Albums Of The Year, 2022

After another tumultuous year and a cavalcade of great music, choosing our 50 favourite albums of 2022 hasn’t been easy. And for the first time ever, we have a joint Number One. We couldn’t separate Telefís’ standouts ‘a Dó’ and ‘a hAon’, so it felt only right to give the accolade to both. Mind you, every single record here is a corker – expect artists new and old, a sprinkling of future classics and a few surprises


1

Telefís
‘a Dó’
(Dimple Discs)

“At their heart, Telefís are bold and daft. What a tease to place the haunting ‘We See Showbands’, a close-mic visionary interlude, next to the Numan-esque synths of ‘The Carthaginians’, complete with showy backing vocals. To produce these textural variations with such ease is testament to a partnership that will be sorely missed.” FR

Telefís
‘a hAon’
(Dimple Discs)

“Ultimately, ‘a hAon’ is the perfect marriage of Cathal Coughlan’s evocative lyricism and caustic humour, with Jacknife Lee’s extraordinary economy and subtle electronic phrasing. But the music does so much more than simply provide a backdrop to Coughlan’s outpourings, weaving inextricably with his voice to produce a whole that dazzles.” AT


2

Working Men’s Club
‘Fear Fear’
(Heavenly Recordings)

“Working Men’s Club have done everything by the book – riding a raft of praise with a record that builds and burgeons without ever losing the essential essence of… well, whatever it was that made them great in the first place.” BF


3

Loraine James
‘Building Something Beautiful For Me’
(Phantom Limb)

“The power of the finished article is a blend of simplicity and complexity – for instance, in the way that programmed machines and the manipulated, wonky sound of a live drummer interact.” BW


4

Plaid
‘Feorm Falorx’
(Warp)

“Handley and Turner’s musical futurism is one with warmth, humanity and a palpable depth of feeling. Eleven albums into their career, Plaid are still making vital records, and ‘Feorm Falorx’ is an excellent reminder of their craft.” BM


5

Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan
‘Districts, Roads, Open Space’
(Castles In Space)

“This is Gordon Chapman-Fox’s third album as Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan, and his unwavering obsession with the minutiae of 1970s urban regeneration continues to reap splendid rewards… An album of delightfully melancholic nostalgia for thwarted suburban dreams.” BF


6

Elaine Howley
‘The Distance Between Heart And Mouth’
(Touch Sensitive)

“An experimental amalgam of Howley’s favourite sounds and textures, painstakingly arranged into nine detailed and hugely captivating vignettes. It’s a difficult record to pigeonhole, but that’s definitely no bad thing – you can’t help but fall for its eclectic, strangely transcendental charms.” VI


7

Gwenno
‘Tresor’
(Heavenly Recordings)

“Gwenno is not your usual revolutionary… she has quietly inspired a whole movement of people keen to restore the Cornish language to former glories. There’s clearly some steeliness beneath this ethereal facade. But what a facade.” AT


8

Acid Klaus
‘Step On My Travelator: The Imagined Career Trajectory Of Superstar DJ & Dance Pop Producer, Melvin Harris’
(Zen FC)

“We’re treated to heaps of wry electronic pop brilliance. Eccentric and ingenious, certainly, but always accessible and welcoming, this is pure synthpop gold for the 21st century.” BW


9

Cosey Fanni Tutti
‘Delia Derbyshire: The Myths And The Legendary Tapes’
(Conspiracy International)

“All in all, this is a respectful tribute to a true genius that doesn’t forget – in typical Delia Derbyshire fashion – to indulge in a few playful moments along the way.” BW


10

Jockstrap
‘I Love You Jennifer B’
(Rough Trade)

“This astounding debut from London duo Georgia Ellery (Black Country, New Road) and Taylor Skye is a thing of wickedly surreal, esoteric beauty… Startlingly good.” VI


11

700 Bliss
‘Nothing To Declare’
(Hyperdub)

“700 Bliss say they have ‘Nothing To Declare’, but I’m convinced their subsonic bass is weaponised enough to cause alarm bells at airport security… a real wall-shaker.” FR


12

Jean-Michel Jarre
‘Oxymore’
(Sony)

“A thrilling journey into multi-channel 3D binaural sound, JMJ’s music on ‘Oxymore’ feels more ambitious and immersive than ever. ‘Animal Genesis’ places you in a dense, eerie rainforest, while ‘Zeitgeist’ feels like Kraftwerk larging it on techno. Magnificent.” VI


13

Stephen Mallinder
‘Tick Tick Tick’
(Dais)

“The death of Richard H Kirk last year left a gaping hole for music fans looking for Cabaret Voltaire vibes in a modern era. Thank goodness Stephen Mallinder has rediscovered his solo groove in recent years. This ticks the boxes. All three of them.” FR


14

Lucrecia Dalt
‘¡Ay!’
(RVNG Intl)

“It’s brave, exploratory and suffused with raw honesty – otherworldly and sometimes abstract, yet still overflowing with humanity. You might say the Colombian experimental musician’s latest long-player is her most accessible to date.” JA


15

Future Conditional
‘Isotech’
(Second Language)

“Future Conditional have crafted a truly special record here. It’s closer to flawless than anything I’ve heard in a long time. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait until 2037 for the follow-up.” P


16

The Hardy Tree
‘Common Grounds’
(Clay Pipe)

“‘Mist On The Playing Fields’ boasts a throbbing electronic heartbeat, the lingering sugar rush of long-ago school kickabouts. On ‘Face At The Window, Seaforth Crescent’, keyboards dance across longwave static, a haunting memory of disturbing feelings amid dark Victorian houses.” BF


17

Klaus Schulze
‘Deus Arrakis’
(SPV)

“There’s a poignancy here, when considered in the context of Schulze’s recent passing. We find the Meister at his most sweetly melodic, with clusters of euphoric notes assembled like his myriad achievements, before fading into saddening quietude.” MS


18

Soft Cell
‘Happiness Not Included’
(BMG)

“Shot through with many of the traits that people took to in droves all those years ago. The singular juxtaposition of light theatrics and subterranean darkness, droll observational misanthropy and gut-wrenching heartbreak.” CG


19

Nik Colk Void
‘Bucked Up Space’
(Editions Mego)

“Ultimately, this is an album that lives in the details, requiring a forensic level of concentration, best exemplified in the three short musique concrète pieces that break up the structure. Uncompromising, challenging, unpredictable and utterly original – much like its creator.” MS


20

The Comet Is Coming
‘Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam’
(Impulse!)

“With the best modern-day electronic accoutrements at their disposal, what an exhilarating bitches brew of volatile magic, searing genius and sonic invention this pioneering sax, synth and drums trio conjure.” CG


21

Various Artists
‘Eins Und Zwei Und Drei Und Vier Vol 2: Deutsche Experimentelle Pop-Musik 1978-1987’
(Bureau B)

“The second compilation of delightfully obscure German art-pop rarities from Hamburg’s Bureau B mines even weirder depths than its 2021 predecessor. A generous, 20-track compendium, it serves as an odyssey through the hidden archives of proto-kosmische experimentation.” CC


22

Blancmange
‘Private View’
(London)

“‘Private View’ is perhaps the closest Neil Arthur has come to slipping back into those old hit-maker clothes. Combined with the return to London Records, it’s an album to warm the cockles of anyone raised on powdered food and ‘Don’t Tell Me’.” BF


23

Brian Eno
‘ForeverAndEverNoMore’
(UMC)

“Eno’s attention charmingly switches from the moon’s endless motion to microscopic worms. But it’s his perfectly pitched voice that lingers, albeit in orbit around an ever-present abyss.” FR


24

Kelly Lee Owens
‘LP.8’
(Smalltown Supersound)

“The grand and the grubby, offering some glorious musical contrasts. This ‘pretend’ eighth album does not deviate from that, despite being loftier than the club clobber of her previous work.” FR


25

The Advisory Circle
‘Full Circle’
(Ghost Box)

“It’s an album of double-edged nostalgia for both her own fractured childhood memories and the label’s inaugural experiments. Cate Brooks’ knack of investing melodic electronica with affectingly raw emotion remains unparalleled.” BF


26

Various Artists
‘Cue Dot XIII: ReFabricated’
(Cue Dot)

“Cue Dot have managed to set quite the standard for new electronic music in the UK – ‘all created by human, machine and beautiful endeavour’ – throughout these unnaturally testing times.” CG


27

The Sound Of Science
‘The Sound Of Science’
(Castles In Space)

“Dean Honer’s heady electronics combine with Kevin Pearce’s folk sensibilities – most notably on ‘The Water Cycle’ – as various spoken interjections and facts (touching on atoms, the speed of light and more) convey a scientific ‘sense of wonder’.” VI


28

Simple Minds
‘Direction Of The Heart’
(BMG)

“It might not be the record to win over a new generation, but there’s something here for even the most casual Simple Minds listener. Big and clever in all the right ways.” AT


29

Au Suisse
‘Au Suisse’
(City Slang)

“Opening track ‘Control’ builds from polished, future-pop iridescence to a cinematic, sci-fi-esque crescendo that properly summons goosebumps. The glossy ‘Thing’, meanwhile, bursts with slick bass grooves, retro cowbells, shimmering synths and soaring vocals.” CG


30

Arp
‘New Pleasures’
(Mexican Summer)

“Here we witness life in abundance, teeming with sounds and ideas, and a sophisticated, hyperreal veneer. It’s a beautiful, absorbing, enigmatic and unique record, so where Arp can take this with the third instalment is anyone’s guess.” JA


31

Ghost Power
‘Ghost Power’
(Duophonic Super 45s)

“Imagine Barry Gray joining the Radiophonic Workshop in 1965 and asking Dick Mills to beef up his barking, brassy theme tunes with backwards tape loops of bubbles being blown through glasses of Corona Cream Soda. Yep, it’s that good.” BF


32

Rival Consoles
‘Now Is’
(Erased Tapes)

“Eight albums in, ‘Now Is’ finds Ryan Lee West at the apex of his game. The future possibilities seem endless, but for now, we have this glorious accomplishment to immerse ourselves in.” AT


33

Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra
‘The Unfolding’
(Real World)

“In a world beset by shadows, Peel and her collaborators have created illuminated joy. As rippling synths succumb to orchestral bliss, even your stony old hills might be moved to salute a woman who is – to paraphrase – ‘lying in the gullies, but looking at the stars’.” BF


34

Caterina Barbieri
‘Spirit Exit’
(Light-years)

“This is Barbieri at her most devastating. There’s so much going on here, so many rapid introductions and removals of components, and such an abundance of melodies, counter-melodies and harmonic overtones that it feels like watching a time-lapse movie of the entirety of human consciousness.” MS


35

Gabe Gurnsey
‘Diablo’
(Phantasy Sound)

“Electro and Detroit techno vibes are channelled into pulsating, dancefloor-centric beats and rhythms, loaded with essential ‘minor-key sadness’… The whole thing throbs with desire and lustful energy. Sexy. Ravey. Total killer, all thriller.” VI


36

Rodney Cromwell
‘Memory Box’
(Happy Robots)

“The album’s real strength comes from Cromwell’s gift for melody. Take ‘Opus Three’, a pop hit in an alternative universe where New Order pressed Stylophones into service. It very nearly slips the tethers of the DIY aesthetic to soar into a blue sky of pop possibilities.” MR


37

Wolfgang Flür
‘Magazine 1’
(Cherry Red)

“A long-player as a lifestyle monthly. It’s a place where fact and fiction blur into each other, where the high gloss of the beautifully melodic electronics and sharp beats provide the glossy pages for Flür to file his copy.” MR


38

Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul
‘Topical Dancer’
(Deewee)

“‘Topical Dancer’ is intent on putting the world to rights. It’s more focused and political than its predecessor, although there’s still a wry sense of humour at play. A riot of beats and consciousness.” JA


39

Richie Culver
‘I Was Born By The Sea’
(REIF)

“Across eight tracks, bleak and chilly electronics provide a canvas for Culver’s brusque Humberside spoken word. A knack for dry aphorisms is an artistic hallmark, his text-based paintings graffitied with lines like ‘I did not get into art school but I got into Berghain’.” CF


40

Gigi Masin
‘Vahinè’
(Language Of Sound)

“The Rhodes piano on ‘Valerie Crossing’ gingerly edges its way up and down the keyboard, with unresolved notes that creep into many of the climactic moments. Another beautiful turn from the maestro of emotive ambient.” BW


41

The Black Dog
‘Music For Photographers’
(Dust Science)

“More than just simple background music for photographers, this is a highly absorbing and often emotive snapshot, the sound of a distinguished and revered electronic band still cutting it after 30 years. Highly recommended.” VI


42

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
‘Let’s Turn It Into Sound’
(Ghostly International)

“Before we know it, we’re in the middle of a staggering jazz-funk workout. It feels like a conundrum that will never solve itself, but that’s the fun. The more you play this album, the more its unconventional structure embeds.” FR


43

Cate Le Bon
‘Pompeii’
(Mexican Summer)

“Le Bon’s sixth studio album was written primarily on bass guitar, and the warmth of that instrument underpins what is hands-down her smoothest and most beguiling effort to date.” CF


44

Tears For Fears
‘The Tipping Point’
(Concord)

“There are plenty of moments that feature the very specific though hard-to-define magic we call Tears For Fears. It’s great to have them back once again, writing songs that permanently imprint themselves in your head.” JA


45

Helen Ganya
‘Polish The Machine’
(Bella Union)

“Mixing art-pop, dreampop, atmospherics and psychedelia, this record thrums with energy, confidence and euphoria, making it a startlingly original statement that should make her name.” AT


46

Tangerine Dream
‘Raum’
(Kscope)

“The album is built on Edgar Froese’s old Cubase arrangements alongside an Otari tape archive stretching back 45 years. Not that it’s easy to tell the old from the new, as this is a superbly kinetic flow of symphonic instrumentals.” FR


47

Sarah Davachi
‘Two Sisters’
(Late Music)

“‘Two Sisters’, like all of Davachi’s work, exemplifies the ambitious compositions, willingness towards experimentation and musical virtuosity that lie at the heart of prog rock. These qualities are all in rich, resonant effect here.” CF


48

Fenella
‘The Metallic Index’
(Fire)

“The second long-player from this Jane Weaver-led trio, and a welcome return to the radiophonic, kosmische sounds of Weaver’s ‘The Silver Globe’ and ‘Modern Kosmology’ albums. This is electronica as an enveloping tonal journey, chiming and pulsating with analogue life.” JB


49

Gemma Cullingford
‘Tongue Tied’
(Elmo Recordings)

“Sink Ya Teeth’s Gemma Cullingford has developed a confident and coherent voice that finds her moving far beyond the pensive confessionals of last year’s solo debut, ‘Let Me Speak’. A spellbinding album.” MJ


50

Tony Price
‘Mark VI’
(Telephone Explosion)

“Hypnotic beats provide limitless fuel… ‘Learning From Las Vegas’ is sleazy sax solos and deliciously filthy bass, ‘Aerosol’ and ‘115 BPM’ are squelchy, old-school house, heightened by the howls of late-night sirens and police radio chatter. It’s a hell of a trip.” BF


Reviews by: Jeremy Allen, Joe Banks, Claire Carroll, Bob Fischer, Claire Francis, Carl Griffin, Velimir Ilic, Martin James, Ben Murphy, Push, Fat Roland, Mark Roland, Mat Smith, Anthony Thornton, Ben Willmott

Research: Imogen Bebb

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