The new year brings plenty with it: new laws taking effect, fresh resolutions to improve ourselves, and of course, the looming threat of a third consecutive year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. The latter is, of course, deeply concerning for the music industry, as artists who were already financially devastated by the initial lockdowns and quarantines put into place in 2020 are once again faced with the difficult decision to cancel or postpone shows.
Fortunately, we still have recorded music to look forward to — even if we’re forced to enjoy it from the comfort of our own homes — and 2022 promises to bring plenty of excellent albums, from Wet Leg’s highly anticipated debut to the return of old favorites like Elvis Costello and even a posthumous Phife Dawg record. We’ve rounded up some of the albums we’re most looking forward to in chronological order below; mark your calendars accordingly.
The Weeknd, Dawn FM
As The Weeknd wrote on Instagram last week, “Music can heal and that feels more important than another album rollout. Let’s just drop the whole thing and enjoy it with the people.” Now he’s making good on that promise, announcing that rather than participating in a drawn-out press cycle, he’s dropping his follow-up to 2020’s After Hours on Friday. The record features contributions from Tyler, the Creator, Lil Wayne, Quincy Jones, Oneohtrix and, perhaps most fascinatingly, Jim Carrey.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters, The Boy Named If
If you happen to be of a certain generation, hearing Elvis Costello’s music might take you back to your youth. But for his new album with the Imposters, he’s taking you all the way back. “The full title of this record is The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories),” Costello said in a statement. “IF, is a nickname for your imaginary friend; your secret self, the one who knows everything you deny, the one you blame for the shattered crockery and the hearts you break, even your own. You can hear more about this Boy in a song of the same name.”
Mitski, Laurel Hell
Mitski’s sixth studio album, her highly anticipated follow-up to 2018’s Be the Cowboy, marks her official return to music after a three-year hiatus. “This album went through so many iterations,” she recently told Rolling Stone. “This album has been a punk record at some point, and a country record. Then, after a while, it was like, ‘I need to dance.’ Even though the lyrics might be depressing, I need something peppy to get me through this.”
Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
Big Thief’s Two Hands was one of the best albums of 2019, and now the band will follow it up with a 20-track album with a mouthful of a title: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You. The LP was recorded over the course of four separate sessions, each in a different location with its own specific mood and theme. “One of the things that bonds us together as a band is pure magic,” Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker said in a statement. “I think we all have the same guide and none of us have ever spoken what it is because we couldn’t name it, but somehow, we are all going for the same thing, and when we hit it… we all know it’s it, but none of us to this day, or maybe ever, will be able to articulate in words what the ‘it’ is. Something about it is magic to me.”
Spoon, Lucifer on the Sofa
For their 10th studio album, Britt Daniel and company set out to replicate the energy of their live shows. “As we toured on Hot Thoughts, we discovered, like, ‘Hey, I wish we had that live version of “I Ain’t the One” before we recorded it, because it’s so much better than the version on the record,’” the Spoon frontman recently told Pitchfork. “That happened with a few songs. So we said, ‘Let’s take this energy and make the next record with it — hash out the songs ahead of time so that we’re not always making the better version after it’s been recorded.’”
Shamir came out as non-binary back in 2015, and based on titles alone, we can safely assume that the singer/songwriter’s latest album, Heterosexuality, which includes early singles “Cisgender” and “Gay Agenda,” will have plenty of fascinating points to make about gender and sexuality. “I think this album is me finally acknowledging my trauma,” Shamir said in a statement. “Everyone knows I’ve been through so much shit and I kind of just rammed through, without really acknowledging the actual trauma that I do feel on almost a daily basis.”
Hurray for the Riff Raff, Life on Earth
We’re long overdue for a new Hurray for the Riff Raff album; it’s been five years since we last heard from Alynda Segarra in the form of a full-length LP. Her latest, Life on Earth, pulls much of its inspiration from the natural world. She says that lead single “RHODODENDRON” is about “finding rebellion in plant life,” adding that it’s inspired by “A mind expansion. A psychedelic trip. A spiritual breakthrough. Learning to adapt, and being open to the wisdom of your landscape. Being called to fix things in your own backyard, your own community.”
Khruangbin and Leon Bridges, Texas Moon EP
Back in 2020, Khruangbin joined forces with their fellow Lone Star State native Leon Bridges for their Texas Sun EP, so it’s only natural that they’d eventually reunite for Texas Moon. “Without joy, there can be no real perspective on sorrow,” Khruangbin says in a statement about the new collaborative EP inspired by their home state. “Without sunlight, all this rain keeps things from growing. How can you have the sun without the moon?”
Phife Dawg, Forever
Six years after his death related to complications from diabetes, we’re finally getting a posthumous Phife Dawg album featuring tracks the A Tribe Called Quest MC was working on in March 2016 before he passed away. “We faced a lot of ups and downs trying to get the album completed, and only by God’s grace and patience were we able to,” his collaborator and business partner Dion Liverpool said in a statement. “I would like to thank his fans for being patient and understanding that nothing that is good and timeless will happen overnight. I took on the responsibility to help the family complete Forever and honored that I was trusted to do so.”
Father John Misty, Chloe and the New 20th Century
Father John Misty delivered the news of his follow-up to 2018’s God’s Favorite Customer by mailing a mysterious flexi spoken-word vinyl record to fans. “Eleven new tracks produced by Jonathan Wilson and Josh Tillman. Chloe And The Next 20th Century. It’s technically new,” the message said. On Tuesday night, we finally got our first taste in the form of lead single “Funny Girl,” a lush, cinematic ode to a comedically gifted woman whose “schedule’s pretty crazy, doing interviews for the new live action Cathy.”
Wet Leg, Wet Leg
In some ways, it feels insane that Wet Leg’s self-titled debut isn’t already out yet, given the amount of buzz singles “Chaise Longue” and “Wet Dream” have already generated. The hype is deserved; this is an extremely fun band. As Wet Leg’s Rhian Teasdale described it in a statement, “Wet Leg was originally just supposed to be funny. As a woman, there’s so much put on you, in that your only value is how pretty or cool you look. But we want to be goofy and a little bit rude. We want to write songs that people can dance to. And we want to people to have a good time, even if that might not possible all of the time.”
Jack White, Fear the Dawn and Entering Heaven Alive
April 8 and July 22
Jack White makes his return in 2022 with not one but two new albums — Fear the Dawn, which hits shelves this spring, and Entering Heaven Alive, which drops in July. We don’t have many details yet, besides an early taste in the form of lead single “Taking Me Back,” but the pair of records will of course be released by White’s Third Man Records.
Lizzo’s got her work cut out for her when it comes to following up her last album; Cuz I Love You was a breakthrough in every sense of the word, a commercial and critical success that made her a household name and earned her a handful of Grammy nominations. Last summer, she announced the “beginning of a new era” when she released her new single with Cardi B, “Rumors,” and while she hasn’t formally announced anything yet, the general consensus is that we can expect a new record from her sometime in 2022.
Kendrick Lamar, TBA
It’s been nearly five long years since Kendrick Lamar released his Pulitzer Prize-winning DAMN. Nothing’s been announced yet, but there are some signs that we could finally get a follow-up in 2022. For one, the rapper is scheduled to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show this year along with Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Eminem. He also recently registered more than 30 new songs with ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), signaling that new music could soon be on the way.
Arctic Monkeys, TBA
It’s been three years since Arctic Monkeys put out their sixth LP, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. According to a recent interview with drummer Matt Helders, the group plans on putting out new material at some point this summer. “It was a bit disjointed how we had to do it, and there are bits to finish off, but yeah, it’s all in the works,” he said when asked about the new record. “I think by the time we get everything together it’ll be next year. Hopefully we can get out and tour next summer.”
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