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A&E’s top 10 albums of 2023

The A&E desk lists their favorite albums of the year, in no particular order.
Image by Ava Weinreis
From artists like Travis Scott and Lil Yachty, there is a lot to choose from.

This year the Arts & Entertainment desk compiled 10 of our favorite albums, not ranked in any order of quality (mostly because so much good music came out this year). If you haven’t heard some of these albums and songs, you’re missing out.

From Travis Scott to Caroline Polachek, these are the top albums of 2023 according to the Daily.

“Utopia” — Travis Scott:

Ethan Lambert: In a year where the rap genre’s long-standing grip on the mainstream has started to slip, Travis Scott’s impeccable artistry has not faltered in the slightest. Scott’s fourth studio album “Utopia” is his most vital work since his 2015 magnum opus “Rodeo.” With no signs of falling off creatively, Scott has solidified his legacy as one of the most revolutionary hip-hop performers with another masterpiece of an LP.

The opening track “Hyaena,” which opens with a commanding other-worldly ‘60s sample paired with loud industrial drums, is, without a doubt, the best song of the year and among the best rap tracks of the 2020s thus far. Songs “Fe!n,” “Modern Jam,” “Meltdown” and “Looove” remain stand-outs on the stacked track-listing, beaming with well-curated features from Playboi Carti, Teezo Touchdown, Drake and Kid Cudi respectively. “Utopia” is simply the most outstanding album of the year, defined by boundary-pushing production that will motivate Scott’s hip-hop contemporaries to rise to his level.

“Let’s Start Here.” — Lil Yachty:

Max Mueller and Cole Bursch: Lil Yachty switches it up with a new sound inspired heavily by psychedelic rock. After collaborating with Tame Impala in 2021, Yachty follows in his footsteps with many songs being driven by effect-heavy guitars. The entire album is an ambitious venture blending delay-heavy beats mixed with influence from his traditional type of trap music.

Yachty made some of the best songs of his career, with tracks like “drive ME crazy!” and “sAy sOMETHINg” elevating his credibility both as an artist and a producer. The entire album showcases his unique ability to create songs that mix alternative rock production melodies and hip-hop bars. Whatever your preconceived opinions about Lil Yachty’s music are, listen to “Let’s Start Here.” and then check back in.

“Wallsocket” — Underscores:

Ethan Lambert: April Harper Grey also known as Underscores’s latest concept album, with lyrics depicting multiple points of view in a fictional suburban town in Michigan called Wallsocket, might just be the greatest hyperpop album to date. The album’s tracklist and overarching narrative flow together charmingly, and while the album has its dark moments, what sticks in your head are the insanely well-crafted choruses.

“Old Money Bitch” is among the catchiest songs released in 2023, especially with the looping refrain, “You wouldn’t know it by her disposition/’Cause she comes back around, she comes back around.” The song proves to be especially audacious as Grey revealed in an interview she wrote the song on a banjo. “Locals (Girls Like Us)” is the distillation of what makes this album great by starting as an electronic track before morphing into a rockier direction with the high-octane chorus where Grey screams, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before/Girls like us are rotten to the core.” Masterful in its production and its pop hooks within a sea of experimentation, Grey has the potential to be the most impactful artist to come out of the hyper-pop scene.

“Gag Order” — Kesha :

Ethan Lambert: Likely the most overlooked album of the year is Kesha’s experimental opus “Gag Order.” Your average music listener may not know she released a new album this year, which is a shame as this is one of the most ambitious albums of the year and Kesha’s most inventive yet. With esteemed producer Rick Rubin as a collaborator on the record, Kesha’s fifth studio album is sonically cohesive and deeply emotional as she continues to flesh out her impeccable talents as a singer and a songwriter.

“Eat the Acid” is haunting and cathartic, and probably the best song she has ever made. The track’s ominous, uncanny organ chords sound like nothing else in contemporary music, they pack such an emotional punch that you can feel all of Kesha’s pain and introspection from the first few seconds of the song. Likewise, Kesha’s vulnerable vocal performance at the track’s beginning is just as impactful. As the song hits its climax a few minutes in, the track becomes transcendental as a heavenly mellotron chord progression comes in, which is later paired with Kesha’s vocals, which are methodically modified with a vocoder — it is a perfect culmination of all the emotion displayed on the track, it is quite literally musical production at its very best.

Over a decade after her commercial peak, the risks Kesha is taking are panning out perfectly. As she continues to break new ground musically, she has proved to be one of the greatest talents of her generation.

“Hypochondriac” — Brakence:

Max Mueller: In his major-label debut, the hyperpop artist creates an extremely unique blend of glitch, rock, and electronic sounds. Technically released in December 2022, this is a release that I kept returning to this year and ended up being my most played of the year. Songs like “intellectual greed” and “deepfake” create an overblown Midwest emo sound that shows off his guitar-playing skills in a way that would be perfect for a mosh pit. On “teeth” you can really hear his talent as a producer bringing together a combination of melodic synths to create an atmospheric sonic palette. His emotionally charged singing is featured prominently on slower, more somber cuts such as “introvert” and the title track, “hypochondriac.” The songs are a lot of fun, and with brakence’s knack for crafting a catchy hook, there is not a chorus on this album that did not get stuck in my head.

“Honey” — Samia

Cole Bursch: Samia showcased her songwriting dominance on her debut album “The Baby” in 2020. Following up such a masterpiece with a stripped-down collection of brutally honest songs, “Honey” tapped into a deeper realm of storytelling than Samia’s previous music. Filled with soaring ballads and melodic jams, “Honey” has a little something for everyone. On the opening track, “Kill Her Freak Out,” Samia channels a righteous rage while recalling a seemingly toxic ex-partner. The song burns bright and deep with elongated melodies and intense lyricism. Samia follows up this daunting opener with my favorite track off the album, “Charm You.” The song bounces with a lovely vocal melody intertwined with guitar and conveys the remorse of past actions. If you only listen to one song though, listen to the title track, “Honey.” A song about going out with your friends when you’re sad, “Honey” is the perfect bittersweet anthem.

“Desire, I want to Turn Into You” — Caroline Polachek

Cole Bursch: Caroline Polachek writes epic pop ballads. On her second full-length solo album “Desire, I want to Turn Into You” Polachek embraces her unique voice with a sprawling array of songs. Highlighted by bangers like “Sunset” and “Welcome to My Island,” the album plays like a modern dance experiment. Each song varies in style while focusing on the vocal delivery and vocal distortion the artist has become known for. It is one of the most interesting and entertaining albums of the year by far.

“Faith Is A Rock” — MIKE, Wiki & The Alchemist

Cole Bursch: New York City underground hip-hop staples Wiki and MIKE come together on this album to deliver one of the more compelling rap albums of the last couple of years. Featuring The Alchemist’s signature production style and interconnected audio clips, “Faith Is A Rock” stands high above the lyrical rap competition with its unique blend of Wiki and MIKE’s flows. Check out songs like “Thug Anthem” and “Scribble Jam” where the rappers showcase their unique flows and storytelling abilities with expertise.

“Voir Dire” — Earl Sweatshirt & The Alchemist

Cole Bursch: My favorite album of the year, Earl Sweatshirt returns to rap excellence with some help from the legendary producer The Alchemist. After a period of more experimental releases, Sweatshirt lays down some of the best bars of his career over impeccably arranged beats by The Alchemist. Standouts like “27 Braids” showcase the rapper’s artistic growth. Sweatshirt uses his insane lyrical powers to tell stories from his most difficult experiences, all while sounding relaxed and focused. For the last couple albums, Sweatshirt reflected deeply on the pain of his youth, but now he has a little more confidence on songs like “Mac Deuce.” Check it out if you haven’t yet.

“Something To Give Each Other” — Troye Sivan

Cole Bursch: Troye Sivan’s first album in five years, “Something To Give Each Other,” acts as a triumphant expression of the singer’s pop songwriting ability. Filled with hits such as “Got Me Started” and “One Of Your Girls,” Sivan basks in the spotlight with ease. Sivan also adds to the allure of his new music with a couple of spicy music videos for the singles, the “Got Me Started” video even got a hilarious shoutout on SNL earlier this fall. Sivan enters a new realm of pop stardom with “Something To Give Each Other” without sacrificing any artistic integrity and the songs are elegant.

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  • >:(
    Dec 7, 2023 at 9:16 am

    Troye Sivan is on this list but no Mitski? Deplorable