It’s only the best albums of 2023

December 15th, 2023

It’s that time of year when I look back on everything I’ve seen and everything I’ve heard and make arbitrary judgements about quality. Then I pick ten albums, more or less at random, and insist everyone else should listen to them.

It’s been a year of a lot of albums. Absolutely loads of them. As is my custom I’ve made a playlist of my favourite songs from the 149 albums that I liked, that have come out this year. It’s an eclectic range of things but from that 149 I could have easily made a list of my favourite 17 albums of the year. But, the decimalisation of lists doesn’t work like that.

What I hate about this is writing descriptions for albums. Why would people try and describe albums in words? What more can you say beyond “this is good” or “this sounds like……”?

It’s Spotify links throughout. If you use other things like Deezer and Apple……. that’s interesting.

So, my top ten. In reverse order so that I can facilitate tension.

Mandy, Indiana – I’ve Seen a Way – This is good. I’ve been listening to much more ambient electronic stuff this year but this stood out as being more than lush strings over an erratic kick drum.

Sufjan Stevens – Javelin – I reckon Sufjan has managed to release two truly great albums in his life. Obviously, Illinois stands out as being one of the greatest albums ever and Carrie & Lowell is a classic. With Javelin I think he’s added a third. He’s had a rough year with not being able to walk and all the grief.

Matters – Echolocations – Brummie band klaxon. In over a decade of writing about albums, I can’t think of a local band making it onto my list before. This came out in March and I’ve been listening to it consistently since then. Just stretching the definition of ambient into dance, this album is triumphant. I liked it so much I bought a T-Shirt.

Noname – Sundial – This is Noname’s debut album. But she has previously released two mix tapes. I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’ve got no idea what the difference between a mix tape and an album is. I could look it up. I’ve not looked it up. The only thing I know about Noname (apart from her Mix Tapes) is that she always seems quite angry with her fans, and other people. Fair enough we live in a world with a lot to be angry about.

U.S. Girls – Bless This Mess – And U.S. Girls are back. I love this album. It’s good. Meghan Remy is a stone-cold genius with an eye (?) for catchy songs. This almost borders on the Fleetwood Mac at points but that’s not a crime.

Liv.e – Girl in the Half Pearl – I listened to this album so much on Spotify that Liv.e recorded me a personal message, as part of my Spotify summary, to thank me. I’m pretty sure it was just for me. I doubt when she started on this I was the demographic she had in mind. But, there you go.

Ren – Sick Boi – Ren just dominates YouTube with a relentless torrent of songs and I always wondered if he could turn them into an album. He did. This is easily one of the best albums of the year and just incredible that one person could create every element of this without the “support” of a record company. Don’t listen to this if you stand any chance of being triggered by references to suicide. Do listen to this if you can though.

Jesse Ware – That! Feels Good! – Classic feel-good disco, She put it in the title and it’s an accurate description. Revisiting disco seems to have been a theme this year but Jesse Ware did it better than anyone else. I think she’s probably made herself a pension with this album.

Yussef Dayes – Black Classical Music – There is oddly little jazz on my list this year. Don’t worry I’ve not given up on jazz. This is a ridiculous debut solo album. Yussef Dayes is probably the best drummer in the world and this is a perfect vehicle to see his vision for songs and his drumming.

Yves Tumor – Praise a Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) – The first time I listened to this I thought it would probably be my album of the year and I was right. Go me and my ears. I’m still gutted that I didn’t get to see them when they dropped out of touring last year. It’s my album of the year and I haven’t really got anything else to say about it.

That’s everything I have to say on the matter


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