2022 saw Singapore’s music scene come alive with new and exciting music releases from our homegrown artists.
For those following our "Hear65: New Releases" Spotify playlist, you would be familiar with the new local music releases this year. If 2022 was any indication of the musical talent that we have right here on our sunny island, it is safe to say that Singapore’s music scene is flourishing and that we can expect more quality releases in the coming years.
It has been no easy feat choosing our favourites out of so many amazing releases that we’ve heard, but as we wrap up 2022, we are proud to present our picks for the best albums and EPs of the year. Read on to find out more about the seven projects that captured our hearts.
Violets Aren't Blue - Sezairi
Comprising a total of eight tracks, including an interlude and an outro, Violets Aren’t Blue can feel a little brief. But when you are listening to Sezairi’s latest album, you will realise that sometimes, it is better to prioritise quality over quantity. From the moment it opens with the ‘Dead’, the Singapore Idol 3 champion’s 90s R&B-influenced collaborative track with Filipino rapper Young Cocoa, it is clear that you are in for a treat. Combining mysterious-sounding instrumentals and the mellow vocals of Sezairi — who is such a perfect fit for the song’s concept — ‘Dead’ feels like something that could easily find its way onto the soundtrack of a Bond-esque spy film.
After beginning the Violets Aren’t Blue on a high, Sezairi never once lets its quality dip as he explores the theme of love in tracks such as ‘Fool’, ‘Restless Love’, and ‘Blue’, the last one being another collaboration, this time with South Korean vocalist msftz. Also one of the project’s standout tracks, ‘Blue’ is much more upbeat in comparison to ‘Dead’ and it demonstrates Sezairi’s ability to effortlessly switch up his sound to explore a different facet of a particular subject matter. The 35-year-old has come a very long way since the release of his 2010 debut album Take Two, and with Violets Aren't Blue, he has not only shown his growth but also announced that there is still plenty to come from him.
All We Have - aeriqah
This year has been exciting as we've seen aeriqah truly blossom in her solo music career. All We Have marks the artist’s first full-length album since she made her debut with the single ‘re:discovery’ in 2020. Boasting vocals that feel like a warm and comforting hug, the album takes listeners through a journey of raw emotions, honesty, and reflective thinking.
The topics that aeriqah touches on in her songs speak lengths of her maturity. All We Have’s fourth track, done in collaboration with Singaporean R&B artist Umar Sirhan, is an acoustic tune about hopefulness, the connection between individuals, and a reminder to live in the present. Notably, these are also running themes in several other songs such as ‘Déjà Vu’, ‘I Wish/I Knew’, and ‘Happy Anniversary’. Towards the end of the album, we get to hear a conversation about closure, which gives eye-opening and personal insights on a topic that is rarely discussed. It is little inserts like this that make for a thought-provoking listening experience. When the message hits you, it leads you to appreciate the album and aeriqah as a profound and undeniably talented artist even more. Though she sings ‘One More, Then I’ll Go’ in All We Have’s penultimate track, the album leaves listeners wanting more and certainly wishing that it wasn’t already coming to the end.
remember a stranger - motifs
Nostalgia can be a powerful tool in music-making but it needs to be employed with care. Use too much of it and you will run the risk of putting off your listeners. Use it too sparingly, on the other hand, and its effects may not be felt. But if you do manage to find the sweet spot when it comes to nostalgia levels, you’ll end up with something like motifs’ remember a stranger.
The first album from the homegrown shoegaze/dream pop band — produced by Snakeweed Studios’ Leonard Soosay — is an impressive introduction to the world of motifs, where there is plenty of beauty to be found even though the stories told here may sometimes evoke feelings of melancholy. According to the quintet, the project explores “fading memories” and “coping with loss”, but visitors to their realm need not worry if they are unable to decipher the meanings behind the lyrics of numbers such as ‘flourescent’, ‘summersad’, and ‘hourglass’. All they need to do is close their eyes and let the music of Elspeth Ong, JJ Tan, Paul Yuen, Badrul Amin, and Jolin Chiam guide them as they embark on a therapeutic journey. A great album leaves you curious about the artist behind it and wanting more of their music, and remember a stranger is a fine example of such a project.
idk it's complicated - Shye
Shye has had such a riveting music career so far. Four years after releasing her debut single ‘One Fine Day’ back in 2018, her fourth album idk it’s complicated continues to find its way into her listeners’ hearts. Boasting cosy, bedroom pop-sounding tunes, Shye’s latest album is one you may find yourself listening to when you are craving lighthearted, ethereal dancey tunes that you can vibe along to in your own, well, bedroom.
The 10-track album consists three instrumentals for specially selected tracks ‘hi, hello’, ‘phonecase’, and ‘build a life’. Even if you’re a new listener, you would be led to agree that the songs presented in this album are enjoyable and easy to listen to, which nicely encapsulates the kind of artist that Shye is. This album in particular resembles that of a personal diary, with Shye carefully penning down all her thoughts, no matter how little, and pouring out her emotions into the song lyrics. With tracks like ‘legally illegal’ which showcases Shye’s straightforward attitude and ‘everything has changed’, an expression of her emotions through bouts of uncertainty in love, idk it’s complicated is evidently infused with the singer-songwriter’s personal touch. Audiences can’t help but feel that much connected to her natural gift of storytelling after listening to the album.
Tension - Keith VVolf
Released through spikyfruits, Tension is a collection of four pre-released songs that Keith VVolf released in early 2022 with the addition of a new track. What ultimately strikes any listener is the singer’s remarkable ability to turn a soft-sounding track into a hard-hitting rock anthem.
The first track ‘Tension’, which shares the same title as the EP, is the perfect opener for the rest of the album that follows. Starting tentatively, we focus on Keith’s crisp tenor vocals before the unmistakable electric guitar and drums suddenly hit, effectively turning it into a confident rock banger. Keith takes it slowly in the next track, showcasing his emotional vocals for ‘The Distance Between Us’ — a heartbreaking anthem that expresses emotions so raw and personal that you can’t help but feel everything that the talented artist has evidently poured out from his soul. As he sings, “I want you to notice, and I want you to care. And to know that I am missing you, every moment I’m not there,” listeners get an idea of the artist’s understated sense of longing that’s clearly presented in the song. The remaining three songs are more heartfelt with lighthearted melodies. Ending with ‘Without You’, the song is the perfect closure for the album and one that makes you want to do a slow dance, all while appreciating its tender lyrics.
Heart Matter - Tim De Cotta
The Tim De Cotta that we find in Heart Matter is much closer to the one that those who are acquainted with him would be familiar with. “Outside of music, I’m quite a relaxed, fun-loving person and The Warrior (his 2017 debut album) failed to show that,” shared the multitalented artist in an interview with Hear65 earlier this year.
Anyone listening to his 11-track second studio album will instantly recognise that its existence is only possible because the musician behind it not only invested time and effort into putting it together, but also thoroughly enjoyed himself in the process. In Heart Matter, the local singer-songwriter, bassist, and producer steers away from the socially-conscious messages of The Warrior and instead, chooses to shine a spotlight on “love and matters of the heart”. Playful tracks such as ‘Ice Cream’ and ‘Ride’, in which Tim sings of the highs of the early stages of love, are an absolute delight to listen to but it is in the album’s exploration of the more complex aspects of love where Tim’s ingenuity is on full display. Take the dance-inducing ‘Lying Eyes’, for instance. Even though the song deals with the topic of infidelity, it manages to do so without ever sacrificing the album’s overall fun factor.
It takes a brilliant musician to craft an album that is varied yet cohesive, and a brilliant musician is exactly what Tim is.
Everything Is - Coming Up Roses
Music spans a myriad of topics, and for Coming Up Roses, their latest EP revolves around existentialism and their journey of self-discovery. Everything Is is the alt-rock, shoegaze trio’s second EP to date, following the release of Waters in 2019. From the music they’ve released so far, you can tell that the band, consisting of Emily Sera, Darius Oon, and Lorenzo Romero, simply enjoy making music together.
The four-track project finds an apt opener in ‘All Our Time’, featuring a jovial, animated tune juxtaposed with lyrics that express lost time and breaking through mundane behaviour. As we listen to ‘Glass Stained Eyes’, ‘Slingshots’, and ‘Would You Ever’, it is clear that Everything Is takes one on a journey of self-exploration and finding one’s identity. The questions posed throughout the album seem like a reflection of our own as we navigate through the ups and downs of life. In a world that’s so fast-paced like the one that we live in, just knowing that we can rely on Coming Up Roses’ music to put a voice to our innermost thoughts and touch our hearts at the same time doesn’t make it seem so bad after all.
Find out which tracks stood out in a year that was jam-packed with new releases in our "The 7 best songs from Singapore in 2022" list.