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Blinded By The Floodlight's indie albums of year 2023

Our top 30 indie albums of the year, featuring Grian Chatten, Young Fathers, The Hives and more...who will take the top spot?



So, that's another year gone. What has now become a yearly tradition since Blinded By The Floodlights launched in 2020, we've bashed our heads together and put forth a list of our favourite albums of the year. And boy has it been another good one.


Without further ado, here are 30 records we've been obsessing over (oh and no need to worry, this is a Taylor Swift-free zone!).

 

30. The Sherlocks - People Like Me & You



Now on album number four, Sheffield band The Sherlocks delivered another consistent record full of soaring indie anthems back in August. An album which couldn't help but create a sense of nostalgia and euphoria, kicked off by the emphatic 'Remember All The Girls'. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Remember All The Girls'


 

29. Squid - O Monolith



Brighton-based post-punk band Squid released their sophomore album O Monolith back in June and it was quite the listening experience: a haunting, challenging and yet rewarding listen for those brave enough to stick with it. Chaotic and unpredictable, not one for the faint hearted. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Undergrowth'


 

28. Afflecks Palace - The Only Light In This Tunnel Is The Oncoming Train



In case you didn't already know, Afflecks Palace are named after a Manchester shopping emporium and they look and act every bit the part. After an impressive 2021 debut, the title of their sophomore release The Only Light In This Tunnel Is The Oncoming Train may suggest a bleak listen, but instead it brims with brightness and swagger. Another infectious feel-good indie record to back up their underground cult status. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'I'm So Glad You're On Ecstacy'


 

27. The National - First Two Pages of Frankenstein



The First Two Pages of Frankenstein might not match the high of The National’s late-'00s/early '10s heyday, but the Cincinnati band's first album of 2023 achieves the status as their best piece of work in a decade. The production from beginning to end is beautiful on the gloomy rockers ninth studio effort, shining a light on baritone singer Matt Berninger’s heartfelt woes and isolation. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Tropic Morning News'


 

26. Daughter - Stereo Mind Game



Daughter's Stereo Mind Game is a beautiful collection of spine-tingling and lonely songs inspired by the long-distance relationship of singer Elena Tonra and her far-away partner. The moody sounds on the London indie-folk trio's latest are more accomplished than ever on their third album. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Be On Your Way'


 

25. DMA's - How Many Dreams?



Aussie indie ravers DMA's returned with a bang in 2023 and their latest How Many Dreams? threw in the band's best elements without committing to one single sound. A record which sees euphoric rave tunes sitting next to tender ballads and radio-friendly indie bangers. Thrilling stuff, as always. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'I Don't Need To Hide'


 

24. Nation of Language - Strange Disciple



Producing retro-inspired tunes in the vein of great bands like New Order and OMD, Nation of Language are one of the most exciting new acts of the last few years operating at the top of their game. On their third album Strange Disciple (recently awarded the title of Rough Trade album of the year, no less), the New York trio have crafted some of their very best songs to date in the process. (Words by Karl Blakesley)


Best track: 'Weak In Your Light'


 

23. Caroline Polachek - Desire, I Want To Turn Into You



We had great anticipation for Desire, I Want To Turn Into You and it definitely delivered. Caroline Polachek has mastered the art of creating hooks and choruses that will get stuck in your head for days. ‘Welcome to My Island’ is a massive hit and all the other tracks flourish, showcasing her versatile vocals through eclectic sounds. (Words by Josh Robinson)


Best track: 'Welcome To My Island'


 

22. Chappaqua Wrestling - Plus Ultra



Plus Ultra is the debut album from Brighton fourpiece Chappaqua Wrestling. A collection of big indie bangers balancing the melancholy with the anthemic, going down as one of the brightest indie debuts in recent times. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Full Round Table'


 

21. Sigur Ros - ATTA



Pass over the tissue box, Sigur Ros returned this year to pull on our heartstrings once again after a decade's absence. On ATTA, the orchestrations brought a new level of beauty to their eighth studio album. The Icelantic trio's new one continued to give us an overwhelming feeling which is hard to place, sitting somewhere between sadness and hope. And dare we say it, their latest is as good as their iconic earlier work of two decades earlier. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Klettur'

 

20. The Coral - Sea of Mirrors



Now over two decades together as a band, The Coral are producing the most interesting music of their career. A review in The Guardian for Sea Of Mirrors described it as “their best album since their debut” and it's an opinion difficult to disagree with (although, 2021's Coral Island was also excellent!). The first half, in particular, is beautifully crafted, autumnal indie folk - a journey through nature and the seasons. The string arrangements add an extra level of character to the ominous soundscapes. And, to end, there’s even a cameo by Oppenheimer actor Cillian Murphy. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'North Wind'

 

19. The Royston Club - Shaking Hops and Crashing Cards



The long-awaited debut album from The Royston Club entered pop culture in June. Hit tracks ‘Blisters’ and ‘Believe It or Not’ flourish on this record. One of the Wrexham band’s biggest strengths is keeping each song tight, none overstaying their welcome. This is a welcomed indie trademark. There is no filler or indulgent breakdowns. There are definite parallels with early-Catfish and the Bottlemen in their youthful sound and naive, nightlife-centring lyricism, most evidently on ‘I’m A Liar’. Shaking Hips... is good enough to beg the question: Could they be the next big Welsh band? (words by Josh Robinson)


Best track: 'I'm a Liar'

 

18. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Council Skies



Right. Let’s cut to the chase. We’ll start by stripping back the click bars sound bites that leave him coming across like a grumpy old man. We’ll disregard the Oasis comeback that isn’t going to happen. We’ll forget Liam. What exactly has Noel Gallagher got to offer? Judging by his latest album, quite a lot. ‘I’m Not Giving Up Tonight’ and ‘Easy Now’ could stand shoulder to shoulder with his finest material while ‘Pretty Boy’ evokes classic Bowie. There’s no maybes about it. Noel definitely has a lot to still give. (Words by Neil Renton)


Best track: 'Pretty Boy'

 

17. The Lemon Twigs - Everything Harmony



Hailing from New York, The Lemon Twigs delivered one of the surprise packages of 2023. Brothers Michael and Brian D’Addario’s latest received universal acclaim upon release in May and is packed with beautiful melodies and wonderful earworms. A soulful, indie-folk record never shy of wearing 60s/70s influences on its sleeve, particularly that of Simon & Garfunkel and The Beatles. They do get close, at times, to becoming a pastiche of that period, but the tunes are so luscious and earwormy that we’re able to forgive any perceived lack of originality (Words by Matthew McLister).


Best track: 'Ghost Run Free'

 

16. Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine



The idea of difficult second syndrome is something that simply doesn't register with Arlo Parks. And it's all down to her effortless ability in creating audience empathy - even more so than her debut. Where Collapsed in Sunbeams could be helplessly bleak, My Soft Machine is far more lush and positive in sound. Arlo Parks is refreshingly open and honest, and her latest reveals a rising confidence in the 22-year-old singer’s work for all to see. A collection of soothing and uplifting tunes which continue Parks' journey to becoming Britain’s most compelling indie pop songwriter. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Purple Phase'

 

15. The Goa Express - The Goa Express



Thanks to their infectious, hooky brand of guitar pop, Burnley five-piece The Goa Express have established themselves as one of the UK’s brightest young bands. Their self-titled debut album only underlines that sense of promise, serving up a fantastic collection of explosive indie tracks laden with psych harmonies. The Goa Express deliver on a largely enjoyable debut. Breathless yet still warm and poppy, the tunes rarely outstay their welcome. The Goa Express sparkles in brightness and youth: a celebration of being young and full of life. An express journey experience to soundtrack sunny days and making memories with those closest to you. (words by Matthew McLister).


Best track: 'Talking About Stuff'

 

14. Jessie Ware - That! Feels Good!



British singer-songwriter Jessie Ware released her fifth studio album titled That! Feels Good! in April. The record is a classic 10 songs, 40 minutes. The title track opener encapsulates the album’s nature: groovy, dance-inducing, feel-good. The song, like the euphoric ‘Free Yourself’ and nostalgic 90s number ‘Pearls’ - grabs your attention instantly, with sexual undertones liberating your imagination. ‘Hello Love’ sounds like it’s been around forever. The vocal performance is beautifully smooth. ‘Begin Again’ flirts with jaunty piano and dreamy backing vocals. ‘Freak Me Now’ may even remind you of Confidence Man. (Words by Josh Robinson)


Best track: ‘Free Yourself’


 

13. The Lathums - From Nothing To A LIttle Bit More



From Nothing To A Little Bit More was a solid sophomore outing from The Lathums: darker, rawer and more accomplished. Alex Moore portrays himself as a sensitive soul you'd be just as happy giving a hug to as much as you'd like to buy him a pint. Because the empathy you feel towards him is the album’s main strength. Especially as, like before, the tunes are heart-warming and infectious – the boys from Wigan discover a darker route mixed with moments of light. This is all done without losing the everyman appeal which drew so many to them in the first place. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Say My Name'

 

12. CMAT - Crazymad, For Me



From Miley to Dolly, country music is all the rage. And there’s no other artist who epitomises the impact the genre is currently making on the mainstream more than CMAT. They’re remarkably honest and passionate with a great knack for observing modern life in all its complicated and messy glory.. Listening to track ‘Rent’ without being blown away by it’s sheer power is an impossible task. The album they delivered was called Crazymad, For Me. On this dazzling form, the whole world soon will be. (Words by Neil Renton)


Best track: 'Rent'

 

11. Romy - Mid Air



As we patiently wait for The xx to drop album number four, 2023 saw Romy deliver her debut album - a record very different to what you'd expect from her main band. Mid Air itself is heavily inspired by the ‘90s club scene, as well as the music of Calvin Harris, Tiesto and Everything But The Girl. With Fred Again and Stuart Price behind the production of the majority of these tracks, the end result is a collection of banging trance/house tracks fit for Balearic dance floors. The depth is pulled in from Romy’s whispery vocals and melancholic/desire-filled lyrics which sound deeply personal to her. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Strong'

 

10. Hozier - Unreal Unearth



Hozier’s third album, released in August, is an emphatic triumph, conveying his human experience in bluesy beauty with sonic references to his Irish background. Folky ‘First Time’ is one of the best non-singles of the year, whilst actual singles ‘Francesca’ and ‘Eat Your Young’ are elevated further within the context of the cathartic record. Across Unreal Unearth’s lengthy 63-minute run time, you are continuously comforted by his soothing vocals and impressed by its grand, atmospheric production. There aren’t many 1hr+ length LPs that leave you wanting more, but this one somehow does...albeit through watery eyes. (words by Josh Robinson)


Best Tracks: ‘De Selby (Part 2)’

 

9. Lana Del Rey - Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd



There's no denying that 77 minute albums can initially be intimidating experiences to venture into. Yet, somehow, you just know you're in safe hands when it's a record by the singing icon that is Lana Del Rey. Her ninth studio is worthy of every second. A breathtaking collection of tracks showcasing the extreme talents of this singer-songwriter in all her majestic glory. A combination of grand ballads, raw and elegance personified. Tracks like 'A&W' move into areas of unexpected hip hop experimentalism, while the title track can't fail but impress for its familiar classic Lana sound. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'A&W'

 

8. Gorillaz - Cracker Island



With the highly anticipated return of Blur stealing everyone's attention, it can be easy to forget that Damon Albarn kicked off 2023 with the latest release from Gorillaz. Unlike 2020’s Song Machine, Cracker Island never outstays its welcome. The collaborations - which include artists as varied as Bad Bunny, Stevie Nicks and Tame Impala - compliment rather than overpower. A fun listen that moves in many directions, Albarn’s pop project sounds as fresh, funky and worthy of celebration as it did two decades earlier. And dare we say it, Cracker Island is far more enjoyable and preferable to Blur's The Ballad of Darren. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'New Gold (ft Tame Impala and Bootie Brown)'

 

7. boygenius - the record



Before Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker formed boygenius had there ever been a female supergroup? You had a feeling before they arrived with their debut album the keyboard warriors had their troll ammunition ready to be unleashed. The thing is the record lives up to the hype and more. The trio of supremely talented musicians unite to give us one of the best collections of songs this year. The only criticism is that we could have done with more live shows. Hopefully, that will come. They deserve all the headline slots they’ll get. (Words by Neil Renton)


Best track: 'Not Strong Enough'

 

6. Slowdive - everything is alive



Since returning with their self-titled album in 2017 after a 22-year hiatus, shoegaze legends Slowdive have proved themselves as one of the most impressive bands in recent years. Their latest album goes even further. Everything Is Alive keeps you on your toes from start to finish, moving between a feeling of melancholia and hope, between a classic sound and depth-filled freshness. There’s new ground to cover and Slowdive aren’t afraid to explore it. Stunning guitar music which grabs your attention, awakens your mind and eases you into the rest of the day. And in an age of comeback stories where ‘90s bands play shows as a vehicle for legacy and nostalgia, Slowdive’s desire to progress over the last few years has been nothing short of refreshing. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'kisses'

 

5. Grian Chatten - Chaos For the Fly



To say Grian Chatten is in a creative purple patch would be a massive understatement. Simply put, the Irish singer can't stop producing excellent music. And who is complaining? Certainly not us. More subdued than his work with Fontaines D.C., there are so many beautiful moments over the Dublin man's 36-minute debut Chaos For The Fly. What it lacks in energy levels of the post-punk band he fronts is more than made up for in stunning folk instrumentation and Celtic-inspired sounds. Three fantastic records with Fontaines D.C. and now a glorious debut album. All in the space of five years. What an outstanding output. There’s simply no stopping this guy. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Fairlies'

 

4. Bombay Bicycle Club - My Big Day



Back in 2009, Bombay Bicycle Club were championed as the saviours of British guitar indie. Fast forward a decade and a half and their latest has them as far removed from guitars as they've ever been. On My Big Day, Bombay Bicycle Club further explore stylistic experimental ground and invite collaboration to compliment the new terrain they’ve ventured into. While they’ll likely forever be defined as an “indie rock” band, their latest offering pulls from the world of pop, disco, hip hop and dance. With music this accomplished, it’s exciting to imagine where their journey will take them next. (Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'I Want To Be Your Only Pet'

 

3. The Hives - The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons



If you'd have told us at the beginning of the year that we'd have The Hives this far up our album's list, we probably wouldn't have believed you! Then we heard new songs like 'Countdown to Shutdown' and 'Bogus Operandi' and saw their ability to win over as many new fans as they did in their early-noughties heydey. Granted, heads scratched when the Swedish garage rock legends were announced as the main support to Arctic Monkeys on their UK tour back in June, yet their energy and showmanship lured us all back in once again. The new songs sounded pretty epic too. Their sixth studio album The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons races through 12 songs in just over 31 minutes and is a whole load of fun – quirky garage rock tunes that ensure there’s rarely a dull moment to be had. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Countdown to Shutdown'


 

2. Young Fathers - Heavy Heavy



Young Fathers should count themselves very unlucky to miss out on the top spot, a position they held on our year midpoint list back in July. The Edinburgh band have spent five years producing a record which has so much to shout home about: noisy, infectious, surreal and soulful in particular. Heavy Heavy’s ten tracks weigh in at just under 33 minutes and this succinctness works a treat. Not a second is wasted. This is not to say there isn’t a lot going on, it just doesn’t feel overindulgent in a manner you might expect from an experimental difficult-to-define pop group either. Young Fathers' music deserves all the attention that has come their way since. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best song: 'I Saw'

 

1. Bleach Lab - Lost In A Rush Of Emptiness



There's just something magic about heading in early for a gig to then be completely blown away at the quality of the support act. This happened back in February after watching Bleach Lab provide a half-hour support support slot for We Are Scientists. The perfect combination of jangle-pop and hazy atmospherics from Jenna Kyle and co couldn't fail but leave an impression. In September they finally dropped their debut album Lost In A Ruth of Emptiness to blow us away further.


There’s a certain underrated dynamism to Lost In A Rush Of Emptiness which can’t be ignored. A collection of nostalgic tracks which differ just enough from song to song to keep the listener hooked: bringing together elements of dream-pop, grunge, shoegaze and jangle-pop for a cathartic experience. Sadness reigns without ever becoming too self-pitying. Instead, the record acts as therapy, not just for the band, but for the listener itself. A strength of which kept us diving back into this dreamy and beautiful debut time and again. An album well worth its spot at the top of our 2023 list. Well done, Bleach Lab. (Words by Matthew McLister)


Best track: 'Everything At Once'


 

Check out the best track from each album on our Blinded By The Floodlights indie album of the year 2023 playlist.




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