From continuations of the names we know and love to the blistering arrival of soon-to-be mainstays, we’re counting down the best Australian music releases of 2022.
Pundits have called this year a renaissance for Australian music, and with a smattering of some of the best releases in recent memory, it’s no wonder why. Listeners have welcomed the arrival of soon-to-be mainstays whose debut projects cemented their place among the upper-echelons (Body Type, King Stingray), and watched as established names continued their steady output (Thelma Plum, RÜFÜS DU SOL).
Elsewhere, we’ve enjoyed smaller yet no less impactful EP releases (Agung Mango), and saw a masterclass in defying the sophomore slump (Spacey Jane). So, as the year draws to a close and Australian musicians hang up their mics for the time being, we’re taking a look back at the ten best Australian music releases of 2022. For a look at Happy Mag’s picks for the best albums worldwide in 2022, head here.
Spacey Jane — Here Comes Everybody
Defying the sophomore slump with their second studio album in June, Spacey Jane’s Here Comes Everybody married the band’s distinct indie jangle with more intentional lyrics, with frontman Caleb Harper ruminating on everything from 20-something romance to the climate crisis and post-pandemic life. The record would go on to be nominated for Album of the Year at this year’s ARIA’s, with standout tracks including ‘Lots of Nothing’ and ‘Haircut’.
Body Type — Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising
Sydney-based quartet Body Type arrived on the scene with a blistering holler in the form of Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising. Released in June, the debut record — while full of surprises — situates itself firmly within the pop-punk territory, with the band’s rotating vocalists bringing new witty lyricism to each cut. Tracing double standards in the industry (The Charm) to the creative agency (Buoyancy), Body Type entered the discourse not with a whimper but with a bang.
Agung Mango — Man On The Go
Marking his debut project upon its release in October, Agung Mango’s seven-track EP Man On The Go more than established the rapper/singer’s place in the Australian music scene. Enlisting the likes of Genesis Owusu (on EP highlight GUAP POP) and Mammoth, the project effortlessly flits between pop, R&B and hip-hop, punctuated by what has now become Mango’s signature: expertly crafted bars and enviable braggadocio.
Thelma Plum — Meanjin
Driven by gorgeous melodies, Thelma Plum’s ode to the city that shaped her, Meanjin, is lushly produced and colourfully written. Across six tracks, Plum sketches vignettes of her hometown of Brisbane, with references to the city’s iconic lake (as on the nostalgia EP opener The Brown Snake) and ‘80s-inspired cuts like When It Rains It Pours. Arriving three years after her 2019 debut, Meanjin cements Plum’s place as a pop tour de force.
RÜFÜS DU SOL – Surrender
Driven by rich and atmospheric beats, Surrender expands producer trio RÜFÜS DU SOL’s sonic landscape with immersive synths and wise mantras on love and optimism. The album, RÜFÜS’ fourth overall, swept up the ARIA nominations, given its specially-made penchant for dance floors. Packed with anthemic hooks and transcendent, almost-haunting melodies, Surrender more than justifies its place in RÜFÜS canon of dance-ready bangers.
King Stingray – King Stingray
Blending surf rock with First Nations traditional song and lyrics, King Stingray’s self-titled debut is an irresistible joyride through the band’s youthful spirit and do-it-yourself energy. Tracing the bandmates’ friendship and mutual respect, King Stingray rightfully earned its place among this year’s ARIA nominees, with the band going on to win the Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist award.
Flume — Palaces
Flume’s 2022 effort marries the producer’s signature left-of-field electronics with an introspection we’ve never seen from him before. While Palaces refines the wonky synths and glitchy beats we’ve come to expect from Flume — real name Harley Streten — the album carries a polished pop formula that makes the best use of its featured artists, which include sMay-a, Kučka, Caroline Polachek and Damon Albarn, among others.
Hatchie — Giving The World Away
Hatchie refines her atmospheric dream-pop on Giving The World Away, a sophomore effort that sees the Brisbane-based musician expand her self-exploratory lyrics without losing sight of the nostalgic sounds that have become her signature. Giving The World Away, the follow-up to Hatchie’s 2019 debut Keeepsake, creates an expansive sonic world, and with album highlights This Enchanted and Quicksand, it’s one you’ll want to revel in.
Methyl Ethel — Are You Haunted?
On perhaps their most experimental album to date, Methyl Ethel — the music project brainchild of multi-hyphenate Jake Webb — the Australian outfit offers more electronics and samples than they ever have before. Across nine tracks, the band creates a rich and textured soundscape, interrupting the chaos with playful, polished riffs and well-composed melodies. Methyl Ethel’s fourth studio album was released in February.
Jaguar Jonze — BUNNY MODE
Defiant in its critique of the music-dominated industry and the patriarchy writ large, BUNNY MODE is Jaguar Jonze’s brash middle finger to detractors (especially the male kind). The 11-track album spans from the furious rebuttals and angular guitar strums of Who Died and Made You King to the silky vocals around the importance of boundaries on the more downbeat single Murder. With BUNNY MODE, Jonze marks her arrival — whether you like it or not.