By the ACRN Editorial Team
8. Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future [Loma Vista Records; 2022]
By Roman Salomone, Contributor
After an unstoppable streak of great releases, Florida’s Denzel Curry aimed for the stars on his latest album. Except this time around, he shot himself straight in the foot. Melt My Eyez See Your Future is the first album where Zel has truly faltered since his humble beginnings in the early 2010s. Going for a more “mellow” and “R&B” sound, Curry tries to match these smooth beats with more low-key Migos-style flows and content getting personal and “in his feels.” This, of course, panned out horrendously, and he ultimately created the type of rap you’d hear on a terrible “Nite Vibes” playlist, sitting alongside More Life-era Drake and bad Frank Ocean singles.
The engineering and soundplay was clearly rushed, as the mixes are extremely washed-out, littered with high-end frequencies clipping and everything else sounding disgustingly boomy. Songs like “John Wayne” and “The Last” are so laughably bad that I genuinely am in disbelief of how Loma Vista Records let them slide. Several tracks like “Sanjuro” and “The Smell of Death” are painfully underwritten, with the most offensively phoned-in one being the failed posse cut “Ain’t No Way” which gets by solely for having astonishing verse from Rico Nasty and a solid contribution from JID. Songs like “Walkin,” “Troubles” and “The Ills” are the brightest highlights on the LP, but could these go toe-to-toe with some of Zel’s past standout tracks? Not in the slightest.
7. Jack Harlow – Come Home The Kids Miss You [Atlantic; 2022]
By Cody Englander, Contributor
This album goes to prove that Harlow is a solid rapper who has talent that will be wasted on poor writing and forgettable chart toppers. The singles leading up to this were only half as corny as the rest of the album, and never provided any real entertainment. Even with a list of promising features, there is not a single artist that brings their a-game, for they have perhaps written off the album before it had even released. Unfortunately for the listener, the album runs about 45 minutes, which is both a waste of our time and the time of every single person who worked on the album. The fact that this is now a Grammy nominated album next to the likes of Pusha T and Kendrick Lamar is laughable, but unfortunately is likely not a sign that Jack Harlow will stop making lifeless albums such as this. Hallow production is the lead culprit, and gives Harlow very little to work with. The best thing I can say about this is that it will slip my mind as soon as this sentence ends.
6. Post Malone – Twelve Carat Toothache [Mercury and Republic Records; 2022]
By Grace Koennecke, Columns Editor
Yes, I secretly have an undying love for Post Malone, but that doesn’t excuse what he did with Twelve Carat Toothache. The singer’s fourth studio album has no real substance and barely any emotional depth. It sounds like he simply ran out of inspiration, none of the songs holding to the same standards as his previous masterpiece, 2019’s Hollywood’s Bleeding. “Reputation” is the only song on the whole album that sees the singer admit to his vices, knowing that he has a tarnished reputation due to his past public use of drugs and alcohol. Besides that moment of vulnerability, the rest of the tracks don’t justify Post Malone’s talent. Making TikTok-esque hits with “I Like You (A Happier Song) [feat. Doja Cat]” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” which sound exactly like past collaborations he’s done on Beerbongs & Bentleys. While Post Malone’s vocals are still intact, lyrically, he continues to sing about money, drugs, girls, and fast cars, which doesn’t make much sense anymore for a singer who’s recently become a father. Overall, this was a major hit to Post Malone’s career, a terrible showcase of what he’s truly capable of.
5. Arctic Monkeys – The Car [Domino Recording Company; 2022]
By Devon Risner, Contributor
While not a terrible album, Arctic Monkeys’ seventh studio album, The Car, is nothing but a slightly underwhelming collective of songs coming from the UK-based alt-rock giants. Building off of their 2018 album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, instead of the band creating music in homage or to honor the lounge genre, they are now trying to just be a band in this genre but are falling short. However, the arrangement of instruments feels all right. The funky touch of guitar and bass on “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” and the catchy synth lead with ear-perking drum beat on “Body Paint” all drive this album in a great direction, but the one thing that drags the album down is the vocals. Turner’s vocal performance feels a little lackluster despite his long-lasting career as a singer. His voice reminisces a poor impression of David Bowie. Even if the album did not have the band’s name on it, it still would not be a good lounge record. The expectation of the band has nothing to do with the feelings from this record but only frames the circumstance of how it is viewed.
4. Father John Misty – Chloë and the Next 20th Century [Sub Pop; 2022]
By Ethan Bloomfield, Reviews Editor
Chloë and the Next 20th Century was slated to be Father John Misty’s most honest attempt at the vintage nightclub singer aesthetic that he has flirted with over his four previous albums. What ended up releasing is among his most forgettable music to date, with homogenous-sounding instrumentals, flat lyrics, and an overall reliance on set dressing more so than substance.
The appeal of Josh Tillman’s work tends to be his soaring vocal style, but there is little to be found here. In fact, Tillman seems to hold back and let the horns or the piano do the talking, which ends up feeling empty and without the “oomph” that previous works have had. Also, while past tracks like “True Affection” or “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” used vocal effects tastefully, “Kiss Me (I Loved You)” just comes off as annoying.
I have listened to this entire album many times, but can never remember what any of the songs sound like. Tillman has been full of memorable lyrics in the past, with 2017’s Pure Comedy hailed by critics as an austere and subtle work of art. Chloë simply isn’t – behind all the muted trumpets and old-timey aesthetics, it is a forgettable fifth outing, completely overshadowed by Lana Del Rey’s cover of “Buddy’s Rendezvous.” Maybe next time, Josh.
3. Mitski – Laurel Hell [Dead Oceans; 2022]
By Grace Koennecke, Columns Editor
Laurel Hell is definitely an album full of highs and lows for Mitski, but it failed in a few aspects to be a memorable body of work amongst an array of big releases this year. To many alternative music fans, Mitski practically rules the genre, especially after her previous album, 2018’s Be the Cowboy, gained critical acclaim. Yet, her new album caused the singer to lose some of her momentum, and some of herself as well. While there are some hard-hitting lyrics on songs such as “There’s Nothing Left for You” and “I Guess,” Mitski continues to wallow in her self-doubts about her career choice, becoming redundant throughout the album’s 11 tracks. It feels like she almost made this album to complain in a way, and while justifiable to an extent coming from a female musician, it’s time for Mitski to move on, or honestly, just quit music if it’s not a source of happiness for her. There’s a lot of potential within Laurel Hell, especially through songs like the 1980s-inspired disco tracks “Stay Soft” and “The Only Heartbreaker,” and if the singer would’ve strayed away from songs just about self-pity, the album would’ve been a success.
2. Taylor Swift – Midnights [Republic Records; 2022]
By Adrian Woods, Contributor
For someone who has been outspoken about having their music be their own and that only the artist gets paid when making their music, it really makes you wonder what the point of that statement was when Midnights is one of Taylor’s most generic and worst projects to date. This feels like a step back in her career from a creative standpoint. The clean production gives this album no interesting hooks, albums like Red and folklore have much better and catchier songwriting, and each song has the exact same monotone feeling to it that either gets old about halfway through, or just begins to sound like the same song again and again. What makes the project even more frustrating is that Taylor has made way better and more creative albums than this one. Not even a feature from Lana Del Rey could save this album from its mediocrity.
1. Harry Styles – Harry’s House [Columbia Records; 2022]
By Cody Englander, Contributor
Harry Styles proves himself as perhaps not the best member of One Direction, but the most marketable, with an album that disappoints through and through. The so-called novelty of this wears off about seven tracks in, where the album also comes to its highpoint, with the track “Matilda.” It feels like more effort went into it than the other 12 songs, which range from forgettable to annoyingly catchy. The radio hits plague this album, although it gives Target about two songs they can play year round, where one can only assume the absurd streaming numbers come from for “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” and “As It Was.” While at no fault of the album, these two tracks were inescapable, and it doesn’t help that the rest of the album has little depth. While I find it unfair to call Harry Styles a sellout, I also find it unfair for him making his album six songs too long, so Harry sells out to an extent, with a step down from his previous works, aiming to make popular music, not good music. It doesn’t sound as fun as his previous works, and the emotional songs don’t hit as heavy as they could if someone else was performing them. While not the worst pop album, this offers very little in both replay value and quality.