Best Albums of 2022 So Far

While the rise of digital music has prioritized the playlist, the album—the collection of songs unified by a singular concept, or a moment in time—still can carry a lot of weight with listeners in 2022. This year has been defined by the statements made by these 10 musicians, which were influenced in part by their music-making approach, their deep lyrics and sardonic humor or their dancing-ready beats. You can listen to each of these albums in full, or just on shuffle.

Pompeii, Cate Le Bon

Welsh musician and producer Cate Le Bon takes on personal and global apocalypse on her sixth album, and she’s well-equipped to do so: Her gift for making songs sound like they’re on the verge of falling apart pairs perfectly with the subject matter of Pompeii, with saxophones that sound like they’re melting into heat-warped guitars on the mournful “Running Away” and her wail hovering above the uneasy buzz of the title track’s instrumental bed.

SICK!Earl Sweatshirt

Enigmatic MC Earl Sweatshirt’s pandemic album, SICK! succinctly and cleverly shows how he’s shaved down his lyrics to their absolute essence, with compressed rhymes and idiosyncratic metaphors that mirror the walls-closing-in feeling of the lockdown era.

Harry’s HouseHarry Styles

Harry Styles is now a pop star and boy bander. Harry’s House is a laid-back affair that showcases the British singer’s easy charm and unbounded curiosity. The glossy synths of “As It Was” and the rubbery lite-funk of opening track “Music For A Sushi Restaurant” are well-paired with Styles’ breathy voice, while cuts like the tender ballad “Matilda” and the dating-in-2022 sigh “Boyfriends” showcase his sensitive side.

You Can Do It Faster than I can, Jane Inc.

Toronto musician and producer Carlyn Bezic’s musicianship (she wrote, played, and produced most of You Can Do It Faster than I can) and expressive voice make the second album from her project Jane Inc. a gripping trip to pop’s frontier. The pummeling “2120” is one of the most pleasantly overpowering dance-pop tracks to land this year, while “Picture of the Future” starts off as a bossa nova shimmy before anxiously folding in on itself—almost as if it saw what was coming and took cover.

blue water road Kehlani

Oakland-born Kehlani broke through in the mid-2010s with thoughtful, deeply personal soul that updated the ideals of ‘90s R&B for the bedroom-pop generation. The group’s third album Blue Water Road opens with the declaration (on the lush “little story”) that they’re “workin’ on bein’ softer,” and the album bears out that idea both sonically and lyrically, with Kehlani ruminating over queerness, grief, and love over splendid grooves while the occasional guest (Justin Bieber, Jessie Reyez) drops in to commiserate.

Palomino, Miranda Lambert

For her ninth solo album, Texas troubadour Miranda Lambert built on the promise of her 2016 track “Highway Vagabond” and hit the road, spinning tales of hard-living women while playing with prevailing notions of what “country music” can be. Palomino cuts like the guitar-electrified “Geraldene” and the gender-role-needling “If I Was A Cowboy” are built for loading into honky-tonk jukeboxes, but Lambert’s forays into blues-informed New Wave (the B-52’s-assisted “Music City Queen”) and dreampop (“In His Arms”) show how versatile her artistry can be.

A World Full of FearPeaness

Peaness, a U.K. band have an indiepop approach that is both energizing and contemplative. You can read more A World Full of Fear, their first proper full-length, they master this balance in hooky, terse guitar pop, balancing existential malaise with an ebullient chorus on “What’s the Use?,” using sugar-sweet vocal harmonies to stave off self-esteem crises on “irl,” and countering the world’s slings and arrows with head-full-of-steam guitars on “Left to Fall Behind.”

Rave & RosesRema

Benin-born vocalist Rema’s debut album introduces AfroRave—which fuses West African rhythms and melodies with elements borrowed from genres around the world—with riveting results, whether on the low-lit synthpop cut “Addicted,” the deconstructed Quiet Storm track “Dirty,” or the undulating, lovestruck “Mara.”


Spanish singer Rosalía came out of the tradition of flamenco, and her music has been defined by its percussive base even as she’s explored the world in search of new musical styles to add to her arsenal. The precision-grade rhythms of her third album are a catchy but sometimes disturbing depiction about the near future. Rosalia grapples both with the darker aspects of fame and indulges herself in the finest things while enjoying the infinite variety of musical genres.

Wet Leg, Wet Leg

Last year, the duo of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers became streaming sensations with their thudding, surrealistic single “Chaise Longue,” a For the mean girlsThe flipside of the groupieculture script. Their full-length album builds on that promise, casting a sidelong glance at modern life’s rubbish—nagging bills, bad parties, worse dates—over elliptical riffing and galloping basslines.

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