Sourhouse Albums of the Year 2022
The world’s on the brink, and music doesn’t know what to think.
A word from the editor:
Something we don’t get told about living through something is how distracting it is. In a year when the need for music that contends with our times, it’s been hard to let any records into my life when the news has been a constant stream of shock-and-awe despair. Thank goodness then that we’ve made it to the end still here.
But what artists have sought out in the rubbled confusion of existence in 2022 is far from straightforward. Punk has felt despaired, House has felt overly escapologic, Pop has looked to the past. If last year felt warped, this year has felt without foundation. Too hot, too directionless, too angered. How the fuck do you soundtrack that?
Luckily, it’s also had a curious sideffect. As the pan has been shaken, the nuggets of gold that made it through have been the ones that are the most captivating, the most moving. Impressing listeners with technicality hasn’t done much; emotion has been fundamental.
The albums on this year’s Sourhouse Albums of the Year list don’t necessarily reflect the times, but rather capture the experiences of the people living through it. This year, 15 records adorn the list, with a few honorable mentions along the way. It’s one of the toughest top fives I’ve ever put my mind to deciding; expect to see the likes of Rosalía, Charli XCX, Wet Leg, Arctic Monkeys, PVA and Beyoncé on the way down.
Any record released between 1st December 2021 and 30th November 2022 qualifies, and you can listen to the best tracks from every record on a dedicated playlist.
-Munro Page, writer of Sourhouse Music
#15 ROSALÍA – MOTOMAMI
Motomami shines for one reason more than any other: Rosalía finally feels like she’s getting the recognition she deserves. Not only is she one of the most charismatic artists in Latin-infused music today, she’s one of its most innovative, and her third album speaks volumes for that. A minute, hypermodern production style places Motomami both firmly on the other side of the Atlantic, but also in a highly digitised space. References, writing technique and perspective all feel derived from a global internet culture, representative of the infinite ease with which anyone can hear sounds from across all times and spaces in an instant today. If some records sound better on vinyl because of their age, this sounds better on streaming for what it represents in our era. On the cover, Rosalía asserts herself through her body, a statue for the record’s proudly feminist stance, playfully styled up with a motorbike helmet to pay tribute to her mother who rode her around on a motorcycle when she was younger. If she wanted this to be a self portrait, she’s more than exceeded it.
#14 DITZ – THE GREAT REGRESSION
The Post Punk market has been at capacity for some time now, and trying to carve out a heavier, harder niche is particularly difficult. All of which makes the debut record Brighton’s Ditz so refreshing: no frills, a wonderfully swerving pace and not an inch of pretentiousness to be found. Best of all, the sound they’ve managed to hone already feels like they’ve made it their own. It’s in the same vein as their contemporaries, but the rougher guitars give off a dark, chalky flavour. The Great Regression welcomes you in, but it’s most certainly not a comfortable ride. The ills they list off are hardly unique, but something in their word choice hits with an originality that distinguishes them from similar releases from this year. Just listen to some of those song transitions too; this a band who know how to dress their record and how to communicate a message.
#13 WET LEG – WET LEG
Wet Leg practically gave Wet Leg an omnipresence for the best of this year, and with good reason. A debut album jam-packed with enjoyable singles, fueled by peppifying energy and dotted with deliriously cool lyrics. They’ve certainly trademarked any reference to Buffalo ’66 for the foreseeable, that’s for sure.
Teasdale and Chambers bank on their charisma to great success, employing a snappy, dross vocal style that brands their sound immediately. Comparisons to similar no-rocker bands who came out of nowhere such as Pavement should be seen as praise; this is music who’s appeal comes from how unbothered it is. Some will feel disenchanted by the insane marketing campaign the record was forced through, but seeing their Glastonbury set from the summer tells you everything you need to know: Wet Leg is equal parts compelling, fun and refined.
#12 CHARLI XCX – CRASH
In her most deliberately manufactured, highly crafted era to date, Charli has orchestrated a crash just as manufactured as the pop industry itself. As she stares deadpan back at you in the wealth of imagery accompanying the record, evoking deal-with-the-devil, sell-your-soul success, an album piling in on cravings for nostalgic aesthetics makes perfect sense.
Boy does she pile it on; Crash walked straight out of the ebony tabled record label boardrooms of the late 80s and early 90s, popping with a blend of Whitney/Janet/Kylie flavoured Dance Pop. It’s a deliberately softer and sweeter approach compared to her previous work, but the persona she crafts for herself is fully revealed within the context of the end of her 5 album deal and calls from her label to be ‘more authentic’. On Crash, a manufactured pop star goes violent; “You say I’m turning evil, I say I’m finally pure” she states on ‘Used To Know Me’, and a bright future opens up.
#11 WORKING MEN’S CLUB – FEAR FEAR
Fear Fear doesn’t take the world-melting views some artists have explored in the wake of the pandemic years. Instead, lead singer Sydney Minskey-Sargeant’s words are stepping out of the teenage bedroom the band’s earlier work emerged from, and are setting out an altogether broader vision. The instrumentation still rings of West Yorkshire, but it’s clear they feel compelled to engage on a bolder scope on their second studio outing.
What emerges is a world as hard to decipher as that album cover – shapes and objects that seem recognisable, clouded by the confusion of dealing with a vast array of unedifying forces and events. The band throw you hooks and beats you can try to grab onto, but they’re also happy to let you be taken by the tide of their music. For a band obsessed with the power of the synth, their mission seems to be to reappropriate it, contrasting its futuristic possibilities with the anxiety of existing in 2022.
With the same bluntness as its vocals, the record channels its grievances into evolving the band’s mix of Post-Punk and Acid House, emerging in a clash between oppressive claustrophobia and burning anger. As the strings arrive on ‘The Last One’ to close out proceedings, its lasting message seems to be this: hope is hard to find these days, but it can be manufactured by the marvel of the electronic instrument.