[sic] Magazine

2022: Half-Term Report

Pity the critic wading through yet another press release that drums up mountains out of lockdown molehills. Of course, such and such release was written during that time – it’s not like there was much else to do! And, yet, the inevitable backlash doesn’t yet feel like it’s hit the pressing plants in full (those twelve-month wait-times aren’t helping). We’re each entitled to our own feelings, but where’s the collective anger, the national outpouring of emotion? The light at the end of this tunnel should be particularly illuminating and, in both a good and bad way, it’s almost as if nothing happened now.

Let’s not dwell on the negative though. There’s been too much of that. Business as usual is good news for the music industry and it reflects in the quality of albums on display during the first half of 2022. Where does this leave the state of play? Well, it’s just starting to come to the boil, really. You’ll undoubtedly have had your favourites. Mine are below.

Starting with a trio of fine noise-rock/punk records, veteran maximalists A Place To Bury Strangers plough a familiar field on their latest, despite pastures new, having released it on their own label. Just as revered, but perhaps a little less well known, then come Magic Shoppe with a woozy scorcher of their own that ought to bring the band’s cacophonous catalogue to wider attention. Completing the trinity, Sonic Youth-inspired and Thurston Moore-approved, Rome Is Not A Town tick all the boxes too on their nostalgic ripper, all three albums likely to place highly come our end-of-year lists.

Also keeping the noisy end up, HEALTH go full cyber terrorist on their guest-laden, industrial latest, the band’s “disco” orientated guise rarely having sounded so muscular. Altogether more syrupy but just as loud, GHXST finally made it to long-playing format after a decade of shorter works, their doomed desert-rock really working the bottom-end of your stack. Multi-award winning neo-post-punks Fontaines D.C. could have gone just as big on their much anticipated third, but went instead for a more mature and considered take on their signature sound to pave the way for more to come.

Beholden to a random name generator, Black Country, New Road may have lost their frontman on the eve of their sophomore album, but it stands testament to his and his band’s arty, occasionally absurd math-rock that challenges and rewards in equal measure. Altogether more simple, Big Thief’s melodic breeziness really burrows under the skin on their alt-folk leaning fifth. In turn, The Reds, Pinks & Purples latest is another near perfect dose of pristine indie-pop that should catch many an ear, while – whisper it – for deathcrash certainly do, these slowcore post-rockers are looking back to likes of Slint for intense inspiration on the only real debut record on this list.

While few real stinkers are yet to cross our path this year, the less said about the twee indie-pop efforts of Peaness the better, while Mitski and Warpaint‘s earnest alt-pop albums never really caught light either. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever continue to flatter to deceive in their slacker style, while both Animal Collective‘s return and Wet Leg‘s much-hyped debut were both decidedly hit and miss. Father John Misty having gone full Elton John is likely a bit too much to take for many a listener too. Nevertheless, with plenty more releases to come during the second half of the year, 2022 is starting to take shape.

That list in full (no particular order – linked where reviewed):

Black Country, New RoadAnts From Up There (Art/Math-Rock) [Ninja Tune]
The Reds, Pinks & PurplesSummer At Land’s End (Indie-Pop) [Tough Love]
Big ThiefDragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You (Indie/Alt-Folk) [4AD]
deathcrashReturn (Slowcore/Post-Rock) [Untitled Recs]
Magic ShoppeMono Lake (Noise-Punk/Shoegaze) [Cardinal Fuzz/Little Cloud]
A Place To Bury StrangersSee Through You (Noise-Rock/Shoegaze) [DedStrange]
GHXSTAdmire (Desert Rock/Doom) [S/R]
Fontaines D.C.Skinty Fia (New Post-Punk) [Partisan]
HEALTHDISCO4 :: PART II (Industrial/Cyber-Noise) [Loma Vista]
Rome Is Not A TownTender Arms Power Heels (Noise-Rock) [Startracks]

Not a fan of the album format? Hear some of our tracks of the year so far too: