Following a surprisingly hectic month for music in January, February ensured 2022 continued in impressive fashion, with many highly anticipated releases coming to fruition. Besides the scanty “semi” release of Kanye West’s ‘Donda 2’, we were once again treated to a variety of great releases. I’ve picked out 10 albums worth your time – some of which have received wide spread critical acclaim, as well as others which may well have bypassed you during what was another chaotic month!
Albums not covered here but are definitely worth your time:
Erebos – Venom Prison
Erin Rae – Lighten Up
Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
Here are my Top 10 albums of February 2022:
Beach House – Once Twice Melody
Despite existing as the face of Dream-Pop for the last decade and a half, the release of their prodigious 8th studio album sees the legendary Baltimore duo continue to experiment with new ideas. Released across 4 individual chapters, each segment possesses a unique sense of sophistication and elegance, combining to form an extensive, yet cohesive body of work. Integrating their lavish melodies and pristine layering, ‘Once Twice Melody’ exists as a masterclass in synth arrangements, laying the foundation for the transcendental essence of the album, of which is embellished by the entrancing arpeggios which exist throughout. Whether indulging in new wave, revisiting elements of shoegaze, or experimenting with the vocoder, the outcome remains consistently entrancing, ensuring ‘Once Twice Melody’ exists as the Dream-Pop duo’s most refined release since ‘Teen Dream’ back in 2010.
Favourite Track: Pink Funeral
Melt Yourself Down – Pray For Me I Don’t Fit In
On their 4th studio album, London’s most experimental Avant-jazz outfit opt for a more amplified sound, of which the meticulous chaos resembles what I imagine an Idles x Sons of Kemet cross-over would sound like. The broad soundscape explored throughout this record provides a ferocious foundation, on which the innovative six-piece implement a punk attitude to their jazzy grooves and heavily distorted 808s, all while maintaining their Western African roots. Tracks such as ‘Nightsiren’ and ‘Ghosts on the Run’ embody the zealousness of the band, with the skittish jamming erupting into some infectious crescendos. Being such an accomplished drummer, Tom Skinner’s tendencies to swiftly shift to half-beat constantly keeps you on your toes, with this mathy element simply adding to the carnage of the record. As well as being the band’s most resounding releases, ‘Pray For Me I Don’t Fit In’ also serves as one of the most refreshing punk release to be released in the 2020s.
Favourite Track: Ghosts On The Run
Yeule – Glitch Princess
The Singaporean’s sophomore release brilliantly expands on the immersive ambience of their 2019 debut ‘Serotonin II’, this time portraying existence through a distorted, “cyber-gothic” world. While certainly inspired by SOPHIE’s hyperpop legacy, as well as some of Grimes’ earlier work, co-producing alongside PC music’s Danny L Harle infuses ambience with glitch-pop to form a futuristic sound of which will likely inspire many of their peers. The darkness of ‘Glitch Princess’ sees Yeule discuss having “been to the void and back”, which is portrayed through the brash, industrial atmosphere on tracks such as ‘Fragments’. Unlike their debut, Yeule’s follow-up protracts their voice in a much more effective way, enhancing the emotion, eroticism, and ethereality which are all presented through the spoken word intro ‘My Name is Nat Cmiel’. From the warped vocals, downcast lyrics and the near-5 hour ambient piece which closes the album, ‘Glitch Princess’ may not be the easiest listen – but its (pleasurable) sensory overload ensures this is one of the best avant-garde releases of the year so far – and definitely an album which will age incredibly well throughout the decade.
Favourite Track: Eyes
Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There
BCNR’s sophomore release propelled them to the summit of the Post-Brexit New Wave movement, with the Cambridgeshire ensemble refining their sound to create an astounding follow-up to their impressive debut, of which was released just over a year ago. While the tragic announcement of vocalist Isaac Wood’s departure from the band may have initially brought the future of the band into dispute, ‘Ants From Up There’ already shows signs of evolution, with the classical minimalism forging some intricate passages, which gradually build towards monumental crescendos, of which Isaac’s expressive emotions ameliorate the sheer chaos erupting all around him. The contradiction between the melancholic lyrics and triumphant instrumentation sees BCNR reach epic heights on tracks such as ‘Basketball Shoes’ and ‘The Place Where He Inserted The Blade’, the latter of which in particular bears resemblance with the raw grandiosity of Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’. While incorporating these inspirations with their refined style of playing, BCNR have conjured up an emotional masterpiece, which finds itself as equally as devastating as it is triumphant. What an album!
Favourite Track: Bread Song
Full Review -> Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There
Animal Collective – Time Skiffs
11 studio albums and almost 20 years deep into their illustrious career, ‘Time Skiffs’ provides further evidence suggesting the Baltimore greats continue to reinvent themselves. While the experimentation of their previous two albums fell short of many’s expectations, Animal Collective’s latest release sees them back at their best, reembracing the ‘live band’ aesthetic they once possessed. The beautiful neo-psychedelia induces a lucid sensation throughout the tracklist, integrating both their experimental, and harmonious pasts. Where the unstructured, transpicuous tracks such as ‘Passer-By’ may have felt slightly out of place on other albums, its integration into a mellow tracklist which also contains Animal Collective’s more anthemic side on tracks like ‘Prester John’, allows a pleasant balance of the the band’s most appealing aspects. However, ‘Time Skiffs’ remains progressive in its own right, with the band dabbling in unconventional territories, with the inclusion of instruments such as the Taishōgoto and hurdy-gurdy for the first time in their careers. This provides an experimental take on a sound they’ve previously mastered, while also implementing some classic 60s bass riffs which induce elements of nostalgia. A welcomed return to glory.
Favourite Track: Car Keys
Conway The Machine – God Don’t Make Mistakes
Conway’s Shady Records debut is his most introspective release to date, and further proof that Griselda continue to grow from strength to strength. While maintaining the grimy aesthetic that fans have grown to love, ‘God Don’t Make Mistakes’ sees Conway balance his belligerent verses on ‘John Woo Flick’ with more heart-rending cuts, which sees him open up about personal grievances and battles with addiction. While his elaborate, meticulous story-telling has always been a staple of his work, his heightened sense of vulnerability on this occasion sees the rawness intensified, presenting moments of sorrow on tracks such as ‘Guilty’, where his detailed narration of a near-fatal shootout exists as one of the more excruciating passages on the album. But in spite of the introverted approach to this record, ‘God Don’t Make Mistakes’ remains immersed in the classic Griselda grit, with Daringer’s menacing beats and Conway’s brutal one-liners reminding you just why the collective are the most important thing to happen to Rap over the past decade.
Favourite Track: So Much More
Full Review -> Conway the Machine – God Don’t Make Mistakes
Spoon – Lucifer On The Sofa
The American Indie Rock outfit’s 10th studio album is one of their most emphatic releases to date, with its stomping riffs and stern rhythms resembling the hunger of an up-and-coming band bursting onto the scene – not that of a band almost 3 decades into their career. Lead singer Britt Daniel’s paranoia is unhurled across some husky vocal deliveries, which sound effortless over the grooves of some of the more bluesy cuts. Having reached out to emphatic songwriters such as Jack Antanoff and Bill Callahan, it should come as no surprise that ‘Lucifer On The Sofa’ contains some divine, accessible harmonies, of which are executed to perfection over the crisp production. Without being anything experimental, Spoon’s 10th studio album has been expertly crafted, culminating in an enjoyable listen which provides moments of excellence such as the Queens of the Stone Age inspired riff on ‘The Hardest Cut’, and the more intimate performances on tracks like ‘Astral Jacket’.
Favourite Track: The Hardest Cut
Rolo Tomassi – Where Myth Becomes Memory
The combination of shoe-gaze, post-hardcore and death metal may sound like an unconventional approach, but the release of their 6th studio album sees the Sheffield greats perfect this unique formula, producing their most inspired record to date. The uncertainty of the sonic direction taken on each track is certainly reflective of the ‘mathcore’ titles in which they’ve earnt over the years, and allows the band to explore some timbre, mellow passages before detonating into sheer pandemonium at any given opportunity. These visceral transitions bring out the best of Eva Korman’s screamo vocals which dominate tracks like ‘Cloaked’, while also serving as a release of incremented levels of tension. Likewise, the subdued, less hectic moments on the album serve as the foundation for this suspense, also showcasing Eva’s phenomenal vocal range. The contrasting dynamics explored throughout their 6th album presents the best of both worlds, allowing Rolo Tomassi to be equally as remarkable while at their most tranquil, as they are during their moments of mayhem.
Favourite Track: Labyrinthine
Black Dresses – Forget Your Own Face
There is something so infectious about the brashness of the Canadian Noise-Pop duo’s latest release, who’s industrial approach sees them unleash their outrage on anyone who steps in their way. But underneath the abrasive, corroding beats lies undeniable emotion, which sees the duo address themes such as self-deprecation and cynicism – albeit usually by means of witty one-liners and utter sarcasm. But ‘Forget Your Own Face’ embodies the eccentricity of the duo in ways unachievable for most artists, and being just 8 tracks and 20 minutes in length, the album is one of their most concise releases to date, which sees them put no second to waste. Following the brief disbandment of Black Dresses in 2020, ‘Forget Your Own Face’ ensures they continue their comeback in disturbingly hellish, yet sublime fashion.
Favourite Track: u_u2
alt-J – The Dream
On their 4th studio album, the Leeds-formed Alt-Rock trio fulfil all their potential, releasing their most gratifying body of work since winning the Mercury Prize a decade ago. While the hazy, entrancing atmospheres certainly draw parallels with their previous work, ‘The Dream’ finds life even at its most tranquil, succeeding where some of its predecessors have fallen short. The beauty of ‘The Dream’ is not only restricted to its breezy, tender finesse, but also the band’s unique ability to convey feelings of angst in such delicate fashion. With each release it becomes increasingly more difficult to classify alt-J’s music, but one factor that remains a constant is their immersive style of writing. On this occasion, the folktronica luminaries are revitalised, with their unique experimentation moulding a blissful nightmare.
Favourite Track: Philadelphia