Today we bring you the best albums of 2023. This year has been a great one for music, and all types of acts have released tons of music.
It is quite difficult to pick just a few, to be honest. Delve into the list below, and go beyond to check out more great music released in 2023. Without further ado, here are the best albums of 2023.
The Rolling Stones, ‘Hackney Diamonds’
The last album of new material from the Rolling Stones came out nearly two decades ago. They must have realized that to make the procedure worthwhile for both themselves and us, they would need to take us through it once more. Remarkably, they have. Hackney Diamonds is a lively and well-rounded effort from the Stones, not just another new album. “Depending on You” could have been one of those draggy ballads that have found their way onto later Stones albums, but Jagger wails as if he wants the whole world. At the end of “Live by the Sword,” one of the two tracks they made with drummer Charlie Watts before his passing, Mick Jagger snarls as the guitars tear it up around him. For fans of this legendary band, a must-have on your list of best albums of 2023.
Kylie Minogue, ‘Tension’
Nobody can capture the unpredictability and yearning to be present in the moment like Kylie Minogue does. Her 2023 hit song “Padam Padam” speaks to us because we understand that tumultuous feeling to be a battle between exhilarating and horrifying. Tension, Minogue’s sixteenth studio album, has all of this throughout. The fun disco-house song “One More Time” is about rekindling an old love, while the tender song “Green Light” begs permission for sex. She mines Doja Cat in “Hands,” rapping her lyrics with all of her heart. While it’s encouraging that she’s picking up some new skills, it’s also comforting to know that she still sings beautifully about love prospects.
Blur, ‘The Ballad of Darren’
It feels almost incredible that Blur’s first new album since 2015 is even out there. The sharp-toothed rocker “St. Charles Square” with lyrics like “I fucked up/I’m not the first to do it,” evoking David Bowie. Other songs, such as the lead single “The Narcissist” and the surprisingly upbeat pop hit “Barbaric,” stand out for their candid, sentimental tone. The first tune of The Ballad of Darren, “The Ballad,” is dedicated to the band’s longstanding head of security, Darren “Smoggy” Evans, and is based on a solo demo by Damon Albarn from 2003. Some tracks on the album plainly reference the band’s past, but maybe none more so than that. Nobody does a bittersweet mope quite like Blur, even twenty years after that demo.
With Cousin, Wilco made a welcome departure from their previous sound by collaborating with avant-pop singer Cate LeBon, their first outside producer. Jeff Tweedy and LeBon make a great combination. Perhaps due of the strangeness that surrounds us all these days, even Cousin’s most abstract fusions feel completely normal. Tweedy freeze-frames two souls gazing into each other’s eyes (or perhaps one nonbinary soul and a mirror) in an uncomfortable, helpless communion, guitar noise, and synth detritus thickening and receding like wildfire smoke on the album’s opening track, “Infinite Surprise.” Tick-tocking percussion clocks a cardiac bass drum. Like many Wilco jams, it’s an excellent song about flaws.
Depeche Mode, ‘Memento Mori’
A significant component of the Depeche Mode experience has always been melancholy. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the group—two of whom are currently in their sixties—chose the title Memento Mori for their fifteenth album before the passing of founding member Andrew Fletcher. Much of Memento Mori is defined by acknowledging mortality, but it never comes across as oppressive or even depressing. Even a few of the songs have a positive vibe. Everything matters greatly with Depeche Mode, as usual, and the stakes are higher than ever on Memento Mori.
Metallica, ’72 Seasons’
With “Lux Æterna,” a line from the band’s 1983 debut album Kill ‘Em All that James Hetfield reprises, and “Broken, Beat, and Scarred,” a line from 2008’s Death Magnetic that appears on the plodding “Room of Mirrors,” Metallica recall their early years of going “full speed or nothin’.” Even though Metallica has always been a master of massive, groove-heavy riffs and intricate song structures, their playing now has more purpose than it did during their speed-demon days, thanks to their more than 40 years of expertise.
Kali Uchis, ‘Red Moon in Venus’
The latest release from the American-Colombian pop sensation effortlessly combines several styles and genres, making any attempt to categorize her music seem incompatible with its essence. With songs that explore and celebrate love in all of its manifestations, Kali Uchis shows that her understanding of emotion is abundant throughout 15 tracks. The songs “Love Between..,” a bedroom-pop reworking of the dazzling 1970s bedroom cut, “Endlessly,” an R&B duet produced by Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, and “Fantasy,” a full-on club banger featuring Uchis’ real-life partner Don Toliver, are all available. For sure, one of the best albums of 2023.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, ‘Weathervanes’
With his stunningly gorgeous eighth studio album, one of the greatest songwriters in American music achieved yet another high point. Amid poor decisions and spiraling repercussions, characters struggle with regret and unhealthy cravings, and the songs on Weathervanes shake with wrath, despair, and dread. The memoiristic and headline-driven stories of Jason Isbell give personal faces to epidemics such as opiate addiction, Covid-19, and mass shootings. The love melodies are tainted and worn out, cooled by the harsh reality. The 400 Unit is inseparable from all of this; it is as vital to Neil Young or Tom Petty’s greatest moments as Crazy Horse or the Heartbreakers are.
Kesha, ‘Gag Order’
Kesha, on her fifth album, is jaded, irrational, and harsh. Across 13 scorched-Earth tracks, she lets go as much of her emotions as she can, showing herself as an artist rising from the edge of insanity. She has discovered a trippy medium between the rootsy Southern rock of 2017’s Rainbow and 2020’s High Road and the sleazy synths of her 2012 breakout album, Warrior, thanks to her collaboration with producer Rick Rubin. Even though she might never see the rainbow she once dreamed of, she is still fervently pushing for her happy ending. Even “Happy,” a tired but beautiful song about life not working out the way you had hoped, closes the CD. She needs to laugh as she performs the song to survive.
This list of the best albums of 2023 is a great starting point for music lovers. There is a little bit of everything here, so make sure you check out those that interest you. Here is hoping that 2024 also brings us great music from all types of artists!