My Hot Take on the Best Albums of 2023

You Know I Had To
Lead singer Vessel of Sleep Token performs at Reload Festival in Sulingen, Germany on August 18. Photo obtained by @paetrisha on Instagram
Lead singer Vessel of Sleep Token performs at Reload Festival in Sulingen, Germany on August 18. Photo obtained by @paetrisha on Instagram

As the year is nearing its end, so does the release of new music. Everyone has already begun sharing their Apple Music Replay and Spotify Wrapped stats, proudly showing off their top songs and artists of the year. What a year it has been for the music industry.

As a music maniac, I’ve decided to list what I consider to be the top 10 albums of the year, along with my favorite songs from each. Of course, this is just my opinion and everyone is entitled to their thoughts, but perhaps it will encourage fellow listeners to discover a new talented artist. Now, without further ado, let’s get started!

  1. Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever), Noah Kahan

Starting with number 10 is Noah Kahan’s unexpected release of his third album, Stick Season. With inspirations from musical artists Bon Iver and James Blake, Kahan dives into his childhood with this slumbering playlist. With each song telling a story of small-town life, heartbreak, and frostbitten memories, it expresses a feeling of isolation and is an almost comforting listening experience. My favorite song is the self-titled track itself, “Stick Season.”

  1. 1989 (Taylor’s Version), Taylor Swift

With the Eras Tour being a huge success and Swift taking back her name, it would be disgraceful not to include this album. Not only is it Swift’s favorite re-recording, but it is one of the largest milestones of her career. This album showcases the boldness it took to break away from the industry’s constrictions on her sound and image, and that change is not always bad. And just like the original, its impact on the world was a tasteful mixture of fierce and fun. My favorite song is the same as it was nearly a decade ago, “Blank Space.”

  1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Soundtrack, Metro Boomin

Falling under Barbie as one of the best-selling movies of the year, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was an amazing continuation of its prior film focusing on the story of Miles Morales. The movie did not disappoint, and neither did the soundtrack. Each song fit perfectly into the animatic scenes and created a mood that was identified by all audiences. My favorite song is “Self Love.”

  1. But Here We Are, Foo Fighters

After the recent passing of beloved drummer, Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters have had an incredible journey. Instead of Hawkins’ death diminishing the band’s passion, it inspired them to return to their roots. They are a rock band, post-grunge specifically, and this record displays that thoroughly. While this album presents the topic of grief in every form, there is also a sense of perseverance and hope for the future. The album has soul, directly from lead singer Dave Grohl himself. My favorite song is “Under You.”

  1. This Is Why, Paramore

The aggression and familiar punkish tones of this album are very uplifting. Paramore have committed themselves to sending a message and making it clear for all to hear. So many factors tied into the creation of this record to give it its fascinating edge: the pandemic, social unrest, apocalyptic weather, and war. It offers a glimpse of what life has been like in the last few years with a handful of grit. It is oddly therapeutic. My favorite song is “Liar.” 

  1. The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, Mitski

With many of her past songs finding their place on TikTok and other social media platforms, another from her now seventh album joins the trend. Mitski’s beautifully choreographed melodies and defining instruments structure a heartbreaking creativity. She has seen the darkness, and with this album, she stares back into the void. My favorite song is the possessive, yet romantic “My Love Mine All Mine.”

  1. Unreal Unearth, Hozier

From the distinct gospel of his 2013 debut “Take Me to Church” to his literary-driven visions of Wasteland, Baby!, Hozier combines literature, religion, and classical imagery to define his musical genius. With this third album, he dives into that instinct even more. During the pandemic, Hozier caught up on some long-awaited literature, one of those being Dante Alighieri’s Inferno. During his reading, he noticed many parallels between the story and the real world. This was the inspiration for his newest creation which addresses multiple themes including the devastation of colonialism. It’s a mystifying journey full of lore and powerful emotion, all leveled with folk and soul. My favorite song is “Who We Are.”

  1. Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, Lana Del Rey

The mysterious Lana Del Rey is famous for her carefully constructed alt-pop records that leave the world intrigued about who she is. Her artistic power is a mixture of Hollywood noir and gloomy Americana that revels in imagery and aesthetics. In this album, however, she shifts from her perplexing metaphors and reveals herself to us on a more personal level. She is peeling herself back for all to see, she is certainly one of a kind. My favorite song is “Paris, Texas.”

  1. Life Is But a Dream, Avenged Sevenfold

This being their first album since 2016, the band has taken an unexpected turn into existentialism. Written over the span of four years including the pandemic, the album was inspired by the writings of French author Albert Camus. The philosophical leads are intricately displayed throughout and take listeners through a profound experience. The album is a dizzying thrash of metal, electro-pop, chamber music, and piano. It’s hypnotic just as it is chaotic. My favorite song is the dissonant “We Love You”.

  1. Take Me Back to Eden, Sleep Token

At last, we reach what I consider the crowned album of the year, Take Me Back to Eden. This mesmerizing artwork written by the anonymous, masked British group Sleep Token is the third in a conceptual trilogy detailing the relationship between lead singer Vessel and a nocturnal deity known as Sleep. The album explores the outer realms of music and incorporates a series of elements ranging from techno, metal, R&B, post-rock, and pop. Each song offers a peek into the bizarre intellect behind mastermind Vessel and his innovative lyrical genius. It truly is a spiritual awakening and a plea for redemption. My favorite song is “Ascensionism.”

To wrap this setlist up, I will repeat once more that this is simply my opinion and ranking of the albums. Music is very subjective and viewed differently by everyone, that’s why there’s so much of it. 2023 has had a fantastic delivery of musical wonders and I can’t wait to see what next year has in store. Until then, keep up with the music charts!

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    Emily TesterDec 7, 2023 at 10:58 am

    You should listen to Ocean Alley. I love them 🙂