The best guitar albums of 2022

Jack White, Eric Gales, Tim Henson, Tosin Abasi, Rhian Teasdale
(Image credit: Getty Images / Future)

This is it, folks, the big one. As end-of-year polls go, this is the one that really matters. Of course, we love the greatest solos, reprising the past 365 days in lead guitar and drilling down to Top 10 that offer clues as to where technique is going and what that means for the musical ideas we want to share with the world. Or riffs, the building blocks of musical life as we know it.

The albums, however, are definitive statements. They contain multitudes. And even in the digital era, streaming scrambling what was so carefully sequenced by the artist’s life, albums still matter.


EDITOR’S PICK: Machine Gun Kelly – Mainstream Sellout
Machine Gun Kelly is one of the most divisive and conversation-provoking figures in guitar music today – exactly as an artist of his stature should be. After metamorphosing from prolific hip-hop artist to Schecter-toting punk rocker with his 2020 full-length, Tickets to My Downfall, the Cleveland, Ohio superstar threw his hat into the six-string ring once again this year with the sprawling and self-aware Mainstream Sellout. The album sees MGK recruit some big-name artists – not least blackbear, Willow and Bring Me the Horizon – but it’s hard to focus on the star turns when the palm-muted, powerchord laden riffs and hooks contained within and written by the man himself are this damn catchy. – Sam Roche


EDITOR’S PICK: Willow – Coping Mechanism
There’s no two ways about it: Willow Smith is one of today’s fastest-rising guitar stars, and though her initial defection to the ranks of six-strings stirred skepticism from naysayers and haters, the 22-year-old has well and truly silenced the doubters in quite spectacular style. Coping Mechanism is the latest rung on a ladder that leads straight to the top for Willow, who channels her biggest inspirations – think Deftones, Smashing Pumpkins and Lamb of God – while also introducing her own guitar-heavy flair. The riffs are savage, the solos are superb and the overall package is top-notch. With Willow recently voicing her desire to further improve her guitar skills à la St Vincent and Yvette Young, we can rest easy knowing her guitar era is just getting started. – Matt Owen


EDITOR’S PICK: Momma – Household Name
The new wave of ’90s-inspired Gen Z alt-rock really picked up steam this year, but nobody tapped into the revival quite like Momma. Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten may carry themselves with a slacker aesthetic, but their songs are loaded with the kind of precision-engineered hooks that would have propelled them to the top of the Billboard charts in ’93. Third album Household Name is the ultimate distillation of the duo’s sound – an explosive combo of contagious riffs, Smashing Pumpkins guitar tones and bubblegum pop melodies that’s among the most addictive sonic formulas to be cooked up this year. – Michael Astley-Brown


EDITOR’S PICK: The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention
Trading their compadres in Radiohead for Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood this year delivered a collection of songs that are twistier, knottier and a bit more obtuse than usual, but with the same vital heart. Contained within are some of the best riffs – the punk fury of Yorke’s You Will Never Work in Television Again and Greenwood’s hypnotically math-y Les Paul figure on Thin Thing in particular – either have written in a long, long time. – Jackson Maxwell

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.