Alex’s Best Albums 2022
2022 was another year of fantastic music, from all different genres of music. Kendrick Lamar made a huge comeback to predictably critical acclaim, headlining the Glastonbury festival, closing off with an epic rendition of Savoir, while blood pours down from a diamond-crusted crown of thorns. I’m sure there is a profound metaphor in there somewhere…I think I found it…. capitalism is bad maybe? Yes, I think that’s it.
One of my favourite bands, from the last year, Black Midi, came out with another hellraising album, Hellfire, about a man stuck in hell after gambling away all his money and selling his soul to the devil. I went to see black midi in July at Somerset House, two days before the album was due to be released and their life versions of the songs were a manic depressive extravaganza and I knew I was in for a treat. The song “Welcome to Hell” is my song of the year. An epic 5 minute, clustering of guitars, drums, and saxophones with two amazing crescendos. About welcoming a soldier to hell.
The last honourable mention and an album that has thankfully stands tall alongside mesmerizing 2019 album “Titanic Rising” is Weyes Blood’s album “And in Darkness, Hearts Aglow”. What more can be said about Weyes Blood? A reincarnation of Joni Mitchell’s melancholic and tender writings: God, Turn Me into a Flower, is a sombre song dealing with self-reflection and hating what they see.
“It always takes me, it’s such a curse to be so hard
You shatter easily and can’t pick up all those shards
It’s the curse of losing yourself when the mirror takes you too far
God, turn me into a Flower?”
Or in the song Twin Flames, a lonely love song about two twin flames, an idea that two people can share the same soul, a sort of a cosmic mirror and they will go through many lives together, always connecting, in various ways, big and small. In the song, a flame is searching for their significant other, lost and lonely trying to find them. Remembering all the hardships their relationship has faced in the time that they have spent together, but ultimately still finding a way to them.
“Cause your my twin flame, you got me so cold when you pull away”.
Mix this with Karen Carpenter-esche’s angelic and ethereal voice that makes every syllable seep into you, transporting you to her world. Then you have one of the best albums of the year.
My favourite album of the year though has to be Black Country, New Roads’ sophomore album, and Ants From Up There. This bland, along with Black Midi has reinvigorated the London post-rock genre, with their original sound introspective lyrics, voicing millennial angst and distain for the world we live in that resonates with me. A song algorithm, for example,
“I open the lid of my Macbook Pro
I watch pop music videos on YouTube
By Kanye West and Miley Cyrus
I don’t have to search
Because the suggestions bar guides me
The suggestions bar knows me better than ever before
And it’s almost like love
Like the feeling of intense belonging
When a barmaid addresses you by name
And you know in some way you have transcended.”
This is just one verse of a sarcastic satire that we, as people, humans that inhabit this planet have subconsciously slipped into, ruled by a bunch of 0s and 1s. This song isn’t even on the album, it’s just a throwaway, but it just showcases the interesting lyrics that capture the attention of the listener and the music makes them stay.
So I had high expectations for this album as you can probably tell, eagerly anticipating it for months. The day finally arrived, Friday, February 4th, 2022. The day my Mum passed away. I listened to this nonstop throughout the night, in bed, wanting to be enveloped by the music. Ants From Up There is a deeply personal album, filled with songs of broken relationships and mourning the past. Safe to say, the album arrived at the perfect time encapsulating exactly what I was feeling. And that’s what I love about music, it’s a universal language, that can help you discover yourself even if you know how. Songs like, “Bread Song” and “Snow Globes” are particular highlights in a masterpiece of an album. Whenever I hear these, it helps me being up emotions that I try to hide away and gives me the courage to speak about them. These songs, while incredibly sad have a smidge of happiness in them, for me that, as I said, helps me make sense of a terribly difficult time of my life. Ants From Up There were, excuse me, “there* when I needed it the most. And for that, it has to be my album of the year.
“That’s a funny-looking shrine on your bedroom wall
Well I’m sorry Henry
He doesn’t look anything like Jesus at all
Your friend, the one that you loved
Did you keep him on your side?”
- Snow globes, Black Country, New Road