The 39 Best Albums of 2022: Our Favorite Music of the Year So Far

Bad Bunny, Rosalía, Big Thief, the Weeknd, the Smile, FKA twigs, and more of the best music of the first half of 2022The Weeknd FKA twigs Bad Bunny and moreThe Weeknd, FKA twigs, Bad Bunny, Rosalía, and Thom Yorke. Graphic by Marina Kozak, photos via Getty ImageEvery December, Pitchfork takes stock of the previous 12 months with our lists of the best songs and best albums of the year. For 2022, we've decided to add a new list: a mid-June rundown of our staff's individual favorite albums of the first half of the year. Unlike our December lists, this one is alphabetical and not ranked, and consists of personal picks rather than the results of a vote. The albums here run the gamut from the heights of fame (the Weeknd, Bad Bunny) to beloved left-of-center favorites (Animal Collective, FKA twigs, Earl Sweatshirt) to the depths of the underground (Astrid Sonne, Undeath,Alabaster dePlume). The only criteria for inclusion was that the album was released between late December 2021 and mid-June 2022.

best thoughts, thinking about smiling

Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


4AD

Aldous Harding:Warm Chris

Best Moment: The culmination of "Leathery Whip," where a chorus of voices sing "Here comes life with his leathery whip"—an essential metaphor in Harding's particular oeuvre

Best Song: "Staring at the Henry Moore"

RIYL: The Muppets, staring contests, PJ Harvey, grimacing


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Jagjaguwar

Angel Olsen:Big Time

Best Moment: When Olsen belts "I'm dancing, baby/But I feel like dying" on "Go Home," as waves of piano and voice rise and crash behind her

Best Song: "This Is How It Works"

RIYL: Doo-wop hooks, pedal steel, country longing


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Domino

Animal Collective:Time Skiffs

Best Moment: The ending of "Strung With Everything," which at first sounds like it will drift and dissolve into ambience but instead explodes into ecstatic, fist-pumping call-and-response

Best Song: "We Go Back"

RIYL: Skittering insects, midafternoon reveries, mild mushroom trips, sweltering summers, pond-surface reflections, old-friend reunions


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Escho

Astrid Sonne:Ephemeral Camera Feed

Best Moment: The arpeggiated synths maneuvering through the crowd's idle chatter on "Ephemeral V"

Best Song: "Ephemeral II"

RIYL: The expansive sound of Julianna Barwick, the somatic euphoria of being sonically pummeled while standing in a crowded space surrounded by strangers


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


Studio Barnhus

Axel Boman:LUZ / Quest for Fire

Best Moment: How the cool, melodious raps on the first half of "BHUKA" build enough momentum to burst over dazzling arpeggiated synths by the end

Best Song: "BHUKA" (LUZ), "Stone Age Jazz" (Quest for Fire)

RIYL: Tender embraces, DJ Koze, wistful summer nights, saturated color displays


LUZ: Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp |Spotify | Tidal
Quest for Fire: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Rimas

Bad BunnyUn Verano Sin Ti

Best Moment: When "Después de la Playa" switches up from a morose trap ballad swirling in synthesizers to a raucous Dominican mambo engineered to flood the dancefloor

Best Song: "Después de la Playa"

RIYL: Trapchata, perreo on the beach


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


4AD

Big Thief:Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

Best Moment: The overly muted acoustic guitars that sound like a cartoon character hitting their head on a succession of hanging frying pans on "Time Escaping"

Best Song: "The Only Place"

RIYL: John Prine, trying to describe just how much you love someone, the faint smell of Dave Matthews Band


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Run for Cover

Camp Cope:Running With the Hurricane

Best Moment: When Georgia Maq screams "Look out boys, I'm on fire, and I'm not going out" at the towering eye of the title track

Best Song: "The Screaming Planet"

RIYL: Emo-country with feminist agency, vulnerability as a tool of liberation, songs about women's desires, double texting, the will to change


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Mexican Summer

Cate Le Bon:Pompeii

Best Moment: The riveting journey Le Bon's voice takes on "French Boys," the high notes cascading into her beautifully droll low register as she chews over this line: "French boys are making me wait"

Best Song: "Moderation"

RIYL: Elastic echoing guitars that are nearly inscrutable from elastic echoing synths, the paintings of Tim Presley, taking every fear that you have and sending them to Pompeii


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Atlantic

Charli XCX:Crash

Best Moment: Every time Charli says "baby" in "Baby"

Best Song: "Good Ones"

RIYL: Poppers, the clerb, ugly fashion sneakers, the original Techno Viking, "Bunny Is a Rider"

Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


DEEWEE

Charlotte Adigéry / Bolis PupulTopical Dancer

Best Moment: The endless rollicking laughter that guides the melody through "HAHA"

Best Song: "It Hit Me"

RIYL: Electro-pop bangers, campy winks, sarcastic POC wit


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Merge

Destroyer:Labyrinthitis

Best Moment: When the record ends with a lo-fi acoustic singalong that could have fit on a 1990s Destroyer record, and you realize how much ground Dan Bejar has covered since those days

Best Song: "June"

RIYL: Getting lost in a movie without following the plot, books so long they're impractical to take on vacation


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Tan Cressida / Warner

Earl Sweatshirt:Sick!

Best Moment: The burp at the beginning of "Lye"

Best Song: "Fire in the Hole"

RIYL: Thoughtful vibes, spiritual absolution, MF Doom, Luck

Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


Young

FKA twigs:Caprisongs

Best Moment: The 13 seconds of screwed, slowed-down vocals in the breakdown on "oh my love" that sound like monsters making love

Best Song: "lightbeamers"

RIYL: Feelings of desire, angelic incantations, (happy) tears in the club

–Clover Hope

Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


GC

HookFrom, Hook

Best Moment: Hook laughing maniacally over a menacing melody and distorted kick drums on "LMAO"

Best Song: "LAnd"

RIYL: Skits on '90s rap albums, riding the line between sincerity and irony, moshing in your car in traffic, dunking on people on and offline


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


Incienso

Huerco S.:Plonk

Best Moment: Any time the Kansas City producer takes a cool stream of ambient sound, freezes it, and chops it into tiny ice cubes, which then rain down like a dub-techno hailstorm

Best Song: "Plonk III"

RIYL: Basic Channel played back in a walk-in cooler in zero gravity

Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


4AD

Jenny Hval:Classic Objects

Best Moment: The glorious sophistipop of "American Coffee"—who else in pop music can make us groove to lyrics about watching The Passion of Joan of Arc while "having a UTI"?

Best Song: "American Coffee"

RIYL: Female genius in pop music, subtly epic songwriting


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


New West

Joshua HedleyNeon Blue

Best Moment: The little steely wiggle right after Hedley sings "bluer than the sound of a steel guitar crying" at the end of "Neon Blue"

Best Song: "Broke Again"

RIYL: The yeehaw agenda, Telecasters, last call, neon moons


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Self-released

Junglepussy:JP5000

Best Moment: When Junglepussy rhymes "cost" and "nervous" on "Movie Screen"

Best Song: "Mystical"

RIYL: Bars, dollar pizza, meeting the love of your life at a Foreign Exchange show


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Sony UK / RCA

KoffeeGifted

Best Moment: The way Koffee lilts "I wanna just party" on the breezy "West Indies," turning a common phrase into a rallying cry for good times

Best Song: "Lonely"

RIYL: Stress-relieving beach strolls, lovers rock, eschewing loneliness, general uplift


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


Hardcover / RCA

Leikeli47:Shape Up

Best Moment: The slow build of the beat throughout "Zoom"

Best Song: "Secret Service"

RIYL: House beats, undisputable hooks


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


Dear Life

MJ Lenderman:Boat Songs

Best Moment: When Lenderman expresses solidarity with a supposedly flu-stricken Michael Jordan on "Hangover Game": "Yeah, I love drinking too."

Best Song: "You Are Every Girl to Me"

RIYL: Sports, indie rock memes, icy brews, fuzzy guitars


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


ATO

Nilüfer Yanya:Painless

Best Moment: he storm front of guitar distortion that thickens around "Midnight Sun," out of which Yanya's falsetto beams: "always I did it for ya!"

Best Song: "Midnight Sun"

RIYL: The xx, Radiohead's The Bends,alternating waves of euphoria and dysphoria


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


G.O.O.D. Music / Def Jam

Pusha TIt's Almost Dry

Best Moment: When Malice arrives to close the album with a brief but triumphant Clipse reunion, and opens his verse by asking "Tell me what I missed"

Best Song: "Call My Bluff"

RIYL: Icy luxury, playful threats, the old adage that Inuit people have 50 words for snow, except in this case by snow we mean cocaine


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Atlantic

Ravyn Lenae:Hypnos

Best Moment: The bridge of "Light Me Up," where Lenae's falsetto reaches an exquisite, seemingly impossible upper register

Best Song: "Light Me Up"

RIYL: Steve Lacy's warped guitar melodies, flirting on the dancefloor, '90s R&B


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


Columbia

Rosalía:MOTOMAMI

Best Moment: The sonorous, semi-nonsense raps of "Chicken Teriyaki" and "Saoko," where she sculpts her voice like a glinting blade and emerges as one of the stealthiest pop threats of the present day

Best Song: "Saoko"

RIYL: Reggaetón turned inside out


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Spotify | Tidal


Forever Living Originals

SaultAir

Best Moment: When the brass first crashes into the choir on "Reality"

Best Song: "June 55"

RIYL: High drama choral music, epic film scores, Basil Poledouris

Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


Jagjaguwar

Sharon Van EttenWe've Been Going About This All Wrong

Best Moment: The buildup in "Darkness Fades" at about 1:24, when the drums and keys kick in

Best Song: "Home to Me"

RIYL: Cat Power, Mazzy Star, watching your memories in slow motion through an old film projector


Listen/Buy: Amazon | Apple Music |Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal


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