The Phoenix’s staff compiled a list of their favorite new albums.
The Phoenix’s Top Albums of 2023
An abundance of albums brought magnetic music to the forefront in 2023. The Phoenix’s staff compiled a list of their favorite new albums.
“MAÑANA SERÁ BONITO” by KAROL G – Angela Ramírez
Latin pop saw its most dynamic album of the year with KAROL G’s Feb. 24 release.
“Ya comprendí que el amor se da y no se anda rogando / Después de perderme, to’s dicen que eres el pendejo del año,” KAROL G sings on “GUCCI LOS PAÑOS,” a tune taking on the regional Mexican genre.
From her croons detailing the illness of infatuation to the tales of a euphoric night-out with girlfriends, every song on KAROL G’s recent project is unapologetically unique. The Colombian artist excels in her experimentation with various instrumentation rather than subscribing to one distinct sound –– a common occurrence within the discography of today’s Latin artists.
“MAÑANA SERÁ BONITO” is La Bichota at her best yet.
“Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” by Lana Del Rey – Rachael Wexler
In a refreshingly introspective and personal way, Lana Del Rey fed her loyal fanbase with her ninth studio album “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd,” released March 24. Staying true to her mysterious and angelic style, Del Rey explores deeper questions of identity, family and the future.
Standout tunes like “Let The Light In” featuring Father John Misty and “Margaret” featuring Bleachers showcase the artist’s indulgence in the beauty of emotional turmoil with dejected instrumentals and raw, melancholic lyrics.
As a collective work, “Ocean Blvd” serves Del Rey’s vulnerability on a platter, with hints of her struggles seeping through. Intimate glimpses into her complex relationship with her mother, the loss of family members and her own mental health struggles make this a distinguished album for the singer.
With a total of 16 songs coming to a runtime of 1 hour and 18 minutes, Del Rey fulfills the moody entrancement avid listeners crave.
“the record” by boygenius – Bri Guntz
Five long years after the release of their self-titled EP, boygenius went live with “the record” –– their debut album.
The trio consisting of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker offer a raw and intimate look into their relationship with each other on the March 31 release. They sing of love lost and love for each other on the opening acapella track “Without You Without Them.”
The album highlights the best elements of each singer’s solo career, resulting in a seemingly magical collaboration. Bridgers’ cynically honest lyricism, Dacus’ insight and Baker’s emotional harmonies mesh together as if the group was destined to form.
Consisting of 12 tracks, “the record” will break listeners’ hearts and put them back together again.
“Blondshell” by Blondshell – Ella Govrik
In her debut album, Blondshell is both vulnerable and guarded — but never insincere.
Released April 7, the self-titled work candidly balances self-destruction and self-renewal. Blondshell revives the rage and realism of ‘90s rock, with songs like “Sepsis,” “Olympus” and “Joiner” perfectly alternating between monotonous and whiny.
“Sober Together” and “Dangerous” investigate addiction and intimacy, bringing somber tones to the album’s otherwise intense instrumentals and belting vocals.
On its extended version, released Oct. 6, “It Wasn’t Love” is a sobering display of Blondshell’s artistic range, assuming the role of lyrical standout — and most devastating.
Each song embraces relatable naïveté and experienced sensibility. “Blondshell” is brilliantly paradoxical and uniquely replayable.
“Unreal Unearth” by Hozier – Hailey Gates
Irish artist Hozier’s third album “Unreal Unearth,” released Aug. 18, examines themes of love, loss and life through the prism of an unexpected medium — classical literature.
An amalgamation of the alternative, indie, R&B, folk, pop and gospel genres, the album draws from Dante Alighieri’s epic “Inferno,” which follows the narrating poet on his journey through the nine circles of hell.
Hozier’s poignant, layered lyricism and diverse sonic endeavors make this album a narrative epic in itself.
A combination of philosophical ponderings, spiritual cries, and odes to literature and love, the album transitions from upbeat rock ballads like “Francesca” and “Who We Are” to thoughtful contemplations on love and identity in “First Time” and “Unknown / Nth.”
As the journey through hell comes to a close, “Unreal Unearth” ends opposite from its start in darkness with the triumphant track “First Light.”
“Something to Give Each Other” by Troye Sivan – Faith Hug
Troye Sivan’s third studio album, released Oct. 13, is a celebration of love, obsession and sex.
Lead single “Rush” burst into the summer music scene July 13 as an erotic pop anthem. It’s nominated for Best Pop Dance Recording and Best Music Video at the 2024 Grammy Awards.
Sivan paid homage to gay club culture with relentlessly catchy beats and cheeky lyricism in tracks like “Got Me Started,” eliciting a foot tap or shoulder shimmy necessarily. Breathy, synthesized vocals create an effortlessly cool air, making listeners “feel the rush.”
The record invites listeners to dance through life’s joys and pains, professing that the greatest things people can give each other are company, time and love.
“Mammalian Sighing Reflex” by Wilbur Soot – Matt Sorce
After a three year hiatus, singer-songwriter Wilbur Soot released his sophomore album “Mammalian Sighing Reflex.”
Released Nov. 30, the album is a woeful indie-folk record characterized by languid instrumentals and distressing lyrics. Similar to his debut solo album, all tracks were recorded in his home, with “Mammalian Sighing Reflex” occasionally displaying a lower quality in sound.
The album’s incorporation of electronic notes and acoustic instrumentals is a refreshing touch, although it doesn’t prevent some tracks from sounding alike. Still, there are numerous tracks on the album that outshine previous tracks.
Featured photo by Ella Govrik / The Phoenix