The 10 Best Albums of 2022

A a wealth of new ones albums in 2022 pushed the boundaries of genre, subject and sound. From seasoned veterans like Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, making a triumphant return with fresh records and even fresher perspectives, to exciting young artists like Saya Gray, whose debut album, 19 mastersshould get every listener excited about the future of music, here are the albums we’ve been on repeat all year.

10. MotomamiRosalia

Rosalía’s 2018 conceptual masterpiece El Mal Querer is so deliberate and strong that it is hard to imagine him surpassing it. But this year she went completely outside the box, pushing her creative abilities to the absolute limit Motomami.

On this album, she worked with some of the best musicians in the industry from rapper/producer Pharrell Williams, who helped on “La Combi Versace” and the title track “HENTAI,” to Frank Ocean, to James Blake, whose voice can be heard at the end of “DIABLO.” Motomami is a triumphant fusion of different genres, mixing jazz, reggaeton, bachata, flamenco and pop. Rosalía’s unwavering persistence allowed her to create a work of art that fully showcases her stunning vocal and production abilities.— Moises Mendez II

9. You can’t kill me070 Shake

Danielle Balbuena, the New Jersey-born rapper and R&B singer better known as 070 Shake, has made a name for herself in the industry by defying easy definition. With a powerful voice and hard-but-tender songwriting, she transcended genre and challenged notions of identity, forging her own path that has garnered luminaries ranging from Kanye West, who signed her to his GOOD Music imprint in 2016, to indie rock darlings The 1975, with whom he toured in the early years of his career.

In her second album, You can’t kill me, Sheik continues to hone a skill set all his own, serving up a project that’s surprisingly measured but no less intense. Over heavy beats and ambient synths, Shake returns to his usual musings: the hardships and wonders of life, the ups and downs of love. Filled with smoldering desire and melancholic anger, the result is a dark, sensual offering from a deeply vulnerable artist who simply refuses to coolly exist. “I wanted your body, but it came with your soul,” she laments in “Body,” channeling a tension that feeds into our universal tedium.— Cady Lang

8. Mr. Morale and the Great SteppersKendrick Lamar

In its decade in the spotlight, Kendrick Lamar has amassed a reputation that borders on the messianic—he’s a Pulitzer-winning genius, civil rights anthem writer, and Tupac heir destined to carry his city, if not his race, if not the world, on his narrow shoulders. No man could live up to these unbearable and escalating standards and so on Mr. MoralLamar actively disavows them: “Kendrick made you think about it, but he’s not your savior,” he says pointedly on “Savior.”

But if Mr. Moral not an epoch-making masterpiece Good kid, maAD City or To Pimp a Butterfly, is still a fantastically rich portrait of an artist in crisis. Lamar tackles family tension, pandemic anxiety, hypocrisy and crushing societal expectations with poignancy and poignancy, especially on “Mother | Sober” and the aforementioned “Saviour”. And there are several deeply polarizing songs on the album — including the domestic dispute “We Cry Together” and the trance anthem “Auntie Diaries” — that nevertheless show Lamar exploring the limits of his comfort zone and taking the risk of backlash to create the art , in which he believes.— Andrew R. Chow

7. Big timeAngel Olsen

“Big” is the operative word for the sixth album from the indie rock staple Angel Olsen: Recorded shortly after the death of both her parents, it deals with big emotions, big musical arrangements, big vocals, big themes of love, loss and depression and perseverance. And just as Olsen can handle a range of settings—from an acoustic solo to a sleazy electric rock band—she also excels at belting out wildly exciting songs that sound destined to explode during climactic slow dances or as movie credits roll. .

The songs on “Big Time” build patiently and with few indicators of the year they were created: there are pedal steel guitars, polished strings, zithers and harmoniums. The sumptuous arrangements complement what is arguably Olsen’s strongest vocal performance to date: she brings both strength and subtlety to hauntingly raw lyrics like “I know you can’t talk long/ But I’m barely holding on/ I’m so tired of telling you/ It’s again it’s a difficult time.– RAINBOW

6. ElectricityIbibio sound machine

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more incendiary minute of pop music in 2022 than the one that begins midway through “Protection From Evil,” the opening track from Ibibio Sound Machine’s fourth album Electricity. Frontwoman Eno Williams delivers a furious stream-of-consciousness monologue in the language of Ibibio, her syllables spilling over and between the pounding four-on-the-floor dance beat; she drops into a seething chorus played through a vocoder, which then gives way to a screaming horn section and haunting synth reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem’s best work. Electricity is filled with moments like this: breathtaking highs and lows of sound, amazing cultural exchanges and flawlessly infectious dance music.– RAINBOW

5. It’s almost dryPusha T

If rapper and impresario Pusha T is “Martin Scorsese on Street Rap”, as he hopes to be then It’s almost dry it can only be his Good boys: a gripping gangster epic that is brutal yet stylish, materialistic and psychologically probing. Pusha T doesn’t stray far from his favorite subject of cheating, but he doesn’t need to because of the care he infuses into his craft and storytelling. Its dense references will have you scrambling for Genius Annotations: “Summertime, Winterfell, I’m the Night King/ Colgate kilo, the hood needs bleaching/ We’re fish scales like all of us Pisces/ Your bitch in my bubble like I’m still writing,” he raps on “Neck and wrist. But even if you don’t get all the double and triple antennas, the music sounds fantastically luxurious. He hired some of the biggest producers in hip-hop, from Kanye West to Pharrell, and they brought their A-game.– RAINBOW

4. Chloe and the Next 20th Century, Father John Misty

Music maven Josh Tillman, better known as his stage alter ego Father John Misty, has made a name for himself as the most polarizing (and possibly the most talented) man on the modern folk rock scene. with Chloe and the 20th Century, his fifth studio album as FJM, however, he makes a surprising and delightful departure from his usual form for a project that is grandiose in its ambition, theatrical in its presentation and exhilarating in its execution.

Based on elements such as big band, bossa nova and movie scores from Hollywood’s golden era, the album is a lush and sublime epic that spins fictional retro narratives into song. Through tragic vignettes that read like a fictional Los Angeles script, the pieces chronicle torrid romances, premature ends, and heartbreak for the titular Chloe and her motley crew, showcasing not only FJM’s signature ironic cynicism and penchant for melodrama, but impressive flair as well. for world building.—CL

3. Renaissance, Beyonce

Before the release of Revival, her seventh solo studio album, Beyoncé shared via social media that it was a creative project born out of a need for escapism, freedom and exploration during the pandemic. The spirit of liberation is omnipresent on the album, a true celebration of dance music and its black queer history. From her first single off the album, “Break My Soul,” where Bey and Big Freedia urge us to “release your job/ release the time” to the album’s dedication to her late queer uncle, Johnny, the album is a tribute to black queer genre pioneers such as disco, bounce, house, techno, funk and ballroom. There are few artists who can release an album at the end of the game and still conquer the “song of the summer” along with every dance floor, but as she tells us in “Alien Superstar”, Beyoncé is and forever will be that girl.—CL

2. 19 mastersSaya Gray

Toronto-based singer-songwriter Gray’s debut album isn’t for the stadium rafters. It’s full of half-baked ideas, thin guitar rambles, washed-out vocal recordings, and weird voice notes. But Gray’s odd reticence and restless curiosity are entirely the point: there’s something fascinating about its sprawling and disheveled structure that can be found around every melodic corner, whether on the second or tenth listen. In this way, the album feels like a worthy successor to Frank Ocean’s lo-fi masterpiece Russian. Gray layers her husky voice on top of herself to build breathtaking harmonies, and the tones she pulls from her guitar and bass are impeccable.– RAINBOW

1. Un Verano Sin TiBad bunny

No other album had as much universal appeal (and, let’s be honest, adoration) this year than Un Verano Sin Ti, The bad bunnythe glorious fourth solo studio album by. It’s an album about heartbreak, yes, but also a true love letter to his homeland of Puerto Rico and a sonic homage to the Caribbean diaspora. Driven by El Caribe’s musical styles, ranging from reggaeton and dembo to merengue and cumbia, and underpinned by elements of dancehall and techno, Benito firmly roots the album in the deeply personal, drawing on the universal experiences of love, loss and the ultimate joy of being alive. for an exceptional project that is genre-defying, intergenerational and ground-breaking.

Never afraid to get political, Bad Bunny also uses the project to critique hot-button issues, from the privatization of power in Puerto Rico to how the island’s current gentrification crisis is part of a long and troubled history of colonization. To listen to this album, to be moved by it and moved by it, is an act of challenge, celebration and radical love.—CL

More must-reads from TIME

Write to Kady Lang c [email protected] and Moises Mendes II c [email protected].

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