’s Top 30 Albums of 2022

Best of 2022

We begin the new year as we have so many times before, with our annual ranking of the best albums of the year. Below you’ll find the contributor best of 2022 list with blurbs written by the staff talking about why we loved these albums. Each album title links to a streaming page so you can make sure to check out anything you may have missed. There’s also a playlist featuring a song from every album on this list, and a few staff members have shared their individual lists and some commentary, and you can find those at the bottom of this post.

As always, thanks for spending 2022 with us, and I hope you find something new to check out and love.

Note: Check the bottom of this post for links to individual contributor lists.

The Top Albums of 2022

1. The Wonder Years – The Hum Goes On Forever

It’s a complicated thing being a parent. There’s the joy of having this small human look up to you and love you, knowing that you will take care of them and provide for them. Then there’s the other side of it – the guilt of bringing this innocent child into our fucked up world. The guilt of potentially passing on your own issues to your kid. The joy and guilt live simultaneously at moments, so yeah the hum really does go on forever and The Wonder Years expertly channel that in their best album yet. Over the course of this record’s creation, frontman Dan Campbell became a father twice and he’s channeled that excitement and anxiety into the album’s lyrics. Songs like the gentle “Doors I Painted Shut,” booming “Wyatt’s Song (Your Name),” and crushing “Cardinals II” best exemplify that, with the highly emotional album closer “You’re The Reason I Don’t Want The World To End” centering around the hope Campbell finds amongst all the anxiety and nightmares. What makes Hum so great is that it can be relatable whether you’re a parent or not – evident in tracks like “Oldest Daughter,” “The Paris of Nowhere,” and “Low Tide” (I also know this is their best and most relatable record yet because this is the first Wonder Years record to top an AbsolutePunk/ “best of” list ever. It’s well-deserved). The Hum Goes On Forever is The Wonder Years’ most expansive and personal record yet as they continue to branch out even further from that South Philly basement. – Drew Beringer

2. Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind

Glancing over our collective list this year shows me a lot of familiar faces. Some names that I’ve been writing about for almost two decades now. A few that have drifted in and out of my headphones for the better part of my life. And here, sitting at number two, is Coheed and Cambria. This is a band that had an album on our best of list in 2005 (#13) and came roaring in with not only one of the best albums of their career, but one of the best albums of the year. A sweeping epic that blends their progressive rock roots with a fresh, and invigorating, modern spin. It’s this mixture of what they’ve always excelled at, combined with these little new flourishes, that make me believe the band are entering a new creative era. And by Ambellina’s ghost are we blessed! We have a collection of songs that bend under floor stomping anthems just begging to be feverishly air guitar’d at the loudest volumes.

There’s something comforting about looking through a list filled with old friends mixed amongst all the newcomers. Seeing a number of artists I’d consider in the scene hall of fame releasing albums that once again connected and resonated with the staff fills my heart with a unique kind of joy. It’s a reminder of the music that stays with us throughout our lives, and of the bands from our youth that are still able to find their place in our daily soundtracks. – Jason Tate

3. Taylor Swift – Midnights

The rollout for Taylor Swift’s latest studio album, Midnights, was clouded with mystery since not a single note of music, or a single, would be released until midnight of October 21, 2022. What I wasn’t expecting when listening to Midnights for the first time was for it to be a love letter to all of her longtime fans/listeners who watched her evolve over her storied career. This record has the “I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of me” of Reputation, the beating heart of Lover, the attention to detail of Red, the songwriting prowess of Fearless, and the picturesque storytelling of Speak Now. With so much packed into a single album, it’s no secret that so many of us on this staff connected with Midnights.

Taylor Swift really could’ve gone in a number of directions after the successful one-two punch of Folklore and Evermore, or even some of the reimagined and re-recorded Taylor’s Version(s) of her albums. What she does best on this set of songs, produced by Jack Antonoff, among a few others, is to fully embrace the allure of a new day just beginning in synth-laden beats and atmospheric sounds in order to continue to engage with her audience, and keep things interesting. Taylor Swift would go on to announce a world tour in 2023, that had a few Ticketmaster hiccups, yet her popularity is and will continue to be undeniable. The lyrics of, “It’s me, hi. I’m the problem, it’s me” took on a whole new perspective as Taylor Swift continued to change the music game for the better. – Adam Grundy

4. Bartees Strange – Farm To Table

When Bartees Strange released his 2020 full-length Live Forever, the overwhelmingly positive reception was about as strong a start as an indie musician can hope for. As a result, Strange left himself some very large shoes to fill on his second studio album, Farm to Table. The end result – which Strange began working on the day before the release of LF – is an album that wears those shoes without missing a step. As always, genre is difficult to pin down neatly with an artist like Bartees Strange: the end result is an eclectic (and wonderful) mix that draws from indie rock to hip hop to RnB to dance synths and back again. Opening track “Heavy Heart” sets a reverent and vaguely mournful tone for the record, which continues throughout. Heartfelt lyrics cover everything from snapshots of Strange’s own story (past and present) and life, to the bigger realities of being a Black man in the music industry, and in the United States of America. All told, both the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic and the mourning of George Floyd (see: “Hold the Line”) leave their mark on Farm to Table: it is as raw as it is rich, and all delivered by Bartees Strange’s passionately expressive voice. Tracks I can’t skip: “Mulholland Dr.”, “Hold the Line”, “Escape the Circus”, “Black Gold”. – Anna Acosta

5. Dashboard Confessional – All The Truth That I Can Tell

All The Truth That I Can Tell has all the hallmarks of a classic “rise from the ashes” LP. Dashboard Confessional mastermind Chris Carrabba wrote and recorded the album in the wake of a 2020 motorcycle crash that left him with numerous traumatic injuries and a lengthy road to recovery. The record also took form in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, 20 years on from when the Dashboard Confessional project had gotten started, and as Carrabba entered his late 40s. Finally, the record is a return to form – a stripped-down confessional (pun intended) acoustic singer-songwriter record produced by the same guy who lent the golden touch to 2000’s Swiss Army Romance and 2001’s The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most. When lead single “Here’s to Moving On” arrived last fall, it sounded like Carrabba was willing himself toward the ultimate comeback album. Not only did the song carry the sound and magic of early Dashboard, but it also had a beautiful message of resilience that seemed so fitting given where Carrabba had been. “Here’s to fighting less/Here’s to living more/Here’s to feeling alive again/Here’s to picking yourself off the floor,” he sings in the chorus; it’s the best song he’s written in years. But All the Truth That I Can Tell is more muted and melancholy than “Here’s to Moving On” maybe hinted at. There are certainly songs that track a similar triumphant, resilient arc: See “The Better of Me,” a big, bruising beauty that sounds like an outtake from 2009’s underrated Alter the Ending. Mostly, though, this record finds Carrabba in his most vulnerable and reflective mode yet, writing songs about aging, mortality, family, and what makes life worth living. At first, I wanted the songs to burst a bit more – to deliver those huge moments of catharsis that have always been in rich supply on Dashboard albums. All the Truth That I Can Tell isn’t that kind of album, but if you give it some time and some patience, you might just find the biggest gut punches Carrabba has ever written, hiding in soft, unassuming ballads. In particular, I can’t get “Young” out of my brain, if only for how it juxtaposes who Carrabba was when we met him – and who many of us Dashboard fans were then, too – with who he and we are now. “I was young/And you were young/And we had young ideas/And they were brilliant,” he sings in the first verse. Later, it’s “Now I am not young/I am not foolish in the way that I once was.” Hearing our greatest-ever poet of teen angst sing those words hurts a little bit, because it’s a reminder that those of us who grew up with his music aren’t so young anymore either. Luckily, though, we get to have our emo stalwarts aging gracefully with us, and writing poignantly about the next chapter of life. – Craig Manning

6. Death Cab For Cutie – Asphalt Meadows

One thing I didn’t have on my 2022 bingo card: Death Cab for Cutie making an album that recaptured the glory of their 2000s run. The band spent the 2010s making safe, solidly enjoyable albums that nevertheless lacked the ability their early material had to burrow under your skin. I quite like 2018’s Thank You for Today, a beautifully tuneful set of autumnal pop songs, but I can’t deny that something about that album lacks the weight and punch of Death Cab classics like Transatlanticism or Plans. Whatever element that was missing four years ago, though, is mysteriously back in play on Asphalt Meadows. Perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle is dynamics. For years, Death Cab were better than just about any rock band out there at fitting crescendo and diminuendo into their music. The sweet, sad quietness of parts of their songs was balanced by the big, loud, cathartic parts, and the way those pieces fit together was exhilarating. Think the long, slow build of “Transatlanticism,” or the big explosion of sound at the climax of “Tiny Vessels,” or the way “Bixby Canyon Bridge” snowballs from a thoughtful, spacey intro into a pummeling full-band outro. Moments like that are all over the Death Cab albums of the 2000s, and are virtually impossible to find on the Death Cab records of the 2010s. Even the best songs from the last few albums sometimes felt locked in stasis. But the boys are back to using the full quiet-loud spectrum on Asphalt Meadows, and it’s a welcome return. Opener “I Don’t Know How I Survive” is the perfect example, a song that starts gently but then gets so loud so suddenly on the chorus that it forces you to sit up straight and pay attention. Something similar happens in “Foxglove Through the Clearcut,” which balances rich, thought-provoking spoken-word verses with a gleaming arena rock chorus refrain, complete with some classic Big Ass Death Cab guitars. Add some of the richest lyrical work Ben Gibbard has mustered in quiet some time – I’m particularly fond of “Here to Forever” and “Wheat Like Waves,” a pair of achingly sincere songs about the steady march of time and the fleeting nature of life – and you end up with a Death Cab for Cutie album that evokes a whole lot of what made this band special for so many people. It’s 2022’s greatest comeback album. – Craig Manning

7. Joyce Manor – 40oz. to Fresno

Listening to 40 oz. to Freedom is like running into a friend or family member you haven’t seen in years, but when you do seem them, you pick right back up where you left off. For many, Joyce Manor and Never Hungover Again are the two Joyce Manor records many turn to when they listen to the band. They’re two records loaded with classics from the bands catalog and highlight some of their best work. The most recent two records, Cody and Million Dollars to Kill Me, lacked a few  ingredients that made the first few records classics, but Joyce Manor once again found that magical recipe on this year’s 40 oz. to Freedom. The opening guitar riff of “Souvenir” immediately sets the tone that you’re in for another Joyce Manor special that’ll be over before you know it, but will leave you wanting more. Standouts like “Gotta Let it Go”, “Dance With Me”, “Don’t Try” all speed by like a tractor trailer going 80 MPH on an interstate, but is still present for just the right amount of time to air guitar along. Clocking in at nearly 17 minutes, this is a record you can easily listen to on repeat and quickly learn all the words and notes. 40 oz. to Freedom shows rumors of Joyce Manor’s demise have been greatly exaggerated and it gives listeners reasons to believe there’s plenty left in the tank. – Brett Bodner

8. Carly Rae Jepsen – The Loneliest Time

Sometimes it’s hard to believe it has been a decade since Carly Rae Jepsen’s infamous hit “Call Me Maybe” – but it gets easier to believe when one considers the rich treasure trove of music she has given the world since. Her sixth studio album, The Loneliest Time, whose release date had the misfortune of lining up with Taylor Swift’s Midnights, is yet another very satisfying addition to the world’s pop music catalog. True to form, Jepsen’s signature vocal delivery, earworm melodies and playful approach to lyrics are all over TLT. There’s something for everyone: Do you want to dance? Tracks like “Talking to Yourself”, “Joshua Tree” and “Beach House” (and most of any CRJ album, let’s be honest) have your back. Want to slow things down and chill for a bit? Try “Far Away”, “Western Wind” or “So Nice” on for size. Need some contenders for next year’s summer drive playlist? Just go ahead and throw the whole album on there. – Anna Acosta

9. The 1975 – Being Funny In a Foreign Language

The 1975 made the jump to being a zeitgeist-baiting, voice-of-their-generation band so quickly that we never really got to witness the full extent of their pop gifts. Imagine if, after Parachutes, Coldplay had jumped straight to making ultra-ambitious, shapeshifting albums like Viva la Vida rather than making A Rush of Blood to the Head and X&Y and packing them with a bevy of the best stadium rock hooks and cigarette-lighter ballads of a generation. I always felt a little like The 1975 took that route, blasting off toward full self-important antics on I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it and its follow-up A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. I liked those albums a lot, for many reasons. I liked how game this band seemed to be in trying on different sonic costumes, and I liked the fact that they were attempting to make zeitgeisty rock music in an era where “zeitgeist” and “rock music” were largely divorced. But a part of me also longed for the lower-stakes charms of the band’s self-titled 2013 debut, an album that thrived because its ‘80s-style pop songs and mall-emo anthems were largely just about girls and sex and heartbreak. On Being Funny in a Foreign Language, after going a few centimeters too far up their own assholes with 2020’s insufferable Notes on a Conditional Form, The 1975 finally make their Rush of Blood to the Head. Matty Healy probably still spends more time than I’d like singing about the internet and cancel culture, his two favorite subject). But when you can deliver songs like “About You,” the best piece of U2 cosplay to come along yet in this young decade; or “Looking for Somebody (To Love),” a high-octane pop song right in The 1975’s classic wheelhouse; or “Wintering,” a track worthy of joining the Christmas song canon, a few lyrical facepalms are easy to forgive. And given that Being Funny in a Foreign Language ultimately clocks in at a fleet 44 minutes, with an “all killer no filler” approach never before seen or heard from this band before, there’s a lot to love and very little to forgive anyway. – Craig Manning

10. Gang of Youths – Angel in Real Time.

I thought rock ‘n’ roll was supposed to be dead, so how come it sounds so full of life on angel in realtime.? On their third LP, Australia’s Gang of Youths make one of those albums where it feels like they’re trying to convey every color of the human experience in a single work of art. Frontman Dave Le’aupepe wrote the album after his father passed away, and the pain from that loss echoes through every song. But he also wrote it after learning that his father had lied about a whole lot of things for years and years — his age, his upbringing and cultural background, the fact that he had a whole other family in another part of the world — and the songs also carry the shock of those betrayals and the coming to terms with what they mean. Some critics dinged the album for focusing so much on such a specific story — to the point, they argued, that it dampened the universality of an album about grief. Even people who liked this album often seemed to describe it in backhanded ways. Beyond its unique narrative, I’ve seen the album critiqued for being long and overstuffed with ideas, for being extremely emotionally earnest, and for pulling from untrendy influences like U2, Counting Crows, or Keane to build its sonic DNA. Here’s the thing: all those things are part of what make this record great. The specificity of a song like “Brothers” is what makes it so shattering and so moving. The sprawl of the runtime makes the album’s arc feel complex and dynamic and earned, and the sequencing glides so effectively from one song to the next that the album’s 77-minute length flies by. The go-for-broke stadium hugeness of the songs gives their emotional heft that much more lift. And the earnestness is what will break your heart if you’ve ever lost someone, or if you’ve ever had a complex relationship with a parent, or if you’ve ever wondered how the fuck you’re supposed to raise a child or even exist in the chaos of a swiftly tilting planet. What’s that movie cliché about how the average human only uses 10 percent of their brain, and how if you could use all of it you would be truly limitless? Well, if the average album only uses 10 percent of the emotional spectrum, angel in realtime. uses the whole damn thing. The result is the one album from this year I could never shake after the first time I heard it. – Craig Manning

11. Cold Years – Goodbye To Misery

Every so often, an album comes along and completely sweeps you off your feet. It puts a permanent stamp in your mind of where you were and what life was like the first time you heard it. It warms your soul like a big bowl of hot soup after coming inside from shoveling snow. This is exactly the experience that Cold Years’ Goodbye to Misery brings to listeners. Goodbye to Misery feels like it’s right out of the mid-2000s, living up to comparisons some have made to Green Day’s American Idiot and My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade. This a record that feels both big and special, right from the opening notes of “32” to the final marching beat of the last track, “Control”. Goodbye to Misery tackles the feeling of anxiousness so many of us have battled over these last few pandemic years, caused by both internal and external forces, all while looking/hoping for a better tomorrow. While the record has standout tracks like “Headstone”, “Home” and “32”, it’s a record that has to be consumed in its entirety for listeners to truly appreciate how special it is. – Brett Bodner

12. SOUL GLO – Diaspora Problems

A few weeks before the release of Soul Glo’s Epitaph debut Diaspora Problems, I tweeted: “when refused said “the shape of punk to come” they were referring to Soul Glo.” Nine months later and I think I might’ve undersold the how wild and disruptive this record truly is. It’s as real, raw, and exhilarating as any record in the history of the genre, with vocalist Pierce Jordan unleashing verbal barbs at 100mph – touching on everything from generational trauma, being Black in America, capitalism and the economic realities surrounding it, and much more. It’s met with twelve of the most riotous tracks put to record, with tracks like “Gold Punk Chain (whogonbeatmyass?),” “Driponomics,” and “GODBLESSYALLREALGOOD” cementing themselves as some of the best songs of the entire year. All said, Diaspora Problems is a monumental record, one that completely flips the script on what punk can be. – Drew Beringer

13. Anxious – Little Green House

Some albums make you feel like a teenager again. For some people, that sensation – of being reminded of their high school years – can be mortifying or downright traumatizing. For me, it’s a fond place to spend some time. I formed such a strong bond with the music I listened to in my teens that any new band or album that reminds me of those years is almost guaranteed to win my affection. That’s absolutely the case with Little Green House, a dynamite emo record from Connecticut newcomers Anxious. With shades of Bleed American-era Jimmy Eat World and the first Dangerous Summer EP, Little Green House hooked me immediately. This band has such a knack for melody and such a gift for pathos that hearing their songs puts me right back in my high school hallways or in the driver’s seat of my first car, yearning for a girl or getting angsty over the creeping approach of graduation and “the future.” The chorus melody of “In April”; the coming-of-age tale of the aptly-titled “Growing Up Song”; the line “All that we share will come and go, we are meant to leave” in “Afternoon”; the slow-burn repetition of album closer “You When You’re Gone”: Repeatedly, Little Green House serves up moments like these that remind me of how music used to make me feel. These songs are new, but the emotions the dredge up – the moments, the memories, the mindset I had when I was 15 and listening to albums on my iPod in my childhood bedroom – it’s almost like I’m hearing “23” for the first time again, or “Konstantine,” or “Several Ways to Die Trying,” or “The Permanent Rain” – songs that made me feel like my heart was going to burst because it was feeling so much. I guess you could call it nostalgia, but a lot of records make me feel nostalgic; not a lot of records feel this transportive, this authentic to the music I loved when I was young, this much like time travel. For 33 minutes, Little Green House reminds me of that amazing Tom Petty quote: “Music is probably the one real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.” On their first album, Anxious make magic. I can’t wait to hear them make more of it in the future. – Craig Manning


PUP are like Hawkeye, in the way that they never miss and may also be underappreciated at the same time. This year PUP released their fourth album, The Unraveling of PUPTheBand, nearly three years after they dropped what some consider to be their best album, Morbid Stuff. With the bar set high, PUP once again did not miss the mark and delivered another outstanding entry in what’s shaping up to be an impeccable discography. Set against the mock backdrop of the band falling apart while creating an album and ending with them having to file for bankruptcy, The Unraveling of PUPTheBand further displays the band’s knack for clever songwriting and some good, old-fashioned, hard punk rock. “Totally Fine” and “Waiting” pack the energy of a fist fight and are tracks that for sure get the pits moving at live shows. Meanwhile “Matilda” and “Relentless” show PUP aren’t afraid to put their softer side on display either, something the band have never shied away from. This is a record that shows PUP haven’t lost their fastball and are instead continuing to find new ways to show why they are one of the best punk bands around. – Brett Bodner

15. Underoath – Voyeurist

f there’s one thing that Underoath should be known for over their storied career, it’s that they made it a goal to never make the same album twice. Voyeurist was one of the first albums to be released this year, and it grabbed me from the first listen and stayed in my regular music rotation through the end of the year. That’s really hard to do with so much quality music that came out during 2022. Underoath’s 9th studio album, Voyeurist, re-captures their punk rock spirit and still adds new layers of creativity in their artistic development. With so much positive momentum going in their favor, it came as little surprise that the band would tease an early 2023 tour with a VIP Soundcheck option for fans to hear the demos from their new, yet to be titled 10th studio album. One thing is for sure, 2023 will continue to shine brightly upon this ultra-talented band from Florida. – Adam Grundy

16. Maggie Rogers – Surrender

As someone who spent the better part of a decade working toward a career as a professional singer, I can’t help but be drawn to records with dynamite vocal performances at their center. No album from 2022 delivered on that front more than Surrender. On her debut, 2019’s stellar Heard It in a Past Life, Maggie Rogers showed off considerable chops as a songwriter, as a chronicler of the foibles of young adulthood, and as someone who could ably flit across a crayon box of different pop music stylings. She also had a striking voice, full of yearning and excitement, but I didn’t necessarily come away from that album thinking of Rogers as one of the top vocalists in pop. After Surrender, I’m not only thinking of her on that list, I’m thinking she may be near the top of it. See “Shatter,” where Maggie wails away with reckless abandon – somewhere between Kate Bush, Florence Welch (who appears on the song), and a no-holds-barred punk rocker. See “Want Want,” where her voice bursts with desire, or “Begging for Rain,” where it aches with 180-proof regret. See “Anywhere with You,” where she rides a visceral crescendo until she’s sing-shouting the best use of profanity in a song this year: “You tell me you want everything, you want it fast/But all I’ve ever wanted was to make something fucking last.” These aren’t the kind of pristine, perfect vocals we’re used to hearing on pop records these days. There are little imperfections to the performances: moments where Rogers misses a note or two, moments where you can hear her running out of breath or gasping for it, moments where she’s yelling or crying or growling more than actually singing. But the resulting songs are so raw, so striking, and so full of passion that I can’t imagine hearing them any other way. Surrender works because the girl singing the songs commits herself to them so thoroughly that you, as the listener, have no choice but to commit as well. – Craig Manning

17. Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers

Kendrick Lamar remains one of the most consistently brilliant lyricists and storytellers of my generation, and that’s not hyperbole. Lamar’s ability to turn a song on its head at the drop of a beat is utterly remarkable, and he’s been doing it since the beginning. He has proven time and time again he’s one of the game’s most accomplished rappers, and yet he has even more tricks up his sleeve on Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. This record ends up playing as more confessional than his past efforts, and may end up being one of the albums I will look most fondly upon whenever he decides to hang up his mic for good. Kendrick Lamar was honest about his journey through therapy, which is a terrific message to send to all who follow his career, and makes him worth looking up to. Mental health may still be a bit of a taboo topic in our society, but Lamar invites each person who pushes play on this album an open invitation into his headspace. And guess what: he’s got a beautiful soul and mind. – Adam Grundy


Has there ever been a more refreshing breath of fresh air of self-independence than “Silk Chiffon”? The lead single from MUNA’s third studio album features a great cameo from Phoebe Bridgers and allowed for this talented indie pop trio to expand upon their strengths in a vibrant package of music. Their self-titled record is an incredible encapsulation of three individuals embracing who they are as people and musicians in order to make such a beautiful artistic statement. From the pulsating synths of “Runner’s High,” to the vulnerability found in tracks like “Kind of Girl,” MUNA showcased their improved songwriting chops. Their newfound confidence combined with crisp musicianship launches this record into the stratosphere of greatness. – Adam Grundy

19. Pool Kids – Pool Kids

This is the kind of emo record I didn’t know I wanted or needed. It’s angsty, of course; just look at these lyrics: “So here we are on this stupid couch again/I never wanna see you lift the corners of your mouth again,” from the incredibly fun “Conscious Uncoupling”. Full of math-rock riffs, twinkly melodies, shout-along choruses and bops, it’s no wonder why Hayley Williams co-signed Pool Kids back in 2019. Their second album is one I return to constantly and always marvel at the time changes, emotions, and melodies.

Jason wrote in his newsletter a few months ago, “It’s an album that I could see continuing to grow on me through the rest of the year, and it has all the parts that makeup one of those albums that I like right away and then clicks a few more plays in and rockets up my favorite of the year list,” and you know what, same. 

And in our In The Spotlight feature from 2019, Zac Djamoos said, “I can see Pool Kids having the same kind of longevity Paramore has. But while I don’t know if they’ll be the next Paramore, I’m sure they’ll be the first Pool Kids.” And with tracks as thrilling as “Talk Too Much” and “Swallow,” it’s clear that Pool Kids are worth all the hype. – Mary Varvaris

20. Alexisonfire – Otherness

Alexisonfire don’t sound like they’ve lost their edge on their fifth album, Otherness, and first album since 2009’s Old Crows / Young Cardinals. While the band reunited in 2015, the Canadian legends didn’t release new music until four years later, when they thrilled fans with their first songs in over eight years. In 2019, Alexisonfire returned with “Familiar Drugs” and “Complicit”. In 2020, they unveiled the epic “Season Of The Flood,” but there were no inklings of new music for two years until someone had updated the group’s Genius information with the Otherness track titles.

Otherness isn’t your typical post-hardcore album, but it’s still a record that explores duality: soft-loud dynamics, the heavy and light vocals shared between George Pettit, Wade MacNeil, and City And Colour’s Dallas Green, blues and pop, and grit and clarity. The band sound absolutely epic on the first single, “Sweet Dreams Of Otherness,” downright mournful on “Sans Soleil”, and like a band beyond their years on the Alice In Chains-influenced “World Stops Turning”. Pettit told Apple Music about the album’s closer: “This is a love song Dallas wrote about his band… we’re gonna have this big sprawling epic, and I could envision it just blowing everyone’s hair back. It’s a perfect album ender – we went full Floyd on this one.” And that they did. – Mary Varvaris

21. Charli XCX – CRASH

CRASH is Charli XCX at her most heightened—where 2020’s how i’m feeling now saw her introspective and isolated, CRASH turns the dials all the way in the opposite direction. For most of her career, Charli has been known primarily as a “hyperpop” artist, experimenting in the margins of popular music, but for the final album of her five-record major label deal, she fully embraces pop stardom. That record deal provides important context—she’s been under her Atlantic contract since age 16—and the opening lines of the album give some insight into where it’s led her: “I’m about to crash into the water, gonna take you with me / I’m high voltage, self-destructive, end it all so legendary.” CRASH is an album about selling out while taking back control, about seeing how far you can push yourself and going out with a bang. It’s the culmination of her career up to this point, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. – Scott Surette

22. Pale Waves – Unwanted

Every time I write about Pale Waves I feel compelled to use the term “throw back.” It’s an easy way to describe this band because they take so many things about a sound we know and love and use it in a way that pays tribute to the bands that came before while putting a distinctive spin on the genre. Unwanted is an album that adds to the band’s impressive run by building on what they started with Who Am I?, but this time taking a maximal approach. The hooks are bigger. The angst more palpable. And the entire record feels like it should come with a complimentary skate board and Discman. In a year that saw this music scene celebrated in all its When We Were Young nostalgic glory, I can’t help but smile for the bands that continue to add to its legacy by putting out records that, in my opinion, stand right up there with some of the best from our past. Albums that harken back to the days when the lyrics adorned our Away Messages and we couldn’t decide who to kick out of our Top 8. Songs for the next generation to fall in love with while catching our elder-emo eyes by winking knowingly to the music that mended our broken hearts. – Jason Tate

23. Soccer Mommy – Sometimes, Forever

The third studio album from Sophia Allison (aka Soccer Mommy) expands upon the ideas she started to tinker with on Color Theory, and leaves the listener equally breathless in its delivery. What makes Sometimes, Forever so impressive is its ability to break your heart as quickly as it can heal it, making you feel a little less alone in this crazy world. From the lush, sonic landscapes on singles like “Shotgun,” to the pulsating bass lines found in “Bones,” Allison really honed in on her songwriting to make each and every note packed with purpose. With so much momentum going in this artist’s favor, it hopefully won’t be too long until we all hear the next step in Soccer Mommy’s evolution. – Adam Grundy

24. Future Teens – Self Help

Self Help – the third album from Future Teens – is one of 2022’s most powerful albums. Unafraid to share and discuss their struggles with mental health and beyond, the quartet’s brand of “bummer pop” brings those topics to the table with some of the most poignant and catchy anthems in the genre today (“B.Y.O.B,” “Real Change,” and “Well Enough” are essential) while Amy Hoffman’s vocals remain as strong as ever, their delivery piercing through the band’s striking blend of pop melodies and emo pacing. It’s possible this record may have been lost in the shuffle during all the big fall releases this past year, but I promise you Self Help is one of the best ways to spend a half hour – a record that’ll help listeners find strength in each other and feel less alone. – Drew Beringer

25. Silverstein – Misery Made Me

Silverstein just continues to churn out solid album after solid album, don’t they? Misery Made Me would end up being the band’s 11th studio album to date, and improves upon some of the atmospheric elements introduced in the experimental past record A Beautiful Place To Drown. What this latest effort does particularly well is to hone in on lead singer Shane Told’s vocal delivery to ensure each scream, or clean vocal, makes sense for the emotions the band wants to convey. Tracks like “Our Song” and especially the doubled up track, “The Altar/Mary,” allows for Silverstein to remain one of the most creative and consistent bands in our scene. – Adam Grundy

26. Pianos Become The Teeth – Drift

Pianos Become The Teeth’s fifth record Drift is exactly what the album’s title implies. A 37-minute journey through the night, the record’s ten tracks exhibit the most thrilling musical work from the band yet, ranging from pulsating tracks like “The Tricks” and “Genevieve” to murkier, groovier numbers like “Skiv” and “Mouth.” Drift perfects the balance of Kyle Durfey’s vague lyrics and his vocal delivery within the identity of this record’s music. It’s Pianos sharpest, best-sounding record yet and another high point in the Baltimore quintet’s already incredible career. – Drew Beringer

27. Oso Oso – Sore Thumb

Coming off of the huge critical success of the band’s third studio album, Basking in the Glow, the pressure was on Oso Oso (and band leader Jade Lilitri) to deliver the goods on Sore Thumb. As it would turn out, the band was well up to the task at hand and made another solid album from start to finish that garnered similar critical praise from several music publications. What Oso Oso does best on songs like “Father Tracy” and “Describe You” is to wear his heart on his sleeve and make you a believer in his every lyric. That’s not easy to do, but this band achieves it with such grace and poise. Shortly after the recording of the new album, Oso Oso’s guitarist Tavish Maloney passed away, and Lilitri was rightfully devastated by the news. He made it a mission to honor Maloney’s memory by dedicating Sore Thumb in his honor. Through this tragedy, Lilitri honored his bandmate and the future looks bright for Oso Oso’s continued growth. – Adam Grundy

28. L.S. Dunes – Past Lives

L.S. Dunes are the most exciting supergroup to come out of the emo scene in many years. Featuring guitarists Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance) and Travis Stever (Coheed and Cambria), vocalist Anthony Green (Circa Survive), Thursday’s bassist Tim Payne and drummer Tucker Rule, the band made waves when they released their first single, the furious “Permanent Rebellion” – the best punk-rock song of the year.

The band released their debut album, Past Lives, on 11 November via Fantasy Records. Produced by Will Yip (Turnstile, Balance & Composure, mewithoutYou), the album was recorded at his Studio 4 Recording in Philadelphia, PA and explores issues of fear, dependency, nonconformity, and impermanence. The record comprises sung and screamed vocals, captivating guitar riffs, and a dynamite rhythm section. L.S. Dunes come unshackled from the expectations and music of their already-established and successful bands. 

As Adam Grundy wrote in his review, “Each of these talented musicians leave their fingerprints all over this record that has elements of what makes each of them tick, and so utterly creative in their musical endeavors. Labels or tags be damned, but L.S. Dunes may have just made the most definitive punk rock record of 2022.” – Mary Varvaris

29. The Weeknd – Dawn FM

The fifth studio album from The Weeknd is a sonic achievement, and it navigates the listener on a trippy journey into the afterlife. The record features some narrated parts by actor Jim Carrey, and it features some of The Weeknd’s best work to date. In fact, it’s an album I think many of us knew he was capable of making, yet he timed it for just this moment in order to make sure everything was in just the right place. By staying true to his artistic style, and yet moving the needle towards more brilliance, The Weeknd made one of the first major contenders for album of the year of 2022, even way back in the first week of January. He created a lasting impact on our listening habits, and deservedly makes his way onto the final ranking. – Adam Grundy

30. Pinkshift – Love Me Forever

I’ve been writing about music long enough now that I’m sure I’ve used the same metaphors, stories, or anecdotes multiple times at this point. I know I’ve talked about the proverbial “driving album” before. The album that begs for a heavy foot, an open road, and a day full of nothing to do. An album you want to share with the blue sky through the bare windows on that perfect stretch of forgotten pavement. Pinkshift have made the quintessential driving album. It’s a throbbing shot of adrenaline that combines the best of punk while etching its hook at the base of your skull. It’s a collection of songs capable of raising the temperature in the room multiple degrees due to the inescapable pull of the mosh pit; the volume button inching ever upward. Powerful, torch carrying, awesome. – Jason Tate

The Playlist

You can find a playlist with one song from every album on this list on Apple Music and Spotify.

The Contributors

Some contributors have shared their individual best of 2022 lists:

If you’d like to share your best of 2022 list, there’s a thread in our community, or feel free to share it in the comments.

The Nerd Stat Stuff

Our final compiled list was put together using our ranking algorithm. There were 10 contributors and 170 unique albums across all of the lists. In total, 55 albums out of the 170 were on more than one list, with the number one album appearing on 6 of the 10 lists.

On Chorus last year we posted 1,843 articles comprising of 473,683 words. In the forums we celebrated our five millionth post. Thank you to everyone that visited the website over the past year, we greatly appreciate it.

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