Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! Summer's here, and thus, it's time to list out the best albums of 2023 so far...
This was always a list I used have a ton of fun making, the time of year where I would take stock of the music I'd been enjoying up to that point, and share my over-enthusiasm for it with the rest of the world. And in 2023 of all years, I just had to bring it back bigger and better than ever!
Because quite frankly, I've checked out SO much more music in 2023 by June than I have in any year I can remember - including several that have NOT got enough attention - that I felt obligated to make a larger list than normal for this midyear, beyond the video-friendly format. I don't yet know if I'll make a full Top 50 at the end of the year, that depends on how much more quality this year throws my way, but if it keeps up this momentum, there's a real chance!
So here they are, the best albums of 2023 so far, starting with:
Desire, I Want To Turn Into You by Caroline Polachek
It took me till 2023 to discover that Caroline here used to be the singer from Chairlift, the band behind one of my favourite sad songs, Crying In Public! I'm shocked it took me this long to recognise those gorgeous vocals, because she has one of the most stunning voices in modern pop music. I have yet to meet a music critic that disliked this album, but I've also yet to meet one that preferred it to Pang, one of the best pop albums of the past decade. And yet the fact that she still managed to produce such a crowdpleaser after those lofty heights, that alone is worth praising this to high heaven!
1. Bunny Is A Rider
3. Welcome To My Island YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist/Desire-I-Want-To-Turn-Into-You Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/Desire-I-Want-To-Turn-Into-You
Somebody's Child by Somebody's Child
And now, for some more fresh talent: because if you haven't been listening to Cian Godfrey throughout this year, you've been missing out! The Killers' comparison is obvious and pretty deserved, but the earnest charm, the talent for hooks, and the engaging songwriting, none of that can be copied, they're all his own. And on this stacked rock project that absolutely caught the Irish public by storm, including yours truly, Somebody's Child is a name I expect to see playing the festival circuit in stadiums for a long LONG time to come!
1. Broken Record
That! Feels Good by Jessie Ware
Jessie Ware is THE face of modern disco at the moment, getting her a ton of attention and acclaim from audiences and critics alike. A stunning talent with buckets of charisma, an incredible voice that can easily rival the classic late-70s divas, with a gift for creating real sexual tension in her music that's often overlooked by a lot of critics who are just swept up by the sleek, vintage sound. Paired with truly incredible hooks and unbelievably solid backing vocals and lean, crisp instrumentation, the only real flaw here is similar to Caroline Polachek, in that her last album is arguably tighter and more consistent. But despite being just a tad front-loaded, this project still contains some of the most best throwback music I've heard in recent memory; Dua Lipa, eat your heart out!
2. Begin Again
Desire Pathway by Screaming Females
These guys blew me away a couple of years ago with their incredible single I'll Make You Sorry, and 5 years later, they dropped their best full album to date. A punishing album that easily lives up to the band's name, this tangled journey through modern feminism while trying to maintain a modicum of personal happiness hit me way harder than I was expecting! Although maybe that's because on top of good writing and great singing, this is their best collection of songs to date, with sticky riff after catchy hook. In other words, if you want some good ol' feminine rage to fuel your day, this should be on your playlist yesterday!
1. Desert Train
2. Brass Bell
Gigi's Recovery by The Murder Capital
Now, I never personally bought into the parallels drawn between this group and Fontaines DC - outside of them both being Irish rock bands, their sounds are wildly different - and it appears The Murder Capital agree, as this album is their thesis statement to be viewed as their own band! The simmering unease and roiling crescendos on this album re some of the most atmospheric alt-rock offerings I've heard in ages, a pivot that caused some to scream sell-out, but which makes WAY more sense if you know some of the context behind the arduous creative process behind this album. A passion project that filtered all their frustration into a twisted quarter-life crisis that got overlooked by FAR too many. Fix that, this is excellent!
1. The Stars Will Leave Their Stage
- (Subtract) by Ed Sheeran
Placing this album so high on this list is bound to draw the ire of many MANY angry fans, questioning why the Hell I would dare to place this above Jessie Ware. And the answer is simply that, as a fan of the guy, this is the most consistent and best album Ed has put out since x. A deeply personal, complicated and messy album, struggling with real issues of self-harm, depression, grief at the loss of his friends, and doubts about his own future and his children's when his wife's health becomes a risk. It's easily the darkest album Ed has made in years, and while this lead to a denser and frankly more difficult, slower listen than his last few, I found myself coming back to this WAY more than I was expecting. It's a great album, don't @ me!
2. Life Goes On
SCARING THE HOES by JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown
Look, I stand by thinking that this could have been even better. The mixing of Danny Brown's voice is a bit haphazard. And while I do think that the hooks are definitely there, you're more in it for the kooky, off-kilter experience than anything else. And yet while I do think both artists individually have stronger albums in their catalogs, this is an album clearly stating that anyone who's ever doubted these 2 weirdos is about to get bodied! They refuse to be boxed in, and if their own energies and weirdo bars don't convince you, the samples certainly will, making for some of the wildest music we fans have been begging for, while sending all the casual hoes running for the hills. If they can resist these bangers, that is.
2. Garbage Pale Kids
the record by boygenius
Look, when a power throuple (a word auto-correct seemingly doesn't recognise, FIX THAT!) of singers THIS strong teams up to make such sweet and catchy music, with some of the best hooks across all 3 of their respective careers, I'm going to pay attention... and my money, for that matter, I'm seeing them live in August, can't wait! True, the emotional highs of Phoebe Bridgers' and Lucy Dacus' discographies specifically, they'll likely get me to cry more, but the melodies and harmonies provided by the 2 of them and Julien Baker on here are un-de-niable. And this is just the beginning; I know they're all capable of even better than this, and I hotly anticipate their future collaborations!
1. True Blue
2. Not Strong Enough
Dogsbody by Model/Actriz
Happy Pride Month, now let's get ugly! If you've been paying attention to the music critic consensus this year, it's been a bit scattered and divided, but THIS was an album that absolutely nobody could find fault with. From the producer who brought you Daughter's You Won't Get What You Want, this nightmarish fever dream careening from gay bar to queer club as our protagonist descends into a spiral of substance abuse and debauchery is some of the most cathartic and evocative music I heard all year! And as he steps into the morning sun, bleary eyed and exhausted on the other side if that wild ride, MAN I felt that by the end of this project! An industrial roller coaster that deserves to be heard by all!
The Age Of Pleasure by Janelle Monáe
The apparent consensus is that this is Janelle’s weakest album to date, but as someone who absolutely loves some really good freaky music, I still love this! Their albums have always had a great flow from start-to-finish, but this might be the best example of that since The ArchAndroid, as the album works so much better as a whole than in individual pieces. Especially with the interludes, this album is one of the smoothest listening experiences I’ve had all year, and I’ve given it a LOT of listens! It's one of the most sultry albums I’ve heard in years, from one of the most charismatic performers working today. It may be disappointing to some critics, but as a fan… fuck it, this is damn hot and incredibly well done for what it is.
2. Lipstick Lover
3. Phenomenal YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist/The-Age-Of-Pleasure Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/The-Age-Of-Pleasure
And if you want the Top 15, stay tuned, Part 2 will be dropping over on YouTube very soon! Feel free to leave your predictions, along with your own favourite albums of the year so far, in the comments below!
In the meantime, like and share this post, feel free to subscribe to the blog and follow me so you don't miss a thing! And until the next time, I'm Fionn and this is The Social Tune signing off.