Best Albums of 2022

2022 was a big year in music, and in our opinion SURG members have impeccable taste. Keen to discover some epic albums you may have missed last year (and their spotlight tracks)? Keep on reading.

Could We Be More – Kokoroko 

Reviewer: Jonathan Chalouhi

Whether it’s funky rhythms to dance to, great technique to admire, or angelic melodies and harmonies, this album has it all. The UK group puts out one of their best pieces of work and maintains their unique African influence with amazing percussion and rhythms. 

Jona’s Favourite Track: Something’s Going On

Love this track – each sound just comes together so well, all played the perfect amount. 

Angel in Realtime – Gang of Youths

Reviewer: Zander Czerwaniw

Last year I had to get my first shitbox car for a new job. The baked-bean-can-on-wheels had no bluetooth for music, and this CD was my lifeline. The highs would hype me up on the way to work and the lows would help me decompress on the drive home. Dave Le’aupepe’s vocals are just so expressive and every time he sings he successfully pulls me into this journey through his family’s make-up, history and future. It also doesn’t matter if Le’aupepe’s vocals are accompanied by just a piano or a whole string section, the band brings an engaging sonic experience to every track, showing off their range of musical talents. 

Zander’s Favourite Track: spirit boy

No Thank You – Little Simz

Reviewer: Kaela Goldsmith

Little Simz’ lyricism and artistry are unmatched within the hip hop scene at the moment. Very reminiscent of Lauryn Hill, but still distinct and fresh – not just a carbon copy. Her consistent collaborations with Cleo Sol are also so well placed – Cleo’s soft and magical tone balances out Simz’ strong, passionate cadence, working like yin and yang over the beats.

Kaela’s Favourite Track: Control

A bittersweet song that serves as the perfect closer and cool down after the other tracks on the album.

Zeal & Ardor (self-titled)

Reviewer: Maxwell Bennett 

Like Z&A’s previous albums, it brings together extremely disparate genres and musical styles – but the execution on this album is an order of magnitude more impressive. Especially impressive are the vocals, from the emotional soul-esque singing in ‘Golden Liar’ to the harsh screaming in ‘Götterdämmerung’.

Maxwell’s Favourite Track: Götterdämmerung

To put it bluntly, it goes hard as f*ck.

Blue Rev – Alvvays 

Reviewer: Matthew Forbes

After showing up just about every other indie pop band on the planet with their first two albums, Alvvays have just about set the bar for the genre on all fronts with their dazzling 2022 release, Blue Rev. The record manages to retain the band’s charming twee sensibilities while also taking cues from 90s shoegaze and noise rock, resulting in a sonic palette that’s equal parts jagged and sugary. What remains a steady constant throughout the album is frontwoman Molly Rankin’s razor-sharp hooks and expressive vocal performances, the latter of which heightens the already intense emotionality of her lyrics. Whether she’s comparing a tumultuous break-up to a car crash that kills her lover on ‘After the Earthquake’, or describing the kind of lovesickness that has you waiting by the phone all night on ‘Tile By Tile’, Rankin manages to pack at least one or two gut punches into almost every song here – and still manages to find time to poke fun at a ‘Very Online Guy’. Almost frightening in how perfectly constructed it is, Blue Rev is an astounding achievement for modern indie. 

Matt’s Favourite Track: Pharmacist

The wall of sound that crashes into the song after five seconds was the most euphoric case of tonal bliss that I experienced all year.


Reviewer: Maysa Sarkis 

In her debut album, Xana tackles the heartbreaking mess of breakups, makeups and toxic relationships. The album is very personal (basically autobiographical), and vulnerably exposes the intimate betrayal of losing someone which leads to self-loathing, whilst reminding listeners of the importance of self-love and determination in times like this. As a queer woman, Xana’s album acts as an empowering mural for lesbian romance and female sexuality. For me, the album is a catharsis. I love it because I am able to commiserate past hurts, using it as a stopping stone to move forward – plus it’s a great album to sing in the car with friends!

Maysa’s Favourite Track: My Therapist Told Me

Look, as bad as it is, sometimes you need time to mourn a FWB relationship.

Foreign Language – 1300

Reviewer: Niamh Elliott-Brennan

The album is punchy and raucous and so incredibly fun – I’ve been addicted to it since it came out. It established 1300 as a musical powerhouse unbound by limits or ideas of what music should be, and the result was this balanced yet chaotic, infectiously joyous, explosion of an album. Their flow is unmatched, the bilingual wordplay as they switch between Korean and English masterful, and this is THEIR DEBUT ALBUM. Most importantly: you can *hear* in every track the genuine love 1300 have for music, and how much fun they have making it. 

Niamh’s Favourite Track: Oldboy 

It encapsulates the humour, wit, and joy inherent to everything 1300 create. 

Hold The Girl – Rina Sawayama 

Reviewer: Zoe Biggs

This album is Rina Sawayama “reparenting” herself, and she’s done it through what are quickly becoming her trademarks – genre-traversing and pure powerhouse vocals. There’s simply not one song that I don’t like on this album. Whether it’s screaming along to the rock-rage of ‘Your Age’, dancing your heart out to the soaring hook of ‘Catch Me In The Air’, or crying to country ballad ‘Send My Love to John’, this album seeks to do it all and bring you along for the ride (and I think it’s pretty damn successful). In short: it’s a genre-mashing triumph which further cements Sawayama’s rebellious pop perfection.

Zoe’s Favourite Track: Holy (Til You Let Me Go)

Rina said she wanted this “to be a crying-in-the-club kind of song” and it absolutely is. Utilising Sawayama’s extensive (and beautiful) vocal range over a dark and possessing, industrial electronica, this track delves into religious school trauma in a way I haven’t heard before. 

Sometimes a track is just so good it needs an extended analysis (and you can bet the whole album lives up to the hype).

Midnights (3am Edition) – Taylor Swift

Reviewer: Tamsyn Bellew

This album is like Lover and Reputation’s child. It signals a brief return to the pop Swift left behind in 2019 to bring us the masterpieces that were Folklore and Evermore, but her maturity as an artist is showcased by the album’s slightly grungier edge. There’s quite literally a song for every mood, between feeling love struck (‘Lavender Haze’, ‘Sweet Nothing’, ‘Paris’) to self-loathing (‘Anti-Hero’). The fact that she can write an album with such a range of experiences for the listener to relate to without giving them metaphorical whiplash is commendable. I’m just a bit worried about Jack Antonoff. Like, has he slept? At all? 

Tamsyn’s Favourite Track: Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve

Aaron Dessner and Taylor Swift simply popped off with this track. It has more of a rock edge compared to other songs on the album and laments the loss of innocence and spirituality following an emotionally abusive relationship. The song builds so perfectly and has an eerie haunting quality, which is consolidated by her singing “the tomb won’t close, stained glass windows in my mind”. The frustration in her voice carries the song, culminating in the indignant, and I think purposefully immature, line “give me back my girlhood, it was mine first”. This song gives me goosebumps every time. 

Other times, not much needs to be said. These next two albums are just *good*, and you’re going to have to trust the reviewers. 

Overrun – Highline 

Reviewer: Gus

An album created by a band of Sydney Uni students who make awesome tunes.

Gus’ Favourite Track: Shy Today

Pre Pleasure – Julia Jacklin 

Reviewer: Nicola Weiss 

It’s the perfect soundtrack to my current life state.

Nicki’s Favourite Track: Love, Try Not To Let Go 

There were *two albums* with *more than one review submission* each (and just know that they were also some members’ second or third choice as well). Drum roll please… 

Being Funny in a Foreign Language – The 1975

Reviewers: Fynn Ferdinands and Patrick Fuccilli 

Fynn: I’ve been a fan of The ‘75 for quite some time but BFAFL feels like the first time they’ve made an album where truly every song is good. Between creative instrumentation, top-class production and (often amusingly) earnest lyricism, the album stands strongly with only 11 cohesive tracks. With plenty of new favourites, it’s great to hear The 1975 arguably “at their very best”.

Pat: Enlisting the help of producer Jack Antonoff allowed The 1975 to deliver their tightest record yet in 2022. A clear and consistent aesthetic to the music, with subtle hints of their previous experimental style, has given this LP significantly higher commercial draw than their previous effort, 2020’s Notes On A Conditional Form, which polarised critics and was variously described as both a masterpiece and a mess. Despite help from Antonoff, who has been criticised previously for homogenising artists’ sound to his own, The 1975’s voice still absolutely screams on this record. ‘Looking For Somebody (To Love)’ broaches current affairs in a way that very few artists manage to pull-off, combining jangly guitars with controversial innuendo to deliver a tragic masterclass in 80s pop-rock. Matty Healy’s lyricism is equal parts viscerally cringeworthy and heart-breakingly sincere, demonstrated most clearly on the quasi-Icarean ‘Part Of The Band’ and mournful ‘The 1975’. The TikTok virality of the record’s most touching track ‘About You’, which features an unexpected and jaw-droppingly beautiful feature from Carly Holt, wife of guitarist Adam Hann, is unsurprising, given the consistently high quality of this album. Undoubtedly, this is The 1975 “At Their Very Best”.

Fynn’s Favourite Track: Part Of The Band

This track deserves a shout out. It’s so different from the rest of the band’s discography but works brilliantly.

Pat’s Favourite Track: Happiness 

Extended Saxophone Solo. No other notes.

King Stingray (self-titled)

Reviewers: Aidan Elwig Pollock and Alex Waters

Aidan: I felt this album carried the unique energy that defines many Australian acts, and did justice to the amazing live performance the band has proven they can give. It brilliantly evokes the Top End – you can feel the space, the freedom and the sweat; you can practically see the red earth and the stringybark trees. The use of Yolngu language alongside English is very powerful, and builds on a message that the band stresses both in their music and in their stage banter: Australia can only move forward with fraternity between people of all cultures. Overall, the album is punchy and raw, brimming with energy and optimism, extremely evocative and overwhelmingly Australian.

Alex: Very strong road trip summer kinda vibes which I love! It’s an album that has a lot of variety while also maintaining a very consistent and cohesive sound. Also Yolngu surf rock is potentially the coolest possible description of a genre.

Both Reviewers’ Favourite Track: Let’s Go

Aidan: The song perfectly evokes how it feels to be in the Australian outback, and more generally how it feels to be in a special place that makes you feel free.

Alex: This track makes me desperately want to drive on the Central Arnhem highway.

And with that we come to the end of Best Albums ’22!

Want all our reviewers’ favourite tracks in one place? SURG is on Spotify (and you should totally follow us)! You can listen to our playlist here:

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