weyes Blood – And in the darkness, hearts aglow
Technological agitation. Narcissism fatigue. A galaxy of isolation. These are the new norms keeping Weyes Blood (aka Natalie Mering) up at night and the themes at the heart of her 2022 release, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow. The celestial-influenced folk album is her follow-up to the acclaimed Titanic Rising. (Pitchfork, NPR, and The Guardian admiringly named it one of 2019’s best.) While Titanic Rising was an observation of doom to come, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow is about being in the thick of it: a search for an escape hatch to liberate us from algorithms and ideological chaos.
Kurt Vile – (Watch My Moves)
Kurt Vile’s ninth full length album feels like sinking into an old, slightly rickety but incredibly comfortable rocking chair. Gushing with off kilter riffs, melodies’ deeply treated through the gambit of psychedelic rock effects and, of course, the real treat, the vocals. Riff driven and deeply imaginative in its storytelling. If you learn to relax into it, this narrator can take you places you didn’t realise you wanted to go to but now that you’re there, you don’t want to leave.
Oliver Sim – Hideous Bastard
In a statement before releasing his first solo album, The XX vocalist Oliver Sim (now 33) told the world he had been living with HIV since he was 17 and this album was an attempt to “free myself of some of the shame and fear that I’ve felt for a long time”. With Hideous Bastard, Oliver Sim has created something special. It’s hard to put into words the vulnerability, emotion and rawness that you can hear in this record. It’s beautiful and sensitive with soft lovely vocals from Oliver against a dark piano and electronic beats. It’s an album that deserves your attention.
Just Mustard – Heart Under
Heart Under, Just Mustard’s second album, is an album that asks you to forget what you know. At every turn, this remarkable record reconfigures and stretches the ideas and ambition of a rock band, and turns a year of lockdown and personal struggles into a breathtaking artistic statement. Across its ten tracks, the album presents a coherent style and ethos – those scything guitars, Katie’s magical vocals – but still incorporates a wide and untethered vision.
röyksopp – profound mysteries I, II & III
This three part masterclass in music making covers ground ranging from mournful indie to banging electronic soundscapes and everywhere in-between. Profound Mysteries I/II/III is the Norwegian electronic duo’s masterclass in keeping a listener hooked into their world. No two songs sit the same, with variation being matched only with quality. Whether that be funky moments such as in Some Resolve, or the dramatic soundscapes of (Nothing But) Ashes…, this album has many things to say and it knows how to say them. It should be no surprise then that the list of features is as long as your arm, with heavy hitters such as Alison Goldfrapp, Astrid S or Susanne Sundfør helping bring the album’s themes of video games and digital experiences to life. All tied neatly together with the album’s innovative use of AI image generation for the cover artwork.
Confidence Man – Tilt
The second album from the electro-pop group, incredibly, feels both retro and modern. The 90s influence is palpable and it is one of the main factors differentiating this album from the Confidence Man debut. But as much as the music draws from that time period, it’s still very much a 2020’s album. The merger of the two quite drastically different styles creates a very euphoric experience. You will dance.
Danger Mouse & Black Thought
What do you get when you combine Danger Mouse, Black Thought, MF DOOM, A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, Michael Kiwanuka and many more in one album? The answer is Cheat Codes, the tour de force that starts at 11 and keeps on climbing. Stylised and positively bristling with character and energy. Every song on this album takes the piano led instrumental of 70s hip hop, bound tightly with vinyl crackle, tasteful samples and a bounding beat that demands that you don’t just listen, you move too. Lyrically, this is some of Black Thought’s finest work, tackling themes like faith, politics and work from a deeply personal angle and pulling you along at breakneck speed. This album feels as good as it sounds and grounds the listener within its world to a degree that leaves you desperate for more when the closing track plays.
Fka Twigs – caprisongs
Twigs is truly in her pop star era, fusing different genres together with 17 tracks. She has created an emotional rollercoaster, and she didn’t hesitate when it came to her collaborations. Artists like Jorja Smith, The Weeknd and Rema made an appearance. Caprisongs stands out for its range. Songs like Jealousy will have you moving to the beat; whilst other songs like Oh My Love are more appropriate when you’re alone. Caprisongs is the soundtrack to a woman attuned to her astrological zodiac signs, but inevitably creates her own destiny.
Hot Chip – Freakout/Release
During the Covid-19 lockdown, Hot Chip came together and found light in the darkness. Writing and recording together as a whole band from scratch forthe first time ever, they channelled all their thoughts and feelings into Freakout/Release, resulting in anexhilarating, dynamic dance album, oozing dreams of late nights and crowds of people. Brilliantly executed, this album is in a league of its own.
Working Mens Club – Fear Fear
Throughout Fear Fear, there is a running theme of things completely unlike coming together. The bittersweet taste of irony is introduced from the beginning. Dark, moody lyrics are met with upbeat, joyous music, it’s a constant battle between love and hate, good and bad, but like life itself neither overpowers the other and instead the album creates a frenzied balance. It’s music that makes you want to live. With their second album, Working Men’s Club has dismissed any claims that they are ‘just another indie band’. Branching out into 80s synth-pop and industrial electronic beats, Fear Fear has given the four musicians a unique edge, pushing them into a league of their own. Originality can be hard to come by nowadays, but Working Men’s Club has found it, and present it through its music with style and grace. This album is a swirl of celebratory music, lifting up the listener, and giving them the opportunity to dance, have fun and live. If this band are playing near you, go and see them. It’s an experience you will not forget.
Bonobo – Fragments
Fragments started the year off with a bang. Magnificently welding syncopated beats with exquisitely detailed soundscapes. Intricate closer moments smoothly give way to builds that take hold like a venus fly trap; gently then all at once. The sense of drama and scale on display at times lend itself to the imagery accompanying the album. The lush waterscapes and interplays of light reflect the sublime nature of an album that can only be reasonably accompanied by the organ of the Royal Albert Hall.
Lambchop – The Bible
The music on The Bible is more unpredictable than it’s ever been on a Lambchop record. Jazz careening into country, into disco, into funk, and back to country. This is Lambchop’s new album – born in a new place, but out of a process that he first discovered back home in Nashville, the one that helped him find his own voice in the first place. Amen. This is The Bible.
Mallgrab – What I Breathe
TAKE ME TO A RAVE! The debut from Mall Grab is transcendent of the lo-fi house that he was previously known for. Close your eyes, lie on your bed and you will feel like you are in a house party from Skins (for the millennial audience) just from the auditory experience. That is rare to say about any debut album, especially when features as unexpected as Turnstile’s Brendan Yates are thrown into the mix with such tastefulness. As a listener, you will never understand this identity crisis, but you understand you need to be a part of it. This is just the beginning for Mall Grab. Keep your eyes peeled.
Kelly Lee Owens – lp. 8
After releasing her second album Inner Song (2020) in the midst of the pandemic, Kelly Lee Owens was faced with the sudden realisation that her world tour could no longer go ahead. Keen to make use of this untapped creative energy, she made the spontaneous decision to go to Oslo instead. LP. 8 is the result of that. Working with the local artist Lasse Marhaughe, Owens pushes her music to new levels.
Ezra Collective – Where i’m meant to be
Where I’m Meant To Be is a thumping celebration of life, an affirming elevation in the Ezra Collective’s winding hybrid sound and refined collective character. The songs marry cool confidence with bright energy. Full of call-and-response conversations between their ensemble parts, a natural product of years improvising together on-stage, the album – which also features Sampa the Great, Kojey Radical, Emile Sande, Steve McQueen, and Nao – will light up sweaty dance floors and soundtrack dinner parties in equal measure.
The Comet Is Coming – hyper-dimensional expansion beam
Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam glitters and flows with the kind of sax led dreamscapes The Comet Is Coming have become renowned for. Both moody and sublime, this album ventures into new sonic territory for the band. The shuffling drums and vast brass meet delicate synth and electronic soundscapes that mimic each other and play off one another. The dream-like sound deftly sends the listener off into the kind of space where if you looked down, you’d see the gorgeous artwork below.
Blue note Re:imagined II
Blue Note Re:imagined returns with a 16-track compilation featuring fresh takes on music from the illustrious Blue Note vaults recorded by a heavyweight line-up of the UK jazz, soul and R&B scene’s most hotly-tipped rising stars. Arriving off the back of the widespread international success of the first volume, which topped jazz charts around the globe, Blue Note Re:imagined II once again infuses the spirit of the new UK jazz generation into the legendary label’s iconic catalogue, balancing the genre’s tradition with its future and reflecting the melting pot of talent and diversity within the current scene.
Kokoroko – Could We Be More
An eclectic fusion of funk, jazz and soul with Afro-Carribean roots that encapsulate the vastness of originality in London’s music scene. An immersive and relaxing journey through such a variety of influences and styles, Could We Be More is a phenomenal adventure through the childhood listening of the eight musicians. Age Of Ascent is a highlight, sitting in the pocket that pushes and pulls your head to nod in rhythm whilst syncopating in such a way that will evoke an unprecedented appreciation for the beauty of this record on repeat listens.
Hannal Peel & paraorchestra – The Unfolding
Often sparse and holding its cards close to its chest, The Unfolding is a sonic journey like no other.Demanding either massive speakers or powerful headphones, this album is like a fractal drawing. Any investigation into its expertly crafted sound-scapes reveals only details within details the likes of which could only be pieced together by masters oftheir craft such as Hannah Peel and Paraorchestra. Close your eyes and allow yourself to be swept away within the world of this incredible set of work.
Porcupine Tree – Closer/Continuation
Porcupine Tree’s first album in 13 years had a lot of expectation to live up to, but when has Steven Wilson ever let anyone down – let alone as part of his iconic prog band. Closure/Continuation starts strong with the hard hitting Harridan and goes in a variety of directions. Taking inspiration from Wilson’s solo work with the more electronic side of the record in songs like Walk the Plank, the album doesn’t shy away from showing a Porcupine Tree 13 years down the line, rather than picking up where they left off in 2009. Written and recorded in total secrecy over the years since the hiatus, the reveal of this record earlier this year left Porcupine Tree fans stunned and ecstatic – especially with the news that the band had been jamming together only a few years after the initial hiatus. Whilst no news has emerged just yet on any future Porcupine Tree activity, after the success of Closure/Continuation one would hope that there’ll be a follow up emerging in a shorter time period.
Editors – EBM
Dark, brooding and alluding to the new era of Editors, the title may as well stand for Electronic Boogie Music. With the attitude of a modern day New Order on tracks such as Picturesque, it feels as if they are creating a vivarium of all that made Editors a household name and are breaking said cage with out of the box synths and contrasting sonic elements with familiar instrumental hooks and adventurous drum breaks. A departure for the band, but one that deserves to be heard by fans, old and new alike.
Interpol – The Other Side of Make Believe
If fate didn’t quite ordain the circumstances for Interpol’s seventh album, it was at least fortunate that the band had happily concluded their Marauder cycle on stage in front of 30 thousand-odd Peruvian fans. Rather than be sent scrambling like so many other musicians on tour or promoting new music, when lockdown clamped in March 2020, Interpol quickly got into a productive mood. Coming from a group whose early work was characterised by Polish knife-wielders and incarcerated serial killers, you might expect Interpol’s pandemic record to be an emotional tar pit – doubly so, given the presence of towering producer-engineer duo Flood and Moulder on the boards. But Banks felt the call to push in a ‘counterbalancing’ direction, with paeans to mental resilience and the quiet power of going easy. ‘The nobility of the human spirit is to recover and rebound’, he says. ‘Yeah, I could focus on how messed up everything is, but I feel now is the time when being hopeful is necessary, and a still-believable emotion within what makes Interpol Interpol’.
Goat – Oh Death
Listening to this album is like taking a trip into the psychedelic and occasionally slightly terrifying world of Goat. Oh Death rejects the traditions of mainstream music, instead fusing together fuzzy guitar riffs, distorted pedals, beautiful piano pieces and groovy afro-beats, creating a carefully crafted melting pot, a kaleidoscopic experience. Playing around with experimental music can be a risk, but Goat always comes out on top, their uniqueness drawing in fans from all over the world.
Slipknot – The End, So Far
Slipknot, the notorious American metal band, has taken a new bold and impressive direction with their seventh studio album. The End, So Far is an attention-grabbing record, the new sound from the band emphasising this further. The opening track Adderall leads the way for the new direction that Slipknot has taken with this record, introducing listeners to a previously unheard synth music style. But of course, staying true to their roots, The End, So Far is chaotic and energetic, in a way that only Slipknot can do best. It’s remarkable to see a band that has been going now for three decades continue to develop, reflecting on current trends. Slipknot’s ability to move with the times, creating their own takes on modern music, is one of the many reasons why they’re still as popular as ever.The End, So Far is an outstanding and exceptional album from one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history and has created eager anticipation on what could be coming next.
Warpaint – Radiate Like This
Beautiful, ethereal and utterly outstanding, Warpaint return after a hiatus with an atmospheric, intimate and truly tantalising record that will have hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention. A fusion of Talking Heads, Tame Impala and Billie Eilish, this album will have your head bobbing side-to-side whilst watching the world shuffle by. A seductive, rich and complex collection of ten songs that leave you begging for more. Incredible from start to finish.
Architects – The Classic Symptoms of a broken spirit
It was a real challenge for Architects to produce a sound even larger and more powerful than last years For Those That Wish To Exist. Fortunately, nobody seems to have told them that because they’ve done it with ease. Grooving along at full throttle, The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit doesn’t forget to give a set of heavy lyrical lessons while it grabs the hairs on the back of your neck and keeps them in a vice grip. How they manage to keep endlessly reinventing their sound is a mystery, but long may it continue.
Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & the big steppers
1855 Days. Damn. Been a long time. Whatever Mr. Lamar has been going through has contributed to this brilliant album. This release shows Kendrick Lamar at the most vulnerable, revealing deeply personal thoughts and feelings through songs that are still deeply infectious. In a way, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is a perfect name for this album, it demonstrates the two sides of the release. In summary, yet another near perfect album from the Compton rapper-extraordinaire.
Pixies – Doggerel
The fathers of Modern Alternative Rock, Pixies’ latest offering is a maturation of what made them great. With tonal choices that wouldn’t feel lost in a Tarantino adaptation of a Western; single coiled licks driving songs like Vault Of Heaven and There’s A Moon On, there is a thematic canter throughout Doggerel that marks a change of pace for the band. A tasteful example of their adeptness at songwriting, and challenging their fans with a slightly slower paced album, it still pleases the ears as any Pixies record should, with You’re Such A Sadducee marking a particular highlight.
Spoon – lucifer on the sofa
Vicarious and veracious at the same time, somehow Spoon have managed to shrink-wrap the sexiness of Arctic Monkeys and the subtlety of Nick Cave in one homogenous cover to cover. Phenomenal from start to finish, and will be sure to have you grooving through your day-to-day monotony feeling like a rockstar, Spoon have hit upon the sequel of the century. As if the predecessor, Hot Thoughts was tough to beat, Lucifer on the Sofa has dazzled in the most invigorating way. An album that will have its home on any record shelf.
Placebo – never let me go
Never Let Me Go, is an elegant reflection on previous albums from Placebo, whilst simultaneously pushing and developing the band’s sound. This album could’ve been released 20 years ago, or just last week and its timeless beauty is something to admire. Never Let Me Go features some truly stand out tracks and delicate commentary on today’s world. The lyrics are often cynical, highlighting the mass of decay, destruction and disasters that modern life is made up of, but never forgetting the ray of light in the midst of it, the hope.
Ezra Furman – all of us flames
A singer, songwriter, and author whose incendiary music has soundtracked all three seasons of the Netflix show Sex Education, Ezra Furman has for years woven together stories of queer discontent and unlikely, fragile intimacies. Her 2022 album All Of Us Flames widens that focus to a communal scope, painting transformative connections among people who unsettle the stories power tells to sustain itself. Produced by John Congleton in L.A., All Of Us Flames unleashes Furman’s songwriting in an open, vivid sound world whose boldness heightens the music’s urgency. The record arrives as the third instalment in a trilogy of albums, beginning with 2018’s Springsteen-inflected road saga Transangelic Exodus and continuing with the punk rock fury of 2019’s Twelve Nudes.
Suede – Autofiction
A welcome, punk shrouded departure for the band. With phenomenal choruses that echo in the mind for weeks after listening, Suede feel as if they have reinvented themselves for the first time since their reunion in 2013. What feels like an album that was made to be played live, it’s as if The Clash and David Bowie had a demon love child clad in attitude and energy. Even with the two ballads, this album is hardly esoteric. It is a record for the fans, for the many. It’s punky, it’s live and it’s bloody anthemic. There are some real highlights like That Boy On Stage and 15 Again that soar into some of Suede’s best choruses. With the ever synonymous vocal breaks on Black Ice especially, it is quintessentially Suede but with a renewed and revitalised attitude. A must listen for old and new fans alike.
Harry Styles – Harry’s House
This third album from the singer has managed to land the seemingly impossible. It threads the needle between establishing a unique sound for Harry, giving his voice space to show what it can do and not be a tedious exercise in self indulgence. Roaring with massive drums fit for the stadiums and festival stages Harry’s House was always destined for. Instrumental references like wedding bells or brass at cherry picked moments grant each song colour and character without sacrificing the unique sound this album has within his discography. The range of energy on display from massive floor fillers such as As It Was to tight intimate moments like Matilda give this album the feeling of storytelling that all great albums need. The delicate use of extra vocals adds another layer of detail to Harry’s House that invites participation. These crucial elements step this album above his previous discography, permanently shedding any earlier notions of creative timidity. In their stead, Harry’s House confidentially shows that Harry Styles is a creative force to be reckoned with in his own right.
Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler – For All Our Days That Tear The Heart
As debut’s go, this is a bold, emphatic and emotionally challenging record. Such emotivity is rare to find, but with Butler of Suede fame and Buckley’s acting prowess, it is to no surprise that fifty minutes of beautifully crafted, heart-wrenching material is performed so effortlessly. The dynamism of each song and mastery of intimacy is unrivalled. A truly breathtaking gem of the year’s releases and should be on any music fans MUST-LISTENS!
Beyonce – renaissance
Renaissance was born in lockdown. During a time when we couldn’t physically leave the house, imaginations ran wild, and the dreamworld that pop, RnB musician Beyoncé created during this time has been the basis of Renaissance. Speaking of the album Beyoncé said, “Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world”. Renaissance is also a tribute to post-1970s Black dance music and club culture, bringing light to the genius creators of this genre, whose efforts go largely unrecognised.
Liam Gallagher – C’mon you know
The northern twang, the no-nonsense attitude and the swanky demeanour of Liam Gallagher is irresistible. C’mon You Know is an album made to be played live. Listening to it summons images of sweaty mosh pits and sundazed drunken fans having the time of their lives at a summer festival, (coincidentally depicted on the album cover, taken of Liam Gallagher’s audience at Reading Festival 2021). “C’mon You Know” is bold, experimental and proud, just like the singer himself.
Jack White – Entering heaven alive
Entering Heaven Alive showcases Jack’s quieter side. Harmonies and gentle piano chords lacing songs like A Tip From You To Me, welcoming a more reflective note. Jack White’s musical curiosity has made room for some softer string moments on some tracks, including the closing track, which nicely rounds off the album. I’ve Got You Surrounded seemingly the only track on the album with some heavier guitar use, with a Jack-White-esque distorted tone. The blues-y undertone that still strings the album together is signature to Jack’s sound.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters – the boy named if
Not many artists get 32 albums into their career. Even fewer of those have a career as glittering or iconic as Elvis Costello. The Boy Named If, an album recorded remotely, has all the hallmarks of Costello’s latter career – catchy riffs, a sense of energy, and that iconic voice. As expected from such an accomplished artist, there’s plenty here for any Elvis Costello fan, and a fantastically dry sense of humour seeps through the entire record.
Tears for Fears – The Tipping Point
The duo’s first record in eighteen years has broken the mould of what to expect from a Tears For Fears album. Delicate synths and intimate beats embolden the intricate melodic choices throughout the record. The production is ethereal and elegant, with no moment being too ostentatious, a truly incredulous departure for the duo that will take you by surprise. The whole album feels honest, and at points, cuts very deep for those who have experienced loss as Roland Orzabel details in Please Be Happy. A revival of sorts for the band, with a sonic sound- scape that evokes their 80’s roots, especially on My demons, going hand in hand with polished production reminiscent of Arcade Fire and Hot Chip; it is apparent the duo have been taking notes from those they have had a huge influence on, and repeating the cycle of inspiration. Opening with an acoustic guitar that holds throughout No Small Thing and descends into utter chaos, flowing into dance anthems and ballads such as River of Mercy, this album is as eclectic, unexpected and moving as one would expect from their contemporaries; genuinely breathtaking at points, and deceivingly intricate.
Bruce Springsteen – Only the strong survive
Only The Strong Survive is Bruce Springsteen’s first new album since 2020’s Letter to You. The album is a collection of soul music gems that celebrate the legendary songbooks of Gamble and Huff, Motown, Stax and many more. The album fea tures vocals from Springsteen and instrumentation primarily from his longtime producer Ron Aniello. Bruce Springsteen commented: “I wanted to make an album where I just sang. And what better music to work with than the great American songbook of the Sixties and Seventies? I’ve taken my inspiration from Levi Stubbs, David Ruffin, Jimmy Ruffin, the Iceman Jerry Butler, Diana Ross, Dobie Gray, and Scott Walker, among many others. I’ve tried to do justice to them all – and to the fabulous writers of this glorious music. My goal is for the modern audience to experience its beauty and joy, just as I have since I first heard it. I hope you love listening to it as much as I loved making it.”
Gabriels – angels & queens part 1
This funky, jazz-pop masterpiece takes the listener on a head-bobbing journey through the seven tracks. Jacob Lusk’s vocals are phenomenal from the opening falsetto on Angels & Queens to the intimate exultation on Mama. With influences ranging from modern singer/songwriter to gospel and funk. Splitting their debut album into two parts, ‘Part 1’ is as intellectually challenging as it is utterly gorgeous. A must listen!
Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder – Get On Board
With Taj Mahal on vocals, harmonica, guitar, and piano and Cooder on vocals, guitar, mandolin, and banjo – joined by Joachim Cooder on drums and bass – the duo recorded eleven songs drawn from recordings and live performances by Piedmont blues masters Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, who they both first heard as teenagers in California. It’s an outstanding blues album, tastefully respectful to the original performances whilst giving the songs a whole new gust of wind.
Lady Blackbird – Black Acid Soul