The Best Albums of 2022

Three Reporters Rank Top 10 Projects of Past Year


Caleb Taylor

2022 was one of the best years for music in recent memory. With seemingly a new modern classic being released every week, everyone had something to listen to this year that appealed to them. Here are some of our picks for our favorite albums of the year.

From chart-topping releases of big artists like Beyoncé, The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar to an array of smaller, indie albums, 2022 was an incredible year for music. Wolfpack reporters Caleb Taylor, Anthony Luparello & Jack Polishook decided to put together and talk about their own top 10 lists of the year, but with an added twist – no album can be on two lists. This restriction made us get creative with it and review some albums we wouldn’t have mentioned otherwise. 

Caleb’s list:

10 – Lucid Scream by nelward // Favorite track: “where’s that wolf?”

I’ve been lucky enough to watch nelward climb from a little-known artist to a mainstream digital fusion musician, and his most recent project is a great showcase of the talent that got him there. “Lucid Scream” serves as a B-side to his 2020 EP “Eat Your Dreams,” remixing and reimagining various songs to create a new, darker vibe in contrast with the brighter original. With its short runtime and upbeat production, it’s a great place to start if you’re trying to get into his music or the digital-fusion genre in general.

9 – WASTELAND by Brent Faiyaz // Favorite track: “LOOSE CHANGE”

I loved Faiyaz’s 2020 release, the name of which I can’t put in this article, but I felt like it was lacking in length and variety. “WASTELAND” made up for this in spades with more than double the length of his last and an impressive list of collaborators like Alicia Keys, Tyler, The Creator and The Neptunes. The skits provided a crazy storyline that kept me interested and listening closely, even if it was a little much at times, notably “WAKE UP CALL”.

8 – NOT TiGHT by DOMi & JD BECK // Favorite track: “PiLOT”

DOMi & JD BECK have been making waves in the jazz community for years after coming out of seemingly nowhere with an insane level of talent, making this one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year. It definitely delivered – despite many of the tracks sounding somewhat similar, the 15 tracks all have something unique and special about them, and it’s a really enjoyable listen. The duo balances fun, ironic tracks like “SPACE MOUNTAIN” and “U DON’T HAVE TO ROB ME” alongside more introspective ballads like “TAKE A CHANCE” and “MOON” without losing any energy or style. Plus, anyone who can get Herbie Hancock, Mac DeMarco and Snoop Dogg on the same album is bound to make the list.

7 – Luv 4 Rent by Smino // Favorite track: “Blu Billy”

I don’t have a lot to say about this album, other than that it’s Smino at his best. With great lyricism, production and variety, it’s a really good, bouncy Southern hip-hop and neo-soul record with apt contributions from musicians like Cory Henry, Lil Uzi Vert and J. Cole.

6 – Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 by the Jacob Mann Big Band // Favorite track: “The Soy Lentman Show”

As embarrassing as being a “band kid” in middle school was, I was fortunate to discover a lot of really talented funk musicians through that community like Louis Cole, Sam Wilkes and Jacob Mann, and I listened to the latter’s first two big band albums religiously during those dark, dark years. After a four-year break, “Greatest Hits, Vol. 3” came out of nowhere boasting double the length of the first two and an impressive roster of musicians (including both the aforementioned Cole and Wilkes). Tracks like “The Soy Lentman Show”, “Banana Phone Bill” and “Squid Word” keep the spirit of the original two albums, while “The Telemarketer” and “Breaking News Shuffle” show off the group’s sense of humor and willingness to take the music in unexpected directions.

5 – blueblue by Sam Gendel // Favorite track: “Toridasuki”

For me, 2022 was a year of self-exploration and introspection, and “blueblue” was a perfect soundtrack for that. According to the album’s bandcamp page, it was recorded in isolation in a makeshift studio built in a cabin floating on the Columbia River, and this isolation shines through in every track. Songs like “Yarai” and “Amime” hit like a punch to the chest despite their subtlety, with slightly more upbeat tracks like “Toridasuki” and “Nakamura kōshi” offsetting that ambient sadness. To get the most out of this album, I’d recommend listening to it all the way through, preferably on a walk at night.

4 – Quality Over Opinion by Louis Cole // Favorite track: “Not Needed Anymore”

Louis Cole took this album as a chance to show the world he’s not just really good at playing drums – he’s also really good at everything else. With 20 tracks featuring Cole on drums, guitar, bass, vocals, piano, synthesizer, hand claps, foot stomps and so much more, this album is packed to the brim with bangers. Songs like “I’m Tight”, “Park Your Car on My Face” and “Dead Inside Shuffle” show his weird, unique sense of humor while also being incredibly funky, while “Not Needed Anymore”, “Message” and “Laughing in Her Sleep” can almost bring me to tears. My only gripe with this project is that while the highs are really high, the lows bring it down a lot – I hate saying this but “Let Me Snack” is one of the worst songs I’ve heard all year, and a couple tracks like “True Love”, “When” and ironically, “Forgetting” are very forgettable. Despite this, it’s the best thing Cole has put out to date, and proves he’s only getting better.

3 – Melt My Eyez See Your Future by Denzel Curry // Favorite track: “Troubles – Cold Blooded Soul Version”

An album so good he had to make it twice. When the original version of “Melt My Eyez” came out in March, I was instantly obsessed, and when he dropped the Extended Edition out of nowhere in September I lost my mind. People like Kendrick Lamar and J Dilla have been rapping over jazz-influenced beats for years, but it’s always so cool to hear people rap over an actual jazz ensemble, especially when the compositions are direct transcriptions of well-produced beats. Curry does this seamlessly on the Extended Edition, enlisting the help of the Cold Blooded Soul jazz band to elevate the already amazing tracks to new heights. Songs that were already bangers like “Troubles”, “The Ills” and especially the Robert Glasper-produced “Melt Session #1” translate perfectly to this new instrumentation, and Curry floats on top effortlessly.

2 – Flood Format by Bird’s Eye Batang // Favorite track: “Ripplippling”

This album caught everyone by surprise. Released under an alias, Korean musician Mid-Air Thief delivered an amazing experimental-ambient album with the ocean as its core theme. Songs swell in and out like tides, with the occasional crash of a wave in the form of a harsh chord or drum break. Long gaps of silence provide moments of stillness followed by rapid piano and vibraphone lines. It was somewhat lost on me on my first listen, but after spending some time with it it’s become easily one of my favorite albums of all time.

1 – Hellfire by black midi // Favorite track: “Sugar/Tzu”



Anthony’s list:

10 – Blue Rev by Alvvays // Favorite track: “Lottery Noises”

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this album as I had never listened to Alvvays before, but after listening to their third studio album “Blue Rev”, I was very shocked with how good the production of all the songs were. Although a lot of the tracks felt similar, it wasn’t that big of a deal as they were all enjoyable to listen to, and I would definitely recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of indie and dream pop. 

9 – SOS by SZA // Favorite track: “Good Days”

This album 100% deserved all the hype. SZA is such an amazing vocalist and the backing tracks make the listening experience all the much better, with so many bangers after bangers throughout the album such as “Good Days” and “Kill Bill”. I was already a fan of SZA after the release of “Ctrl”, but “SOS” really got me into her music and I hope she makes a return to music in the future. 

8 – CAPRISONGS by FKA twigs // Favorite track: “papi bones”

FKA Twigs was an artist I discovered last spring that I quickly fell in love with. She has one of the most unique and beautiful voices that I’ve ever heard, and all three of her albums perfectly demonstrate her fantastic vocal range. Her most recent release, “CAPRISONGS,” is definitely my favorite yet from FKA Twigs with a good range of exciting and emotionally heavy songs that are perfect for a drive out at night. 

7 – And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow by Weyes Blood // Favorite track: “Grapevine”

I listened to “Hearts Aglow” quite recently not knowing what to expect, but this was such a gorgeous album. There were a number of songs that give off such an elegant and graceful vibe due to the whimsical instrumentals and Natalie Mering’s soothing vocals, and it’s one that I will definitely be coming back to.

6 – Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar // Favorite track: “Father Time”

Although this isn’t Kendrick’s best, “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” is definitely one worth appreciating and coming back to. As per usual, there are a lot of strong messages encoded within Kendrick’s amazing lyricism, and some of his songs really hit close to me. With such an array of emotional and inspiring songs, there is a reason why Kendrick is known as the G.O.A.T. 

5 – HORSESH*T ON ROUTE 66 by The Garden // Favorite track: “Chainsaw the Door”

I wasn’t too huge on this album on first listen, but after listening to it on repeat and seeing Wyatt and Fletcher Shears live, “HORSESH*T ON ROUTE 66” definitely became one of my favorites. The album gives off such a nostalgic vibe despite being released last fall and, overall, is just so much fun to listen to. 

4 – The Forever Story by J.I.D // Favorite track: “Bruddanem”

Ever since the release of “DiCaprio 2”, I’ve been waiting for J.I.D to release another solo album, and I was everything but disappointed. There are so many stellar tracks on this album that keep making me come back for more, and “The Forever Story” goes on to show why J.I.D. is one of my favorite rappers of all time. 

3 – RENAISSANCE by Beyoncé // Favorite track: “CUFF IT”

I wasn’t expecting the return of Beyoncé to pop off this hard. This album gives me so much confidence about myself, and on top of that, Beyoncé’s lyrics and vocals definitely furthered my enjoyment towards this album. 

2 – Ants From Up There by Black Country, New Road // Favorite track: “Chaos Space Marine”

There’s something about “Ants From Up There” that stands out among all of the other albums. It is an album that will always make me feel good no matter what type of mood I am in, and everything about their music is absolutely beautiful, from the touching vocals of Isaac Wood to the soothing sounds of Lewis Evans on saxophone.

1 – Hellfire by black midi // Favorite track: “The Race Is About To Begin”

“Hellfire” made me speechless after the first listen. This album truly changed my perspective on music in a way that I am not sure how to describe, but I could go on for hours about each and every track and what I love about it, and picking a favorite song was anything but easy. With its varied tracks that contain a wide range of emotions throughout, “Hellfire” is without a doubt my favorite album of 2022. 


Jack’s list:

10 – Cheat Codes by Danger Mouse & Black Thought // Favorite track: “Aquamarine”

Black Thought continues to impress with some of the most flawless rapping on any album to come out this year, combined with Danger Mouse’s classic and rich sounding production.

9 – Em Nome da Estrela by Xênia França // Favorite track: “Ânimus × Anima”

One of the most underrated releases of this year comes from Brazilian singer Xênia França. There is incredible singing throughout, with some really interesting themes that tackle a somewhat science fiction narrative. The production is also incredible, with pretty much every song being comprised of lush and organic instrumentation.

8 – Hiss by Wormrot  // Favorite track: “Weeping Willow”

Nonstop craziness for 30 minutes. Every riff feels like you are being punched in the face 10,000 times, and you still wanna come back for more. Vocals are insane, guitars are insane, drumming is insane, everything is insane.

7 – Dawn FM by The Weeknd // Favorite track: “Sacrifice”

Easily his best album yet. The Weeknd has consistently improved as an artist year after year and this sounds like such an amazing continuation to his earlier album “After Hours” released in 2020. Even though much of the sound is replicating the 80’s synth music aesthetic, it still sounds way more fresh than any pop coming out today.

6 – Ultra Truth by Daniel Avery // Favorite track: “Near Perfect”

The most euphoric electronic album of the year. Every song is so detailed, and the whole album is brimming with texture. Even though it’s pretty much an instrumental album minus a few vocal features, the album is filled with emotion. From drum and bass bangers to moody and trippy techno tracks, this album covers every state of euphoria.

5 – I Love You Jennifer B by Jockstrap // Favorite track: “Greatest Hits”

The most interesting and dynamic pop album of the year. There are so many unique and interesting ideas and experiments throughout that you would normally never hear combined with a pop sound like this, but it all pans out extremely well. 

4 – Diaspora Problems by Soul Glo // Favorite track: “John J”

Political music is obviously hit or miss for a lot of people, and when it’s done poorly it can get extremely annoying. But punk has always been embedded in politics, and no punk band has made a greater splash this year than Soul Glo. Easily one of the most energetic and insane hardcore records I’ve heard in a really long time. And while they obviously pay respects to a lot of classic bands like Minor Threat and Bad Brains, there’s a surprising rap element to a lot of their songs and there are even a couple straight up bangers on this thing. If you are interested in hearing searing guitars and a singer who sounds like he’s about to rip his own skin off, then this is the album for you. 

3 – God Don’t Make Mistakes by Conway the Machine // Favorite track: “Stressed”

Hot take: this is the best rap album of the year. Conway’s thoughtful and vulnerable lyricism depicts a painfully emotional and honest listen, diving deep into his past, fears and struggles. Covering everything from his PTSD, the death of his son, alcoholism and even getting shot, it’s an emotional gut punch at times. But, in spite of all of that, there’s still a general level of optimism and hope throughout. Recommended to fans of J.I.D, Westside Gunn, and more. 

2 – Miracle in Transit by Naked Flames // Favorite track: “Miles of Conkers”

Totally hypnotizing. It’s everything that dance music should be. Incredibly atmospheric, progressive, and uplifting. Every moment on this album feels like you are going further and further down this exciting rabbit hole and getting completely lost in the music. Naked Flames perfectly crafts this vibe combining the aesthetics of 2000’s video game soundtracks, club music, and old school techno to form his incredibly unique sound. It’s a perfect album, and one of the best of the year.

1 – Hellfire by black midi // Favorite track: “Dangerous Liaisons”

My jaw was on the floor the whole time listening to this. black midi have truly made one of the most theatrical and engaging albums I’ve ever heard. Every song is executed so well with fantastic storytelling that practically feels like a movie in audio form, with some of the most creative and talented playing I have ever heard on any rock album. Good stuff.


The rule was no album on two lists, but we didn’t say anything about three. We’ve put together a Spotify playlist with all the favorite tracks mentioned in this article if you want to check any of the albums out on your own.