108 Favorite Albums Of 2023

Hanif Abdurraqib
12 min readDec 31, 2023

Ok! You survived another bout with linear time and have arrived here, once again. The number is a touch bigger than it was last year, which was bigger than it was the year before. This time, instead of theories, I have actual math and reasoning that I won’t bore you with TOO much before getting to the albums and things.

I, quite plainly, listened to more music this year than I did in any other year because, for all of my measurements, there WAS more music this year than any other year. On my Master List of 2023 Music, I didn’t track how many albums (I didn’t start counting until too late in the year,) but I did track hours and actual songs. I had around 647 hours of new music in front of me this year, and right around 12,000 individual songs (give or take a hundred in either direction.) Now, of course I didn’t listen to that as a straight shot. Some of those were albums that I decided weren’t for me before I got to track three. I’d come across anywhere from two to ten of those, depending on the week. There’s no way for me to know how many actual new music listening hours were done this year when I trim away unfinished albums or quickly moved-on-from albums, but I’d say the hour number would drop to somewhere in the 500s. But, that overall hour number still goes into the New Music Math that brings me to 108 albums. Simply, when I am thinking about my personal best of the best kind of thing, 10% seems like a touch too big of a number, but also, with the sheer volume of stuff I listened to this year, 5% seems to low. And so, in late November, I decided that around 7.5% would be a good number, which brought me to about 50 hours (give or take) of my absolute favorite music of the year. I decided to chart this by time instead of number of tracks, because that math was flimsier. 108 was the stopping point, to honor the math and also, quite frankly, it was a natural stopping point because there was this kind of built-in gap from 108 to 109, where my interest/excitement dropped off a touch.

And so I say all of that to say that I listen to a lot of new music. A whole, whole lot. I listen widely, eagerly, with much excitement. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll catch week by week breakdowns of what I like and why I like it (took a break in the past two months, will renew it next year.) and so everything on this list is in the true upper echelon of my affection, I love it all.

I mention my strategy also, to give the same disclaimer that I give every year, but with numbers behind it. Because I listen to a lot, I love a lot. Everything I love isn’t on here, I love some things more than others, I almost certainly loved some things more than you did, you maybe loved some things less than I did, and I think that’s just gonna have to be ok! it’s exciting to have this much stuff to enjoy at all, I think!

As always, I have linked to bandcamp when there is a link, and — more importantly — as always, I have linked to supplemental reading. Interviews, performances, essays, profiles. Not only do I love listening to new music, I love reading people who are listening along with me. There’s a lot of tunes and a lot of information, and I simply hope you maybe find one thing you loved.


Kamal. — so here you are, drowning

Skullpresser — Skullpresser

Growing Pains — Thought I Heard Your Car

Slow Fiction — Slow Fiction

Channel Tres — Real Cultural Shit

Big Hug — Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time

Nia Archives — Sunrise Bang Ur Head Against Tha Wall

Adanna Duru — NAPPY HOUR

CLOBBER — Yesterday’s Heroes, Tomorrow’s Snide

Bully Maguire — Pizza Time!

Skylar Acord — True Viridian

Mozzy — Kollect Kall

Angel Olsen — Forever Means

Blusher — Should We Go Dance?

Bloc Party — The High Life

fawn / cement diver — fawn / cement diver

ALT BLK ERA — Freak Show

Proper. — Part-Timer

Ok! Here are lots of albums.

108. grouptherapy — i was mature for my age, but i was still a child

107. Lonnie Holley — Oh Me Oh My

It was such a good year for me to reflect on black elders creating, making, evolving. This album was such a breathtaking bit of permission, and I loved a lot of the attention it afforded Holley to just, talk. Really enjoyed this piece.

106. Olivia Dean — Messy

Imperfection a bit of a theme with things I liked reading artists talk about this year (another nod to that later on)

105. Purling Hiss — Drag On Girard

104. Jessie Ware — That! Feels Good!

I did really like this album, I think I need to return to it through time to like it even more — I wasn’t in the best head or heart space when it dropped and even with that in mind, I adored it. There’s a lot of great writing on Jessie Ware but really this tik tok video of her husband reviewing the album delighted me endlessly. I love when he got to “Beautiful People,” a song he clearly didn’t love as much as the others, he said “I’ll tell you what, it sounds like you’re having fun” lmao this is the kind of support needed in partnership. Doesn’t matter if I don’t love the tune babe, love that you’re having a good time.

103. Divide and Dissolve — Systemic

Good interview with Takiaya Reed.

102. Khamari — A Brief Nirvana

101. Speakers Corner Quartet — Further Than The Edge

100. Golden Hymns Sing ‘Hurrah’ — The Great Dystopian Songbook III: Songs For The Homeland

99. insyt. — The View From The Sky

98. Vagabon — Sorry I Haven’t Called

Enjoyed this piece in Document.

97. Racetraitor — Creation and the Timeless Order of Things

96. Small Crush — Penelope

95. Slow Pulp — Yard

Good piece here.

94. L’Rain — I Killed Your Dog

Very good Crack mag profile.

93. Hurry — Don’t Look Back

This is, I think, the year’s Great Breakup Album.

92. Sufjan Stevens — Javelin

If there is anything to read alongside this album, it must be the essays written by Stevens himself, meant to accompany the record.

91. Victoria Monét — Jaguar II

Good interview here.

90. FAIM — Your Life and Nothing Else

Will miss this band, what a brief and brilliant run.

89. Dog Breath — We Just Wanna Be Alright

88. Speedy Ortiz — Rabbit Rabbit

87. The Aces — I’ve Loved You For So Long

Great BBC profile on the band, their tunes, and reckoning with Mormonism.

86. Kelela — Raven

Good interview here.

85. Genevieve Artadi — Forever Forever

Artadi’s group Knower also released an album this year, and I liked a lot of that one as well.

84. TYGAPAW — love has never been a popular movement.

83. Thanks! I Hate It — Lovers Lane

First full-length project from this band and I really loved it, am excited to watch them evolve. “God Keeps Parking In My Spot” was one of my favorite album-closing tracks of the year.

82. Nabihah Iqbal — DREAMER

Usually like to include writing/interviews from the current year, but I think this one from 2018 is very good and also connects to the spirit of this album in a good way.

81. Xenia Manasseh — LOVE/HATE Pt. 1

80. thank you, im sorry — Growing In Strange Places

79. Kelly Clarkson — Chemistry

FWIW, as an avid follower of Clarkson’s career, I think this is her best and most complete album, and I actually think her voice sounds as good as it has in some years. Rarely put my own stuff in this slot, but I talked to her a little bit about this album, writing about divorce, things of that nature.

78. Nappy Nina — Mourning Due

(“Stone Soup” one of the best tunes I have ever heard in my whole life)

77. Miya Folick — ROACH

Good interview here.

76. Shit Present — What Still Gets Me

75. Ric Wilson, Chromeo, A-Trak — CLUSTERFUNK

Great Andscape piece here. Also a good Uproxx piece here.

74. Yazmin Lacey — Voice Notes

There were a few interviews I read this year where Yazmin Lacey talked thoughtfully about imperfection, and working through/towards imperfection. here’s one I liked.

73. Earl Sweatshirt, Alchemist — Voir Dire

72. Sofia Kourtesis — Madres

71. Buggin — Concrete Cowboys

I love this band so much. One of those “have been waiting for a band like this my whole life” bands. Great interview here, but also the audiotree session at the bottom of it is extremely worth watching.


69. Jalen Ngonda — Come Around and Love Me

I do love a piece where artists do a lil record shopping and chat about what they’ve got

68. African American Sound Recordings — The Private World Of Correspondence

I’m putting TPWOC here because it was my favorite among AASR’s handful of releases this year, but all of the releases are incredible, all of them could have had a place here. Please dig into everything you can.

67. Yaeji — With A Hammer

Ok I know I’m always like “I try not to put my own stuff here” before Putting My Own Stuff Here a few times, but Yaeji and I talked very specifically about anger, and the motivations behind the creation of this record.

66. Blondshell — Blondshell

the KEXP performance is elite.

65. Worriers — Warm Blanket

64. Adi Oasis — Lotus Glow

63. Janelle Monáe — The Age Of Pleasure

There was a lot of cool stuff written about this record, I really liked this piece connecting the album to visual artists depicting femme pleasure in their work. Also when Janelle Monáe was in Columbus, they went to this arcade on north campus that is a kind of funny/random place to end up.

62. Bodywash — I Held The Shape While I Could

61. Fever Ray — Radical Romantics

I really enjoyed this analysis back when the album dropped.

60. Kara Jackson — Why Does The Earth Give Us People To Love?

Good interview here.

59. Elza Soares — No Tempo da Intolerância

Soares, one of the most influential Brazilian singers to ever live, passed away at 91 early last year. This is a brilliant posthumous record, warmly and tasetfully done. There’s a lot of good things to read about her life from when she was still alive, if you’re not familiar.

58. SPINE — Ra​í​ces

Good interview with Antonio Marquez here.

57. Strawberry Runners — Strawberry Runners

56. Paris Texas — Mid Air

Great Esquire profile.

55. Molly Tuttle — City Of Gold

“Yosemite,” featuring the legend Dave Matthews, is one of my favorite duets of the year. Also here’s a good interview with Molly.

54. BLK ODYSSY — Diamonds & Freaks

Good piece here.

53. Tkay Maidza — Sweet Justice

Good interview here.

52. Indigo De Souza — All Of This Will End

I love The Creative Independent, love this interview.

51. Irreversible Entanglements — Protect Your Light

50. The Gaslight Anthem — History Books

49. Arlissa — The Open-Hearted

Good interview here. “The important thing is to not distract yourself from grief, because it is a part of you.” Was nodding vigorously there.

48. Secret Night Gang — Belongs on a Place Called Earth

Shoved this album on so many people this year while saying “I promise, you will love this” and was correct more often than not.

47. Lo Village — Yellow Brick Road

I love the first two songs on this album so much that I didn’t hear what the rest of the album sounded like for an entire week because I just kept running those two back. (The rest of the album is also very good, obviously.)

46. Sorry Girls — Bravo!

I feel like in recent years, there have been a handful of bands that put out records and people say “this sounds like 70s/80s Fleetwood Mac!” and I just don’t hear it. But Bravo! really and truly sounds like a hybrid of the Mirage, Tango In The Night, and the ’75 S/T.

45. Palehound — Eye On The Bat

44. Nondi_ — Flood City Trax

This was a really cool album that I wish would have gotten more coverage this year. One reason I miss Object of Sound is that I would have absolutely loved having a conversation about this record.

43. PinkPantheress — Heaven Knows

Good piece by my fellow MTV News alum Hazel Cills.

42. Wednesday — Rat Saw God

Can’t go wrong with this band imo. Consistently very good.

41. Screaming Females — Desire Pathway

Hell of a band, hell of a run. Will miss them a lot.

40. Jesus Piece — …So Unknown

Dug this piece.

39. Public Body — Big Mess

38. Gal Pal — This and Other Gestures

37. Meshell Ndegeocello — The Omnichord Real Book

36. ANOHNI and the Johnsons— My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross

35. Bailey Miller — Love Is A Dying

“Goldfinch” one of my favorite songs of the last handful of years.

34. Anjimile — The King

Loved this interview.

33. Allison Russell — The Returner

32. Loraine James — Gentle Confrontation

Few things more consistent than the brilliance of Loraine James. Here’s another great Creative Independent interview.

31. Shalom — Sublimation

This is another one where I pushed this on people all year, insisted “you’ll love this” and was often correct.

30. Grrrl Gang — Spunky!

29. Rahill — Flowers At Your Feet

yes, ANOTHER Creative Independent interview.

28. Olivia Rodrigo — GUTS

need the Rodrigo Creative Independent interview. But in the meantime, of all the good writing about OR this year (and there was much of it!) I really enjoyed this literary analysis of her work.

27. Chief Adjuah — Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning

I enjoyed listening to this National Geographic piece (transcript is at the link as well, if you’d rather read thru)

26. boygenius — the record

25. Beverly Glenn-Copeland — The Ones Ahead

Much good to read on BGC, but I really just adored this overwhelmingly beautiful performance and I would like everyone to see it.

24. PJ Harvey — I Inside The Old Year Dying

I adored this vulnerable interview about doubt/insecurity.

23. B. Cool Aid — Leather Blvd.

22. Noname — Sundial

very good tiny desk.

21. Pulses. — It Wasn’t Supposed To Be Like This

Sometimes an album is good and then it is heightened by a plain & simple Fun Factor, and I had so much fun listening to this record.

20. Matana Roberts — Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden

Great interview here.

19. Cleo Sol — Heaven/Gold

This is somewhat cheating (and I am going to do it again a few places down) — but I love both of these releases equally and kind of consumed them as one single record.

18. Armand Hammer — We Buy Diabetic Test Strips

Good interview here.

17. Liv.e — Girl In The Half Pearl

I loved this interview and have been thinking about the quote “anger is just the shadow of sadness” all year since I saw it.

16. Ratboys — The Window

15. Algiers — Shook

Loved this interview.

14. Portraits Of Tracy — Drive Home

I look forward to being a big Portraits Of Tracy fan for a long time.

13. Bliss Station — Bliss Station

12. Spanish Love Songs — No Joy

This was a great interview but I also personally want to add how impressive this album was to hear from a standpoint of growth and risk, a band making a leap in a focused, determined way and having it pay off like this feels increasingly rare. Incredibly refreshing.

11. Sydney Sprague — somebody in hell loves you

10. Joy Oladokun — Proof of Life

(sighs….) ok forgive me for linking to One Of My Own Things one last time, but I’m only doing it because Joy and I did truly have a really incredible talk.

9. Say She She — Silver

2 for 2 on incredible records, and in back to back years.

8. Amaarae — Fountain Baby

Tiny Desk!

7. Danny Brown + Danny Brown, JPEGMAFIA — Quaranta & SCARING THE HOES

This is a real cheat, because unlike the Cleo Sol albums, these two are distinct and separate lmao. But forgive me, I loved them both a lot, and really with both Danny Brown and billy woods, you could kind of just wrap the year they had up into one Very Good Package.

6. Corrine Bailey Rae — Black Rainbows

Because I work on and put this out on the last day of the actual year, I tend to get a peek at most other EOY-type lists, and every year there’s one album that I just love, a top 5 or 10 album and I look around and wonder “did I experience this the same way as everyone else???? I’m not seeing it too many places????” and so, anyway.

5. McKinley Dixon — Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!?

A small disclaimer is that I am actually on this album but not in any way substaintial enough to make me want to recuse myself from overwhelming affection. I’m just reading some Toni Morrison for a like one and a half minute intro. The album is perfect, despite that. Here’s a great piece in Paste by Matt Mitchell, who did some wonderful music writing this year.

4. Fireworks — Higher Lonely Power

I hope there’s more, but if this is it, long live Fireworks. Best band, too good for this world. Here’s a piece to read.

3. Zulu — A New Tomorrow

Album changed my life, for real.

2. Planet Giza — Ready When You Are

I think this might be the best album of love songs that I heard this year? Here’s some reading.

  1. Black Belt Eagle Scout — The Land, The Water, The Sky

I’ve spoken incredibly highly of this album all year, and I think for those who love it, it will be generationally memorable. In lieu of reading, please watch the music video for My Blood Runs Through This Land, which is stunningly shot, and full of heart.

Ok, same time same place next year. Hope we all make it back.