January has already come and gone and while, for the most part, it was a slog to get through (at least for the East Coasters in the US facing down gray skies and blizzards) there were, at the very least, some truly excellent albums. With new music from FKA Twigs to The Weekend, we can already guarantee that at least one of the below artists will likely end up on a 2022 end-of-the-year list (scary thought.) However, for now, it’s time to start building yearly playlists to keep track of the best that 2022 has to offer. Take a look below at the ten best songs released in January 2022, from indie-folk, fever dream pop, and punk.
“One” – Amber Mark
Singer Amber Mark returns for her debut album, Three Dimensions Deep, and it kicks off with the strongest of the tracklisting, “One.” With an instant hook the catchy and constantly building verse and the first chorus lays all of her abilities out there in one fell swoop. The song manages to homage classic R&B while putting her energetic appeal on it.
‘In April’ – Anxious
With a bouncy, catchy chorus, “In April” by the band Anxious doesn’t break the mold but it has no reason for how well it works. The DIY punk-pop unit has created an infectious, sing-along headbanger. Perhaps the greatest praise is that, with how young they are (having started the band in 2016 when they were still in high school) they already have a confident and blazing sound and they’re poised to only get better. Until then “In April” is the best on their already solid album Little Green House.
“Sunset” – Beach House
With a discography as sprawling as that of Beach House, it’s easy for some songs to be lost among the shuffle. “Sunset” is a stunner and one of their best in ages on an already solid album. Packed with a steady and rhythmic guitar, the song allows for the echoing vocals to soar. The subtle touch is what allows it to transcend its purposeful simplicity so that by the time we hit this refrain of “Blackbird red, the wings that spread, winds that turn, a pretty word,” we’re completely ensnared by the peculiar, lullaby quality of the number.
“Simulation Swarm” – Big Thief
Poppy and smoother than they usually go, “Simulation Swarm” is yet another example of how Adrianne Lenker’s lyrics only continue to improve. Infused with jaunty percussion and a full band sound despite being characteristically stripped down, the song is one of their most infectious. Sonically, the four of them have an apparent cohesive, collaborative unit that, promising what may be their best album yet. With a big chorus and catchy guitar lines that fizzle as the song grows, it refines what they do best and better than most.
“A Force at Play” – Cloakroom
Dense, spacey, and takes the best lessons from all corners of the shoegaze scene , “A Force At Play” is as loud as it is quiet and demonstrates relaxed patience, especially compared to many of their peers. They manage this with both heavy distortion and acoustic melodies playing out simultaneously. There’s as much of a focus on melodic atmosphere as there are on the crushing riffs.
“Jealousy” – FKA Twigs (feat. Rema)
Throughout her career, FKA Twigs has become widely known for her fearlessness in the face of challenging typical musical standards. She’s done so marvelously which is what makes her latest album, Caprisongs, such an immediate surprise. Her latest album doesn’t deny her position as a reputable, musical chameleon but, rather, allows her an album for levity that is playful and joyous in her expression of music. It’s “Jealousy” that best summarizes her current musical dalliance, merging sonically familiar notes with her ghostly vocals with a more mainstream pop beat.
“Heartbreak3r” – iann dior
As emo-rap continues to have its now prolonged moment, it takes a lot to break out in the scene. With contributions from Travis Barker and Machine Gun Kelly, iann dior’s latest album on to better things sets him up as one of the best new breakouts.
“Heartbreak3r” has impressive production layers and there’s an ease in the transition between didactic rapping and emotive vocals.
With one of the most highly anticipated albums dropping this week, singer-songwriter Mitski has been teasing her latest record for months. Of all her singles, “Love Me More” sticks the greatest due to its energetic, swelling sound. The percussion and vocals are cohesive yet there’s a sense of the two racing against one another, creating a sonically urgent sound that is pumped up by the instantly catchy chorus.
“Midnight Sun” – Nilüfer Yanya
Nilüfer Yanya is perhaps one of the most exciting rising artists working today. On her latest track, the endlessly shifting “Midnight Sun,” she demonstrates her enormously emotive vocals on a song that ebbs and flows with her distinctive style while playing with varying genres. With a grooving beat, thoughtful lyrics, and eclectic voice, “Midnight Sun” leaves fans increasingly excited for whatever it is she decides to put out next.
“Less Than Zero” – the Weekend
The latest album from The Weekend Dawn FM is an exhilarating and cinematic drive on a rolling highway at 4 am. Haunting and playful, with as many disco synths and hooks as there are spoken word ruminations on life, love, and loss, the album once again solidifies The Weekend as an artist who knows himself, his sound, and his projected image better than almost any other. While there’s plenty to choose from though, it’s the stripped-down and deceptive simplicity of the penultimate track “Less Than Zero” which is the true stunner on the album. With sweet and sturdy vocals which layer increasingly throughout each verse and chorus, a catchy hook, and a playout that endlessly echoes, there may be more daring and genre-defying songs on the album, but it’s this one that sticks.