From Bleach Lab to SOFT PLAY, our top 23 indie songs of the year from our favourite artists of 2023.
The period between Christmas and New Year is the most glorious time of the year, right? There's the inevitable influx of chocolate treats, turkey dinners as well as the accompanying break from doing anything remotely productive. We love it.
At Blinded By the Floodlights we've taken a break from the laziness to reflect on the year that's just been within the indie music world, taking great delight in listening back to the many, many songs from the past 12 months we've enjoyed. Here are our favourite tracks.
23. The View - 'Footprints in the Sand'
22. Foo Fighters - 'Show Me How'
21. Confidence Man - 'Now U Do'
20. The Chemical Brothers - 'Skipping Like A Stone' (ft. Beck)
19. Young Fathers - 'Drum'
18. boygenius - 'Not Strong Enough'
17. Nothing But Thieves - 'Welcome to the DCC'
16. Paramore - 'Liar'
15. Thundercat, Tame Impala - 'No More Lies'
14. Chappaqua Wrestling - 'Full Round Table'
13. STONE - 'I Gotta Feeling'
12. Sigur Ros - 'Klettur'
11. Blur - 'Narcissist'
Now on to the top 10 songs of the year.
10. The GOA EXPRESS - 'Talking About Stuff'
In early December, Burnley five-piece THE GOA EXPRESS finally released their highly anticipated debut album and it was a record soaked in sun-kissed indie anthems. Sitting eight tracks in, the dreamy and euphoric ‘Talking About Stuff’ was one of several highlights. The simplicity of James Douglas Clarke’s lyrics are steeped in nostalgia for a romantic seaside retreat: “Splashin' the surface, windin' each other up / Under the water talkin' 'bout stuff”. This was one we couldn't stop playing.
9. Daughter - 'Be On Your Way'
It’s hard to describe Stereo Mind Games opener ‘Be On Your Way’ as anything other than the perfect return from a band instantly wanting to grab our attention. Daughter's comeback single just oozed longing and desire. The track is about that enduring connection with someone despite the odds being stacked against you (in this case - for singer Elena Tonra - the Atlantic Ocean). A lot of credit has to be given to Igor Haefeli’s gorgeous riff which supports the singer’s tale with spine-tingling accuracy. Simply stunning.
8. SOFT PLAY - 'Punk's Dead'
Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent made quite the return this year, offering their first music since changing their name from Slaves to SOFT PLAY. The new track is a parody, taking the viewpoint of a critical fan levelling ‘woke’/’PC’ insults in their direction. Predictable punchy punk goodness strikes hard again from these two. You may also notice the voice of Robbie Williams within the song's bridge in a very unusual collaboration!
7. Bombay Bicycle Club - 'Heaven' (ft. Damon Albarn)
We loved Bombay Bicycle Club's sixth studio album so much we featured it at number four on our albums of the year list. One of the most understated moments came near the end: the ethereal ballad ‘Heaven’ reaches peak bliss levels upon hearing Damon Albarn’s deep-voiced contribution. The Blur frontman adds so much character to compliment this excellent chilled track.
6. The Smile - 'Wall of Eyes'
Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood dropped more music from their side project The Smile this year and it was another return to hold off the growing Radiohead reunion calls (not that they've split up, but it's gone suspiciously quiet in output from the Oxford band). On 'Wall of Eyes', Yorke's ethereal vocals meet mysterious strings, meandering between dreamy and threatening. Utterly enthralling stuff.
5. Slowdive - 'kisses'
The Reading band’s first preview track to their latest album Everything Is Alive more than stated the band's intent, marking an excellent return to form after a six-year absence. Slowdive's ‘kisses’ is far more delicate and intricate than anything else off their self-titled 2017 record. A hazy and dreamy comeback track which just got better and better with every listen.
4. The Hives - Countdown To Shutdown
The Hives reminded us of their power to knock our socks off when they dropped explosive single 'Countdown To Shutdown' back in June. The video, which features suit-wearing business executives, is a whole lot of fun too. The Swedish garage rockers impressed us even more when they delivered the fresh sounds of new album The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons in August - our choice for third-best album of 2023.
3. Bleach Lab - All Night
We loved Bleach Lab's debut album Lost In A Rush Of Emptiness so much that we awarded it our album of the year for 2023. At first glance, album opener ‘All Night’ sounds like an innocent love song, singer Jenna Kyle spelling out her desire for a distant partner. Instead, the song grows into something more sinister as obsession and lust take over. The singer explains she wanted “the listener (to) pick up on the darker theme” after a few listens. The layer-filled curtain raiser makes for an impressive start to what was a breathtaking record.
2. The National - Tropic Morning News
'Tropic Morning News' - the lead single to ninth studio album The First Two Pages of Frankenstein - is five minutes of classic content by The National. Deceptively rousing, gripping from start to finish and lyrically honest: “I was suffering more than I let on / The tropic morning news was on / There's nothing stopping me now / From saying all the painful parts out loud” admits singer Matt Berninger in the chorus. The Cincinnati band's best track in a decade.
1. Grian Chatten - Fairlies
'Fairlies' is perhaps the closest to what you'd expect from the lead singer of Fontaines: It has an anthemic, uplifting chorus that flows through an ode to life and death. "How come life comes so slowly and death comes so fast?" The question catches you off guard and makes you reflect on your own mortality before Grian Chatten leaves us with the optimistic "But I've got one more song.". A very well-earned choice as our favourite song of 2023. (Words by Neil Renton).
To hear all of the above-mentioned songs, check out the Blinded by the Floodlights songs of 2023 playlist.