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One author’s Top 5 albums of the year

By Ryan Rutkowski
On December 7, 2022

An extraordinary number of incredible, groundbreaking albums came out in 2022, proving yet again that the music industry is alive after the struggles of the coronavirus pandemic.

From rock to country to even hyperpop, artists of all genres released albums that may go down as classics and be listened to for years to come. These are my top five albums of the year:

 

5. The number five spot goes to singer-songwriter Lizzy McAlpine’s sophomore album “five seconds flat.”

McAlpine’s powerful folk-pop songwriting and sound drive this album with heart and emotion. The first track on the album, “doomsday,” accompanies this theme as she sings about a relationship doomed to fail and how she watches it slowly wither away.

Backed by Jacob Collier on “erase me” and FINNEAS on “hate to be lame,” McAlpine includes features that bring the album to a new level musically.

In the most devastating song on the album, “chemtrails,” she sings a heartfelt remembrance of her late father, evoking emotions that would parallel the emotional depths of songwriters Phoebe Bridgers and Mitski.

Overall, “five seconds flat” is a collection of songs that mark Lizzy Mcalpine’s best work so far.

 

4. Kendrick Lamar has yet to disappoint with a commercial release as a professional artist and “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” continues this trend.

While it is hard to say this album is Lamar’s best work compared to the all-time classics of “good kid, m.A.A.d city” or “To Pimp a Butterfly,” he still provided one of the best hip-hop projects of the year.

This album strays away from songs that might see consistent radio play to focus on issues and concerns that are more prominent to Lamar in his life and community.

In the track “Die Hard,” Lamar opens up about being hesitant in opening up in a relationship, eventually coming to realize that his past cannot hold him back if he wants this relationship to work.

Lamar continues to open up on “Auntie Diaries,” where he explores society’s view on the LGBTQ community. While being the most controversial track on the project, Lamar does not hold back on critiques of the church and of how the hip-hop community views transgender people.

“Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” is Lamar’s most introspective album yet, redefining what it means to be at the top of the game.

 

3. British singer-songwriter Robin “Cavetown” Skinner is known for his heart-wrenching lyrics and unapologetic emotion, which is why his new album “worm food” holds my No. 3 spot.

The newest album on this list, “worm food” explores Skinner’s struggles with mental health and accepting who he is daily.

On the track “better,” Skinner discusses how many people are struggling with their own battles despite how they present themselves to the public.

On top of his songwriting, “Cavetown’s” production is stronger on this album than we have seen before. From soft acoustic guitar tracks like “juno” to highly technical songs like “kill u,” his production conveys each instrument perfectly to show his intention with each song.

Cavetown made everyone shed a tear during “worm food” while also finding a great level of comfort and relatability.

 

2. My No. 2 album comes from one of Cavetown’s collaborators, Beatrice “beabadoobee” Laus, and her album, “Beatopia.”

“Beatopia” is an unexpected, but appreciated, left turn from the British-Filipino singer, combining aspects of alternative, space-rock and indie-pop into one album.

Laus revisits the sounds of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s pop and rock scene with a modern twist in her own imaginary world with a large range of sounds that seemingly only she can pull off.

“Perfect Pair” expands on that with a warm and modern bossa nova feel that seems impossible not to get stuck in your head the rest of the day.

“Beatopia” holds nothing back and attempts to be different in a genre and community where sticking to your sound is the safe bet.

It sounds as though Laus is confident in her art and makes it known.

 

1. My top album of the year is none other than “Ants from Up There” by Black Country, New Roads.

An exceptional post-rock album that could contend for one of the greatest albums in the genre, “Ants from Up There” combines an assortment of instruments with hopelessly romantic lyrics from former lead singer Isaac Wood.

From the piano melody on “The Place Where He Inserted the Blade,” to the time signature changes on “Good Will Hunting,” the group impresses time and time again
with incredible and heavy musical themes.

This album seems to indulge the listener in emotional peak after emotional peak, holding nothing back from themes of failing relationships, lost love, longing and perseverance.

The album culminates with the twelve-and-a-half-minute ballad, “Basketball Shoes,” which defines the album in a crescendo of screaming and pleading from Wood.

An unbelievably emotional ending that seems impossible after the journey the listener has just embarked on in the previous nine songs.

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