End of year lists strike fear into the hearts of journalists like nothing else: you’re either guaranteed to forget a record that you loved, or you’ve overlooked another that you probably should have investigated.
That said, we’ve listened to a hell of a lot of albums this year, and we’ve heard some pretty bad ones, too. However, that just made the following ten albums easier to choose.
Without further ado, here is entertainment.ie’s Top 10 International Albums of 2022 (see here for our Top 10 Irish Albums of 2022.)
1. Angel Olsen - ‘Big Time’
Tragedy is intricately woven into the fabric of American musician Angel Olsen’s fifth studio album: just days after coming out as gay to her parents, her father died suddenly and her mother passed away not long after that. Yet there is a quiet sense of celebration, jubilation and freedom within the grief of these songs, too, as heard on songs like ‘Right Now’, while others remark upon her newfound relationship. Musically, she channeled everyone from Dusty Springfield to Tammy Wynette to artists from Motown’s heyday. A triumph of a record that gives more and more with every listen.
2. Beyonce - ‘Renaissance’
She’s baaaaack… and ‘renaissance’ proved an apt title for Beyonce’s seventh studio album, considering it was something of a reinvention for the modern pop icon. Who saw a song like ‘Break My Soul’, which borrowed from Robyn S.’s ‘90s house track ‘Show Me Love’, coming? The whole album was a joy, from the disco-esque ‘Cuff It’ to the mystical buzz of ‘Alien Superstar’ to the Afrobeat-inspired ‘Heated’. Welcome back, Ms. Knowles.
3. Wet Leg - ‘Wet Leg’
This English duo could so easily have been one-hit wonders, known only for the ubiquitous (yet undeniably brilliant) ‘Chaise Longue’ before fading into obscurity. If their debut album hadn’t been packed with absolute bangers like the jerky strut of ‘Wet Dream’, the zippy, insouciant ‘Being in Love’ or the cooler-than-cool ‘Too Late Now’, that might have happened. Instead, ‘Wet Leg’ one of the best debut albums we’ve heard in quite a while; 36 concise minutes of unadulterated modern indie excellence.
4. The Weeknd - ‘Dawn FM’
He loves a good concept album, does Abel Tesfaye. Luckily for him (and for us), the Canadian musician is brazen, bold and smart enough to pull it off. After razing the world of pop with ‘After Hours’, Tesfaye returned with a big, ballsy pop record about ‘being in a state of purgatory’ that featured everyone from Jim Carrey to Quincy Jones to Tyler, the Creator to Lil Wayne. Still, big names mean nothing without the big songs to back them up, and ‘Dawn FM’ had plenty of those big tunes: the irresistible ‘Sacrifice’, the glittering disco balladry of ‘Out of Time’, the Pet Shop Boys-meets-Lost-Boys-soundtrack-influenced ‘Gasoline’. A seriously ambitious, seriously funky pop record.
5. Cate Le Bon - ‘Pompeii’
This was an album that caught us unawares. A record that stealthily slid onto our playlists without us even realising; at first there were a couple of songs that were played regularly (‘Moderation’ and ‘Harbour’), and then before we knew it, we were listening to the entire thing from start to finish. Drawing in elements of ‘80s synthpop, folk and indie, the Welsh musician spun her magic yet again on her sixth album.
6. Gabriels - 'Angels & Queens'
7. Bjork - 'Fossora'
8. Tove Lo - 'Dirt Femme'
9. Taylor Swift - 'Midnights'
10. Black Midi - 'Hellfire'