2022 has been a whirlwind of a year – the first full year post-covid without any covid lockdowns, and the closest we have come to normal for some time. There has been no shortage of year-defining events that have made headlines and caused sensation, but similarly no shortage of great music being released. One of the highlights of 2022 has been the opportunity to see live music again and get back into dark, sweaty venues.
For the upcoming year we will both be living further apart than before but will still keep the blog going. As we have been adjusting to the 9-5 life and trying to find that elusive balance between work, social life and our own wellbeing sometimes inertia has taken the back seat. Despite this we still enjoy working on articles for the site and want to make more of a commitment to creating more articles, even if this means branching out and changing the format slightly.
With all of that said and out of the way, here are our top 25 albums from what has felt like a breakneck 2022.
25. Action Bronson – Crocodillo Turbo
Multi-talented rapper/chef/presenter/whatever-else-he-does Action Bronson returned with one of his best projects to date filled with the usual outlandish lyrics that he is renowned for.
24. Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights
Steve Lacy is one of the biggest up-and-coming pop stars in the world right now and this album has cemented his popularity with younger generations (even if they don’t always know all the words). The future is very exciting for Steve as he blossoms from his roots in indie into the mainstream limelight.
23. Mitski – Laurel Hell
Great indie music is not easy to deliver on a consistent basis but Mitski seems to have found a winning formula with her sound and has continued her excellent run with this latest album.
22. Arctic Monkeys – The Car
The biggest British indie band since the naughties taking a massive left turn has been the best thing to happen to Arctic Monkeys since they reached ultimate blandness on 2013’s AM, long may it continue! The Car sees them continue their foray into a sound which has divided fans and broken new ground.
21. Molly Nilsson – Extreme
Shadowy Swedish synth-pop never gets old and Moly Nilsson has perfected her songwriting over the years to create another moody and solid project.
20. Sinead O’Brien – Time Bend and Break The Bower
Great lyrical writing is the focus on this debut LP from Dublin’s own Sinead O’Brien. Often coming off more as a long-form piece of poetry than a traditional album, O’Brien’s knack for spellbinding word craft channels Kate Bush and Bjork in parts, occasionally sounding more like hex than song.
19. Alex G – God Save The Animals
Moving on from 2019’s House of Sugar Alex G is back with an album that reveals itself slowly, with every listen having you fixate on something else. This album has all the weird folky makings for it to go on to have the cult status that many of Alex G’s albums have achieved.
18. Beyoncé – Renaissance
Beyoncé needs no introduction but may not always be featured on our end of year list, however Renaissance is an excellent pop record filled with unexpected influences from Chicago and Detroit’s early clubbing and LGBT scene.
17. Ashenspire – Hostile Architecture
A new gritty Scottish band to get into, Ashesnspire are as metal as it gets, but with a conscience. I may have been late to the party on this one but look forward to hearing more from this talented bunch.
16. SZA – SOS
SZA is one of the new wave of pop stars and this album holds up as an excellent listen from start to finish. On 2017’s Ctrl she proved that she, as an artist, is more than just a collection of catchy singles and has now built a solid discography in a relatively short time- hopefully fans don’t have another 5 year wait until her next project!
15. Show Me The Body – Trouble The Water
An unapologetic hardcore band may seem a bit out of place in 2022, particularly in this list, but Show Me The Body deliver a concise and thrashing record reminiscent of their punk rock ancestors from the 80s and 90s.
14. Loyle Carner – hugo
hugo brings the sound of old school rap with a modern lens, as only Loyle Carner could do. Dealing with a huge amount of personal issues in the form of therapy sessions that act as interludes, this album is touching and beautifully produced.
13. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
Adrianne Lenker is one of the most unique vocalists around today and this album fully showcases her acumen as a songwriter and the continued brilliance of Big Thief. The heavy folk influences here are perfectly encapsulated by one of the albums finest songs- Spud Infinity.
12. Wu-Lu – Loggerhead
London based musician Wu-Lu is hard to pin down, mostly due to his sporadic releases so far that often draw on different influences, but Loggerhead is a great cohesive piece of work forged from a culmination of shite circumstances living in the UK.
11. Viagra Boys – Cave World
Always entertaining, brash and relentless, Viagra Boys are back for a consecutive appearance in our end of year list. Cave World pokes fun at some of the more ridiculous societal happenings of the past few years, particularly conspiracy theorists and the madness of online discourse. It is a rare record that I actually found quite funny in places whilst simultaneously enjoying their self deprecating brand of punk rock.
10. Vince Staples – Ramona Park Broke My Heart
Another excellent record from Long Beach, California artist Vince Staples here, with catchy songs that I played through Summer but also some quieter moments that draw a sense of loss from seemingly nowhere. Vince Staples perfectly straddles the line between songs that simply sound great and a deeper narrative that looks at where he’s from and the difficulties that many of his friends and family still face at home.
9. FKA Twigs – Caprisongs
This was a very unexpected album for one of the UK’s premium musical talents to make after slowing down her sound on 2019’s heartbreaking album Magdalene. I’m glad FKA Twigs made this drastic switch up though as the result is one of the most enjoyable pop albums that’s come out recently and a handful of songs that I’m sure will still be playing in clubs for years to come.
9. Cate Le Bon – Pompeii
A favourite here at inertia, Cate Le Bon is one of those artists with a lot of fans and acclaim that still feels underrated. One of the most consistent and interesting indie acts in the UK delivers the goods yet again with her latest project, Pompeii. The layered instrumentals create a dreamy world like only Le Bon can, making this one a must listen for fans and newcomers alike.
8. Cola – Deep In View
Out of the ashes of retired post-punk outfit Ought, Cola’s debut effort this year is a masterclass in returning to your roots and breathing new life into the familiar. Deep in View refines the crashing sounds and alienation that were hallmarks of Ought, pruning this formula and infusing it with mixed emotions through the course of the track list. It’s a truly invigorating listen and one of the best releases to come out of this year.
6. Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There
Here we have the new BCNR album that was bittersweet from day one of its release. Lead singer of the band, Isaac, left the band and it is unclear whether he will return soon, or ever. This makes the contents of this beautifully composed record even more emotionally charged. Poetic and winding lyrics take the listener through a tortured mind and, over the course of ten tracks, we experience the breakup and mental struggles that likely led to Isaac’s departure. Hopefully he can return at some point and continue creating great music.
5. Little Simz – No Thank You
If last years inertia Album of the Year™ winner had released earlier in the year and we had more time to sit with No Thank You then it may well have ranked higher. Little Simz is one of the greatest voices in Grime and is quickly becoming cementing herself as one of the best artists in the UK. Last year we were treated to an atmospheric and orchestrally arranged musical project, whereas by comparison this record is certainly more stripped back and personal. The lyrical content settles some scores and fearlessly voices her indignancy at the music industry, always with impeccable flow.
4. Obongjayar – Some Nights I Dream of Doors
I first heard about Obongjayar in 2019 and got really into his debut album, Which Way Is Forward. It acted as the soundtrack to my morning commute in Glasgow and something about the questioning lyrics and catchy afrobeat inspired instrumentals hooked me in. In truth I hadn’t listened to his stuff in a while but with the latest album he has blown me away all over again, with a dense piece of work showcasing his growth as an artist.
3. Fontaines DC – Skinty Fia
The Irish indie band have become sort-of poster boys for indie music in recent years and have thus far thrived under the considerable pressure piled on them by the music press. Skinty Fia comes across as the work of a band that have spent time finding and refining their sound to the point of near perfection. I’d say out of their three stellar albums so far, this latest entry feels the most like a complete and cohesive piece of work that represents them. They’re no longer trying to get everyone’s attention, we’re already listening. The freedom that this gives them to let their creative energy flourish is deeply apparent, as Skinty Fia is indie excellence that resonates on a deeper level.
2. Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B
The duo of classically trained London-based musicians known as Jockstrap have released their much anticipated debut album and it was 100% worth the wait. I’ve never heard anything quite like I Love You Jennifer B, and that in itself is an accomplishment but the level of refinement that the album reaches amongst it’s glitchy cacophony of instruments and vocals is nothing short of amazing. It is quite an experience to sit through this album from beginning to end, it feels like a dream constantly being interrupted by phone notifications or a YouTube video playing in the background, and I mean that as the highest possible compliment.
1. Kendrick Lamar – Mr Morale & The Big Steppers
The greatest rapper of our generation. It is that simple for me and I’m sure many will agree after the incredible stretch of albums since the iconic Good Kid, M.A.A.D City in 2012 and the masterpiece that was To Pimp a Butterfly in 2015. The latest of Lamar’s works takes on his personal faults, addictions and failures and comes out shining on top. In a social climate that has seen therapy and mental health become increasingly normal to discuss and wear on ones chest, Mr Morale stands as an artistic milestone that I believe will be looked back on as an excellent yardstick for the time that we went through collectively. There is such a wide range of emotions on display here, each crafted to perfectly encapsulate the modern human psyche. Only Kendrick Lamar could make something so creative, so powerful and still have it topping charts and blaring out of speakers across the world.
So, an emotional year soundtracked by a lot of charged music that can evoke anything from despair to elation. We hope that you enjoyed reading through this selection of albums. Please let us know what your personal favourites were from 2022, we’re bound to have missed something or not got round to listening to a hidden gem somewhere along the way.
If last year was anything to go by then 2023 will be hectic for us both, making it hard to find time to fit this blog in. Despite this we want to keep it going, we don’t live together like we did when we started this but it’s a good way to keep connected if nothing else and we really enjoy writing these articles. We hope that you have a great 2023 and hopefully it won’t be long before you see us again!