While some fantastic albums released in 2022, like FKA twigs’ “CAPRISONGS” or Big Thief’s “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You,” received the attention and praise they deserved, there were other 2022 album releases that simply flew under the radar last year.
“Radiator” by Sadurn
A project that I only discovered half a year after its release, Philly band Sadurn’s debut album “Radiator,” released on May 6, 2022, is an incredible indie folk album that has quickly grown to be a favorite from 2022. Blending deeply personal, confessional lyrics with simple but well-executed instrumentals, the whole record feels intimate, beautiful and genuine as it explores themes of young queer love and heartbreak. Standout tracks like “special power” and “icepick” pack a deep emotional punch with lyrics like “I light a candle in thе shower, try to tap into my special power / I end up on my knees with the water all around me / So it’s ok what I’m feeling, it’s alright if I’m crying” and “But you and I are good friends, sometimes we’re in love and / It feels almost like nothing I’m ever gonna find again.” The meandering instrumentals and verses of the title track and “snake” feel like a stream is carrying you deep in the workings of lead singer Genevieve DeGroot’s mind. DeGroot’s voice also stands out for its earnestness and ability to convey the deep emotional potency of the lyrics being sung, and all of these characteristics cement “Radiator” as something truly special, especially from a group so early in their career.
“Marchita” and “Abrazo” by Silvana Estrada
Silvana Estrada is certainly a breakout artist from 2022 that has not received the love she deserves for her fantastic album “Marchita,” released on Jan. 22, 2022, and EP “Abrazo,” released on Sept. 21, 2022. Both are stripped-back folk projects that feature Estrada’s enchanting vocals on full display as she takes you through fifteen gorgeous tracks of beautiful Spanish-sung folk. Whether it’s on the racing track “Carta” or the soaring track “Tristeza,” Estrada’s voice is the star of the show at every point of these two projects, yet the versatility of her voice doesn’t leave any point feeling stale. The instrumentals on these projects are quite minimalistic but occasionally swell in beautiful combination with the Mexico-born songwriter’s voice to create pure euphoric beauty. One example is “Casa,” which almost exclusively features Estrada’s vocals until the halfway point of the track where there is a stunning instrumental outro. “Brindo” and “Se Me Ocurre” off the EP “Abrazo” are even more stripped back, and Estrada’s voice feels closer to the microphone, creating a warmer, more intimate feeling compared to tracks of “Marchita” — living up to the EP’s title, which translates to “an embrace.” Both projects are excellent and contain some of the most beautiful tracks from all of 2022. Don’t let them slip past you!
“NO THANK YOU” by Little Simz
Given how excellent Little Simz’s 2021 masterpiece “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” was and the praise it received, it was surprising to see that her following release “NO THANK YOU,” released on Dec. 12, 2022, received so little — especially given the quality of tracks on this new project. Perhaps due to its mid-December release, Little Simz’s fifth studio album has fallen through the cracks a bit, but it stands as another fantastic release by the London rapper as she cements herself as one of this decade’s best and most consistent artists. Tracks like “Gorilla” and “No Merci” are energetic bangers that perfectly showcase Little Simz’s fantastic flow and rhyme scheme. “No Merci” in particular highlights Simz’s lyrical boldness and power, and she raps about the exploitation of artists in the music industry, rapping “You ain’t in the studio with me, but want commission / And if I wanna release my art, I need permission.” “NO THANK YOU” is also extremely personal at points like on “Broken,” where Little Simz explores themes of generational trauma, mental health and taboos and experiences within the Black community. In “Heart on Fire,” she explores ideas of navigating fame, money and the entertainment industry, and throughout the album she comes across as incredibly honest and genuine, yet firm and powerful. It is an excellent record that is a must listen from last year and deserves more end-of-the-year praise than it received.
“Rose Pink Cadillac” by Dope Lemon
Dope Lemon returned with his best project yet in “Rose Pink Cadillac,” released on Jan. 7, 2022. The album blends so many musical genres and styles seamlessly together into a chill, happy and incredibly fun batch of tracks. While he certainly continues to lean into psychedelic rock, Dope Lemon blends many more different subgenres of rock — and even some pop — into “Rose Pink Cadillac” than on prior projects, creating a much more dynamic listening experience and diverse set of tracks. Whether it be the dramatic, epic, continuously building track “God’s Machete” that is noticeably darker than other tracks or the sunny, breezy love song “Sailor’s Delight” that is accompanied by the cawing of seagulls and ships creaking, the creativity and execution of this album certainly deserves more praise than it received in 2022. The album also features some of Angus Stone’s most blissful tracks, like the title track “Kids Fallin’ In Love,” along with the track “Every Day Is A Holiday” that sounds like the musical equivalent of falling in love on the most beautiful tropical island. It is also incredibly clear that the Australia-born artist had a lot of fun when creating all the tracks on this album given the general feel-good tone throughout, wide range of genres and styles explored and fun details like a sample from the video game “Bloodborne” at the start of closing track “Shadows In The Moonlight” or the character building throughout “Stingray Pete.” Overall, this album likely has something for everyone and would be a great listen while watching the sunset on one of Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches.