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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Belt

5-9’s top 75 albums of 2023

Updated: Jan 4

The best from a fine year for music



Forget the cynics (even if their number seemingly includes legendary Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards): new music is in rude health. With the biggest names in music often inescapable in popular culture and the last few print magazines (in the UK at least) preferring to splash front covers with artists of yesteryear, it can feel like a niche undertaking seeking out new music – but, as it has always been, it’s a rewarding endeavour.


Those artists firmly established in our minds and on rotation via our preferred listening methods – whether through physical formats or digital – are often embedded in our formative years until we begin our working lives and find our free time squashed. It can be comforting to return to these favourites, bypassing the need to look out for new music (and even endorse the feeling that new music isn’t up to much), but I can’t stress enough the joy to be had by continuing that search for the latest sound and not eschewing new tunes for the old classics completely.


The opposite of what I’m advocating afflicted me in the mid-2010s where I essentially stopped listening to new acts and just rotated my lifetime faves. Then a friend suggested going to a festival and I bought a ticket before the line-up was announced – a line-up where I knew few of the artists when it was announced and saw me promptly begin researching and discovering fantastic new artists. My curiosity was piqued and I was back in the game! This then led me to contribute reviews to the now-defunct Gigwise last year, before setting up 5-9 this year – a platform for sharing that love of music with others.


So, please, with an open mind, take a peek at 5-9’s inaugural ‘albums of the year’ list – 74 from my list and one a review from New Music Weekly writer, and my fellow Album of the Month podcaster, Karl Blakesley. I’ve chosen 75 albums as all were worthy of recognition and 75 seemed a neat number to go with!

 

75. LIES – Lies



A surprise inclusion for anyone who listened to the 5-9 Album of the Month episode for March, where I placed this debut album by cousins Nate and Mike Kinsella, most well known for their work with American Football, bottom of the five albums we reviewed. In retrospect, it was a very strong month and it’s still not an album I love, unlike my fellow podcasters, Karl Blakesley and Kiley Larsen, but revisiting it for our year-end podcast, I was more impressed than back then and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more unique or playful LP from 2023. When it works, it’s sensational, at other times, it left me cold, but this is an album which deserves repeated listens to discover its joys.



74. Do Nothing – Snake Sideways



While admittedly not hitting the heights which their many singles hinted a full-length debut LP would reach, Snake Sideways had many good moments which mean that the Nottingham-based band are worth sticking with.



73. The Gaslight Anthem – History Books



Another album I wouldn’t have expected to feature in 5-9’s end-of-year list and it wasn’t one which fully shook my previous dim view of the band, however, when they weren’t making their hero (The Boss, aka Bruce Springsteen) sound deadly dull on the title track or producing ballads, The Gaslight Anthem partially restored my faith in them on History Books. Featuring a few storming rock tracks and often charmingly written lyrics from bandleader, Brian Fallon, my misgivings about it being selected for September’s Album of the Month podcast were not fully realised.



72. Jayda G – Guy



The beauty of the aforementioned 5-9 Album of the Month podcast is the diversity of records I’ve dived into this year, thanks to the selections of fellow contributors, Karl Blakesley, Kiley Larsen and Matthew McLister. While this means that there have been albums which haven’t resonated, more often than not, it’s exposed me to something I would never have listened to otherwise and respect, if not love, for some genres I’ve not given the time of day to previously.


With Kiley, this has seen a few forays into house music, including Guy by Jayda G. Essentially, a love letter to her father who sadly passed away when Jayda was 10, the album uses recordings he made and left for her and sees the musician recreate some of the stories he shared with her. While I can’t claim to be a huge fan of the album from a purely musical perspective, the story and creative process at play here is phenomenal and on album highlights, such as ’15 Foot’, ‘Circle Back Around’ and ‘Scars’, the songs match up to the lyrical content to stunning effect.



71. Militarie Gun – Life Under the Gun



Hardcore acts going pop – or simply, punk – is having a moment right now and there are few bands with a bigger buzz behind them than Los Angeles’s Militarie Gun. Kicking off with one of the singles of the year in ‘Do It Faster’, the rest of the album doesn’t quite hit as high a bar, but there is enough to enjoy about this debut effort and justify the positive words said about them.



70. We Are Scientists – Lobes



A selection by Karl Blakesley for our very first Album of the Month podcast, 20 years after first emerging as one of the brighter lights in the early-2000s indie scene, We Are Scientists are still producing the goods. There are few surprises musically, but the lyrics provide some gems as lead vocalist and guitarist, Keith Murray, surveys the wreckage of breakdowns in romantic relationships.



69. Christine and the Queens – PARANOIA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE



Baulking somewhat at the 90-minute run time when this was selected for June’s Album of the Month podcast, allied to my previous mildly positive feel for Christine and the Queens’s output, prospects were not great for this project. While the length never won me over, frequently there are beautiful heartbreaking moments in this this three-part opus, in which frontman Red reflects on the passing of his mother.



68. Laurence Guy - Living Like There’s No Tomorrow, But Killing Yourself in the Process



Another entry in the ‘Kiley house music selection’ for the 5-9 Album of the Month podcast, DJ and producer, Laurence Guy’s debut album was sprawling and unfocused, yet when it was on the money, as on ‘Obstacle 3’, Kiley’s excitement for Guy was fully justified. A more thorough edit would have benefited the release, but it was never a wrench having to listen to the album which serves as a signal of his intentions as an up-and-coming artist.



67. Jonathan Wilson – Eat the Worm



Another Kiley pick for the podcast and, save for the genre, similar notes to those above. Wilson’s fifth studio album took experimentation and leaving it all in to the nth degree with frequent strong results and some duds too. Dull this album is not – something to always be appreciated when original artists are few and far between.



66. RAYE – My 21st Century Blues



Having missed this on release, though not unaware of the backstory behind this surprise UK album no.1, its selection as part of this year’s Mercury Prize shortlist ensured its investigation. RAYE does an excellent job of conveying the pain she has experienced in her young life so far, her best moments evoking the likes of Amy Winehouse, and My 21st Century Blues is an imaginative, ambitious record. Where I was less receptive was in the glamourising of an expensive lifestyle as proof positive of having made it. A small gripe from an album deserving of the praise it’s received.



65. Body Type – Expired Candy



Sydney’s Body Type pulled off a solid second album punctuated by straightforward rock songs, dipping into punk and indie, with thoughtful lyrics. More than anything, this album made me want to catch the band live – always a positive sign!



64. Circles Around the Sun – Language



The winner of April’s Album of the Month podcast, Language is an instrumental album of space-disco tracks which suck you into Circles Around the Sun’s unique world. Think X Files meets Earth, Wind & Fire. Another canny selection from Kiley!



63. Beirut – Hadsel



It had been a while since I’d checked in on Beirut – Zach Condon’s distinctive-sounding project. A fan at Beirut’s inception, I’d since lost track of the band, but Hadsel’s release in a November characterised by few exciting albums, offered the opportunity to step back into Condon’s world for the podcast. The record is a typically lush effort, with organ driving its music and sparse, melancholic lyrics from Condon. Lots to enjoy, if a little one-dimensional at times.



62. patchnotes – Endless Surrender



A first step into the unknown via the AOTM podcast, patchnotes’s [the artist is now known as limerence] sophomore album arrived in January and wowed both Karl and I who were unaware of the artist (Kiley’s selection). Also unaware of the vaporwave genre, it was an education for me and a positive first exposure to it via Kyle Schwendinger’s carefully curated cohesive set of tracks.



61. Barry Can’t Swim – When Will We Land?



Beginning with a stunning piano-led instrumental and following up with an Arab Strap-esque spoken word club track, the bar was set high by the Edinburgh-based producer on his debut album. For me, the album is only in good in parts, but there is enough on this mainly instrumental effort to excite listeners of all genres, and firmly puts the artist on my radar.



60. M83 – Fantasy



One of the most frustrating entries on the list, M83’s Fantasy is superb in parts, but as an overall experience, ends up being bloated. Edited down further, this could have been an album of the year contender. As it is, it dazzles intermittently and drifts elsewhere.



59. mui zyu – Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century



My very first album review for 5-9, I was presented with what remains one of the most unique and weird listens of the year. The project of Hong Kong-British artist, Eva Liu, this debut album welcomes you into her world – an absorbing, deeply personal and strange one which is worth diving into.



58. Snõõper - Super Snõõper



Another debut on the list – and there were many excellent debuts this year – Super Snõõper is a furious blast of brief punk songs, musing on competitive workouts and bedbugs among their many vignettes. A fun – and brief – listen.



57. Slowdive – everything is alive



Sitting atop many an end-of-year list, everything is alive seemed to have all the ingredients for an album I would love, lauded for its signature absorbing shoegaze. As it was, whilst I loved some of the tracks, others were merely good, and I got my best shoegaze kicks elsewhere.



56. Aesop Rock – Integrated Tech Solutions



In a year when I was exposed to little rap, Aesop Rock came up some of the genre’s best tracks for me in ‘Mindful Solutionism’, ‘100 Feet Tall’ and ‘Aggressive Steven’. As a first listen to the cerebral rapper, I enjoyed a lot of the album, though it could have done with being shorter than the one-hour run time.



55. The Slow Readers Club – Knowledge Freedom Power



Expecting a generic indie record having never come across the band before, I was hugely impressed by the powerful synth-rock on full display on the Mancunians’ sixth album. A pleasant surprise and a lesson not to judge a band by its name!



54. Zivi – Lost in Love



Arriving via AOTM contributor, Kiley Larsen’s Mama Mañana Records label in coordination with Numbered Recordings, Lost in Love provided some end-of-summer dreamy indie-pop with plenty of hooks to draw me in.



53. Fiddlehead – Death is Nothing to Us



Coming in at a lean 27 minutes, Fiddlehead’s third album continued the band’s exploration of grief through catchy punk songs best demonstrating a tight musicianship honed through years of playing together.



52. Jessie Ware – That! Feels Good!



Knowing how much fellow AOTM podcasters, Karl and Kiley, rated this album, I was pleased to see it earn a Mercury Prize nomination so I could learn of its pleasures myself. While not my kind of music, there’s too much goodness on this album to ignore and the mining of traditional soul music elevates this well above your average pop record.



51. Lankum – False Lankum



Also earning its way to my ears via the Mercury Prize, False Lankum, was the polar opposite of Jessie Ware’s disco-infused sexual liberation celebration, being a difficult, moody album of folk tracks covering suicide over requited love and other bleak subjects. Big on atmosphere, but perhaps too severe to want to return to again and again, it’s undoubtedly an exceptional record, if one to be taken on in small doses.



50. Creeper - Sanguivore



The Halloween pick for October’s Album of the Month podcast, early listens of the album’s singles had me grimacing about what appeared to be a gothic classic rock parody act. Happily, on further investigation, I found a hugely fun arsenal of songs, mixing humour, concept album themes and of course, darkness over the LP.



49. Fireworks – Lonely Higher Power



Arriving on New Year’s Day, the quirk of being the only notable release at the earliest juncture of the year brought me to Fireworks’s world – and a powerful rock album exploring existence and man’s relationship with religion.


48. Iggy Pop – EVERY LOSER



Another early-year release was Iggy Pop’s latest, which amplified the punk-rocker’s legend with a surprisingly assortment of energetic songs. At 76 years young, Mr Pop is yet to show any signs of slowing down.


47. boygenius – the record



The hype train was in full flow for this first LP by the supergroup comprising Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, so naturally this was a good choice for March’s Album of the Month podcast. There are undoubtedly some fantastic moments on this album, but not at a consistent enough basis to find its way further up the list.



46. The Nude Party – Rides On



The seven-piece North Carolina band produced a riotous album back in March (chosen by Kiley for the AOTM episode), drawing upon classic blues rock inspiration for a satisfying modern take across its 13 tracks.



45. Everything But the Girl – Fuse



A first studio album in 24 years, Hull’s Everything But the Girl sounded like the elder statespeople they are in the house music scene by producing an ambient masterclass with vibes of the morning after the night before.



44. Public Service Broadcasting – A New Noise (live)



The only live album on this list, and the only one featuring on our Album of the Month podcast this year, Karl’s choice for September was inspired as we relived the band’s performance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in London – a touching tribute to the broadcaster on its 100th anniversary. Unique and wonderful.



43. Olivia Dean – Messy



I first became aware of Dean when she performed a captivating acoustic performance during the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage to the presenters, and her Mercury Prize nomination gave me a chance to see whether her clear talent was captured on her debut album. It certainly is, and is a promising first LP, perfectly timed for release in the summer with its breezy, but not lightweight, output.



42. Skinny Pelembe – Hardly the Same Snake



Johannesburg-born, Doncaster-raised, Doya Beardmore (aka Skinny Pelembe) traversed a litany of different genres on his second album. Heavy themes are covered in an engaging and entertaining way on this half-hour effort.



41. Blur – The Ballad of Darren



The second Damon Albarn record of 2023, Blur swept up the column inches throughout the year ahead and after the release of their first album in eight years. A more considered band than the chaotic nature of the band in the ‘90s, The Ballad of Darren gave us more bona fide Blur hits in ‘St Charles’ Square’, ‘The Narcissist’ and ‘Barbaric’, but struggled to maintain this quality across the 10 songs provided.



40. Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – Fronzoli



By now, you pretty much know what you’re going to get from a Psychedelic Porn Crumpets album, but that doesn’t make what they serve up any less thrilling. Just 12 months after their excellent fifth album, Night Gnomes, the Perth psych-rock band returned with Fronzoli – full of killer riffs, zany lyricism and hooks to satisfy their fanbase and new listeners alike.



39. Foo Fighters – So Here We Are



Created in the aftermath of drummer, Taylor Hawkins’s death, as well as the death of frontman Dave Grohl’s mother, So Here We Are was a must-listen. While certain tracks didn’t live up to the subject matter, when the tunes landed, such as on ‘Show Me How’, ‘The Teacher’ and particularly ‘Rest’, the emotional heft was huge and deeply affecting.


38. PJ Harvey – I Inside the Old Year Dying



Taking inspiration from her acclaimed poetry, PJ Harvey’s 10th album draws you into her imaginative, wintry world. Not one to instantly resonate, the more you listen to it, the more you gain from it, with the hooks then landing. Another great entry in Harvey’s library of work.



37. Jamila Woods – Water Made Us



The Chicago poet/songwriter dived deep into the raw nature of relationships, leaving no stone unturned in her exploration of what it is to love and be loved. Excellent R’n’B tracks abound, with the fixed focus of her subject matter occasionally grating.


36. Dot Allison – Consciousology



Not for the faint-hearted, Allison’s sixth album requires patience in its dense offering on love. What it lacks in accessibility, it makes up for in its rewards, delivering a beautiful pay-off for those who stick the course.



35. David Brewis – The Soft Struggles



Field Music have always been a shining light in the British indie scene and, here, the Sunderland band’s frontman, David Brewis, embraces the folkier side of their music, assembling some classical arrangements to elevate these tenderly put-together tracks.


34. DJ Shadow – Action Adventure



Seemingly hamstrung by the critical acclaim for landmark debut, Endtroducing…, DJ Shadow has understandably tried to forge a distinct path forward in the years since. On Action Adventure, all his strengths are on show, fusing countless samples together on songs paying tribute to action films of his youth on this enthralling nearly all-instrumental listen.



33. Spector – Here Come the Early Nights



Going into November’s AOTM podcast, I was nervous about this album, having been fairly nonplussed by the London band’s previous LP and knowing the high esteem fellow podcaster, Karl, holds them in. I needn’t have worried. On Here Come the Early Nights, the band grapple with leaving their 20s and complicated relationships to often thrilling effect on one of the best indie records of 2023.



32. Queens of the Stone Age – In Times New Roman…



A look at Josh Homme’s Wikipedia page shows that life has not been plain sailing for the QOTSA frontman. This difficult home life, and in particular the divorce from wife and The Distillers frontwoman Brody Dalle, form the basis for the lyrical content in QOTSA’s latest offering. Bleak, but rich on clever puns and featuring the usual bluesy rock the band have become known for, it’s a solid addition to their high-quality discography.


31. The Hold Steady – The Price of Progress



The chance to review The Hold Steady’s ninth studio album was not one I was going to let up and, while not groundbreaking stuff, the New York band didn’t disappoint in producing a cinematic soundscape for frontman Craig Finn’s tales of modern life.



30. Enter Shikari – A Kiss for the Whole World



St Albans’s finest don’t do things by half, emptying the tank on their seventh album to create danceable synth-rock tunes which dealt with a variety of topics relating to our existence on this planet, but in a way which celebrated the here and now.



29. Teleman – Good Time/Hard Time



On their fourth album, Teleman sought to create catchy pop songs more unashamedly than ever before and this approach suited them, as they revelled in simple lyrics and chorus-focused arrangements.


28. Sad Boys Club – Lullabies from the Lightning Tree



A poignant entry with the London band calling it a day just months after this debut album release, Lullabies… captivated with its mixture of indie tunes, emo lyrics and jumble of modern rock influences. Appreciated by all three of us on the May AOTM podcast, it’s sad to reflect on what might have been, rather than eagerly anticipate what was to come.



27. Django Django – Off Planet



Not for the first time, June’s AOTM podcast saw me as the outlier of the three of us as I shared my appreciation of Django Django’s lengthy fifth album. On this rare occasion, an album breaching the hour mark was justified for me as the diversity of music on offer, constructed via the band’s four EPs released as pieces of the whole on show here, kept things fresh and exciting throughout the listen, with contributions from the likes of Self Esteem, Jack Peñate and Stealing Sheep.



26. Spanish Love Songs – No Joy



Indie veterans, Spanish Love Songs, conjured up an album of heartfelt songs seeking to find the beauty in the world around us and find a way out of the darkness. With Dylan Slocum’s original vocal delivery differentiating the band, this was a strong entry from this year’s AOTM roster.



25. Arlo Parks – My Soft Machine



Following up her Mercury Prize-winning debut with the infamous difficult second album, Parks shrugged off any concerns that the momentum Collapsed in Sunbeams would falter by creating a more musically diverse album which took her in more intriguing directions than showcased on the aforementioned first LP.



24. Billy Nomates – CACTI



Also displaying musical growth on album #2 was Tor Maries, aka Billy Nomates. Not completing shedding the punk aesthetic of her self-titled debut, CACTI was a bold foray into different genres and a completely honest undertaking, which astounded with its beautifully crafted sincerity.



23. James and the Cold Gun – James and the Cold Gun



Cardiff’s answer to Royal Blood, James and the Cold Gun produced one of the best debuts in 2023, with the band blasting through pleasingly uncomplicated rock songs which demand the listener’s attention.



22. Blondshell - Blondshell



Sabrina Teitelbaum’s second incarnation, after performing as BAUM previously, leant heavily into the grunge and pre-Britpop rock of the early ‘90s to stunning effect. Whether it was the two-minute blast of ‘Veronica Mars’, the stadium rock chorus of ‘Kiss City’ or the groove of ‘Salad’, each of the 10 songs on Blondshell’s debut had its place and ensured that 2023 had one of its best new artists to hail.



21. Bombay Bicycle Club – My Big Day



Reversing my preconceptions of them as just another indie band, Bombay Bicycle Club and their many collaborators, including the omnipresent Damon Albarn, Nilüfer Yanya and Chaka Khan, created one of the most joy-inducing records of 2023, despite the often downbeat lyrics. Danceable indie at its very best.



20. The Hives – The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons



Sometimes music doesn’t have to appeal to the cerebral and with TDORF – The Hives’s first album in 11 years – the Swedish garage rockers went for the jugular, producing an unabashed collection of stirring punk-tinged hits.



19. Shame – Food for Worms



Sticking to punk, or rather post-punk, and Shame continue to plough on with their jagged take on the genre. While this didn’t hit the heights of previous album, Drunk Tank Pink, Food for Worms was a tribute to friends and packed in epic riffs, The Pogues-esque singalong choruses and headbanging aplenty.



18. Paramore – This is Why



Having not previously listened much to Paramore, but subsequently enjoyed Hayley Williams’s solo work, This is Why provided an opportunity to add on to the album title ‘…we are held in such high esteem’. Leaning into the sounds which won them their legion of fans, the lyrics touched upon more world-weary subjects than the themes such music usually draws upon and the combination provided some of the best singles of the year.



17. 7ebra – Bird Hour



Swedish twin sister duo, 7ebra, delivered one of the best debuts in 2023 with their languid indie creations creating an absorbing album. The 25-year-olds lay out their anxieties utterly compellingly and deserve a large audience to be given the chance to appreciate their talents.



16. Lonely the Brave – What We Do to Feel



Writing the album review for 5-9, Karl Blakesley hailed the Cambridge rockers’ latest LP as demonstrating that the band were back to their best. A newish composition than who they were in their original incarnation, Karl found What We Do to Feel a life-affirming listen.



15. Young Fathers – Heavy Heavy



Reviewing this for the February AOTM podcast, it took me a while to wrap my head around this album. Going into a million different directions but never losing its full commitment to the band’s heartfelt vocals, Heavy Heavy baffled then astounded me with its unique, joyous spirit which never became tired across repeated listens.



14. Jadu Heart – Derealised



Sparse lyrics and a shoegaze aesthetic, this enigmatic duo produced an album which took you in its grip and wouldn’t let you go. One of the most immersive album experiences in 2023.


13. Gorillaz – Cracker Island



Damon Albarn’s earlier, yet almost overshadowed, offering of the year saw a return to form for his musically adventurous band of 2D characters. Featuring A-listers such as Stevie Nicks, Tame Impala and Beck, the billing lived up to its name on this strong collection of pop songs.


12. Nation of Language – Strange Disciple



The most fully realised synth record of 2023, Strange Disciple weaved itself around you with playful abandon. Not previously familiar with Nation of Language, this album won me over and I can now call myself a fan.



11. Caroline Polachek – Desire, I Want to Turn Into You



Apprehensive about ostensibly a pop record being selected by AOTM collaborator, Kiley Larsen, in February, all my preconceptions were blown out of the water by perhaps the best pop album I’ve ever listened to. There is invention, imagination and drama aplenty across this genre-bending delight of an album – and ended up being my favourite of a very strong February.



10. BC Camplight – The Last Rotation of Earth



The end of a relationship or the apocalypse? Loosely linking the two in this typically colourful effort by Brian Christinzio results in a playful, yet devastating, album showcasing the Manchester-based singer-songwriter’s distinctive talents. Cinematic.



9. Corinne Bailey Rae – Black Rainbows



A classic example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, Black Rainbows lacked a stellar single in the vein of ‘Put Your Records On’ but made up for it with a cohesive 10 tracks, inspired by Bailey Rae’s examination of the black experience in Civil Rights America and effortlessly floating from jazz to punk and everything in between.


8. The Lemon Twigs – Everything Harmony



An album which gets better and better on each listen, brothers Michael and Brian D’Addario created one of the lushest listening experiences of 2023 with a collection of retro songs, giving their vocal talents the opportunity to impress, telling tales of broken hearts over a largely power-pop palette, but with forays into rock, indie and folk.



7. Genesis Owusu – STRUGGLER



Brought to August’s Album of the Month podcast by Kiley, STRUGGLER became the first album on the show to be chosen as that month’s favourite by all three of us. A concept album which sees Genesis as ‘the roach’ and battling on as ‘an old man in the sky’ threatens to stop his progress. Despite the eclectic genres at play, this is a tight, cohesive effort from the Australian on his sophomore album.



6. Gaz Coombes – Turn the Car Around



Britpop had a renaissance in 2023 but, despite Blur getting the lion’s share of attention from this trend, it was via another key figure from this ‘90s scene who produced the best album from an act still going this year. Supergrass’s Gaz Coombes created nine, all-killer no-filler songs on this mature chamber rock LP.


5. Grian Chatten – Chaos for the Fly



Another album consisting of nine songs, Fontaines DC’s frontman, Grian Chatten, showed a new side of him on this highly impressive first solo outing. Having enjoyed the two subsequent albums by the Dublin band, but not been as thrilled as in 2019 when debut, Dogrel, came out, this album gave me a similar feeling and reinvigorated my enthusiasm for Grian as a musician and, even more so, a lyricist.



4. Yves Tumor – Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)



Having enjoyed their singles a few years ago but not got round to listening to their albums, choosing Praise a Lord… for the March Album of the Month podcast gave me a chance to finally enjoy a full-lenth Yves experience – and enjoy it, I fully did! Grappling with existential themes and traversing a wide range of genres, Praise a Lord… is an immersive, gripping listen, matched by few others this year.



3. Mitski – The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We



Mitski’s excellent electronic album Be the Cowboy turned me on to her artistic talents in 2018, though I had a harder time getting to grips with last year’s Laurel Hell. Happily, The Land is Inhospitable… was a return to the best of Mitski, as she embraced choirs and country music to create a vivid, briefly lived window into her world.



2. SIPHO. – PRAYERS AND PARANOIA



A special talent possessing a huge voice, having loved the Birmingham artist’s previous EPs, I was excited to see what he could produce on his debut album. My first listen produced a rare ‘hairs on the back of my neck’ moment as the 13 songs blended into another and produced moment after moment of eclectic twists and turns which served to showcase SIPHO.’s unique talents perfectly. It’s not often that artists live up to their potential on their debut record, but on PRAYERS AND PARANOIA, surpassed even my own lofty expectations.



1. The Murder Capital – Gigi’s Recovery



Covered on January’s Album of the Month podcast, no other album touched the second album by Dublin’s The Murder Capital in the subsequent 11 months. Creating a narrative arc which at the beginning suggests a loss of love for life, by the end, the band find hope and in-between there are laments on what could have been, reflections on internal chaos and huge professions of love. Intense and atmospheric, The Murder Capital found a new level on album #2 and produced a classic making them my band of 2023.

[January AOTM]

 

(I can’t ever listen to all the albums I would like to so consider this a first draft. With apologies to the likes of Lana del Ray, Sampha and Sufjan Stevens for not getting round to your albums in time!)

 

 

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