Monday 15 January 2024

My Top 20 Favourite Albums of 2023

It’s time for my favourite albums of 2023. Which records made the cut?

This year saw me gravitating away from rap and listening to more rock. In fact, there’s only two hip hop albums on this list. Wait, no, the Lil Yachty record was rock too! One hip hop album.

There’s some pop and soul sprinkled in there too. But it’s mostly distorted guitars and angst. Rock is clearly not dead.

If you like lists, please check out my top tracks of the year. You can also check out my worst songs of 2023 list here.

20 - 10

20. strongboi – strongboi

In this strong debut from strongboi, South African singer-songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou teams up with producer Ziv Yamin to deliver 7 smooth tracks of silky vocals and jazzy Casio keyboards.

Favourite tracks: ‘fool around’, ‘flame’


This Bristol post-punk band’s debut album is a satisfyingly raw slab of hissing cymbals, rumbling baritone guitars and chaotic vocals. Check out my interview with them here.

Favourite tracks: ‘Already There’, ‘Settle Down’

18. Alchemy – Disclosure

Disclosure’s new album sees the EDM duo trading big pop singer guests for surprisingly decent DIY vocals and some of their most playful beats in over a decade.

Favourite tracks: ‘We Were In Love’, ‘Talk On The Phone’

17. Javelin – Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan strips things back to his intimate indie folk roots while simultaneously drawing on influences from the rest of his discography. And for the first time in a while, he sounds (relatively) optimistic.

Favourite tracks: ‘Goodbye Evergreen’, ‘Will Anybody Ever Love Me?’

16. The Enduring Spirit – Tomb Mold

Canadian death metal band Tomb Mold construct a dizzying labyrinth of surprisingly catchy riffs and acrobatic drumming that is a joy to get lost in (providing you’re into extreme metal).

Favourite tracks: ‘The Perfect Memory (Phantasm of Aura)’, ‘Servants of Possibility’

15. But Here We Are – Foo Fighters

Fuelled by his mother’s death and the death of bandmate Taylor Hawkins, Grohl delivers some of the alt rock band’s most heartfelt songs to date. And the songwriting is at times some of their most ambitious too.

Favourite tracks: ‘Show Me How’, ‘The Teacher’

14. Gigi’s Recovery – The Murder Capital

Dublin post-punk band The Murder Capital combine playful guitar effects and emotive crooning to create some uniquely morose rock songs.

Favourite tracks: ‘The Stars Will Leave Their Stage’, ‘Only Good Things’

13. Let’s Start Here – Lil Yachty

A psychedelic rock album from Lil Yachty was not on the cards going into 2023. Even more shocking is the fact that it’s actually quite good – Yachty’s weird vocal effects work well with the psychedelic backdrops.

Favourite tracks: ‘the BLACK seminole’, ‘THE zone’

12. Rat Saw God – Wednesday

Asheville alt rock band Wednesday paint a gritty picture of suburbia delivered in a volatile wailing vocal tone over a unique mix of country and grunge. And no, they have nothing to do with the Netflix show.

Favourite tracks: ‘Bull Believer’, ‘Bath County’

11. O Monolith – Squid

Brighton rock band Squid take their distinctive wacky post-punk sound in a more complex and proggy direction, continuing to build songs up to thrillingly noisy climaxes.

Favourite tracks: ‘The Blades’, ‘Green Light’

1 - 10

10. Desire, I Want To Turn Into You – Caroline Polachek

Caroline Polachek’s new colourful pop album just makes into my top 10 with its mix of hypnotic vocals, cryptic lyrics and eccentric production that throws in everything from bagpipes to Balearic guitars.

Favourite tracks: ‘Welcome To My Island’, ‘Butterfly Net’, ‘Billions’

9. Heaven Knows – PinkPantheress

PinkPantheress proves that she has the most distinctive sound in pop right now, continuing to deliver cute mousey British-accented vocals and bubbly garage beats – but with more fleshed-out songs.

Favourite tracks: ‘Another Life’, ‘Mosquito’, ‘Capable of Love’

8. Hive Mind Narcosis – Thantifaxath

Canadian black metal band Thantifaxath return after a decade with another selection of seriously sinister songs, keeping the production crisp while ramping up the disorienting progginess and dissonant melodies.

Favourite tracks: ‘Solar Witch’, ‘The Lost Kingdom Of Wolves’, ‘Sub Lilith Tunnels’

7. 10,000 Gecs – 100 Gecs

Armed with 9,000 more gecs that last time, experimental duo 100 Gecs swap hyperpop for hyperrock. It’s very catchy and very bonkers. You’ll either love it or loathe it.  

Favourite tracks: ‘Dumbest Girl Alive’, ‘Doritos & Fritos’, ‘One Million Dollars’

6. Scaring The Hoes – JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown

Left-field rappers JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown come together to celebrate their weirdness, delivering their signature confrontational/comical bars over unhinged noisy beats.

Favourite tracks: ‘Steppa Pig’, ‘Garbage Pale Kids’, ‘Kingdom Hearts Key’

5. Playing Robots Into Heaven – James Blake

After a decade of ethereal ballads, James Blake returns to his experimental EDM roots with a selection of quirky and hypnotic tracks that show off the full scope of his talents.

Favourite tracks: ‘Asking To Break’, ‘I Want You To Know’, ‘Night Sky’

4. Post-American – MSPAINT

Mississippi band MSPAINT concoct an excitingly unique sound on their debut album – a hip-hop infused hardcore sound that uses harsh video-game-flavoured synths instead of guitars.

Favourite tracks: ‘Acid’, ‘Hardwired’, ‘Delete It’

3. Lahai – Sampha

Sampha made us wait 6 years for a new album, but it’s definitely worth the wait. The South London soul singer’s distinctive emotional vocal inflection and dreamy exotic imagery are enough to rival Frank Ocean, and the sparse-but-intricately-placed piano-heavy instrumentation is so interesting.

Favourite tracks: ‘Stereo Colour Clouds (Shaman’s Dream)', ‘Dancing Circles’, ‘Suspended’

2. Food For Worms – Shame

Of all the kooky UK post-punk bands around right now, Shame still continue to be my favourite. The vocals are catchier and more dynamic on this album, while the production is rawer. And although the songs are overall slower, they still continue to be dense tapestries peppered with twist and turns.

Favourite tracks: ‘Six-pack’, ‘Adderall’, ‘The Fall of Paul’

1. Knower Forever – Knower

This criminally underrated album (perhaps due to it being a paid Bandcamp exclusive) sees US duo Knower delivering a selection of kooky jazz-funk songs, which all appear to be recorded live (if the videos are anything to go by). The album ticks all the boxes for me – it’s got incredible musicianship, infectious hooks/riffs, goofy humour and so many playful ideas. Plus, you can just tell they had a blast making it.

Favourite tracks: ‘I’m The President’, ‘Real Nice Moment’, ‘Do Hot Girls Like Chords’