Featuring Beyonce, The Smile, Kendrick Lamar, TSHA and more, scroll down to find out what Skiddle thinks have been 2022s very best releases.
Last updated: 14th Dec 2022
After a couple of tough years prior to 2022 - years that were often musically reserved, stricken with a post-pandemic fog of uncertainty and a nervous edge - you could argue that 2022 was the year said musical fog cleared, and the confidence of both fan and artist was restored. We all indulged in live music again, we sang arm in arm in sprawling festival crowds, and the world of music felt like it was healing.
The clearing of the fog and the healing of the broken personal relationships between fan and artist also saw many a musical icon, from Kendrick to Beyonce to Stormzy, come out of their hibernation to release daring, experimental, long-awaited records. Fontaines D.C. and Weyes Blood cemented themselves as some of their era's best with two instant classics. Rising cult icons Black, Country New Road released a piercingly emotional journey of a record, and The Smile produced a monumentally progressive record that only goes to showcase the generational talent of each of its members.
We asked the Skiddle staff to write some words on their favourite albums of the year, as well as a few more we all agree deserve a mention, which we have put together for our list of the best albums of 2022. So Scroll down and check it out, you may even find a record you missed!
Beyonce - RENAISSANCE
Holly and Lisa - Marketing
Before we get into why this album’s so incredible, it goes without saying Beyonce had to be on this list. The pop legend of her generation, all eyes are on her whenever she so much as breaths. So upon releasing this genre-trotting masterpiece, the spotlight was once again rightfully thrust on the music monarch.
With multiple pop albums under her belt, to say this dance-focused effort was refreshing is an understatement. Renaissance could have been half-arsed drivel recycled from chart-topping songs, but this is Beyonce. So, naturally, it goes above and beyond.
Each track unapologetically unleashes its personality before seamlessly transitioning into the next upbeat banger. Enlisting help from some magnificent creatives - including Honey Dijon, The-Dream, and Skrillex - Beyonce’s Renaissance is not only modern, fresh, and funky, but a time capsule, offering a peek into black dance music of the 70s.
Celebrating the escapism of music, particularly in clubbing environments, Renaissance oozes the liberation, self-expression, and connectivity that we all momentarily mourned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A stunning album from top to bottom, it’s no surprise Queen Bey has been nominated for god-knows how many Grammys with this LP.
Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
Jonny - Account Support
There's been a lot of records that dug their talons into me this year and many of them have a rightful claim of the throne, but one of them, in particular, gauged a Concorde-shaped hole in my soul that I doubt will ever fully heal and that is Ants From up There by Black Country, New Road.
From its pristine baroque pop arrangements to its heart-wrenching lyrics, its free jazz drum solos and soaring, post-rock/indie masterpiece closer, Basketball Shoes, Ants never gives me a chance to catch my breath. Tackling heartbreak, anxiety, loss and even Warhammer, BC, NR delivered a record that enraptures me with its beauty and crushes me with its emotional baggage.
I would give anything to hear this album again for the first time and I know I'll be returning to it for the rest of my life.
TSHA - Capricorn Sun
Diverse, euphoric, and crafted with live music in mind, the debut album from London-based producer TSHA is a house record for the modern era, and indicative of the lockdown that it was written in. The record is infinitely cathartic and captures an essence that may seem distant to many at the end of 2022, a pining to see and experience live music.
TSHA is rightfully one of the most talked about names in the electronic scene right now thanks to this record, and it's clear to see why. This new age of deeply personal and emotional electronic music is taking the Uk, and the world, by storm, and whilst Fred Again is oft at the forefront of such conversations, TSHA simply has to be right up there alongside him.
From the emotional call to arms from her producer in the opening track Galdem (intro); to the multicoloured array of synths that is ‘Sister’, a track created after TSHA discovered she had an older half-sister; to the playful ‘Nala (Outro)’, which is an ode to her dog, the whole record is a personal outpour of emotion through the medium of electronic music, and more than deserves a spot on any album of the year list.
Fontaines D.C. - Skinty Fia
Matty - Marketing
‘Skinty Fia’ is the third album from Irish band Fontaines D.C. and it affirms their status as the most prolific post-punk band of our times. Somehow capable of continuously topping their own work, ‘Skinty Fia’ is their most adventurous and cinematic offering to date.
What has remained constant throughout their discography is the lyrical talent of Grian Chatten who writes about topics by surrounding them with double meanings. Take ‘I Love You’, a song that on one hand could be an ode to the dedication he has to his partner and on the other hand is a bitter love letter to the band’s Dublin home.
The members of Fontaines have moved away from Ireland which forced them to confront their sense of Irishness from a new perspective and it dominates ‘Skinty Fia’. Tracks such as ‘Jackie Down The Line’ and ‘How Cold Love Is’ are some of the best you’ll hear from 2022.
Stormzy - This Is What I Mean
Ryan - B2B
The back end of November saw Stormzy drop "This Is What I Mean". The South London-based rapper has traversed grime, rap, soul and gospel across his previous material, and his third record sees him lean further into the melodic approach. It's evident on 'Fire + Water' and 'Please', where lush piano notes, tender guitar fills and tranquil choir passages dance across the speaker, the backdrop for Stormzy to reflect on lessons in life and love.
Elsewhere, the undulating rhythms of 'Need You' are the type you can get lost inside, while 'My Presidents Are Black' celebrates the Black British voices who allowed him to make such an impact on his generation. The title track 'This Is What I Mean' is designed to rumble the headphones. Here, crunching rhythms and rib-shaking bass are Stormzy and Ms Banks’ launchpad, the two spitting intense flows in the deepest pockets of the beat.
Overall, "This Is What I Mean" sees Stormzy expand his artistry. His songwriting range, the texture of the instrumentals and the balance of rapping and singing make it a record perfect for sitting down and engaging in some deep listening.
The Smile - A Light For Attracting Attention
Tom - Marketing
For Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, recording music under a moniker different to their slightly more famous outfit turned out to be a stroke of genius, and one in which they could avoid the crippling pressure involved in the creation of a new Radiohead record. Another stroke of genius (that will be no surprise to anyone who knew of him prior to The Smile) is the appointment of jazz drum extraordinaire Tom Skinner, the percussive force behind the Mercury-nominated Sons of Kemet.
The record unfolds with many similar themes as to what you may find on a modern Radiohead record - societal dread and descent into dystopia - but uses them instead as a platform to propel themselves into a litany of unexplored soundscapes for the duo like Prog, Jazz, and Afrobeat. However, Yorke still finds room to embellish this exploration with his signature and spectral melodies.
The percussion of Skinner provides a unique drive that sees Greenwood and Yorke unshackled and reborn as artists, producing one of the most exciting and unique records in years.
Kendrick Lamar - Mr Morale & The Big Steppers
In his first record in five years, Kendrick Lamar, the man oft renowned for his huge anthemic rap tracks, shocked the world with a record that laid his soul bare. Mr Morale & The big Steppers is a record soaked deep in anxieties, the effect a parent's mental state can have on their children, and the damage we negligently inflict on the ones we love.
but, whilst all these notions are front and centre on the record, when you dig deeper, it's a record about healing, and how laying our problems bare and talking about them only really yields positive outcomes.
Yet, despite its softer focus, this is still a Kendrick record. He imbues his musings on life and relationships with his signature characterisation, using characters both from the fictitious and the real to make his points. Each has its own distinct voice, and (as Lamar always does) he plays with cadence and beat switches to bring them to life and give each their own personality.
It's a different record for Kendrick, but one that sees him at his very best, and holds a deserved place on this list.
Steve Lacy - Gemini Man
Dale - Marketing
Much was wrong at the start of 2022. The hangover from repetitive lockdowns was still slumbering in the minds of many, and smiles were few and far between. Yet, once the feel-good funky fumes of Steve Lacy's new record permeated everyone's eardrums of such dreary souls, there were few left without a brightened mood.
The sophomore release from the Compton funk master was everywhere, whether it being 'Bad Habit' taking over the world of TikTok and providing Lacy with his first Number 1 hit, or the sultry RnB of 'Static' becoming an instant earworm, it was almost universally agreed this was an instant classic.
The record is vibrant, hopeful, groove-laden, and simply an achievement in modern funk/soul/RnB that deserves to be celebrated ten times over.
Weyes Blood - And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow
Did Weyes Blood release the most beautiful album of the year? Well, if not, we'd sure like to be pointed to one that so effortlessly moves you like this one. And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow is the most harmonious and sultry intrusive thought to ever exist. Steeped in nervous questions on humanity's descent into a climate crisis, this is the third in a trio of albums around this theme.
Yet, where many tackling this issue shout and scream and do as much as they can to be noticed. Weyes Blood adopts a different approach. Intertwining her musings with tender ballads and richly decorated songs, she sits solely in the rain. She encapsulates the sadness that permeates the reality of the situation and does it to an astonishing degree.
This record is a tribute to a world that is on the brink of demise, a eulogy she hopes won't mean the end and a simply breathtaking record.
Daniel Avery - Ultra Truth
Across his nine years making music, the rise and persistent evolution of Daniel Avery has been nothing short of mesmeric. Avery has played around with genre with ferocious frivolity, with his releases dipping into each drum and bass, techno, drone, and ambient. Sometimes with a toe, and other times with a full swan dive.
Now, on his fifth record, it feels like all the awe-inspiring toiling and experimentation has come together for a magnum opus of dizzying proportions. Ultra Truth is a record that smashes and snarls, whilst also hypnotically pausing, luring you in before another descent into a creative cacophony that fills every possible inch of the soundscape.
We don't have enough words here to accurately portray the sheer brilliance Avery puts on display here, but we can assure you it deserves its spot just as much as any on this list. And if you haven't yet heard it, you're doing your ears a disservice.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.
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