In 2022 we all got back to normal and enjoyed live music and the fantastic albums released this year. So it’s that time of year again when the XS Noize writers have sat down and thoughtfully compiled their favourites. Without further ado, here are the 50 best albums of 2022 that we have enjoyed the most.
25. Spiritualized – Everything Was Beautiful
Everything Was Beautiful was recorded throughout the pandemic, which everybody’s favourite Psychedelic Astronaut enjoyed at 11 different studios. He played just the 16 different instruments on it this time. The second track, ‘Best Thing We Never Had,’ has an early 70s Stones feel about it, a stompin’ pedal to the Bluesy metal number with a horn section adding even more energy to an already HUGE tune.
24. Taylor Swift – Midnights
23. Tears for Fears – The Tipping Point
The Tipping Point is cathartic, searingly traumatic, soaring, and wisdom-filled, transforming all those things into transcendent art. The undertone is mourning, but the duo does not abandon the listener; they also offer hope and recovery. The release should bring in new converts, and long-term Tears for Fears fans should be thrilled with this long-awaited return. The Tipping Point is a fantastic return for a fabled and often undervalued band.
22. Broken Bells – Into The Blue
With Into the Blue, Mercer has somehow pulled the hat trick of not having to decide between The Shins and Broken Bells; each entity displays different distinct lyrical and sonic facets that can cross-pollinate but still be distinct. With Burton at the production helm, the duo has on Into the Blue displayed a diversity of songwriting and tone, which has developed clear themes and style. They have explored fresh musical directions while retaining their unique signature pop sounds. All in all, Broken Bells fans will not be disappointed as the pair grow their worthy discography.
21. Florence and the Machine – Dance Fever
20. Charli XCX – Crash
19. Michael Head & the Red Elastic Band – Dear Scott
18. Rosalía – Motomami
17. Weyes Blood – And in the Darkness, Hearts Glow
16. Arcade Fire – We
Arcade Fire has always been one of those few bands responsible for putting profound insights out into the world with engaging anthemic sonics. They might not be able to fix the world’s woes, but again, Arcade Fire provides the soundtrack to reaching for something better.
15. Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights
14. Behemoth – Opvs Contra Natvram
13. Pixies – Doggerel
Doggerel maintains Pixies’ resurgence in the second phase of their musical odyssey. They do not force the issue or try to hammer home any of their historical musical stereotypes; however, there are enough Pixies sonic signposts that will delight the most ardent fan and enough ingenuity to lure in some new listeners too.
12. Yard Act – The Overload
11. Kula Shaker – 1st Congregational Church Of Eternal Love And Free Hugs
1st Congregational Church Of Eternal Love And Free Hugs is undoubtedly one of the greatest homages to rock music from the latter half of the sixties. Kula Shaker demonstrated with this album that the musical evolution of this era did not stop on 31st December 1969. As well as evolving the sixties sound, Kula Shaker also evolved their sound, making 1st Congregational Church Of Eternal Love And Free Hugs a new essential album for newcomers to the band to start with, replacing K.
10. Nova Twins – Supernova
9. Dropkick Murphys – This Machine Still Kills Fascists
The Dropkick Murphys give Woody Guthrie a dignified and honourable tribute on This Machine Still Kills Fascists. The band knew when to lean on their signature sound and when to draw from the sounds of other folk artists. The emotions in conveying Guthrie’s lyrics are adroitly captured from the calls to collective action to sensitive conversations between man and wife. The legacy of Woody Guthrie, folk music, protest songs and the Dropkick Murphys is guaranteed with This Machine Still Kills Fascists.
8. Soccer Mommy – Sometimes, Forever
7. Liam Gallagher – C’Mon You Know
Liam Gallagher could have easily played it safe on C’Mon You Know and repeated the template he used on his two previous solo offerings and still sustained interest and record sales. C’Mon You Know has not only evolved Liam Gallagher’s sound but has also introduced his fans to another side of him not seen previously.
6. Foals – Life Is Yours
Their goal with Life Is Yours was to celebrate the world’s reawakening, successfully pulling it off. As the world awakens from the nightmare of the pandemic, many have come to appreciate the bands that are acknowledging and moving on from the pandemic. With Life is Yours, Foals produces a very straightforward celebration of returning to making music. Foals never disappoint with brilliant releases that cause listeners to look forward to their next offerings. Life Is Yours is destined to be a very successful album for Foals.
5. Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia
Three albums in Fontaines D.C. have proved they have established a distinctive signature sound, but Skinty Fia shows their willingness to explore and push boundaries. The album shows the band at a juncture, questioning their career and move to London, with the questions being answered with brooding basslines and repetitive, relentless lyrics. Having proven themselves in adapting and willing to make use of a range of different sounds, the main question that Skinty Fia leaves is which direction will album number four take the band. With it only being three years since debut album Dogrel was released, it seems that Fontaines D.C. are only just getting started.
4. Wet Leg – Wet Leg
3. Simple Minds – Direction of the Heart
Simple Minds have been like a chameleon from their art-house origins to stadium rock and everything in-between. In founding members, guitarist Charlie Burchill and lead singer Jim Kerr have to be two of the most industrious guys in music, barely stopping for a breather. Direction of the Heart is a full-throttle juggernaut of an album flushed with celebration, stomp and euphoria.
2. Suede – Autofiction
To continue to produce quality albums more than 30 years into a career is one thing, but to produce an album as full of quality and as energetic as Autofiction is far more impressive. With this album, Suede again shows that they are a band full of surprises. At next March’s concert, I cannot wait to see how these songs come across live. While my friends and I may not have the energy we did in 1994, Suede certainly seem to. Long may they continue to have that, and long may they carry on.
1. The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention
Every time a member of Radiohead issues a side project, a good number of their well-wishers fear it signals the end of the band. No more so than when the two central driving creative members of the band are involved. Maybe the worst will happen, but in retrospect, each member has had solo/collaborative projects without the band imploding in a mess of vain self-interest. A Light for Attracting Attention amplifies that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring for the entity that is Radiohead. But regardless of the future path of Radiohead, The Smile has much to attract attention and is worthy of any serious music aficionado’s consideration.
The 50 best albums of 2022: 50 – 26
XS Noize: Albums of the year 2022 compiled by Iam Burn from lists by Mark Millar, Michael Barron, Ben P Scott, Marija Buljeta, Lee Campbell, Lori Gava, Randall Radic, Stuart Evans, Alina Salihbekova, David McElroy, Rebecca Haslam, Imelda Hehir, Marc Leach, Julie Blore-Bizot, Ashley Kreutter.