This is a republishing of a post I wrote for my now defunct music newsletter. Substack sucks so the post is here now.
Ah end of year lists, finally some inspiration to write about the music I’ve been listened to throughout the year. Music that for the most part I should have written about before this but for some reason or other, I didn’t. I am working on getting better at that, I promise.
But for now, I want to get into the albums I loved this year. The list is quite varied and encompasses multiple genres and artists. If nothing else, I can humbly brag about having exquisite taste in music for a little bit.
These are in no particular order.
Let’s get into it.
Hikaru Utada – BAD MODE
The year started off strong. Before this album I had only heard bits and pieces of Utada’s music. Heart Station (2008) was the last album of theirs that I had vague memories of from my teenage years. So going into this I had no strong expectations either way.
I absolutely fell in love with this album. I ended up importing the special physical edition of the album from CD Japan.
This album is Utada at their most comfortable. The album’s front cover art gives a hint of what lies within. Which is a Utada comfortable with theirself and their existence as a person navigating life.
I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the absolutely fantastic treat as far as production goes. Even if you are not a j-pop person, just listen to this and give your ears a sonic delight.
Avril Lavigne – Love Sux
This album is a time traveler. It feel like an album from 2012 got stuck in a time capsule and got released a decade late.
In a way I am glad this album came out now because I don’t think teenage me would have appreciated the pop punk corniness. Avril shouts about bad luck and oh why does love suck and for a moment I can enjoy this dose of nostalgia.
Benny the Butcher – Tana Talk 4
This is the one album on this list that I wrote an entire review for in April which I would recommend reading to get my extended thoughts on it. For this post, I will say this is amongst the best hip-hop albums to come out this year.
Benny’s style just continues to be the kind of rapping I look for nowadays and nobody else is doing quite what he is.
Charli XCX – CRASH
Catchy melodies, fun lyrics and a run time of 33 minutes and 51 seconds. Charli delivered a nicely wrapped concise package of pop fun for all of us to enjoy. I’ll warn y’all though, every track in this album has the potential to become an ear worm and get stuck in your brain for weeks.
For me the ear worms were Beg For You and Used to Know Me.
Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future
This album is another one of my hip-hop favourites from this year. I have been a fan of Denzel since 2018’s TA13OO.
This album is very different from TA13OO. Denzel is more laid back and introspective over some fantastic production. I would highly recommend listening to the extended edition of the album which comes with a soul/jazz version of the album. So really, we got two Denzel albums this year. He is really out here spoiling us.
Pusha T – It’s Almost Dry
An album drop from Pusha T is always an Event. This man doesn’t drop music often but when it does its worth listening to. This album is no different. Pusha delivers his specific brand of luxury coke rap over exquisitely crafted production.
At 35 minutes and 53 seconds long, it also doesn’t outstay its welcome. Pusha T is nothing if not concise, he drops the bars and peaces out. There is no filler here which is always a refreshing change of pace from some of the other contemporary hip hop albums.
Kehlani – blue water road
Sometimes I just need a R&B album to vibe to for a little while. This album is my “vibes” album of the year. Kehlani delivers a very competent package of R&B here. There is nothing particularly mind blowing or exceptional here but there doesn’t need to be.
Listen to this on those lonely Sunday evenings.
Beyoncé – RENAISSANCE
This album inspired me to write an entire post about my experience with the house genre of music.
For that reason this album belongs on this list. I won’t say much else here other than that Beyoncé is a goddamn genius. I don’t like using that word often but in this particular case I think it applies.
Taylor Swift – Midnights
The last time I really enjoyed a Taylor Swift album was 1989 which was very much Taylor leaning into the pop side of her music rather than her singer-songwriter country style. So it isn’t surprising to me that I enjoyed this album with its minimalist Jack Antonoff pop production.
Taylor’s songwriting is delightful throughout and it is an album that benefits from sitting down with a copy of the lyrics and really listening for all the little flourishes she applies to her songs with her writing.
Carly Rae Jepsen – The Loneliest Time
I credit Carly’s EMOTION with awakening my love for pop music so a new Carly album always get the first listen even if it comes out the same day as the new Taylor Swift album (aaaaaaa oh god why???).
This album is a theatrical treatise on love and loneliness. So much so that the music video for Surrender My Heart has an entire scene about putting on a performance of the song on Broadway. I am glad that Carly is leaning into the theatrical aspects of her music.
These albums are ones that I enjoyed but not enough to put on the bigger list.
- Fred again… – Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022)
- Nas – King’s Disease III
- Metro Boomin – HEROES & VILLAINS
- redveil – learn 2 swim
- Bloodywood – Rakshak
So there it is, my favourite albums of the year. Overall, I would say its been a good year of music for me, a variety of different albums in different styles all of which offering something important.
Here’s hoping for more of that that in 2023!