The Phoenix’s Top Albums of 2022

This year, the music scene saw a wide variety of new releases. Here are The Phoenix’s favorite new albums of 2022.

This year, the music scene saw a wide variety of new releases. Here are The Phoenix’s favorite new albums of 2022.

“Ivory” by Omar Apollo – Angela Ramirez

In a year filled with talented up-and-coming artists, an obvious standout is Omar Apollo. His April 8 release “Ivory” serves as a testament to his talent, which has flown under the radar far too long. The Spanish songs and verses sprinkled within the album are the cherry-on-top of the singer-songwriter’s versatility.

The melodically excellent, 40-minute listen has a song for everyone, from the heartbroken to the heartbreaker. “Petrified,” “Evergreen” and “En El Olvido” are top-tier ballads, with the artist’s angelic vocals effortlessly carrying the weight of deeply-rooted anguish.

“You know you really made me hate myself / Had to stop before I break myself / Should have broke it off to date myself / You didn’t deserve me at all, at all, at all,” the 25-year old sings in “Evergreen.”

The Mexican American singer released five additional songs on Aug. 12 with “Ivory (Marfil)” — the deluxe edition of the spring project. 

Apollo’s charismatic persona and talent comes across greatly in his discography. Now GRAMMY-nominated under the Best New Artist category, the best is yet to come for the rising star.

“Ivory” by Omar Apollo can be streamed on all major platforms.

“Dance Fever” by Florence + The Machine – Isabella Grosso

Florence + The Machine’s album “Dance Fever” provided an ethereal track list for 2022. From more up-beat tunes like “My Love” and “Free” to more somber sounds like “Daffodil” and “Dream Girl Evil,” the album has something for all ears.

The album’s May 13 release made it a perfect introduction to the summer months. The vocals across the album carry a beautiful echo throughout the songs which adds a heavenly sound that sets it apart from other albums this year.

In addition to her album being a no-skipper, the opening track “King” is up for the GRAMMY award for Best Alternative Music Performance, a promising nomination for Florence. 

“Dance Fever” by Florence + The Machine can be streamed on all major platforms.  

“Harry’s House” by Harry Styles – Maura Green

“I can’t get you off my mind.”

The lyrics from Harry Styles’ hit “Late Night Talking” are right. The artist’s May 20 album “Harry’s House” is an unforgettable follow-up to his 2019 album “Fine Line.” 

The opening hit “Music For a Sushi Restaurant” kicks off the album with a funky-pop beat that sets an uplifting tone for the rest of the album. From using food metaphors for his desire for a woman to singing about the ups and downs of a relationship in “Keep Driving,” Styles proves to be a lyrical genius. 

Being the longest-running number one U.S. Billboard hit, “As It Was” is about metamorphosis as time changes.

As if his vocals weren’t angelic enough, Styles serenades his listeners further with the melancholic “Matilda,” a tribute to healing from familial trauma, and “Little Freak,” a harmonic ode to loving a former partner from a distance. 

“You’re just in time / Make your tea and your toast,” Styles sings in “Matilda” to welcome listeners into his musical home — a place everyone should want to be. 

“Harry’s House” can be streamed on all major platforms

“Gemini Rights” by Steve Lacy – Ella Govrik

Singer and guitarist Steve Lacy struck the perfect balance between pop and R&B with his July 15 release “Gemini Rights.” The album’s introspective lyricism and bouncy instrumentals practically defined the latter half of 2022 for Lacy’s fans.

Throughout “Gemini Rights,” Lacy alternates between lingering guitar notes and complex riffs, with songs like “Helmet” and “Sunshine” proving Lacy’s tendency to lean into funky strumming patterns and fingerpicking.

The hit single “Bad Habit” captivated both long-time fans and new listeners. The catchy hook and upbeat instrumentals made it a summer staple, and the song fits the rare case where the most popular song on the album is also the best.

“I bite my tongue, it’s a bad habit / Kinda mad that I didn’t take a stab at it,” Lacy sings in the fifth track.

While artistic growth from his older releases to his latest work is abundantly clear, Lacy has maintained a preference for prominent bass lines and polished high notes. Along with these consistencies, the singer shows off a developed vocal range and matured lyricism throughout the album.

The album’s popularity and mastery has landed Lacy on the list of 2023 GRAMMY nominees, with “Gemini Rights” up for Best Progressive R&B Album and “Bad Habit” in competition for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. 

“Gemini Rights” can be streamed on all major platforms.

“DECIDE” by Djo – Austin Hojdar

Djo’s sophomore album proved itself to be a defining piece of work for the artist, taking the sounds and complex lyricism from his first to new heights.

The Sept. 16 album feels like a sophisticated 1980s music parody, utilizing synths that would pair well with “Stranger Things” — where the singer’s acting alter-ego Joe Keery stars as Steve Harrington.

Aside from its near-sonic perfection, the lyrical content is existential — in a cool way.

“Change” is about coming to terms with mistakes while dealing with social pressures. “End of Beginning” is a touching tribute to the past, future and the DePaul University alumni’s time in Chicago.

But the fifth track is the pinnacle of the album. “On and On” matches commentary on the digital age and dying planet with building instrumentals that climax into an intense beat switch.

“Maybe it’s not too late / To learn how to love each other / What’s it gonna take to change it? / Don’t you wanna save this planet? / Blame it on manipulation, we’re human after all,” he sings.

“DECIDE” by Djo can be streamed on all major platforms

“Being Funny In A Foreign Language” by The 1975 – Mao Reynolds

The tender yet tongue-in-cheek style of English pop rock band The 1975 is back again in their Oct. 14 album “Being Funny in a Foreign Language.”

Lead singer Matty Healy truly has the range. In “I’m In Love With You,” he goes from professing his infatuation with his partner to singing about being a muppet. He teeters between jokes and genuine sentiments all the way to the last song, “When We Are Together,” where he reminisces on a past relationship in between lines about Sea World and scented candles.

The band is known for being pretentiously ironic and ironically pretentious, so listeners might be surprised by the sincerity of “About You,” a slow and smooth track about lost love. The highlight of the song isn’t even the band — it’s the heavenly bridge sung by Carly Holt, wife of the band’s drummer Adam Hann.

Wordplay and rhymes run wild in “Part of the Band” with lyrics almost too trite to tolerate, like “some Vaccinista tote bag chic barista / Sitting in east on their communista keisters.”

The album as a whole sounds how doomscrolling feels, in the best way possible. The lyrics may be deranged and the album cover may be a dreary black-and-white, but each track is laced with just enough hope.

As a half-serious Healy sings in the introductory self-titled track, “This will get better, if you know what I mean.”

“Being Funny in a Foreign Language” by The 1975 can be streamed on all major platforms.

“Sexy” by Coco & Clair Clair – Audrey Hogan

Pop duo Coco & Clair Clair definitely kept it “Sexy” on their sophomore album. The Nov. 4 album is an exploration of the lazy, bouncy electronic sound the pair has been developing since their debut, and “Sexy” shows they’ve perfected it.

From the soft-spoken but bright party girl anthem “U + Me” to the sonic psychedelic trip of “8 AM,” Coco & Clair Clair deliver time and time again, giving new and old fans something to love about the album. 

DEELA’s feature on “The Hills” stands out from the rest, as her vocal delivery and lyricism match the sound of Coco & Clair Clair’s throughout the record while still bringing her own personal style to the song. 

On “Pop Star,” which was released as a single in Dec. 2020 and saw immense success on TikTok, the pair closed out the album, enshrining the pop star lifestyle in the perfect way.

“You’re disrespectful, you’re disrespectful / I don’t really care if I’m a handful,” Clair Clair sings.

“Sexy” by Coco & Clair Clair can be streamed on all major platforms.

Featured image courtesy of Dirty Hit

The Phoenix Staff

The Phoenix Staff