Our favourite albums of 2022

By in Features





The soundtrack to 2022.

2022 saw hints of a return to normal after the last few years. Festivals and tours were back in full swing while artists and audiences grappled with the cost of living and post-COVID concerns. Despite overwhelming discussions about TikTok and the 30-second-ification of popular music, the full-length album remained just as essential this year.

These are the albums that brought us joy and kept us hooked throughout the year. From pop superstars to rising independent artists across all genres, these are the releases that came to define our 2022.

Read below the discover the VF team’s favourite albums of 2022.


Blue Rev



Alvvays’ long-awaited third album Blue Rev surpasses expectations to be one of 2022’s best surprises. Charming melodies and verbose lyricism have always been a part of Alvvays’ package, but Blue Rev expands the trio’s sound by incorporating a cross-section of alt-rock influences, brought together in a timelessly produced collection. Simply put, spending time with Blue Rev is a lot of fun, harking to a vision of guitar music that is breezy and free.–Kelly Doherty

Angel Olsen

Big Time



Leaning further into her country influences, Angel Olsen captures the highs and lows of queer love and the pain of grief throughout Big Time. Angel Olsen’s vocals are standout, rich and road-worn, wise and confident despite the emotional challenges and struggles that her lyrics detail. Big Time is a journey of acceptance and growth in a sepia-toned hue, a lone rodeo to make sense of what has gone before.—Kelly Doherty



(Parkwood Entertainment)


Beyoncé’s fifth studio album, Renaissance, sees the megastar contracting her scope from the broad state of the nation address that was Lemonade. While Renaissance takes a less ambitious route than previous albums, it’s clearer in its vision – an ode to the dancefloors and club sounds pioneered and invented by Black, queer artists. It’s been a long time since Beyoncé’s music has been pigeonholed by labels, yet Renaissance feels euphoric, emancipatory and full of joy, despite its commitment to the confines of genre. A surprisingly temporal, intimate body of work from one of pop’s pre-eminent stars.– Kelly Doherty



(One Little Independent)


Steeped in fungal imagery, Björk’s Fossora looks to a pervading sense of mystery and dissonance in the musical undergrowth as it stakes out a place among the most adventurous works of her storied discography. When referenced as Björk’s “gabber” album, this missed the album’s layered and juxtaposed approach to tempo, with club sounds and dissonance as perennial presences throughout the album that shrink and contract into instrumental settings. Classically tonal and wistful at moments, downright anxiety-inducing in others, Fossora shows no fading of Björk’s enduring abilities to confound and delight.–James Hammond

Black Country New Road

Ants From Up Here

(Ninja Tune)


Released just days after frontman Isaac Wood announced his departure from the band, Ants From Up There is more accessible than their debut but still far from a casual listen. Warped time signatures, sultry jazz interludes and a breakaway from their typical Sprechgesang define the release. But it’s the 12-minute closer “Basketball Shoes” that truly impresses if you look past its Charli XCX wet dreams backstory. The intense three-parter glides between passionate prog-rock breakdowns, orchestral interludes and emotional confessionals. It’s a lot to take in, but worth it.– Becky Rogers



(Rough Trade)


A haunting release that knows when to give and take. Silent air in “Good morning (red)” leaves room for erupting string interjections, while “Engine (eavesdropping)” steers through orchestral choral lines before avalanching into an unconstrained blockage of improvised noise. It’s vulnerable but confident. caroline exudes maximalism, but its self-awareness and immaculate composition allow for a much-needed space to breathe.– Becky Rogers

Charli xcx




Crash is the ultimate farewell album to her current label and proves Charli XCX as a bonafide queen of pop. Eurodance samples skirt around thumping power pop beats, while an 80s synth-funk resurgence finds itself amongst singalong dance-pop anthems. It’s a slight step away from her previous hyperpop statements, but an exciting foresight into what the future holds as she steps away from being a major label artist.– Becky Rogers


If My Wife New, I’d Be Dead



Once known for writing about her Diet Coke addiction, Peter Bogdanovich obsession and crying over a boy in KFC, CMAT has proved she has more than lyrical wit to offer on her debut. It comes complete with country-pop ballads, disco-pop singalongs and banjo-led confessionals. Think Dolly Parton meets Katy Perry and you’re not far off. – Becky Rogers

Crack Cloud

Tough Baby

(Crack Cloud Media Studio )


Crack Cloud are a testament to the mindset that art is healing. They’ve left behind the agitation and bark their first album exuded, and have instead opted for theatrical desire and a broader outlook. Opening with a heartbreaking message from vocalist/drummer Zach Choy’s late father, Tough Baby goes on to balance pure elation with times of uncertainty. It’s an intense listen, but one that becomes clearer the more you return.– Becky Rogers


Galcher Lustwerk

100% Galcher



The masses have been waiting patiently for nine years for this hotly anticipated vinyl press of 100% Galcher, which laid the pathway to his meteoric rise from relative obscurity and Soundcloud-only existence to being singled out as an admired voice of a generation. Reciting a stream of consciousness across hip-hop-electronic beats with a truly unique vision of deep house, old and new fans can find something in this re-mastered and reimagined tracklist version by Ghostly International.– Emily Hill

Gilla Band

Most Normal

(Rough Trade)


Following a swift name change and a three-year break, Gilla Band returned to their boundary-pushing brand of post-punk with Most Normal. The release continues the Irish band’s reign as post-punk’s most interesting and daring act, as they propel their sound to its extremities, manipulating and contorting their gear to a breath-taking effect. Most Normal is dryly witty in its own surreal way, offering moments of brevity amongst an overwhelming and intentional sonic battering. Another excellent release from a flawless discography.– Kelly Doherty

Hi Tech

Hi Tech

(FXHE Records)


The brainchild of Detroit partners Milf Melly and King Milo came together as Hi Tech and made their self-titled debut on Omar S’ FXHE imprint. The room-shaking sounds have been making their way across the Detroit underground with hit tracks like “Cash App” and “Fitness” becoming anthems. Across the album the duo balance hip-hop lyricism with smooth synth-driven electronic production, steering the ship between a cool 80 BPM upwards, from bass-y dance numbers through to more contemplative sounds.– Emily Hill


Liminal Space

(New Soil / Marathon Records)


Cult free-wheeling jazz professionals opened a new chapter with their first fully studio-produced album, inviting old and new collaborators into the fold to present Liminal Space. Offering excellence only across ten tracks, they run into a new world of cosmic post-jazz experimentation, which creates this unstoppable and exciting momentum. Long may it live on. – Emily Hill


I Love You Jennifer B

(Rough Trade Records)


Jockstrap’s I Love You Jennifer B is a truly beautiful twist of heartfelt orchestral emotion skewed by glitching electronic unease. Its lighter moments glide around Björk and early Grimes avant-garde, before veering off into absurd climaxes of production insanity. It’s daring but comes with a warm familiarity.– Becky Rogers


It Was A Home

(City Slang)


The second studio album from the American singer-songwriter is an ode to her life and relationships that have nourished her, expressed with moments of childlike curiosity. It Was A Home gets more soulful with every listen, the songwriting has a deep texture to it that is often lost in the more contemporary sides of pop and R&B these days.—Emily Hill

Kali Malone

Living Torch



With Living Torch, Kali Malone temporarily steps aside from her pipe organ work, finding new homes for her meticulous form of polyphony among modular synthesizer, trombone, bass clarinet and the hurdy-gurdy like boîte à bourdin. With this particular pooling of frequencies originally designed for a live concert that used the GRM’s acousmonium speaker array, translated to a humble record, these seamless passages of undulation and breath-like drone lost none of their mesmeric powers.–James Hammond

Kendrick Lamar

Mr Morale & The Big Steppers



In its unflinching approach to lived experience and the complex negotiations of expectation that befall someone with Kendrick Lamar’s talents, Mr Morale and The Big Steppers sets its own rules and resolutions within a reflective, uncensored and confessional approach. Bound by Lamar’s exceptional flow, and bettering Damn in its vivid segues between narratives, characters and themes, Mr Morale and the Big Steppers creates a palpable sense of risk-taking that brings awe-inspiring moments and the occasional misstep as par for the course. Compelling throughout, on record or in the live arena, Lamar’s imprint was all over 2022.– James Hammond

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms & Lava



Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava has experimentation at its core. Born out of a week-long jam session in which they focused on a different tempo, key and song title each day, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have proved, even 21 albums in, they can try something new and still impress. Journey through Kraut-infused prog-jazz, sultry flute jaunts fighting against motorik drum fills, and cosmic psych-blues. Somehow, it just all works.– Becky Rogers

Loyle Carner




Loyle Carner makes a triumphant return following 2019’s Not Waving, But Drowning. An astute and single-minded release, Hugo plays to Carner’s strengths–melancholia and thoughtfulness are in abundance against a backdrop of mellow, boom-bap-inspired beats. Hugo posits Carner as a personable underdog, a narrator you can’t help but root for. Whilst many of his peers race to keep up with trends, Loyle Carner continues to perfect his niche and we’re all the better off for it.–Kelly Doherty

Lucrecia Dalt


(RVNG Intl.)


Recent LPs from Lucretia Dalt have abounded in imaginative overflows and extramusical themes, and ¡Ay!, whilst bound to the romantic song forms of Latin American boleros, is no exception in its expansive themes. With a lyrical narrative that tells of an extra-terrestrial amalgamation of human skin known as Preta, ¡Ay! unfolds in a swirl of the familiar and the uncanny. Channelling the “sensory echoes of growing up in Colombia”, Dalt’s embrace of boleros meets the experimental edge of her work, juxtaposing folkloric Colombian music with the voice of its otherworldly protagonist. A work that has readily lent itself to repeated listens since its release in October.–James Hammond





Motomami, the third album from pop sensation Rosalía, takes plenty of risks in delving further into the depths of experimentation following the massively popular El mal querer. Rather than opting for accessibility, Motomami runs in a dozen directions at once, testing new structures and approaches from the minimalist “BULERÍAS” to the breakneck tonal changes of “CUUUUuuuuuuute”. Whilst this level of variety could feel unfocused, Rosalía’s instantly recognisable vocals endure, lending continuity to her exhilarating take on pop music. – Kelly Doherty



(Because Music)


Shygirl continues her plans for world domination with her debut album Nymph. Manufactured by a series of close-knit friends and previous collaborators, it intertwines the sonic landscapes she has become known for with her signature catchy hooks and lyric harmonies. Touching on the themes of desire and sexual relationships, it’s a sensational full-length piece of art from an incredibly talented artist. – Emily Hill

Sudan Archives

Natural Brown Prom Queen

(Stones Throw)


Sudan Archives’ second album Natural Brown Prom Queen is a lesson in fluidity. Never pinned to a specific sound, she moves with ease between her influences, dipping into free-flowing verses, R&B beats, organic instrumentation and electronic flourishes. Natural Brown Prom Queen is an ambitious, sprawling and riveting listen that steps away from Sudan Archives’ previous violin-led, orchestral preoccupation for a more expansive sound. A venture into the mainstream that always thrills.–Kelly Doherty

Taylor Swift




Midnights sees Taylor Swift reflect on the thoughts and feelings that have plagued her throughout her illustrious career. Swift has always been a subject of public scrutiny, repeatedly cast and recast as villain, victim and victor by both the media and herself and Midnights examines the traces these archetypes have left on her mind. A return to the electro-pop of 1989 whilst maintaining the intimacy of her recent folk-leaning outings, Midnights is one of Swift’s most cohesive and fully realised outings. An album that lives in the grey and finds comfort in uncertainty.–Kelly Doherty

The Smile

A Light For Attracting Attention

(Self Help Tapes)


Where each new Radiohead record sets pastures new as a fundamental within the process, The Smile’s A Light For Attracting Attention is happier to check the rear-view mirror of Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood’s long-standing creative partnership. Joined by the jazz stylings of percussionist Tom Skinner, a few road-tested tracks from Radiohead concerts get revitalised here, along with the ‘90s guitar rock that Greenwood and Yorke played such a prominent part in. No mere nostalgia trip though, within its breadth of moods, present-tense lyrical indignation and the chemistry of the trio, A Light For Attracting Attention played out as a memorable part of 2022’s soundtrack and showed no dulling of the Greenwood-Yorke creative spark.–James Hammond


Capricorn Sun

(Ninja Tune)


TSHA’s Capricorn Sun is one for both late-night dancefloors and bedroom thoughts. An impressive debut from the rising DJ, Capricorn Sun‘s biggest strengths lies in its accessibility. Laden with melodic hooks and centred around an irresistible tug-of-war between melancholia and euphoria, the album achieves the type of authentic stadium dance anthems that many major EDM acts could only dream of. TSHA’s inherent warmth and apparent deep appreciation for pop, house and breakbeats make for a fluid release with no boundaries to its appeal. – Kelly Doherty

Wet Leg

Wet Leg



Wet Leg’s self-titled debut was ubiquitous in 2022. The full-length made good on the promises of its lead single “Chaise Longe”, providing early ’00s indie guitar romps, huge choruses and blithe, witty lyricism. The duo carries themselves with such confident ease throughout the release that you would easily be forgiven for mistaking the band for a long-term indie mainstay. A voice for millennial disconnect and a culture where emotional loss and pain can at least be mined for a funny Twitter thread after.– Kelly Doherty

Weyes Blood

And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

(Sub Pop)


The second instalment of a trilogy, also including 2019’s Titanic Rising, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow marries personal anxieties and state-of-the-world fears together against a backdrop of lush, orchestral arrangements. An optimistic and comforting soundtrack for the end of days.–Kelly Doherty