The best debut albums of 2022

To celebrate National Album Day (15 October), here are some of our favourite debut albums of the year — from Gabriels to Weird Nightmare

Saturday 15 October is National Album Day, an initiative that since its birth in 2018 has aimed to celebrate the album format. Each year has it’s own theme, and this year it’s Celebrating Debut Albums.

So, that’s just what we’ll do. Here we look back at 2022 and round up some of our favourite debut albums to surface this year.

Wet LegWet Leg

Wet Leg - Wet Dream (Official Video)

“2022 is officially the year of the Wet Leg. This time 12 months ago, the world had only just heard ‘Chaise Longue’ and ‘Wet Dream’ – and now it’s hard to think of any two other songs that better sum up the sound of new music deafening its own buzz. Even after all the hype, the blockbuster Harry Styles covers and the endless festival stampedes, Wet Leg still sounds box fresh and way more exciting than any other wry indie pop has in years.” Paul

Read our full review of Wet Leg here

Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul – Topical Dancer

Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul - Ceci n'est pas un cliché (Official Video)

“For those in the know, Belgian duo Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul may as well be a supergroup, combing all the warbles and grooves of the latter with the witty, wry and rhythmic force of the former. Their collaborative debut certainly didn’t disappoint, then, a tongue-in-cheek, face-wincing, pulsing piece of dance weirdness with identity as its subject.” John

Read our full review of Topical Dancer here

The Smile – A Light For Attracting Attention

The Smile - Thin Thing (Official Video)

“Okay so it’s only sort of a debut – since The Smile is made up of half of Radiohead and one of Sons Of Kemet – but A Light For Attracting Attention is more than enough of its own animal to justify the band’s existence and make us all long for a fast follow-up. Almost the sound of a complete reboot for Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood, it’s an album that tests a dozen new directions at once: afrobeat, funk, piano ballads and at least one diss track about Silvio Berlusconi.” Paul

Gabriels – Angels and Queens Part 1

Gabriels - Angels & Queens (Official Music Video)

“The LA-based gospel-soul trio Gabriels released Angels and Queens Part 1 in early October, and if the band being Elton-approved didn’t convince you enough of this debut album’s god-tier status, then Compton-born frontman Jacob Lusk’s celestial falsetto will cement it for you. The album might only be 27 minutes long, but it is nothing short of a heavenly masterpiece.” Lily

Good Looks – Bummer Year

Good Looks - "Almost Automatic" [official music video]

“My most-played tracks of 2022 has turned into a one-horse race, with ‘Almost Automatic’ by Good Looks stampeding off into the sunset. It’s a scene-setter, abruptly hauling the listener off to a sepia-lit bar in a world built on Telecasters and check shirts. The Texans’ debut album is filled with similarly atmospheric, rootsy indie rock, not far removed from Lone Star brethren like Centro-matic and Slobberbone, but there’s a glistening, reverby guitar tone that feels transported in from 80s Manchester.” Mark

Cola – Deep In Review

Cola - Water Table (Official Music Video)

Deep in Review is the art punk outcome of former members of Montreal-based post-punk band Ought, and the Toronto experimental pop project U.S Girls. With the word punk being mentioned a few times it would seem strange to make comparisons with the genre-defining Strokes. However, across songs such as ‘Water Table’ and ‘So Excited’ vocalist Tim Darcy’s tones are reminiscent of Casablancas. The album is a meditative exploration of modern anxieties, isolation, and technology with catchy guitar riffs, and an absorbing window into the rebirth of the band’s former projects.” Lily

Julie OdellAutumn Eve

Julie Odell - Cardinal Feather (Official Video)

“There’s so much poured into Autumn Eve that it’ll probably take Julie Odell another 20 odd years to make a follow-up. Covering youth, motherhood, change, lost-loves, yodelling, folk rock, country, pop and everything on the fringes (often all in the same song), it’s a debut that already sounds like a whole back catalogue. Listen to the title track and feel everything at once.” Paul

Read our full review of Autumn Eve here

Koffee – Gifted

Koffee - Pull Up (Official Video)

“Jamaican breakout star Mikayla Victoria Simpson, aka Koffee, delivered such a tasty hit in ‘Toast’ in 2018 that it still hasn’t left the radio waves, be it Kingston, LA or London. But her debut Gifted proved that the earworms didn’t end there, from the blissed out ‘West Indies’ to the reggae roller ‘Lonely’ and punchy ‘Pull Up’.” John

Dust Star – Open Up That Heart

Dust Star - Can't Stop Thinkin' Of You

“We were enthusiastically in favour of the Californian’s debut when it came out back in August, particularly the classic melodies of the superb title track. Drawing on garage rock, punk and power pop, it’s as spiky as a cactus, as revved up as a hot rod and as hooky as a coat rack.” Mark

Read our full review of Open Up That Heart here

Yard Act – The Overload

Yard Act - 100% Endurance

“It has been a big 3 years for the Leeds native post-punk band Yard Act. Given that for 2 of which the music industry was otherwise occupied, the agile rise of these northern boys remains surprising. However, one we are certainly not ungrateful for. Releasing their critically acclaimed debut album a mere 18 months after forming, The Overload is a true to form mouthy post-punk confrontation with post-Brexit Britain. At times humorous, but always witty, its namesake track begs to be listened to live, and proves to be an extremely promising start for the quartet.” Lily


MELTS - Outlier (Official Video)

MELTS couldn’t have picked a better title if they tried. Somehow capturing the sound of being stuck in the middle of a whirlpool (if you were swimming in the basement of an industrial West German post-punk club in the 80s), Maelstrom lands heavy, and then carries on landing again and again and again. Hung with menace and ringing with psych-rock hypnotics, it’s the kind of album you carry on hearing long after it’s finished.” Paul

Read our full review of Maelstrom here

Daniel Rossen – You Belong There

Daniel Rossen - Shadow In The Frame (Official Video)

“Grizzly Bear frontman Daniel Rossen ushered in all of the looming but lush cadences of his band on his first solo full-length. But spotlighted alone, albeit sometimes bolstered by crisp percussion and rich orchestral shadows, his unmistakable sound became all the more autumnal and atmospheric.” John

Weird Nightmare – Weird Nightmare

Weird Nightmare - Wrecked (Official Video)

“Recorded during downtime from his day job in METZ, Alex Edkins’ first release as Weird Nightmare combines sugar-rush melodies with the intense noise he’s become famous for. Standout track ‘Lusitania’ sounds like Guided By Voices playing a lost Britpop song through a broken amp. Demands to be played so loud that you need to replace your speakers.” Mark