As the year is coming to a close, it’s a great time to recap on the best albums of 2023!
These are the albums I couldn’t turn off, the albums with few skips, the albums that I will remember in 5 years time. In all honesty, I found it quite difficult to pick a top ten as there were few albums that came to mind straight away. A lot of my favourite albums came from overseas, for example: SZA’s SOS, Boygenius’ The Record, Noah Kahan’s Stick Season and even Lil Yachty’s Let’s Start Here. Moreover, most of Britain’s big names (The Arctic Monkeys, Harry Styles, The 1975, Stormzy and Fred Again..) released their albums last year, making room for exciting new breakthrough artists to make a name for themselves this year. But of course, we have some old favourites returning.
10. Chase and Status – 2 RUFF, Vol 1
Unlike the other entries coming up on this list, this album is simply something I could not overlook in terms of the singles it produced. Baddadan, Liquor and Cigarettes, and Tough Talk – Chase and Status are unstoppable. The duo are veterans of the drum and bass scene and have been for quite some time, but this album proves that they are still at the top of their game! The D&B King’s collaborated with next generation producers to form an energetic and well-mixed album straight out of a 90s rave.
9. Barry Can’t swim – When Will We Land
Barry’s much-awaited debut album is quirky and colourful and really scratches an itch in my brain in a way that not many other albums this year have. The Scottish-born DJ blends a variety of dance music sub-genres with gospel and jazz samples to create an emotive, high-energy and well-produced project. The album flows seamlessly and works well collectively but the standout tracks for me are Sonder, How It Feels and Dance of the Crab. I truly cannot wait to hear these tracks be performed live in 2024.
8. Bakar – Halo
Somehow, Bakar is still one of the most underrated UK talents, apart from his viral hit Hell N Back. As an artists it is difficult to describe his genre as he blurs the lines between a few. Halo can be best described as indie-pop record with a collection of stripped back soulful tracks that focus in on Bakar’s remarkable vocals. The single Alive is still my favourite, setting the overall tone for the album, with its nostalgic and warm feel. Overall, it is a joyous and mature follow up to last year’s outstanding album The Mission.
7. Nia Archives – Sunrise Bang Your Head Against Tha Wall
Although it’s technically an EP, Nia impressively delivers the chaos of jungle music finished with smooth production. It is a great listen from start to end. The rising DJ manages to capture the atmosphere inside a rave with the album’s fusion of superb samples and jungle breaks. The album really is the sound of the summer with singles Biana and title track Sunrise Bang Ur Head Against Tha Wall that will forever remind me of 2023 summer.
6. Sampha – Lahai
Extremely well written, wonderfully creative, and overwhelmingly real. Sampha’s deeply personal new album marks his first release in over 6 years, making it highly anticipated. Lahai feels complex yet light as a feather as he combines airy vocals and beautiful melodies with serious subject matters.
5. RAYE – My 21st Century Blues
RAYE had a frustrating journey to releasing her debut album, battling with record label, Polydor, for almost a decade, but this project is worth the wait. RAYE took a new approach, away from the house tracks she was previously known for, blending soulful jazz, R&B and hip-hop. The singer-songwriter from South London takes listeners on an emotional and powerful journey with the album, and it seriously paid off! The now independent artist combines her thrilling storytelling with impeccable vocals to make an impressive, hard-hitting, and unapologetic first album.
4. The Rolling Stones – Hackney Diamonds
Hackney Diamonds is an album I did not expect to enjoy so much. The Rock legends return with original material for the first time in 18 years with a vibrant, engaging, and purposeful 12-track album. Frontman Mick Jagger sings with conviction and enthusiasm to create a modern take on classic rock. The standout songs: Angry, Mess It Up and Live By The Sword each have a strong chorus’ paired with strong guitar-led melodies.
3. AntsLive – Just A Matter of Time
AntsLive is an artist that is innovating the UK rap scene, taking it in a different direction. The EP mixes a combination of genres, from alternative hip-hop to grime, tapping into a variety of the listeners emotions. The London rapper shares similarities with heavyweights of the rap game, Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$ and Skepta with his cold delivery, exceptional delivery and overall creativity. This album is a must listen if you are a hip hop fan!
2. Blur – The Ballad of Darren
The Britpop icons certainly did not disappoint, giving us a reunion album to remember. The come-back album felt well-polished with beautiful harmonies and elegant songwriting. We got to see a softer side to the band, but it still managed to keep an essence of that charming 90s spirit. Each track had great character with my favourites being St Charles Square, The Narcissist and Avalon.
There are many honourable mentions in terms of the UK scene that didn’t quite make the Top 10. Perhaps albums that I loved parts of but not the whole thing or albums that I loved at the beginning of the year but not at the end. These include: Overmono’s energy-packed Good Lies, Slowdives’ dreamy everything is alive and I have to mention Arlo parks’ beautiful My Soft Machine.
.Jungle – Volcano
1. Jungle – Volcano
Taking the top spot for British album of the year is electronic music project, jungle, with their superb album – Volcano. It feels like they erupted out of nowhere with their euphoric disco-like dance mixes. In terms of production the album is unreliably rich, sleek and well- refined. This album evokes pure joy and emotion with every song lifting your spirits making you want to dance. Weather it was listening whilst on walks in the blazing sun, or listening on the way to a festival surrounded by my favourite people – these tracks will forever remind me of my happiest times in 2023. Volcano is what 2023 NEEDED and that’s why it deserves this number 1 spot!
Looking back at this list proves that this year has been a weird one for British music and more specifically my music taste. Although I love all the albums I’ve listed, none of them have gripped me like they did last year, knowing every word to every song. Although, I am grateful I have been able to expand my taste and listen to new genres and found people I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Please let me know if you agree or disagree and let me know your Top 3!