The hills come alive to the sound of music. The tours are back. The Grammys are good. Tears For Fears is back. Eddie Vedder has found a new rhythm. Charli XCX dialed in the pop dial. Maren Morris broke his sound. There are very few big music hits in 2022 that we don’t to like. It’s only April, but collections that will live well past their release dates on airwaves, playlists, and vinyl shelves have piled high.
As always, we’re keeping track of the best of the best and dropping them below, here. You’ll find indie rock jams and pop bangers and classic rock, well, classics, ready to delight and amuse or, in some special cases, give you that sacred escape that only music can provide. We’ll be back with more in the coming months, but for now, these are the best albums of 2022, so far.
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Although The Weeknd has been at the pinnacle of pop music for most of the past decade, the past few years have seen him launch into a whole new stratosphere. One entirely his. after hours and the record-breaking single “Blinding Lights” defined and dominated pop culture in the early 2020s. And with Dawn FMthe artist has made his most comprehensive artistic statement to date. Dawn FM is an album — a full album in a time when many artists are releasing collections of pick-and-stream singles and TikTok independently. DJ’d by a sultry-voiced Jim Carrey, Dawn FM is a radio show from the near future that works better as a whole. “Take My Breath” hits hard and fast with a Daft Punk-esque sheen among a handful of club-smashing early bangers. “Out of Time” and “Here We Go…Again” offer a mid-album break from searing synths with haunting neo-R&B ballads. The heartbreak keeps coming Dawn FMis the back half, balancing drama with the clever funk of “I Heard You’re Married” and the rosy-eyed “Less Than Zero.” Like a dance party bathed in neon lights in dark times, Dawn FM is a welcome escape open to close. —Matt Miller
Read our full review here.
Eddie Vedder, “Terran”
This is the Eddie Vedder solo album we’ve been waiting for. Earthling is a big mainstream rock album about life, loss, grief and aging, and it’s even more fun than it sounds. Eddie looks like he’s having fun here, like he’s relaxed out of place in the modern age of classic rock, like he’s about to launch into a few tracks that would have ended up on a Tom Petty album and the make it work. Stevie Wonder and Elton John pass, but the record never slips into Grammy-tribute-jam territory. Turn on “Brother The Cloud,” roll down the windows, and scream the past two years at the top of your lungs. —Dave Holmes
Maren Morris, ‘Humble Quest’
What do you do when you climb the mountain? Back down, of course. Maren Morris is a king of country music these days, headlining festivals and fairs, performing in super bands and spending time on the couch on Late Night. It went to his head, but not to his ego, as evidenced by his excellent new album. Humble Quest is the sound of a woman traveling through doubt, grief and depression to find worth and happiness. But while it swells, the whole never wallows; his Laurel Canyon-meets-70s FM arrangements are soaring. —Madison Vain
If there’s one thing FKA twigs knows how to do, it’s play with sound. With a series of idiosyncratic and innovative albums, FKA twigs has long established itself as the queen of experimentation. Caprisongs is no exception to this tradition. The singer continues to test the limits of her voice, flying with her at times and “Yee” with her at others. She channels her Jamaican roots with songs like “papi bones” and “jealousy” that offer Dancehall feel, Afrobeat influence and that unique touch of FKA twigs. This album seems to reinvent the singer again, again. Speaking on ‘meta angel’, Twigs reflects on the struggle she had to face coming out of her shell “Every year I’m like, ah, I’m gonna own my shit, and then every year I’m still so shy and so calm,” she says. Perhaps in her earlier music, traces of this shy girl can be found if you search beyond the ethereal enigma she has always embraced. But in Caprisongs she recognizes this shyness and then has fun. With this album, she seems to say “yes, I’m ethereal, but I’m also a person who likes to play”. —Ammal Hassan
Big Thief, “Dragon New Warm Mountain, I Believe in You”
“Would you live forever, would you ever die / while everything passes around you? Adrianne Lenker asks in the opening track of Dragon New Warm Mountain I believe in you. And, for an album recorded in the summer of 2020, that sounds like a drastic question. A free-wheeling, gloriously lively album of 20 staggering tracks, Big Thief’s Dragon is a fiery journey filled with inside jokes, natural beauty and humanity. Songs like “Sparrow” meander with woodsy mysticism, while “Spud Infinity” takes the country twang to strange and welcoming places. Recorded in locations across the United States like Arizona, Colorado, upstate New York and Los Angeles, the album captures the energy of American folk and rock roots, but does so with a audacious curiosity. —MM
Tears For Fears, “The Tipping Point”
Tears For Fears don’t give you quantity, but they will give you quality. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith’s first album together in 18 years gets off to a slow and uncharacteristically acoustic start with “No Small Thing,” but they go racing immediately afterwards with a title track that might have fit the 1985s. songs from the big chair. The album swings between intimate, bombastic ballads designed to fill the stadiums they’ll be visiting this summer, and “Break The Man,” the most upbeat condemnation of the patriarchy you’re likely to receive all year. This is the John Hughes reboot soundtrack you write in your head. —DH
Charli is back and, my god, stronger than ever. The fact that her 2022 LP would mark the singer’s finale to a five-album recording deal with Atlantic Records — a partnership she’s publicly bemoaned many times over her lifetime — has earned plenty of character. But Charli barely sent her shipment. Instead, the songs are cheekier, bigger, and purer in their pop pursuits. (Somewhere a dance floor shakes with excitement.) Atlantic can call it an end, we call it a beginning. —MV
With Laurel Hell, Mitski reminds us once again why she so deserves her fevered sequel. Playing with his usual themes of sadness, isolation and self-doubt over heavy indie-pop synths, the Japanese-American singer-songwriter brings a deeper depiction of the complexities of pain than ever before. With lines such as “I always knew the world was moving on / I just didn’t know it would be okay without me” in “Working for the Knife” and “Well I held on, but I feel a Storm Approaching,” in “Heat Lighting,” Mitski reckoned with the realization that even success can’t curb sadness. This album is a poetically honest account of her relationship with her work, with romance, with herself and with the world around her. Mitski’s career has been successful for quite some time now, but Laurel Hell cements his place as an artist with a stamina to survive even the generations after us. —AH
Earl Sweatshirt has always made music on his own terms. It exists outside of trends, and often, outside of conventional musical structures. His albums are brief, dense and brilliant. masterful of 2018 some rap songs covered 15 titles in less than 25 minutes. His follow-up, feet of clay, even surpassed that with 7 songs in 15.5 minutes. Earl’s last, SICK!, has its typical brevity, but also more clarity. He extracted his own voice from the mix, which erases the haze from his deep rhymes (smart effortless one-liners like “They’re skimming plenty of sheep, we’re staying on the loose”). At the same time, he finds amazing emotional depth, rapping lines like “Real pain, I couldn’t eat or sleep for seven days / Crippled myself, I’m not weak / Keep changing for the better , what to do when your thankless work” over ambient tones on “God Laughs”. The range, across 10 songs and 24 minutes, is dizzying. Few other artists can cover the same ground in such commonplace 25-track albums. in the age of streaming. Earl is the antithesis of that thinking. He is one of a kind and he has once again released one of the best rap albums of his generation. —MM
Turner is a punk-folk minstrel, a live performer who will have you considering quitting your job to follow him around the world, an artist whose moment has always been just that little bit out of reach. After a couple of listless albums — a run he might tackle on “Haven’t Been Doing So Well” — he’s back in top form with this one. It’s intimate and inspiring, full of sometimes uncomfortable lyrics that you’ll want to scream with. In ‘Untainted Love’ and ‘Farewell To My City’ he leaves his party days behind, in ‘A Wave Across a Bay’ he praises Frightened Rabbit lead singer Scott Hutchison in ‘The Reckoning “he bites so hard the Hold Steady will leave a mark. But no matter what he does, he looks revitalized, and after nine albums he finally has his first UK number one. Hope America catches up. —DH
Nilüfer Yanya, ‘Painless’
Listening to his layered guitar textures, breathy vocals, and intricate melodic and rhythmic structures, it may seem somewhat surprising that 26-year-old singer-songwriter Nilüfer Yanya was once recruited into a band. pop hosted by Louis Tomlinson of One Direction. She turned down the opportunity. And since then, Yanya has released music that is decidedly different from the clinical and mass-produced product of the mainstream machine. On Painless, her second album, Yanya’s music has a windy trepidation. “There’s nothing there / For you and me / I’m not going anywhere / Until it bleeds,” she sings on the heart-pounding post-punk track “Stabilizes.” On “midnight sun,” which opens with OK Computer-era guitar picking and evolves into an eerie, tense vocal, Yanya shows patience with her song’s structure, holding back until a brief chorus crispy closing. It’s this kind of control that makes his music so captivating. And Painless is full of those unexpected turns where a cathartic hook or chord progression is tucked away just below the surface. —MM
Superchunk, ‘Wild Solitude’
Listen, any new Superchunk album is worth celebrating. But this one is a little softer, a little more acoustic, a little better suited to a Sunday morning than anything they’ve released so far. On their 12th album in their 33-year career, the indie heroes tone it down a bit and, without sacrificing their uniqueness, channel their fellow North Carolina folks lightly. Let’s be active. If you know, you know; if not, you’re welcome down the Spotify rabbit hole we just sent you. —DH
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