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The Best Albums of 2022 So Far

From Rosalía to Harry Styles to Bad Bunny, here are our favorite albums of the year so far — unranked

Sacha Lecca, 2; Lillie Eiger; Griffin Lotz; Renell Medrano

This year we’ve already seen epic albums from the Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar, a legendary farewell from Daddy Yankee, breakout debuts from Fivio Foreign, Koffee, and Wet Leg, as well as new artistic peaks from FKA Twigs, Charli XCX, Angel Olsen, and others. Here is our (unranked, alphabetically ordered) list of the best LPs of 2022 so far.

From Rolling Stone US


Pusha T, ‘It’s Almost Dry’

Pusha T is to coke references what Larry David is to absurd social situations: He finds new and interesting ways to revitalize disquieting things that should have jumped the shark a long time ago. But for 20 years now, King Push has made high art out of discussing the myriad ways he can cut a brick with more finesse than Michael Khan cuts a film — all with humor, pathos, and not a little remorse. Those regrets make Pusha’s music so vital, in that he gives you the full spectrum. Though he’s lightened up a bit, some of that trademark viciousness is still on display here. Steely, sneering, defiant, and serious as an Old World Sicilian vendetta. —W.D.


Raveena, ‘Asha’s Awakening’

Raveena plucks influences from decades of music history to create a multi-hued synthesis of all the ways that Western and South Asian music have always intersected. The album centers around a character called Asha, who Raveena conceived as a Punjabi space princess learning about love and loss as she travels through time and across new planets. Asha is a glimpse at Raveena’s imaginative sense of world building: The sonic universe she’s created for the character is celestially bright and vibrant, rooted in Sixties and Seventies rock, soul, and disco, as well as touches of nostalgic pop and her favorite Bollywood classics. —J.L.


Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘Unlimited Love’

When we think of the Red Hot Chili Peppers at their best — making rock that was both breezily Californian and exceedingly funky — guitarist John Frusciante has always been the heartbeat of that sound. Frusciante, who left the band in 2009, is back for Unlimited Love. Along with Frusciante, the Peppers also reunited with Rick Rubin, who produced every RHCP album from 1992’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik to 2011’s I’m With You. The result is vintage RHCP: a jammy, melodic effort that blends the wavy reflections of their 1999 triumph, Californication, with the expansive rock of Stadium Arcadium. —B.S.


Rosalía,’ Motomami’

Rosalía’s brazen new album, Motomami, refracts the noise that’s surrounded her for the past few years, bends it to her will, and launches it back into the ether. What she offers is a dizzying, kaleidoscopic self-portrait — brash and bawdy at some turns, crushingly vulnerable at other points, and completely ridiculous when it wants to be. Rosalía is uncompromising about who she is and what she wants to do: From the first seconds of “Saoko,” the hydraulic-charged opener, Rosalía declares herself full of contradictions and metamorphoses and impulses. “I’m very much me, I transform,” she sing-raps. “I’m everything, I transform.” —J.L.


Saba, ‘Few Good Things’

Chicago rapper Saba’s third album is a refreshing shift from the haunted melancholy of his 2018 masterwork, the universally acclaimed Care for Me. He’s still observant of the sociopolitical conditions afflicting his community, refers to “food deserts,” and describes a “tale of two Chicagos,” where family members try to hang on to hard-won property against gentrification forces. But the vibe is purposeful and forward-looking, and he takes modest pleasure at being recognized as a vibrantly talented artist. A major highlight is “Come My Way,” where he and Krayzie Bone of Midwest legends Bone Thugs-N-Harmony swag out over a warm, summery groove. —M.R.


Shamir, ‘Heterosexaulity’

Throughout Heterosexuality, Shamir is working through, and breaking from, intimate traumas, social constraints, and limiting binaries. It’s the eighth project from the prolific singer-songwriter, and it also marks his first time working with the producer Hollow Comet. Shamir’s shooting vocals are defiant over confrontational noise-pop that embodies the scalding resistance he’s built up in an oppressively heteronormative world. But Shamir, a winking renegade with a biting sense of humor and an ear for melody, also introduces music that’s light and tinselly with synth frills, playing and inventing as he defines himself beyond sexuality and gender identity. —J.L. 


The Smile, ‘A Light for Attracting Attention’

The Smile emerged as Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood’s Covid lockdown project, an opportunity to work on some tunes without all the pressure of being Radiohead’s Lennon and McCartney or, maybe more accurately, Waters and Gilmour — likely to the chagrin of the group’s other three members, since A Light for Attracting Attention contains some of the songwriters’ most easily enjoyable music in years. Although the duo haven’t gone back to writing chorus-forward singles like “Creep” or “High and Dry,” or attempted TikTok bids, the songs here feel more concrete than they have on recent Radiohead bangers like A Moon Shaped Pool or The King of Limbs. —K.G.


Spoon, ‘Lucifer on the Sofa’

Over the years, Spoon’s run has been so consistent and drama-free you can almost take them for granted. Which is why their 10th album, Lucifer on the Sofa, is so welcome. It’s the best thing they’ve ever done, more than exceeding their usual quotient of fire guitars, killer choruses, and crafty rock-history updates. Whether it’s the barbed-glam stomp of “The Hardest Cut,” the sidelong Seventies sleaze of “The Devil & Mister Jones” and “Lucifer on the Sofa,” or the rarefied roadhouse grit of “Held,” Spoon have never cranked up their Spooniness so Spoonfully. —J.D.


Harry Styles, ‘Harry’s House’

With his third album, Harry’s House, he’s pulled off the neat trick of making his music at once elegant and more refined but also warmer and more intimate — the polished-marble smoothness of Steely Dan with the generosity of an Al Green or Yo La Tengo record. Harry’s House is bright with synths and horns, often steeped in slick, sticky synth-pop and R&B. You almost expect to check the credits and find Greg Phillinganes and Rod Temperton in there with Styles’ longtime songwriting collaborators Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson. —J.D.


Various Artists, ‘Summer of Soul, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’

The Summer of Soul movie and its accompanying soundtrack album (which revives the tradition of live festival albums of that era, from Woodstock to Wattstax) are reminders of the ways in which soul and R&B had expanded and run wild in the period leading up to the Harlem Cultural Festival in the summer of 1969. Those changes are doubly clear on the album, on which we’re able to experience complete performances of songs only heard in snippets in the movie. Heard in full, both B.B. King’s “Why I Sing the Blues” and the Chambers Brothers’ “Uptown” are even friskier and more propulsive than on studio versions; the coming funk revolution can’t be denied. —D.B.


Syd, ‘Broken Hearts Club’

Syd, the impossibly cool writer, producer, and frontwoman of the beloved alt-R&B band the Internet, masterfully dictates the evolution of a failed coupling on Broken Hearts Club, her second solo endeavor. Syd’s sound is often atmospheric, and she knows it. Surprisingly, most of Broken Hearts Club doesn’t languish in heartbreak. Instead, it delights in the splendor of new love, even if it does so apprehensively. The Smino-assisted single “Right Track” is rejuvenating and upbeat, with a jolting guitar riff and a warm sense of relief. “Don’t you love it when things go right?” Syd sings airily. —M.C.