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A look ahead at some good music coming out in 2022


Sure, there's gloom and doom out there, but let's focus on the good stuff this new year will bring, specifically music. We asked Stephen Thompson of NPR Music what he's heard so far.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: It's not often that we can sit down in January and speak with any confidence about what we'll be talking about at the end of the year. But in music, I am very confident that when we're talking about the best albums of 2022, we will be talking about the self-titled debut album by a duo from the Isle of Wight called Wet Leg. Wet Leg's first album comes out April 8.


WET LEG: (Singing) Hey, you over there. I'm a chaise longue in your underwear. What are you doing sitting down? You should be horizontal now.

THOMPSON: Wet Leg just kind of came out of nowhere with this single in 2021 called "Chaise Longue." It's this wildly catchy song that seems dry and emotionless at first but then reveals these layers of wit and playfulness and sexiness. And there's a droll quality to it that is so, so charming. Each single that Wet Leg has put out after that song has also been fantastic.


WET LEG: (Singing) Baby, do you want to come home with me? I got "Buffalo '66" on DVD. Beat me up, beat me up, count me in, count me in, three, two, one, three, two, one, let's begin.

THOMPSON: One of the things that's interesting to me about Wet Leg is the way they play around with what seems to be emotionlessness. That is a vehicle for really sly commentary about growing up, finding who you are, coming to terms with your sadness. There's the sadness and playfulness that are orbiting each other like a binary star throughout these songs. And at the same time, the songs rock. They're catchy. You will crank them out of car windows. And I'm just so excited to see the totality of what they have in mind for their first record.


WET LEG: (Singing) Let's begin.

THOMPSON: Another record I'm really excited about in 2022 is called "Laurel Hell" by an artist named Mitski. The record's coming out February 4.


MITSKI: (Singing) If you would just make one mistake, what a relief that would be.

THOMPSON: Mitski spent a bunch of years in the last decade as a next big thing, and then she fully arrived. She put out a couple records in 2016 and 2018 that were just fantastic, a record called "Puberty 2" and a record called "Be The Cowboy." She's fully come into her own as this really ambitious artist and somebody who's not just making catchy pop songs, catchy rock songs, but somebody who's playing around with her own persona. And this record "Laurel Hell" continues in that tradition. You know, they're songs about relationships that aren't just coming at you from one direction. She's a really exploratory songwriter, and so she's constantly looking at herself and the world around her and her place in the world around her. So her music is introspective but also really artistically ambitious. And so you can get lost in the feeling of her music, but you can also get lost in the spectacle of it.


MITSKI: (Singing) Only, the only heartbreaker.

MARTIN: That's Stephen Thompson of NPR Music and the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast recommending that we all check out an album by Mitski called "Laurel Hell" and "Wet Leg," their self-titled debut. I'm game. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)