Who came out on top?
17:00 19th December 2022

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Before we put out OOO on and crack open the Baileys, we have one last job - The Gigwise albums of the year list.

With some major records dropping in the last weeks and days of the year, we thought we’d pause for a second to explain our reasoning. For this years list, we considered 3 main things in our ranking:

  • Initial review
  • Longevity - causing some newer releases to need a little more time to rise
  • Impact / Importance for the artist and culture in general

Keep them in mind. Let’s dive in…

51. Marcus Mumford - (Self-Titled)

Stepping out of the shackles of a band, Marcus Mumford did something incredibly brave on Self-Titled. Not only was this his first solo outting, but the album focuses in on his experience of sexual assault, trauma and healing. Re-introducing himself to the world with the deeply moving track ‘Cannibal’; it’s a lesson in catharsis that seemed to perfectly capture his personal experience but the sadly relatable feeling of anger ripping through sadness. It’s an album that the world should feel lucky to have. - Lucy Harbron

50. Father John Misty - Chloe and the Next 20th Century

A lot has changed in the world. You know what hasn’t though? Josh Tillman’s penchant for witticism over lush sonic spheres. Chloë and the Next 20th Century sees Tillman embrace Hollywood’s Golden Age with more musical cues inspired by the silver screen’s black and white era than you could shake an entire tree at. - Josh Williams

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49. Viagra Boys - Cave World

Simply put, Cave World is a brilliantly fun album and the perfect soundtrack to a world coming out of a massive two year hangover. It’s a record that will surely see Viagra Boys take their growing status to fully-deserved new levels. - Gavin Brown

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48. Alvvays - Blue Rev

The tunes are shoegazey, jangly and energetic, never too one-dimensional and always interesting. Alvvays have taken their time in creating a record that doesn’t scream for attention, but instead hooks you in with its fuzzy textures and subtleties. - Matthew McLister

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47. Stormzy - This Is What I Mean

Grime, hip-hop, soul, afrobeats, and gospel; are all genres that the album has melted together. This Is What I Mean takes listeners through a world of emotions; depression, heartbreak, vulnerability, forgiveness and joy. It feels timeless, and isn’t that the sign of a good bit of everlasting music? In his own words “ I am not a calculated mastermind with the ability to gauge what kind of music to make and when I’ll make it, I literally just feel and then let it out”. Stormzy has taken over the reins and is redefining what it means to be a grime artist, and if this album is any indication as to what is next, I for one can’t wait to see what is. - Priya Raj

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46. Denzel Curry - Melt My Eyez See Your Future

Denzel Curry’s fifth studio album, Melt My Eyez See Your Future, sees the South Floridian rapper moving away from his trademark ballistic energy and sound to a more introspective, honest approach. Curry spits self-reflective lyrics paired with odes to traditional hip hop with 90s style beats on tracks like ‘Angelz’, ‘The Smell Of Death’ and ‘The Ills’. Particular album standout are the lone ranger-banger ‘Walkin’ and the boppy ‘X-Wing’. This album just stands as another demonstration of how the ambitious rapper continues to grow and further demonstrate his dynamic versatility as a hip hop pioneer. - Millie O’Brien

45. Piri + Tommy - froge.mp3

Piri + Tommy seemed to skip being a one to watch, and stormed straight to the top of the pioneers list as the frontrunners of the new pop DnB wave. After their track ‘Soft Spot’ dominated TikTok as one of the biggest tracks on the app, what followed was a wave of viral hits and then eventually froge.mp3. Doing a debut their way, the mixtape is a cross-genre feat that bounds into all corners of dance, DnB and hyperpop. Defying anyone that tries to call them a pinkpantheress copy, froge.mp3 takes them far beyond 15 second TikTok tracks into a serious sound realm. - Lucy Harbron

44. Lauran Hibberd - Garageband Superstar

One of the most exciting artists to have come out of the UK indie circuit in recent years, Lauran Hibberd continues to evolve her style on Garageband Superstar. Meshing Brit indie with light-hearted slacker pop and North American pop-punk sensibilities à l’Avril Lavigne – she’s hardly the first artist to be compared to the Canadian over the last couple of years, as pop-punk continues its resurgence, but she’s possibly the most interesting. - Adam England

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43. Little Simz - NO THANK YOU

NO THANK YOU, coming less than eight weeks after she won the Mercury prize for its predecessor, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, seems to have been written out of necessity – not just for herself but for those around her too. This album feels like the start of a different path for her career, almost a way of purging herself of all the wrong assumptions and mistakes she made in the start of her career, and looking forward to a new future. - Priya Raj

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42. Weyes Blood - And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

Despite its universal charm and musical timelessness, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow is time-specific, providing an important sense of catharsis in the context of the past few years of uncertainty and social isolation. It’s another resounding success for Weyes Blood. - Charlotte Grimwade

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41. Courting - Guitar Music

Courting have proven they're adept at changing whenever the mood takes them, and Guitar Music shows off their strengths in one of the most exciting debuts this year so far. One thing is for sure. These guys are pop stars. - Brett Herlingshaw

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40. Omar Apollo - Ivory

The month of April was graced with the stunning debut album from Omar Apollo, Ivory. Enhancing on his bedroom pop/r&b roots, Apollo delivered a 16 song tracklist of bops and ballads, constantly flitting between the overwhelming emotions of love and of heartache - notably on the gut-wrenching ‘Evergreen’. Ivory is a sonic treat, with features from the likes of Daniel Caesar and Kali Uchis, to salutes to Apollo’s Mexican heritage with the traditional ‘En El Olvido’ transitioned impeccably into Latin-influenced trap cut ‘Tamagotchi’, produced by The Neptunes. This album serves as Omar Apollo’s absolute refusal to being slept on any longer. - Millie O’Brien

39. The Big Moon - Here Is Everything

Here Is Everything stands testament to the camaraderie of the group, their enduring bond producing a piece of art through both a pregnancy and a pandemic alike. It is an album that is impossible not to be enraptured by. Another huge triumph in The Big Moon’s discography. - Cameron Sinclair Harris

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38. Loyle Carner - hugo

The ten-track album marks a clear turning point in Carner’s work – it’s noticeably different in tone from his sophomore album Not Waving, But Drowning. hugo is simultaneously political and personal. It highlights the complex relationship between race, fame and Carner’s new identity as a father. - Charlotte Grimwade

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37. Phoebe Green - Lucky Me

Lucky Me, Green’s debut full-length project, is saturated with such reflective and self-aware remarks, and they take a magnifying glass to her predilections, habits, and thought patterns. They find no easy answers, but by tracing these discomforting feelings against a pop-and synth-fuelled sound, Green is gratified by vulnerability if not complete catharsis.  - Leeza Isaeva

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36. Wet Leg - Wet Leg

Taken as a whole, Wet Leg is an impressive beginning for the band. Amongst the suffocating smog of mediocre indie rock bands, Wet Leg’s fusion of a strong lyrical identity, straightforward sound, and fun-loving philosophy results in a self-titled album that’s frankly, a breath of fresh air. - Alex Rigotti

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35. Rina Sawayama - Hold The Girl

British-Japanese singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama’s newest album Hold The Girl offers intimate, introspective moments of great, dramatic pop music.  Shiny, but inward-looking. Humorous, but deep and mature, Hold The Girl is the type of pop record the world so desperately needs right now, because it makes sense when many other things appear not to. - Susan Hansen

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34. Rosalia - MOTOMAMI

From the opening banger ‘SAOKO’, Rosalia’s third album was sure set to slap. MOTOMAMI is a thrilling listen throughout, ranging from cunty club bangers like kawaii-meets -eggaeton ‘CHICKEN TERIYAKI’ and the glitchy, hyper-pop ‘BIZCHOCHITO’ to sultry pensive moments on ‘COMO UN G’ and the erotic lullaby ‘HENTAI’. She samples Burial and welcomes carefully curated features by James Blake, Tokischa and The Weekend, with an A+ for production throughout the project. The whole thing is a masterpiece for all, even for those that don’t speak a drop of Spanish. - Millie O’Brien

33. Stella Donnelly - Flood

Flood is more introspective than her debut, with Donnelly focusing on relationships, families, and the journeys on which life can take us. It feels more experimental too...not in a PC Music way or anything like that, but as if Donnelly is growing more comfortable trying new things as an artist, adopting different personas to explore different experiences too. Stella said she wrote 43 new songs during these sessions, so if the remaining 32 are as good as the 11 which made the grade here, can we have a couple of EPs, please? - Adam England

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32. Black Midi - Hellfire

Hellfire is another great album from a captivating band still very early in their career. Showing that they are more than just a variety of individual talents; they’re a group capable of creating exciting, vivid theatre through their music. Hellfire is less instant than Cavalcade, and perhaps less tight than Schlagenheim, but sit with it for a little while and allow its story to unfold before you: if one thing can be promised, it’s that you will have plenty of fun. - Alfie Verity

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31. Beabadoobee - Beatopia

A record worth waiting for and a natural evolution expressing old sounds and new, Beatopia tops her previous effort with a broader but deeper showcase of tracks, living up to the attention she’s deservedly receiving, while yet again proving there’s still more to uncover beneath her nonchalant surface. - Finlay Holden

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30. Julia Jacklin - PRE PLEASURE

Care and vulnerability pour out through the ten tracks on PRE PLEASURE. This really is a gorgeous collection of songs that are deeply personal and crafted so eloquently. It’s a beautifully contemplative listen from an authentic and big hearted songwriter. - Matthew McLister

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29. Sorry - Anywhere But Here

Filled to burst even - Anywhere But Here is pure, moreish misery for most of its 40 minute or so runtime. The volatile mood-state of depression is captured at its extremes of anger and agony. Extract such brilliance from anguish - if you weren’t taking Sorry too seriously off the back of 925, you will be now. - Miles Cooke

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28. Walt Disco - Unlearning

Walt Disco’s debut album is a melodramatic and self-explorative step out onto the stage. A stage show in two acts, Unlearning, pulls together entrancing production and sprawling soundscapes to interrogate love, flings, heartbreak and identity. An exploration of queer identity, Unlearning is a musically expansive and experimental album that forefronts the universal message that it is never too late to be yourself. - Samantha Andews

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27. Kojey Radical - Reasons To Smile

“My mother’s voice always felt like home, but eventually you’re alone, solo, finding a reason to smile.” The poetic, lyrical and vocal ability that Kojey Radical has is unlike anyone else in the UK Hip-Hop scene. Reason to Smile comes through with sentiment and swag, giving fans an album which is laced with bangers whilst also being vulnerable enough to warm the coldest of hearts. With an array of well-placed features, the debut LP from one of the UK’s best rappers is one of the highlights of 2022. - Dale Maplethorpe

26. Ezra Furman - All Of Us In Flames

Showing development from her previous albums, All Of Us Flames has a slightly more polished sound without taking away from the raw emotion that Ezra Furman consistently evokes in her lyrics. The beautiful songwriting on All Of Us Flames has the potential to go down in history; without a shadow of a doubt, Ezra Furman has made one of the best, most important albums of the year. - Vicky Greer

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25. Laufey - Everything I Know About Love

Everything I Know About Love seamlessly transitions between musical styles, exemplifying how Laufey has not only made jazz and classical music more accessible for a Gen-Z audience, but how she has also redefined the genre itself. Lilting piano parts mirror Nat King Cole’s music and wouldn’t sound unusual playing from either a 1950s radio or an iPhone. To quote ‘What Love Will Do To You’, listening to Everything I Know About Love provides the soothing comfort of being “drunk on jazz and wine”. Laufey is at her most vulnerable and confident throughout this impressive debut. It’s difficult to see how her nostalgic lyrics, instrumentation and voice could ever go out of style.  - Charlotte Grimwade

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24. Fred Again… - Actual Life 3

After a stellar year, Fred Gibson ends the year with the birth of Actual Life 3 - the third, and final, instalment of his trilogy of albums under the same name. It is classic Fred. Ultimately Actual Life 3 successfully replicates the tale of, well, actual life. Truly there is no beginning, middle and end - rather a compilation of emotions and people, all telling their own, very different, stories. - Priya Raj

23. Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B

Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye — collectively known as Jockstrap — have become known for this type of studio wizardry, seeming to craft styles around a composition rather than the other way around, never restricted, their sound resembling a compilation of preloved classics while simultaneously stretching across a brand-new bracket. With sounds on opposite ends of the spectrum accounted for seconds away from each other; I expected nothing less and still I’m surprised by I Love You Jennifer B — which is what makes Jockstrap so exciting. - Emma Way

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22. Witch Fever - Congregation

Witch Fever have been rocking the boat of the live music scene for some years now with their loud, riff-heavy sound and their challenging lyrics, and so this debut album feels like a point of arrival as well as a new start. Congregation makes no compromise, taking Witch Fever’s hardcore-adjacent punk to the studio without softening any edges. It is a record that starts on a loud note and ends on an even more powerful one, channeling anger, defiance, pride, and so much more. - Chiara Strazzulla 

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21. Florence + The Machine - Dance Fever

Starting spinning and ending with applause, Dance Fever whips you into hysteria and then relieves you from it. Bringing pieces of all the old Florence eras into one, from the rockier sounds of Lungs to the storytelling of How Big How Blue How Beautiful and the softness of High As Hope, the grandeur of the album’s aesthetic world gilds in gold 14 tracks of big feelings that threaten to burst free. Put perfectly by Florence, this is "grand self-mythology", spinning round magic and character until she has to land on herself. - Lucy Harbron

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20. Katy J Pearson - Sound Of The Morning

Sound Of The Morning explores genre with a cool ease, swaying somewhere between indie, folk, and everything in between. Pearson’s distinctive vocals bring a timeless edge as, track by track, we are taken on a journey of emotion. KJP bares her soul with gorgeous humility and wisdom, now fully comfortable with her own sound without compromising on her own worldly, distinctive style. Sound Of The Morning sees Katy J Pearson grow as an artist, producing a beautifully personal piece of work that cements her as one of the most exciting artists around. - Melissa Darragh

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19. Yard Act - The Overload

On their debut album The Overload, Yard Act prove themselves as an anomaly within the post-punk scene—humorous without any pretension, abrasive without conforming to excessive noise in lieu of personality, and actually willing to push guitar music forward. An album as silly as it is eclectic, gleefully cheeky as it is fiercely intelligent; the one thing you can’t call this album is forgettable. - Cameron Sinclair Harris

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19. Confidence Man - TILT

Confidence Man’s TILT is a bridge between dancefloors—New York ballrooms, Berlin nightclubs and warehouse raves. The Aussie foursome’s second album—like 2018 debut Confident Music For Confident People—is a self-penned and produced electro pop romp through a span of interstellar disco, dance and electronic hallmarks, tantalising hooks and party positivity. Sleek, sexy and banger-loaded, TILT is an affirming and exceptional record. - Miles Cooke

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17. Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Half a decade in the making, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers sees Kendrick Lamar take us through the rollercoaster ride that has been the last five years. Over a double album spanning 73 minutes, Kendrick tells us about overcoming writer’s block, becoming a father, comments on cancel culture and opens up about his struggle with his mental health – it’s personal, it’s ambitious and it was well worth the wait. - Sofie Lindevall

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16. Beyonce - RENAISSANCE

Beyoncé needs no introduction: an icon, an artist and of course the queen of self love. Struck with bouts of R'n'B and subtle injections of the singer's gospel roots, RENAISSANCE is shamelessly saucy and freeing, empowering people all over the globe through dance. Speaking to Beyoncé’s passion for decades of dance music, RENAISSANCE is a whole experience. - Faith Martin

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15. Nilufer Yanya - PAINLESS

From the moment the D'n'B percussion at the start of ‘the dealer’ thrusts you into PAINLESS, Nilüfer Yanya has your attention, and rarely does the absorbing world she invites you into allow your mind to wander away over the 45 minutes it runs to. It's the kind of album you can listen to on repeat, discovering new joys and pieces of intrigue with every listen even months on. - Andrew Belt

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14. Los Bitchos - Let The Festivities Begin!

Musical savants and casual listeners alike will find something spectacular in Let The Festivities Begin!, the debut album by pan-continental London four-piece Los Bitchos. Whether a seasoned cumbia listener or someone who rarely enjoys anything instrumental, it's bound to be a turntable staple and rich pickings for party playlists for years to come. - Jessie Atkinson

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13. The Mysterines - Reeling

To have this level of balance, coherence and consistency on their debut album is an exciting sign for things to come. From the grungiest songs to acoustic showstopper ‘Still Call You Home’, no song feels out of place. On Reeling, The Mysterines have devoted themselves wholly to a specific sound and ambiance that they’ve explored in great detail throughout the record. On their next album, they could continue down the same road or change direction entirely; but rest assured whatever they do, they’re going to do it very well. - Vicky Greer

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MUNA have created an album that embodies the queer existence in such a beautiful manner. With a collection of bangers, slow tunes and refreshing melodies, MUNA are magic. Making a space for all to lose themselves in for a little while, whether to dance or cry, they’re here to carve through the monotony and troubles of daily life and transport us to a different, brighter, louder, prouder, and safer place. - David Roskin

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11. Nova Twins - Supernova

Supernova is dark, heavy and infinitely inventive with layers within each song compelling you to enter and stay within Nova Twins’s world. Singer and guitarist Amy Love delivers an array of different vocal styles, often with a distinctive yelp roughly somewhere in the middle of Missy Elliott, Santigold and YONAKA’s Theresa Jarvis. Love and bassist Georgia South’s riffs are mercilessly heavy, rarely softening as crashing drums add a heartbeat to the songs. Supernova is an excellent second step in the band’s journey which promises so much more to come. - Andrew Belt

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10. Mitski - Laurel Hell

Mitski has more than earned her place in — arguably — the best genre there is: tragic pop songs that encourage you to dance away the pain. With upbeat tempos and buoyant melodies uplifting the hopeless heartbreak of being alive, Laurel Hell is surely destined to be filling gay club dancefloors everywhere, soundtracking the messy outer edges of a breakup and being adopted as a forever favourite with songs that seem to get into your blood stream. It’s a wonderful album, with Mitski truly cementing herself as the darling indie dreamboat we all know her to be. - Tilly Foulkes

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9. Yeah yeah yeahs - Cool It Down

They say performers should always leave their audience wanting more and to their credit this is what the Yeah Yeah Yeahs do well here. Cool It Down may be over in a flash but there’s still enough time for it to leave its mark. These eight tracks are so easy to get lost in and the temptation to fire it up again from the beginning is all too strong once the closing electronics of ‘Mars’ fade out. The New York trio have added to their legacy with their darkest and most intense album to date. - Matthew McLister

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8. Charli xcx - CRASH

Everywhere you look on CRASH, there are songs that will—like the music they revere—be played in clubs for years and years to come. An exceptionally exciting release with a worthy storm of hype, picking a favourite track proved impossible with a skip-less tracklist and infectious energy. - Jessie Atkinson

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7. Fontaines D.C - Skinty Fia

In a way, Fontaines D.C. have spent their entire career in a butterfly-like cycle: enter cocoon, engage in a deeply transitional period, emerge anew, the product achingly beautiful and deeply layered. The band practically shapeshift and Skinty Fia is no exception. It’s their most considered and thoughtful album yet but any brazenness that might have lingered before is gone. In its place is a pensive, quiet power that delivers their best work yet. - Neive McCarthy

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6. Bob Vylan - Bob Vylan Presents The Price Of Life

The London-based grime-punk duo understand the reality of being Black and/or poor in Britain, conceptualising current social issues into a scathing, obnoxious, and unapologetic LP. You understand Bob Vylan Presents The Price Of Life is more than just music, right? It's a fucking protest. - Ken Wynne

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5. Taylor Swift - Midnights (3am Edition)

As always, Taylor delivered an album made for her and her fan. Full of secret messages whispered between them, adding new chapters to stories they’ve known for years and sharing new ones in the form she feels comfortable with, Midnights is layered in every way. From the instrumental decision, purposeful phrasings and self-assured experimentation, Taylor Swift has delivered an album unlike anything else she’s ever made but levelling up everything prior. - Lucy Harbron

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4. CMAT - If My Wife New I’d Be Dead

The world needs an artist like CMAT. Merging a serious silliness with unflinching vision, If My Wife New I’d Be Dead is a relentlessly promising album that houses a whole host of anthems made to be screamed with your friends, four or five drinks in. Staying true to her americana influence, it never becomes one note while still sharing a cohesive and tight introduction to CMAT and her barrels of character. With a tracklist including ‘I Wanna Be A Cowboy, Baby’, ‘Nashville’, ‘No More Virgos’ AND ‘Every Bottle (Is My Boyfriend); it’s a no skips trips into a world of glorious fun. - Lucy Harbron

3. The 1975 - Being Funny In A Foreign Language

Doing away with the bloat and filler of previous albums to instead opt for a concise and compact nature; even after dozens of listens later we’re still only scratching the surface with the record. A goldmine of perfectly balanced layers waiting patiently to be noticed and unpeeled with every replay, On Being Funny In A Foreign Language, The 1975 really have never sounded better. - Philip Giouras

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2. Let's Eat Grandma - Two Ribbons

Two Ribbons feels like an album forged in fire and completed like one giant exhale. Tackling the topics of grief, loss, reconnection and friendship that coloured Jenny and Rosa’s life in the year since 2019’s I’m All Ears, this album signals a whole new era for the young prodigies. Managing to make their most cohesive album to date at a time of complete tumult, Two Ribbons takes the best bits from their previous outlandish production and merges in a tighter storytelling element and a far more vulnerable approach to lyricism. Housing songs that managed to topple their previous greatest hits, in short, the album is a masterpiece of high-energy hits and soft synth eulogies. - Lucy Harbron

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1. Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

There have been many artists who have successfully written the sound of the United States of America — and a great many more who have tried. At only 24 and on her debut album, Ethel Cain has joined an esteemed list of achievers, not by zooming in on one aspect of life in the U.S.A., but in capturing the exhilarating, frightening, bittersweet whole. On Preacher’s Daughter, Ethel Cain, a character created by Hayden Silas Anhedönia, gathers up everything in the panorama of her experience in the backwater towns of Southern America and reconstitutes it into a sepia audio-rama that both references those who came before her while being entirely unique. 

An album that demands full attention as a full-body experience born out of a kind of possession as Ethel Cain crafted a beautiful, horrifying, captivating fiction. From the soaring highs of ‘American Teenager’ to the horrorshow finale of ‘Strangers’, the unity of lyric and production as a whole scene is built in a single phrase or sound, the album is a startlingly evocative whole. 2022 was blessed to see the birth of a new classic; Preacher’s Daughter in an American Epic. - Jessie Atkinson

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