Well, friends, it’s the end of another year. And while 2022 has had many stand out moments (will we ever know if Harry Styles did actually spit on Chris Pine?!), what stood out to us most this year was its soundtrack.
Across 2022, there have been scene-stealing debuts released, longtime favourites undergoing genre reinventions, grand returns from the best in the ‘biz, and so many bangers it’s hard to choose a stand-out (just kidding, find out DIY’s Best Tracks of 2022 here!).
To mark the occasion properly, we gathered a collection of DIY’s esteemed staff and contributors to tell us their favourite albums of the past twelve months, and now we’ve whittled it down. So without further ado, here are DIY’s Best Albums of 2022 - now go on, dig in!
20. caroline - caroline
You may have noticed that life in 2022 has been a bit hectic - caroline certainly did, and they’re here to help out. With their debut album, the London octet have sculpted a masterpiece of stoic, blissful patience: a record with such a cleanly-defined ambient space that it, at times, feels like entering a safe, padded room where you can release the 2022 tension in whichever way you see fit. On it, the band build monuments of restrained electric guitar, woodwind and brass; beautiful, towering edifices which, when the moment is right, they bulldoze to the ground in a glorious explosion of cathartic release. Thank you, caroline, for getting us through. (MP)
19. Wunderhorse - Cub
Not so much a step forward as a giant leap into a whole different league, former Dead Pretties frontman Jacob Slater’s debut as Wunderhorse proved the previously scrappy punk tearaway to be a genuinely accomplished new songwriting voice, with a line in affective melody that’s wise beyond his years. Dipping a toe into backroom blues-rock (‘Leader of the Pack’), early Radiohead introversions (‘Butterflies’) and Springsteen-like catharsis (‘Teal’), at ‘Cub’’s centre is a protagonist who’s evidently lived through far more than the naive image of the record’s title might suggest, and found a way to channel it into a collection with guts and glory to spare. (LW)
18. Bob Vylan - Bob Vylan Presents: The Price of Life
It’s no secret that for decades now, punk has helped to channel society’s discontent with the political and social system - is that not the whole point of punk, after all? So it feels particularly apt that in 2022, Bob Vylan chose to use their most recent album ‘Bob Vylan Presents the Price of Life’ to ferociously dissect huge issues surrounding the cost of living crisis. Taking aim at rent increases (‘…Wicked Is Bad’), the lack of support in the NHS (‘Health Is Wealth’), and the general corruption that seems to be reported day in, day out, their fiery - but, still, at times anthemic - take on the genre has helped solidify them as one of the most vital voices of music right now. (SJ)
17. Rina Sawayama - Hold The Girl
Having burst down the door with the boot-scooting ‘This Hell’, Rina Sawayama’s sophomore album promised a lot from the off, and it sure did deliver. Building upon the cult icon status she’d crafted with 2020’s ‘SAWAYAMA’, ‘Hold The Girl’ saw Rina deliver an eclectic collection of songs that were mammoth both creatively and sonically but still achingly meaningful. Take the humongous, wind-machine-begging ‘Hurricanes’ or the commanding synth-pop of ‘Your Age’; an album packed with powerful anthems and a sense of self-discovery, ‘Hold The Girl’ is bold to the very last drop. (SJ)
16. Rosalía - MOTOMAMI
When Rosalía dropped her second album ‘El Mal Querer’ in 2018, the Spanish singer quickly shot to mainstream fame thanks to the album’s impressive reimagining of flamenco music mixed with pop and R&B. In the years that followed, Rosalía found herself struggling with newfound fame and homesickness, these concerns becoming the inspiration behind the creation of ‘MOTOMAMI’. Her genre-defying third offering is a loose concept album which Rosalía has called the “most personal and confessional album that I’ve made so far”, as seen on The Weeknd- featuring ‘La Fama’, which details the ugly side of fame, or the homesickness-driven ‘G3 N15’. But Rosalía was adamant about injecting her sense of humour and fun throughout, and across the record’s dazzling experimental mix of R&B, reggaeton, pop, dance and more, she ironically walks New York City while referencing Naomi Campbell and Julio Iglesias on ‘Chicken Teriyaki’ before having a good time dressed head to toe in Versace in ‘La Combi Versace’. A daring and forward-thinking record, ‘MOTOMAMI’ places Rosalía as a boundary-less star. (EW)
15. Alvvays - Blue Rev
Admittedly nowadays we’re somewhat spoiled when it comes to having to wait for our favourite bands to return; a fact that made the five year wait between Alvvays albums - their last being 2017’s ‘Antisocialities’ - feel like an eternity. But when ‘Blue Rev’ was finally released this October, it arrived as a reminder of the Canadians’ knack for penning perfect pop songs. And this time around, their world was more expansive, zooming in on different vignettes and stories, all in rich detail. A luscious ode to heartbreak and the stories that comes with it, safe to say it’s good to have Alvvays back. (SJ)
14. Beyoncé - Renaissance
It’s Friday night and you’ve just got paid. You’re wearing your best outfit, and you’re about to hit the town with your closest pals to tear up the night. You’re feeling confident, sexy, and ready for anything. So there’s no doubt that you’re obviously listening to Beyoncé’s seventh album ‘Renaissance’ on repeat, yeah? In the record’s notes, Bey calls this album “a safe place, a place without judgement, a place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking”, and the album encapsulates just that. A fun and energetic record that celebrates freedom, ‘Renaissance’ sees Beyoncé embracing house and dance music, as well as platforming the club scenes created by Black women and queer people. “We’re getting fucked up tonight,” she sings on the disco-infused ‘Cuff It’; “Move out the way / I’m with my girls and we all need space,” she spits on the Grace Jones and Tems-featuring ‘Move’. An empowering and joyous album, the record is best summed up in a line from the thumping ‘Alien Superstar’: “Category: Bad Bitch”. (EW)
13. Weyes Blood - And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow
A late contender for the crown, ‘And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow’ may have only arrived in the final weeks of 2022 but its often bleak beauty and classic, accomplished storytelling felt like the perfect accompaniment to a season flecked with nostalgia and personal reckoning. The follow-up to doomladen breakthrough LP ‘Titanic Rising’, ‘And In The Darkness…’ is no shiny, happy second act. Grand opening ‘It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody’ and the warm, country lilt of ‘Grapevine’ both address the fraying lack of connection holding us together, while ‘The Worst Is Done’’s lockdown lament comes with the caveat that, y’know, it probably isn’t. Yet underneath the panic, Natalie Mering creates a Joni Mitchell and Karen Carpenter-nodding palette that’s so gorgeously pure, so soothingly wise, you could use it as an aural shield against the outside hellscape. (LW)
12. Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morales & The Big Steppers
After becoming the first non-jazz or classical artist to win a Pulitzer Prize for 2017’s ‘DAMN.’, Kendrick Lamar was on top of the world coming into this year. The crown weighs heavy on ‘Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers’: a long, often messy, deeply conflicted album about messiah complexes, duty, generational trauma and reflection on the past. On the album, he transmits these disparate themes and naked, difficult truths through dazzling wordplay and innovative production. Such is its depth, we’d wager it will feel like even more of a masterpiece five years from now. (WR)
11. Yard Act - The Overload
If you look back on Yard Act’s year, it’s strange to think that their debut ‘The Overload’ only arrived as 2022 started. Narrowly missing out on the UK chart top spot, the past 12 months have seen the band shortlisted for a Mercury Prize, hailed as a must-see live band, and becoming mates with Elton John. It’s all thanks to ‘The Overload’ - 11 tracks of post-punk melodies and undisputed indie anthems soundtracking witty and captivating observations of British life, that has seen Yard Act established as one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the UK for a while. “Yard Act is the first band where I really feel like I’ve got the balance of getting all my emotions right,” James Smith told us when they fronted our Class of 2022 issue. “10% fucking anger, 60% laid back and reasonable, and then 30% sarcastic and cynical about everything.” The perfect combo for musical success, clearly. (EW)
10. Dry Cleaning - Stumpwork
Idiosyncratic to its core, Dry Cleaning’s 2021 debut ‘New Long Leg’ was one of the year’s most unlikely hits - an album of strange, hilarious, speak-sing observations that propelled its authors to a spotlight they’d evidently never expected. Following up a record so steeped in a spirit of un-selfconsciousness given that trajectory, then, should have been a challenge, but it’s one that the London quartet made light work of on ‘Stumpwork’. Lyrically, Florence Shaw’s propensity to find the interest and beauty in life’s smaller moments remains (“I’d love to hold you across the middle and be your shoulder bag,” goes a perfect line in ‘Kwenchy Kups’). However, musically, her bandmates dig into more confident, complex waters, proving that Dry Cleaning aren’t just content with being surprisingly successful outliers - they’re reaching for wider waters, too. (LW)
9. Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
Normally, an 80-minute long indie-folk album with a whimsically offbeat title would be a recipe for a gruelling listen. Not with Big Thief. Eschewing the patience-testing concepts of some double albums, ‘DNWMIBIUY’ is instead a crammed collage that intentionally veers between hoedown jams on ‘Red Moon’, finger-plucked intimacy on ‘The Only Place’ and campfire singalongs on ‘Spud Infinity’. The band’s subtly superlative musicianship underpins Adrianne Lenker’s increasingly playful lyrics (who else would rhyme ‘finish’ with ‘knish’?) in a masterpiece that commands attention in its entirety. Big Thief have stuffed brilliance into every cranny of this sprawling work, and it’s still revealing secrets nearly a year after its release.
8. The 1975 - Being Funny In A Foreign Language
It’s no surprise that The 1975 have been accompanying the release of their latest album ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’ with the tagline ‘At Their Very Best’, because that’s exactly what their fifth full-length is. At only (only!) 11 tracks, the album marks their shortest for years following their Music For Cars era (2018’s ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ and 2020’s ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’), and sees the indie-pop heavyweights turning back to the sound of their earlier material with a revived sense of confidence and clarity, and, really, doing what they do best. ‘Happiness’ picks up from ‘I Like It When You Sleep…’’s ‘The Sound’; ‘I’m In Love With You’ will have you singing along in seconds, and ‘Wintering’ is just pure pop fun. Elsewhere, Matty Healy’s writing is as striking as ever. The ‘22, A Million’-inspired ‘Part of the Band’ is rife with introspection (“Am I ironically woke? The butt of my joke? Or am I just some post-coke average skinny bloke calling his ego imagination?”), while heartstring-pulling closers ‘About You’ and ‘When We Are Together’ translate emotional snapshots into universal moments (“The only time I feel I might get better/ Is when we are together”). Capturing a plethora of feelings in universally appealing pop songs in a way that only The 1975 can, ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’ is the band at their very best, and then some. (EW)
7. Wet Leg - Wet Leg
To think that Wet Leg have only been in the public consciousness for eighteen months now seems utterly ridiculous when you say it out loud, but that just goes to show the impact of their staggering rise so far. With the release of their eponymous debut album, the duo - Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers - rapidly expanded upon their eclectic and giddy musical world, inviting listeners to revel at their witty but whimsical musings on life as we know it. And revel we have; from topping the charts, to winning over fans in the likes of Florence Welch, Elton John, Dave Grohl and Harry Styles (who’s since covered their addictive early single ‘Wet Dream’ and invited them to open his stadium tour, natch), the pair’s year has been off the charts, and ‘Wet Leg’ is very much only the beginning. (SJ)
6. Harry Styles - Harry’s House
While it does, in fact, turn out there are things Harry Styles can’t do - namely, describe with any detail whatsoever a film in which he plays a lead role - third album ‘Harry’s House’ did both the expected (racking up the sales figures) and the lesser-expected (a shortlisting for this year’s Mercury Prize). The record, a collection of mostly ‘70s funk-infused alt-pop tracks, launched with the Strokes-indebted hit ‘As It Was’, accompanied by a video of Harry frolicking around the Barbican. Then, it went on to offer the world the greatest walk-on music since Robbie Williams’ ‘Let Me Entertain You’ in the inevitable headphone-ad soundtracking ‘Music For A Sushi Restaurant’. Which came with a video of Harry… with tentacles. Maybe there’s greater meaning to that mermaid tattoo of his than even he realised. Sonically rich, not afraid to experiment with those rules of pop that are often more rigid for someone expected to shift units - that he’ll be hitting up the nation’s stadiums for a second consecutive year next spring sounds utterly exhausting, but here’s hoping Hazza can spend a little time relaxing over the festive break to reflect on all he’s achieved in 2022. (ES)
5. Arctic Monkeys - The Car
By this point, we’re used to a curveball from Alex Turner and co. From spikey indie to desert rock, through the mastery of ‘AM’ and a hard swerve to 2018’s loungey ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’, the enigmatic run up to seventh album ‘The Car’ was one cloaked in speculation and whisper. The answer? A record that picked us up a little further down the orchestral, elegiac road than we’d last been dropped off and headed for a different destination altogether: one cloaked in reflection and wistfulness, with a hint of finality to its much-dissected lyrical content. Classy and cinematic, with some cheeky moments of ‘70s funk (‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’) and ringing guitar riffs (‘Body Paint’) nestled between its lush sweep, if ‘The Car’ ends up being a last stop on Arctic Monkeys’ unreplicatable career journey, then it’s a fine place to end up. (LW)
4. Fontaines DC - Skinty Fia
On their third album ‘Skinty Fia’, Fontaines DC built on everything that had come before and bent their sound into fascinating new shapes. A meditation on leaving Ireland for London, Grian Chatten spends basically the whole album contemplating this change. Sometimes he’s angry, sometimes mournful, and at other times he’s excited about the shift. However, whether transmitted through the jangle of ‘Jackie Down The Line’, the industrial dance thud of the title track or ‘I Love You”s blood and thunder, it’s an album full of feeling from a band who just keep getting better. (WR)
3. Charli XCX - CRASH
Charli XCX has always been a trailblazing pop star. Just take a look at her banger-packed back catalogue (‘I Love It’! ‘Boom Clap’! ‘Boys’!) or her boundary-pushing 2017 ‘Pop 2’ mixtape, and it’s clear to see that she’s always been facing forward. But for fifth album ‘CRASH’, Chaz took her inspiration from looking back, drawing sonically from the power-pop greats of the ’80s to create an epic fifth outing that found her introducing us to a “new chapter [that] embraces all that my life has to offer in today’s world - fame, glamour, inner demons and global hits”. With global hits galore, the thumping ‘Good Ones’, Caroline Polachek and Christine & The Queens-featuring ‘New Shapes’, and the September-sampling Rina Sawayama collab ‘Beg For You’ are already classic Charli anthems. And while she may have pulled sonic influence from the past, ‘CRASH’ is still looking ahead, with the sexy bop ‘Baby’, dance-leaning ‘Constant Repeat’ and fist-pumping power ballad ‘Lightning’ showing some of Charli’s ever game-changing ideas. Thoroughly establishing herself as a leading figure in pop music (as if we didn’t know that already), when people ask for the best pop album of 2022, you only need three words: “It’s Charli, baby…” (EW)
2. Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
No fan of Black Country, New Road will forget the confounding shock of learning, just days before the release of ‘Ants From Up There’, that frontman Isaac Wood was leaving the band. More astonishing yet was that the news came just at the point that the band were releasing golden pop nuggets like ‘Chaos Space Marine’ - a track used by some as evidence that BC,NR had undergone a total regeneration from their ‘For the First Time’ version. But this was evolution not reinvention; we still heard the klezmer, modal jazz and ’00s indie influences, but they’d now been juggled, realigned and expertly refined into courageous new forms. We can now see that the two albums taken together represent Black Country, New Road mark one: an ever-expanding, post-modern, zeitgeist-redefining miracle band. Indeed, ‘Ants From Up There’ now stands clearly as an album about Wood leaving the band (“Isaac will suffer, Concorde will fly”). They say it’s good to leave them wanting more, and certainly none of us were ready to say goodbye. But whatever the future holds, this was truly special. (MP)
1. Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B
As soon as we first pressed play on ‘I Love You Jennifer B’ - the extraordinarily accomplished debut album from South London duo Jockstrap - we knew that there was a strong-to-definite chance that it would end up sitting here, at the very top of our Albums of 2022 pile. Across 10 tracks that packed in the volume of ideas that most bands would struggle to find in 100, Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye proved themselves modern masters of their craft: taking seemingly disparate sounds plucked from their boundlessly inventive library, and stitching them together in ways that somehow made complete and utter sense. ‘I Love You Jennifer B’’s greatest skill, however, was in its accessibility. If you’d have told us before that an album which happily trips from skittish electronic cacophony to haunting, stripped-back storytelling to dubby samples could sound actually quite radio-friendly in points, we’d have called you a grubby little liar, but the aim here was evidently to welcome people in rather than lock them out. On this, DIY’s top-scoring album of the year, they did so with open arms. (LW)
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