Discover hidden gems and revisit old favorites of 2022 in our best-of list. David Cedar, Will Dodd, Alex Donaldson, Staley Sharples, and Sophia Zengierski break down their favorite songs and albums from the year. Listen to the Saint Audio Best Songs of 2022 playlist via our Spotify.
“Turned Turk” – KinAhau
“A LITTLE BIT FUNKIER” – PAWSA
“Mondegreen” – RamonPang
“B.O.T.A. (Baddest Of Them All)” – Eliza Rose, Interplanetary Criminal
“Housemusic” – Nightfunk, Jess Kidd
Albums and EPs
The Reset – Anotr
Silky smooth synths, funky basses, groovy drums, and beautiful vocals from Abel Balder, this is modern disco at its finest. Launching Anotr into my Top 5 current artists, The Reset strikes a chord at the core of my being. Released on November 11th, this album is a phenomenal sound to end an amazing year for Anotr.
8-track – Ben Rau
Ben Rau’s 2022 LP is raw dopamine. Featuring classic house sounds, Ben Rau captures timeless and fresh elements. There aren’t any skips on this album. 8-track is straight to the point, and each song serves a purpose for its story.
2022 Ibiza Sampler – Various Artists
The 2022 Ibiza Sampler features banger after banger from the Solid Grooves roster. The compilation features Bassel Darwich, Classmatic, Dennis Cruz, Eddy M, JUST2, Michael Bibi, PAWSA, Ramin Rezaie, and Reelow. Allowing me to vicariously live through this year’s Ibiza season, 2022 Ibiza Sampler showcases hard-hitting sounds in Deep, Minimal, and Tech House.
Workin’ The Door EP – Ranger Trucco
Workin’ The Door is a turning point for Ranger Trucco. Compared to a tech house-focused 2021, Ranger is diving into the fresh and funky sounds of Deep Tech. Workin’ The Door feels like an amalgamation of Ranger’s full oeuvre and is without a doubt a standout in his discography.
Wet Tennis – Sofi Tukker
Flawlessly blending sounds in pop, EDM, and house music, Sofi Tukker nails their sophomore album, Wet Tennis. Collaborating with Mahmut Orhan, John Summit, Tuck’s Dad, BOII, and Amadou & Mariam, Wet Tennis has something for everyone.
“Crazy” – Doechii
“Someday (salute Remix)” – DJ Seinfeld
“Happy Ending” – Kelela
“Driponomics (feat. Mother Maryrose)” – Soul Glo
“Dis One” – Nikki Nair & DJ ADHD
“Feel No Pain (feat. Anderson .Paak & Raekwon)” – Freddie Gibbs
“PDF” – BEAM
“Immature” – FLO
“Virgo’s Groove” – Beyoncé
“Sunshine (feat. Fousheé)” – Steve Lacy
Albums and EPs
Hypnos – Ravyn Lenae
Ravyn Lenae’s long-awaited debut LP manages to exceed expectations, creating an accessible and ambitious body of work. Steve Lacy produces five tracks here and features on highlight “Skin Tight,” although “Venom” produced by frequent collaborator Monte Booker steals the show.
Quality Over Opinion – Louis Cole
Louis Cole reminds me a lot of the legendary Todd Rundgren in the way both artists approach their records. They have the ability to follow up some of their most poignant songs with some of the weirdest shit you will ever hear and it totally works. Album standout “True Love,” an absolutely gorgeous ballad, precedes “Let Me Snack,” which starts innocently and builds to dark dubstep once it kicks in. His albums are always quite an adventure but a fun one, and even though Quality Over Opinion is strange it’s nothing compared to his projects KNOWER or Clown Core. In short—this is a fucking brilliant record.
Fast Trax 3 – 454
Fresh off his feature on Denzel Curry’s “Sanjuro,” Orlando native 454 drops his strongest project yet with the mixtape Fast Trax 3. He is part of a crop of Central Florida hip hop artists like They Hate Change and Doechii who heavily incorporate electronic influences in their work, exemplified by the fact that he has a recurring slot on NTS Radio and mixtape interlude “Trailblazer” is a full-on jungle tune. Producing the majority of his own songs, his keen sense of melody and his dreamlike production prove that he’s one of the best artists in hip-hop.
La Chamba – INVT
Miami duo INVT are on a tear, having put out a whopping eleven albums & EPs in the last two years. Despite this level of output, the music quality hasn’t suffered one bit. La Chamba is their strongest effort to date, it’s a perfect collection of songs with their trademark psychedelic-sounding club music that they’ve mastered so well over the years.
Caprisongs – FKA Twigs
While we wait for a follow-up to Magdalene, FKA Twigs gives us Caprisongs, a mixtape that is a bit of a reprieve from her usual brooding and melancholy works. She taps into influences from dancehall, afrobeats, reggae, and UK drill, and although this is a stark departure from her usual work, she also proves to be excellent in her adaptability.
Greenzone 108 – Greentea Peng
I’ve found that within R&B, a lot of mixtapes end up being better than the albums. Perhaps it’s because artists like London singer-songwriter Greentea Peng are able to let loose and have more fun, as opposed to the more rigid constraints of constructing an LP. Regardless, Greenzone 108 is Greentea Peng’s strongest work to date, and a must-listen for any fan of mellow neo-soul.
Natural Brown Prom Queen – Sudan Archives
Although her prior work was very good, Natural Brown Prom Queen is the release that solidifies Sudan Archives as one of R&B’s greatest artists right now. A wildly ambitious sophomore LP, Natural Brown Prom Queen showcases her versatility while staying cohesive and consistent throughout.
The Forever Story – JID
If you were a pessimistic fan who thought that JID working with Imagine Dragons was a sign he was falling off, fear not—The Forever Story proves that he hasn’t lost his edge one bit. His rapping skills and storytelling ability have only gotten better in the four years since DiCaprio 2, he really shows why he’s one of the top-tier MCs in mainstream hip hop right now with this album.
King Cobra – Infinity Knives & Brian Ennals
Baltimore has gotten a lot more recognition for its hip hop in the last few years, and King Cobra is the standout project from the city’s scene in 2022. On “Coke Jaw” rapper Brian Ennals claims they’re “the post-apocalyptic Run DMC” which perfectly describes the mission statement for this album. King Cobra contains a no-punches-pulled lyrical approach with some more lighthearted songs and production nods to 80s hip hop from Infinity Knives.
Ultra Pool – salute
Austrian producer salute has carved out a great lane for himself, deftly blending speed garage with French house music. This combination is executed to perfection on his EP Ultra Pool. It’s the spiritual successor to the kind of music Todd Edwards was making in the late 90s. I know he’s listening to Ultra Pool and smiling because it’s euphoria in audible form.
“Double Blind” – Tropical Gothclub
“It’s Over” – Cornelia Murr
“Lydia Wears a Cross” – Julia Jacklin
“Falls on Me” – Sylvie
“Bend Away and Fall” – Dana Gavanski
Sahar – Tamino
The follow-up to 2019s magnificent Amir, Sahar finds the Belgian-Egyptian songwriter taking a more acoustic approach to his album. Most tracks are sparse, with Tamino’s voice accompanied by little more than the guitar or oud, which allows his vocal range and lyrics to fully shine. The result is an album that is equally as beautiful as it is wrought with emotion. From meditative opener “The Longing” and the vengeful “You Don’t Own Me” to the bright and jovial “Cinnamon” and the gorgeously textured “Sunflower”, the album treads much ground but does so effortlessly. The closer “My Dearest Friend and Enemy” is a cathartic release, showing off the soaring falsetto that propelled the Belgian into the spotlight in 2019. He had said that he didn’t want his ability to pitch his voice so high to become a gimmick and as such, it is used sparingly. On the aforementioned closer it steals the show, sealing this album’s status among the best of the year.
The Mars Volta – The Mars Volta
Releasing a self-titled album, 19 years and six albums after your very first, is a reintroduction. A decade since their last effort under this moniker, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala have reinvented themselves. The pair have shed the hyperactivity and nervous tension of classics such as De-Loused in the Comatorium in favour of a sound that is more subdued and in their own words “more mature.” The album sonically draws much from Latin culture in a way they haven’t before. “Blacklight Shine” and “Que Dios Te Maldiga Mi Corazon” are sonic homages to Rodriguez-Lopez’s Puerto Rican heritage. Lyrically the songs are direct in a way the group hasn’t done before. Whilst still carrying Bixler-Zavala’s evocative yet mystifying imagery, the real-world meaning behind them is clearer than ever. Recorded in secret as a result of Bixler-Zavala’s long-standing legal battle against the Church of Scientology, the lyricist draws from this for a more personal touch on “Shore Story” in particular. In total it makes an intimate album that can, and maybe should be viewed in isolation from the rest of their discography.
Pre-Pleasure – Julia Jacklin
I’ve already talked about some of the singles from this album but viewing them within the context of the full artistic work only serves to enhance them. Pre-Pleasure sees Jacklin at her introspective best, but sounding free and unburdened in a way previous albums haven’t. The band is tight but the songs sound lighter and less tense. “Lydia Wears a Cross” and “Less of a Stranger” are deeply personable tracks and the former in particular is incredibly catchy, however, they aren’t taciturn, nor wrapped up in self-admonishment. It’s a refreshing perspective from an artist who has already proven herself a master at crafting catchy indie tunes.
Ramona Park Broke My Heart – Vince Staples
As much an album as it is an ode to his home, Ramona Park Broke My Heart (RPBMH) is low-key in its sonic nature but stunning in its execution. Staples’ serpentine flows cascade over understated but exquisitely produced production from the likes of DJ Dahi, Kenny Beats and Mustard. Filled with stories inspired by youth, RPBMH is deeply personal and darkly comic. Staples makes no attempt to glamourise the life he has led, nor the things he has done. The album, as much as the artist himself, is fearlessly introspective. It is a stunning self-portrait that acknowledges the writer’s own contradictions and faces them head-on. Staples has used his home city as a touchstone throughout his career but never has he so powerfully evoked the spirit of the place that defined him. This album feels like a crowning moment. A deep, sorrowful elegy for a tumultuous place and a life framed by it.
Dost 2 – Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek
German-Turkish psyche-folk purveyor Derya Yıldırım and her band are back with the follow-up to 2021’s Dost 1. Whilst the sequel leans further into the folk aspects than the psychedelia of the first, it has no less punch. Carried by Yilidrim’s heavenly vocals and some virtuosic playing, the group brings a host of traditional Anatolian folk ballads into the modern era aided with a heavy dose of synths. The band has come into its own on this pair of releases. Dost 2’s shimmering guitars and richly layered compositions transport the listener to a bright Anatolian scene. Yıldırım’s baglama, the traditional Turkish instrument on which much of the songwriting is founded, cuts through the mix with delicate precision, never overpowered by the textures it sits atop, nor overpowering in its majesty. Dost (meaning “friend”) is a marvel in its own construction and naturally, given the title, an excellent sonic companion.
Cometa – Nick Hakim
Whilst anxiety was the core theme behind 2020’s masterful Will This Make Me Good, on Cometa Nick Hakim changes tact. Never has the DC native expressed his views of romance in such an open and intimate manner. Between the cavernous echoes of “Ani” and the spiraling bass of “Feeling Myself” sit stories of relationships informed by Hakim’s own love. That personal experience results in a feeling of contentment that Hakim has rarely conveyed. It all comes together in an album that is cozy and warm, yet ambitious in its sonic scope. As ever it is well-written. Hakim excels in translating the ethereal into the audible. The space between sounds on each song is a presence in itself, shaping the atmosphere of an album that will drag you inside itself and won’t let go until it’s over.
Lighten Up – Erin Rae
As the title of the album suggests, Erin Rae’s Lighten up is bright, breezy and an easy yet rewarding listen. Whilst the sweet, simple instrumentals warm the listener, it’s Rae’s voice that is the centerpiece. The Tennessee songwriter pens tracks with a retro flair but her voice brings them into HD with a delicate clarity. Despite this retro lens, the album never feels like an act of tribute to the artists of yesteryear. “Modern Woman” is a perfect example of how well-constructed Rae’s tracks are, as is the beautiful “Cosmic Sigh”.
You Can’t Kill Me – 070 Shake
Following up 2020’s excellent Modus Vivendi was always going to be a big ask, but You Can’t Kill Me is a heart-wrenching opus. You can feel every emotion 070 Shake guides you through in the album. The way Danielle Balbuena’s voice breaks on “Medicine” and soars on “History” show not just the development of her vocals but too of her artistry. “Se Fue La Luz” is a stirring finisher and a showcase of the sonic diversity of the album. Mike Dean is not solely at the helm as with the previous album and You Can’t Kill Me benefits on songs like “Wine & Spirits” and “Purple Walls” for being less drenched in his admittedly attractive synths, allowing the messages to flow better. You Can’t Kill Me Is ultimately an album about heartbreak. Balbuena is tormented across a record that seeks to make sense of the broken relationship in the most compelling way.
Before Shit Got Weird – The Cool Kids
A colossal triple-album comprised of a joint effort as well as two solo projects, the Cool Kids showed just why their longevity, cultural impact and legacy are nearly unmatched on Before Shit Got Weird. As charming as ever and with all the vigour of their debut the pair trade slick flows on opener “In The Mix” and don’t let up. Whilst both Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish both deliver on the individual portions of the triple album, it’s the titular centerpiece that wows the most. Chuck Inglish’s production is the immaculate base for raps that are often laidback but never lackadaisical. The way the pair combine is the definition of effortless. After more than a decade of collaboration, it’s akin to telepathy. Cascading flows, smooth production and explosive guests (the likes of JID, 6lack, and Chance the Rapper make an appearance) mean this is an album not to miss.
American Gurl – Kilo Kish
A treatise on the nature of modern art, American Gurl is one of the boldest sonic and lyrical statements of the year. Loosely conceptualised around a fictionalised arcade game, the album drenches the listener in deep and glitchy synths layered atop a critique of consumerism. The songwriting is impeccable throughout the album, with sharp hooks and earworm choruses abound. The title track in particular is one of the year’s best whilst “Distractions III: Spoiled Rotten” is an indisputable highlight. The album builds on the conceptutal critique track by track fueled by Ray Brady’s inch-perfect production. When it reaches the climactic peak of “Intelligent Design” you feel as if you’ve been through a video game journey yourself, one that beneath all the bright colours and sounds still has the power to affect you.
“Bad Habit” – Steve Lacy
“Fantasy” – Bodysync
“Anxious” – Lay Bankz
“Iced Tea” – Joyce Wright, KAYTRANADA
“202 (DJ Arana Remix)” – Kweller, Enzo Cello
“F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” – GloRilla
“Balfonerra” – AMÉMÉ
“Talking Walls” – Seth Troxler, Jaden Thompson
“Picture in my mind” – PinkPantheress, Sam Gellaitry
“FREAKBODY” – DJ Swisha
hypochondriac – brakence
The highly-anticipated debut album from brakence doesn’t disappoint. hypochondriac crafts a hyper-realistic fantasy world through otherworldly narration and yearning vocals from brakence. Chants of “die or create” ring true to the album’s recurring themes of young adulthood, nature vs. nurture and self-preservation (or immolation) as the artist continues to shape their life’s narrative.
Radio Active – Bodysync
As Bodysync, Ryan Hemsworth and Giraffage cooked up some of the year’s sweetest dance music full of sugar rush synths and pop hooks. Radio Active is the producers’ latest brainchild, with their fresh house-oriented sound drawing from their respective tendencies towards the nostalgically subversive.
Bewitched! – DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ
As experimental as it is familiar, Bewitched! triggers a strange feeling of comfort through the misty echoes of DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ’s trademark sample layering.
Famously Alive – Guerilla Toss
Famously Alive is a beautiful explosion of textural guitars and synths bursting at the seams with punk energy. Guerilla Toss throws a variety of influences into their gritty-yet-gossamer sound. The title track from the New York art-rock band is all driving drums and a harmonically razor-edged chorus, while the rest of the album dives into colorful pools of psychedelic electronica and math-rock grooves.
God Save The Animals – Alex G.
They come few and far between, but God Save The Animals is a timeless record. The existentially wistful ninth album from the Philadelphia singer-songwriter has a mystical quality to it, holding hopeful sentiment and private heartbreaks within melodies that linger long after the song ends.
Heart on my Sleeve – Ella Mai
English R&B artist Ella Mai forgoes toxic relationships for raw emotion in Heart on my Sleeve, opting to open up about the desire to love and be loved. Mai’s lyrics breathe new life into romantic R&B as she asks a partner to respect her boundaries on “DFMU” and bares her soul in the head-over-heels anthem “Not Another Love Song”. Earnestly writing about love with soaring vocals to back it up, Ella Mai shines as an artist in her sophomore offering.
Bad Mode – Hikaru Utada
Hikaru Utada’s first bilingual album is the pop icon’s balanced look at who they are decades into their successful career. Their first release following their coming out as non-binary, Bad Mode is full of heartfelt introspection as Hikaru Utada peers through the many facets of their identity.
Dawn FM – The Weeknd
Baroque ‘80s emo pop is a match made in heaven for the Dorian Gray of crossover R&B, with Max Martin and Daniel Lopatin casting silvery neo-goth synths among The Weeknd’s specter-like falsetto on Dawn FM. Jim Carrey narrates a life-or-death, disco-fantasia journey for the Canadian singer-songwriter as he dances towards the inevitable light at the end of the tunnel.
Melt My Eyez See My Future – Denzel Curry
Denzel Curry abandons his typical ragers for a reflective quest inside his own mind in the therapy-inspired Melt My Eyez See My Future. The Floridian rapper deconstructs his own ideas of personal identity as a Black man through hazy, sauntering beats that pull focus to Curry’s lyrics. Utilizing Spaghetti Westerns and Japanese anime hero journeys as a metaphoric springboard for the album, Denzel Curry coyly shifts hip-hop’s perspective on mental health by reframing self-care as an act of power-boosting, boot-shaking resilience.
Alter/Ego Volume II – Various Artists
Curated by Hex Cougar, Alter/Ego Volume II is a forward-thinking collection of new talent in bass, trap, wave, and more. Genre is untethered in this immersive exploration of fresh ideas from Alter/Ego.
“Skin” – Daisy Gutteridge
“American Teenager” – Ethel Cain
“Girls Against God” – Florence + The Machine
“Stick Season” – Noah Kahan
“Anywhere With You” – Maggie Rogers
Albums and EPs
Georgia Got Colder – Jonah Kagen
A love letter to 22-year-old Jonah Kagen’s home state, Georgia Got Colder is a wonderful melodic journey that both soothes and forces us to question who we are. His guitar arrangements absolutely shine on this record, especially in “Georgia,” which he describes as a love letter about where he grew up. He recently released an acoustic version of the track, which brings a gentle intimacy to an already deeply personal song. Kagen’s breakout track “Broken” is a stronghold here, but newer titles like the haunting yet optimistic “Graveyard Shift” or easy and upbeat “Barcelona” are the real stars.
Oddities & Prodigies – Caroline Romano
Caroline Romano’s perfectly crafted pop album Oddities & Prodigies has been played non-stop in my car this year. Part party, part angst, and part princess, this is one of the most cohesive and commercial albums I have heard this year. The opening number “Oddities and Prodigies” establishes this strong female voice, unapologetic for who she is. From the nostalgic “Ireland in 2009” to the all too relatable “Panic Attack,” Oddities & Prodigies crafts a unified tracklist.
Winning – Eee Gee
Eee Gee’s singles leading up to this album, called Winning, were outstanding; so, it is not surprising that putting them together with some new content would round out a thrilling new album. Her distinctly European pop rhythms continue to delight with avant-garde synth. Previously released “Bad Person” and “Killing It” remain on my must-listen list, but so do the titular “Winning” and “Forever Dreaming.” Light, effervescent, and even eerie at times, Winning is sure to add a little sparkle to any afternoon.
Formentera – Metric
A long-time Metric fan, I couldn’t wait for their highly anticipated new album, Formentera. And thankfully, this album did not disappoint. Although this heavy and dark synth sound is recognizable for them, it is also fused with an immediacy of our current moment. “All Comes Crashing” feels like a song written for the COVID era; but more than this, the electric guitar and easy piano highlight the collaboration and risk-taking in this new album. But what is perhaps the most signature track and my personal favorite is “What Feels Like Eternity.” Whether you’re a long-time listener or new to Metric’s idiosyncratic style, there’s a lot to like here.
A Beautiful Time – Willie Nelson
Produced at age 89, Willie Nelson’s new record proves his voice sounds timeless. A Beautiful Time is an album filled with life and love. Easy to listen to, this is classic country in the best way. “I’ll Love You Till the Day I Die” opens the record with honesty and grace, setting the tone for songs like “I Don’t Go to Funerals,” which continues “I don’t go to funerals. I won’t be at mine” while harmonica toots in the background. The cover of “With A Little Help from My Friends” is an upbeat country remastering of a familiar favorite. Grab a glass and relax with Willie’s wise words.