And… are we back? Despite ever-worsening epidemics and fears of a catastrophic collapse, the year in music was a feast. After the tumultuous days of social distancing, superstars and artist kids are finally releasing albums that sound like squishy backpacks—brilliant, generous, and full of joy. The explosion of kinesis and innovation were surprisingly unifying. In the year While 2021 invited each listener to find personal ways out of limbo, 2022’s music sent us running for the same hills.

Follow along on Spotify.


1. Beyonce, Renaissance

Not long after Beyoncé’s new show rocked dance floors last July, a conversation broke out amid the killer cheers. Thanks to the songwriting and production. Renaissance They are footnotes like dissertations, listing dozens of names: current poets, long-dead legends, beloved foundations. Some critics have highlighted this fact to portray Beyoncé as an innovator or auteur. Is she taking credit for the food she didn’t cook?

Such questions tended to reveal that the asker had not listened to the album seriously. Because hit “play” on the second one Renaissance, Beyoncé’s out-of-control attitude would be hilarious. This is an amazing album—fractured, confusing, haunting, expansive, and visual enough to sink in. It can only have one brain, or rather it was I dreamed about this. As Beyoncé herself puts it, “No one in this world can think like me,” in a song that riffs on a psychedelic popover.

Special It doesn’t mean “totally original,” and part of Beyoncé’s brilliance—a kind of humility, really—is her respect for the relationship between race and individuality. By way of DJ sets and hip-hop mixes, Renaissance It is an inspired sample work. He doesn’t just cut and paste beats from other songs, he mixes lyrical themes, acoustic vibes and vocal micro-inflections from black and queer club pioneers into stories and scenes. In Songs and the Big Album, fission crackles, but syncopated songcraft—Repeat, surprise, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, surprise, surprise– Stabilizes energy.

If it’s about something Renaissance It risks authenticity, it’s Beyoncé’s messianic club-kid persona, all growls and growls and underground lyrics. This woman who can’t go out to the piazza without getting beat up is now building a raffle revolution by presenting herself as a regular at block parties and vag balls. But that sense of tension, that sense of foreshadowing, gives the album its soul. Pop music can invite consumers to think of themselves as fantastical and freer than they really are. When we’re all itching to escape, Beyoncé has tapped into the same powers herself.

listen to: “Virgin’s Grove.”


2. Big thief Dragon New Warm Mountain I believe in you.

One of the most mixed indie bands of recent years finally clicked with me because of a song about potatoes and elbows. On “Spud Infinity,” singer Adrian Lenker taps into his Appalachian-grandfather’s yowl—everything in the universe—starches, bodies, organs—connected. Loaded with cartoons BoeingA jaw-dropping harp, the song punctures the preconceptions a skeptical listener might bring to the quartet of Brooklynites influenced by folk music and Radiohead. In place of selfishness and false seriousness, you have jokes, and genuine seriousness.

As with many significant 2022 releases, Dragon New Warm Mountain I believe in you. It’s a double album, reflecting the turbulent times caused by the early outbreak. But unlike many double albums, the length exudes simplicity. Each love-song-slash-metaphysical-treatment is absurdly complicated, seeming both a composed document and a snapshot in time. The band is clearly operating within a few traditions: the bleakness of college rock, the humility of country music, the sanctity of Fire Song. But the source of creativity is the here and now, the life forms and doodads moving through time, not so much with us.

listen to: “switch”


3. Wet feet; Wet feet

What’s exciting about the current ’90s revival isn’t the return of baggy jeans, but the old, timeless sarcasm of that decade’s cool kids. Wet Leg, a duo of 20’s English rockers, use cake-worthy backing vocals and tingly guitars worthy of the Pixies to pull off a Daria-level eye roll. The targets of this bug attack? Modern horror stuff like social media and classics like dirtbag exes. The band’s lyrical barbs and luscious melodies tie together the band’s luscious melody, hinting at hope in the new. After all, the band suggests, mockery is a sign of wanting something better, more substantial than what’s on offer.

listen to: “Angelica”


4. Daphne, Cherry

The beat of house and techno has dominated nightlife for decades, but at certain times—like this year—dance music returns to the popular consciousness as an object of study. So the time was right for a new set at Daphne, the club-focused incarnation of Dan Snaith, better known as avant-pop wizard Caribou. Although his beats are constantly caressing, their ugly-beautiful-beautiful tones and polyrhythms wear a distorted, prismatic shimmer that only a calculator can perceive. Both low and sublime, sunset – bright and depression – dark, CherrySongs seem to fall flat against each other. But they stay together, testing the brain, as reality often does.

listen to: “Clavic”


5. Saba, A few good things

Whether it’s Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, or some random teenager getting big on Tik Tok, fame makes music mavens feel sorry for themselves, resulting in an overabundance of art about the rich and lonely. Thankfully, Saba, the psychedelic Chicago rapper who rose to fame in the late 2010s, has made a post-boom album. A few good things “I ordered pasta that I can’t even say properly” makes for a nice humble brag. But the album’s soft storytelling, fiery laments and ambiguous bitterness revolve around Saba’s hometown community, which he is desperate not to leave behind. Inequality and success of luck come as part of a crazy equation that can only be solved by team effort. Let Saba arise, and let his friends be with him.

listen to: “One way or all with a N**** budget.”


6. FKA twigs, Descriptions

The idea of ​​hybridity was strong in pop this year. Several superstars (see Nos. 1 and 10 on this list) have built momentum from broken and flowing musical ideas, resulting in our age of artist-led, algorithmic playlists. Sewing reggae, drill and operatic balladry with a few off-the-wall riffs, FKA Twigs’s Descriptions The most amazing thing about such exercises is the spontaneity. Twigs changes the gloominess of her earlier work a lot as she waits for the angelic wheel of her voice. The point is to show that the feelings of many—in one person or “walking through the city lights of London”—can be as inseparable as the sounds on a homemade tape.

listen to: “Jealousy” (featuring Rema)


7. Steve Lacy Gemini rights

In astrology’s 21st century library of stereotypes, Gemini is the dreaded source of violence. But the year’s rock-and-R&B artist has channeled his duality into a powerfully chilling, edgy balance. No. 1 “Bad Habit” pulls listeners in by flipping between passion and disdain, using fleeting harmonies and expressive drums. Whether she’s laying down flamenco guitars or honey raps, and wooing or repulsing boyfriends or girlfriends, Lacy gets through the rest. Gemini rights Capturing the whirlwind of romance – keeping the listener sheltered in the eye of the storm.

listen to: “Sun” (featuring Fushe)


8. Bjork, Phosora

In a year when avant-pop stars like Rosalia reveled in volcanic sounds and cybernetic beats, their forefather dug into strange soil. Given Björk’s track record of leading the cultural pack, her funky-inspired tenth album’s jocular clarinet and screaming performances may one day seem less novel than they do now. Actually, what does it do? Phosora It is best known for its poor and varied songwriting. In a very authentic way, Björk deals with motherhood, mortality and a walk with an experimental companion. My Profile She travels not only to mushrooms and music when we meet in Iceland, but also to coffee and TV: these days Björk always produces in new ways.

listen to: “Sad Soil”


9. El Alpha, Sabiduria

Following the pandemic’s slowdown, tempos are ramping up in all nightclubs, a boon for the Dominican style known as dembo. It’s faster cousin, the king of reggaeton, El Alpha, is using beats that any hyperpop hipster would shake their fill of at the speed of the auction and the Muppets. Whenever I needed an adrenaline spike, El Alpha’s first 2022 album was my trusted resource. His whirlwind fun uses American doofies like Lil Pump and French Montana (rappers who appear on the album) to show that they are specialists in the grand silliness that keeps our species alive.

listen to: “Panama” (featuring TYS)


10. Weekend, Dawn FM

That’s it—after this year, no more ’80s revivals. between Strange things‘ Thanks to Kate Bush and The Weeknd’s delightfully catchy album inspired by Death and Depeche Mode, we’re definitely over on Reagan-era nostalgia. Assisted by experimental producer Oneohtrix Point Never and mastermind Max Martin, Dawn FM It’s as detailed as a jacket and as playable as Pac-Man. On some listens, Jim Carrey’s New Age talks about life after death confused me too. Synth-pop and the supernatural are a perfect pair, but how could they be presented in a more delicious way?

listen to: “Less than zero.”

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