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CMU’s albums of the year 2022

By | Published on Wednesday 21 December 2022

Rina Sawayama

When we originally decided to put together a list of our favourite albums of the year, we agreed on a top ten. But as we actually got to work compiling said list, getting it down to just ten proved completely impossible.

There have been so many albums that felt utterly vital this year that we we just couldn’t do it. So here are our 20 favourite albums of 2022 – a number that also felt unfair, but, you know, you have to stop somewhere.

Trying to rank them equally feels like a difficult and, for that matter, unnecessary task. So we simply ordered them based on how well a track from each flowed in a playlist. A playlist, you say? Yes indeed. A playlist. A very good one. And one that you can listen to on Spotify here or YouTube here:

Once you’ve listened to that though, make sure you go and listen to every single one of these albums in full. And, in the meantime, read on to find out what our selections are and why we love them so…

Daniel Avery – Ultra Truth 
Daniel Avery announced this, his fifth album, in May with the track ‘Chaos Energy’, and immediately the November release date seemed like too far away. The wait was very much worth it though, it delivered on that anticipation and then some.

Sinead O’Brien – Time Bend And Break The Bower 
Another album we waited for eagerly for a long time, and which surpassed our expectations. O’Brien’s largely spoken word lyrics merge with their musical backing beautifully. She’s also an incredible live performer, which you should discover for yourself at the earliest opportunity.

Los Bitchos – Let The Festivities Begin 
One of the most fun bands to emerge in recent times, the title of Los Bitchos’s debut album could not be more apt. They take traditional Latin cumbia and whip it up with a bit of surf-rock and synth-pop, and it is joyous.

Melt Yourself Down – Pray For Me I Don’t Fit In 
Led by saxophonist Pete Wareham, formerly of Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear, Melt Yourself Down’s fourth album, ‘Pray For Me I Don’t Fit In’, is an urgent and powerful record. Another band who must absolutely be seen live.

Loyle Carner – Hugo 
Once again mining his personal experiences for his third album, ‘Hugo’ is an exploration of race and identity influenced by becoming a dad and his own relationship with his biological father. A succinct album – ten tracks clocking in at just under 35 minutes – he delivers what he wants to say with clear-headed efficiency.

Kendrick Lamar – Mr Morale And The Big Steppers 
It’s always a big deal when Kendrick Lamar brings out a new album, and after a five year wait ‘Mr Morale And The Big Steppers’ is yet another expertly crafted piece of work. It’s also his most personal to date, drawing on his own life as a springboard to deliver wide-ranging thoughts on the world today.

Danger Mouse & Black Thought – Cheat Codes 
One of two albums Danger Mouse put out this year – the other being the third from Broken Bells, his project with The Shins’ James Mercer – ‘Cheat Codes’ features retro hip hop production that provides the perfect springboard for Black Thought and a range of guests to rap over. 

Wu-Lu – Loggerhead 
A fixture on the Brixton music scene for some years now, Wu-Lu finally released his debut album, ‘Loggerhead’, in July. It’s an album that shifts genres from track to track, going through post-punk, golden age hip hop, nu metal and dense string arrangements.

Chat Pile – God’s Country 
Chat Pile’s debut album has won them a huge number of fans this year, seeing it appear in many an end of year list. A dark noise rock record with elements of No Means No, Melvins and Slint, it largely deals in real life horror stories, and closes with a surprisingly harrowing nine minute song about hallucinating McDonald’s character Grimace.

Konvent – Call Down The Sun 
This album from blackened death doom band Konvent is a completely enveloping listen, filled with slow, sludgy riffs, topped with vocals from Rikke Emilie List that are so low that they sound like they’re coming from underground.

Rolo Tomassi – Where Myth Becomes Memory 
Rolo Tomassi remain a band who stand entirely alone in heavy music. There’s no one else quite like them, and their sixth album is a brilliant evolution of their sound, expertly pushing the extremes of light and dark.

Gilla Band – Most Normal 
Changing their name from Girl Band late last year, Gilla Band’s third LP sees them further delve into their utterly unique sound, which – while definitely not always an easy listen – is ever rewarding if you’re willing to give yourself over to it.

Otoboke Beaver – Super Champon 
Despite their aggressive sound, Otoboke Beaver are nonetheless endless amounts of fun, mixing the serious with the absurd. With a sizeable back catalogue behind them, this is still their first full studio album – previous efforts having mainly been compilations of EPs and singles.

Yard Act – The Overload 
Yard Act quickly picked up momentum when they emerged in 2020, but I don’t know that anyone would have predicted that they’d end up releasing an album that went to number two in the UK charts. Even less that they’d end up re-recording one of the tracks from it with Elton John.

King Hannah – I’m Sorry, I Was Just Being Me 
This album has a real late night mood too it, frontwoman Hannah Merrick delivering her deadpan, unfiltered thoughts with quiet anger and humour. An impressive debut that indicates that they could deliver something even greater on future albums too.

Nilüfer Yanya – Painless 
At its heart an indie rock album, which draws on pop, Nilüfer Yanya’s second album ‘Painless’ is a hazy and intoxicating collection of songs. It finds power in its subtlety and is underpinned by her intricate guitar playing.

Ethel Cain – Preacher’s Daughter 
‘Preacher’s Daughter’ is an incredibly atmospheric album, which takes elements of Taylor Swift and early The Weeknd and wraps them up in gothic Americana. Dark and brooding with moments of pure pop, I’ve repeatedly had to check that this is only her first album.

Tomberlin – I Don’t Know Who Needs To Hear This 
A record that has been on hard rotation here ever since its release in April, Tomerblin’s second album, ‘I Don’t Know Who Needs To Hear This’, is an intimate and confessional work which invites you into her innermost thoughts and hopes to find some common ground.

Aldous Harding – Warm Chris 
Aldous Harding’s fourth album – and her first for 4AD – features some of her most accomplished songwriting to date. It can feel both comfortable and confusing, painting vivid pictures that don’t always make a huge amount of sense.

Rina Sawayama – Hold The Girl 
For her second album, Rina Sawayama leans fully into pop with confidence and elegance, bringing in classic elements of songwriting that don’t always chime with current trends, lending it a weight which will see it remembered for a long time to come.

Listen to the playlist on YouTube here, and Spotify here:

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