Our 2022 Annual Report continues with our Top 50 Albums list. As the year winds down, stay tuned for more awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of 2022. You can find it all in one place here.
Something funny happened when we were putting together our list of the best albums of 2022. Obviously, we looked at our mid-year rankings in our deliberations, and while doing so, noticed how drastically things had shifted. Albums that were ranked highly six months ago had dropped down substantially — if not entirely out of consideration. Others that were squeezed into the lower numbers found themselves beating out previous favorites.
It shouldn’t be that surprising; are we really the same people we were six months ago? Are the very artists we’re here to rank? Are our perceptions of them? Name something that isn’t in a state of constant flux these days.
Just look back at your own year of listening habits. Wrapped may tell you one thing, but would it have looked the same if it were released in June? Likely not, because whatever it was that led you into summer may have been supplanted by a record that connected with you even more in fall. In a year when collections of new music geared towards thematically cohesive statements, which ideas struck home with you weren’t going to remain static.
What will never change, however, is that music has a vital impact on those who cherish it. So whether we left your favorite record off or put something on here that you never would have considered, it doesn’t make either side of the equation right or wrong. On this side of things, the Consequence staff put all our own tastes, experiences, and understandings of music with a capital M on the virtual table and pushed it around until we got an order we knew stuck a chord with us.
These are the records we loved, that impressed us, that touched us, and that we likely will keep in our rotations even through the new year. These are the 50 best albums of 2022.
— Ben Kaye
50. Ozzy Osbourne – Patient Number 9
Ozzy returned to his now-trusty producer Andrew Watt for Patient No. 9, and made a triumphant and personal record. Amid physical ailments, a bout with COVID, and a highly publicized relocation back to England, the Prince of Darkness pushed onward and released one of his most successful solo albums to date — all without losing his trademark sense of humor. As Ozzy said of the album during the interview for his Consequence cover story in November 2022, “When I’m fucking miserable and the world’s against me and my fucking butt’s on fire, I come up with the greatest ideas.” — Jon Hadusek
49. MJ Lenderman – Boat Songs
Countrygaze may or may not be a real genre, but the output of the bands that carry the label is certainly compelling enough to warrant their own little subculture. Need a citation? Take Boat Songs, the newest record from Jake Lenderman (guitarist for Wednesday). Lenderman’s tunes range from upbeat, wink-and-a-nudge sing-alongs like “Hangover Game” to slow-core-adjacent tracks like “Toontown” to more indie-rock-steeped songs like “You Are Every Girl to Me.” If this is what countrygaze is, grab us a cowboy hat and a case of effect pedals. — Jonah Krueger
48. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love
Reunited and it feels so, so good: Red Hot Chili Peppers returned in 2022 with love, playfulness, and John Frusciante back in the lineup.
On Unlimited Love, the Chili Peppers take it back to the magic of four California dudes in a room jamming in whatever direction excites them the most, and making some of the strongest choices they’ve made on an album in years. — P.R.
47. Sharon Van Etten – We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong
We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong may not feature as many “hit” tracks as Sharon Van Etten’s previous release, 2019’s Remind Me Tomorrow, but that’s very much by design. The artist’s intimate, expertly reserved sixth full-length demands the increasingly rare singular listening experience. Patiently following the mid-tempo examinations of new motherhood and simply existing will reveal just how powerfully cohesive this statement is. — B. Kaye
46. EARTHGANG – Ghetto Gods
How does one categorize EARTHGANG? One doesn’t, and that’s how they like it. Ghetto Gods represents the height of their refusal to check boxes or fit molds. Much like Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul, the duo talks real world issues without sounding preachy or sitting on their moral high horses. The album is as hedonistic as it is uplifting, which is an incredible magic trick in any genre, but especially in hip-hop. — Marcus Shorter
45. Momma – Household Name
“The ‘90s felt like the last era of rockstars,” Etta Friedman said earlier this year. And while Momma’s debut record tips its cap to forebears like Veruca Salt and Smashing Pumpkins, it’s no mere exercise in nostalgia. There’s nothing more boring than debating whether rock ‘n’ roll is dead or alive; Household Name puts that tired dialogue to rest. Rock is alive and well, and thank god it sounds a lot like Momma. — Spencer Dukoff
44. Tears for Fears – The Tipping Point
There’s something special about when a group like Tears for Fears, who might have been written off years ago as “that ’80s band,” can prove their ability to deliver a rich, rhythmic experience like The Tipping Point for the modern era. There’s a little bit of Depeche Mode in the mix here, in the best way — it only enhances Tears for Fears’ unforgettable signature sound. Recorded over nine years, the band’s seventh studio album (and first since 2004’s Everybody Loves a Happy Ending) is a deeply personal one, affected by the passing of co-founder Roland Orzabal’s wife, and that deep well of feeling gives additional weight to the album’s sweeping impact. — Liz Shannon Miller
43. Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future
Denzel Curry’s fifth album, Melt My Eyez See Your Future, might be the best rap performance of the year. Yes, the album drips in self-care, self-awareness, brags, threats, and pain, but it’s also nirvana for rap nerds who marvel at bar construction and technique. The album contains no wasted lines or moments, as it’s as close to perfect as a rap performance gets in this year — or any other year. — M. Shorter
42. Black Country, New Road – Ants from up There
To a very specific sect of hyper-online, obsessive music fans, nothing of importance happened in 2022 except for the release of Black Country, New Road’s sophomore effort, Ants from Up There. Moving away from the more post-punk-influenced tendencies of their debut, the record builds upon the group’s focus on dynamic songwriting and emotionally distraught performances. Thanks in no small part to former frontman Isaac Woods’ vocals, which seem to give a peek directly into the singer’s soul, songs like “The Place Where He Inserted the Blade” and “Basketball Shoes” have become painful anthems for the British band’s fanbase — and rightfully so. — J.K.
41. Wild Pink – ILYSM
On paper, you might expect ILYSM to be Wild Pink’s darkest album yet; the project comes after songwriter John Ross’ battle with cancer. Yet, the thematic intensity is instead presented with a turn towards lightness. The songs of ILYSM showcase some of Ross’ most quietly beautiful tunes of his career, and it’s this marriage of light and dark that allows ILYSM to tap into an acute sense of the sublime, a mix of life’s most extreme emotions that result in a burst of uncomplicated, undying love. — J.K.
40. Pool Kids – Pool Kids
The emo revival has largely been paralleled by a pop punk surge — but where’s the math rock? In comes Pool Kids’ sophomore album, loaded with truly angular guitars and double-kick thunder pushing frustrated screams into the rafters. Yet for all its sonic knots, Pool Kids remains utterly earnest and plainly fun, welcoming even the most ardent emo denialists to dive in. — B. Kaye
39. Burna Boy – Love, Damini
Love, Damini is Burna Boy’s birthday gift to himself. One more revolution around the sun makes the Afrobeat star more introspective than usual, but the album never forgets to celebrate his achievements, just like any good birthday party. He remembers those he lost along the way, acknowledges his regrets, and looks fondly on his mistakes — because if not for those, he isn’t the man he is today. — M. Shorter
38. Stray Kids – MAXIDENT
K-pop group Stray Kids smashed some of their own records with MAXIDENT, their playful, love-centric 2022 release. The group’s second consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 albums chart might see the eight members traversing new territory with a focus on the joys and fears of romance, but it’s still quintessentially Stray Kid: energetic, bold, and an absurd amount of fun. — Mary Siroky
37. Weyes Blood – And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow
On Natalie Mering’s fifth album as Weyes Blood, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow, the catastrophe around you matters less than the way you react to it. At the beginning of the record, Mering finds herself alone at a crowded party; by its end, she’s begging to be turned into a flower, finding strength in her gentle nature and adaptability. Stunningly dramatic without ever feeling too heavy-handed, And in the Darkness turns the notion of extreme emotion into a superpower. — Abby Jones
36. Jack White – Entering Heaven Alive
This year, Jack White split his output into two distinct projects – the digital chaos of Fear of the Dawn and the acoustic wonderland of Entering Heaven Alive. While the former is White at his loudest, it’s the latter that best captures what makes him such an icon. What it lacks in hard-rockin’ fun it more than makes up for with an understated sense of play, a strong blues foundation, and some of White’s best-written tunes in recent memory. It’s albums like Entering Heaven Alive that prove sometimes less truly is more – especially when you’ve been a certified rockstar for 20 years. — J.K.
35. Rico Nasty – Las Ruinas
Maryland rapper Rico Nasty deconstructs hip-hop conventions by sheer force with her feature-length mixtape, Las Ruinas. She lyrically dances while “heads roll, bodies rock” in the cataclysmic opening track “Intrusive,” then promptly begins to build a new world of fresh ideas using fragments of punk, electronic, metal, and her own brand of “sugar trap.” She experiments with unlikely collaborators like 100 gecs, Marshmello, and Fred again… while exploring her lyrical range. It all comes together to further cement Rico’s singular lane in the genre. — Bryan Kress
34. Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa
The guitar-powered grit of Spoon’s Lucifer on the Sofa is transportive, like you’re sitting in the back of a dive bar, listening to the unknown band on stage play their heart out — knowing that whoever they are, they just became your new favorite. But while the band’s 10th album has the feel of a band early in their career, in love with what they’ve discovered about their sound, it’s still delivered with the confidence that only comes with years of experience. May Spoon be able to bring that level of vitality into their music for years to come. — L.S.M.
33. Julia Jacklin – PREPLEASURE
Since debuting in 2016 with Don’t Let the Kids Win, Julia Jacklin has incrementally cemented her reputation as a preternaturally gifted songwriter. The Aussie’s third album, PREPLEASURE, continues that legacy of brilliance. PREPLEASURE represents an exercise in dynamics, ranging from the stark intimacy of the acoustic ballad “Less of a Stranger” to the steady rocker “Lydia Wears a Cross.” All in all, it’s 38 minutes of bliss. — S.D.
32. Danger Mouse & Black Thought – Cheat Codes
The era of producer/rapper projects perhaps reached its zenith with Black Thought and Danger Mouse’s Cheat Codes. The meeting of two of hip-hop’s finest minds yields chemistry that should take years to develop in roughly 30 minutes, balancing societal solicitudes with eclectic, sample-fueled production. As focal figures for the genre, Cheat Codes allows the duo to take their victory lap. — Joe Eckstein
31. Lamb of God – Omens
Lamb of God continue to be one of modern metal’s most consistent acts, delivering studio albums that are packed with memorable groove riffs and thought-provoking lyrical content. Omens meets the high benchmark we’ve come to expect from the band. It’s a 10-track bombardment of thrash-meets-metalcore, anchored by the imitable barks and howls of frontman Randy Blythe. — J.H.