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.
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.
19. PEACH – PEACH
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 - 10
10. Desire, I Want To Turn Into You – Caroline
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.