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The best lyrics of the year from indie songs

Josh Robinson takes us through his favourite lyrics from five indie songs that he couldn't get enough of this year. Featuring Hozier, Arlo Parks and more.

2023 saw the release of plenty of excellent new music. To reflect on some of these highlights, Josh takes us through his favourite five lyrics from indie songs.

Spector - The Notion

“Stuck in the notion, of hiding emotion

There will be bad days, but maybe not always

Stuck in an ocean, of hopeless emotion

There will be good days, but maybe not always”

This is the opening track from Spector’s lovely album Here Come the Early Nights. It captures that low, suppressive feeling we can often get at this dark time of year, but offers optimism that there is light at the end of the tunnel, as your bad days won’t last forever.

The London indie rock band have a knack for coining profound lyrics: See 2017 single ‘Untitled In D’, which has a relatable line on a railcard expiring and genius ambiguity about calling the AA. 


86TVs - Worn Out Buildings

“You don't have to be the one who holds on to feelings

Even if they are justified

You don't have to hide your sadness, not all wounds need a bandage

We've all been on the other side”

New band 86TVs, who supported Jamie T on his UK Tour at the end of last year, boast two members of former indie band The Maccabees. They have only officially released a couple of songs into the world but there is an obvious, mature quality there.

In the therapeutically sung ‘Worn Out Buildings’, this verse stands out as pertinent advice for moving on by processing your emotions healthily. 


Hozier feat. Brandi Carlile - Damage Gets Done

“And darlin’, I haven’t felt it since then

I don’t know how the feelin’ ended

But I know being’ reckless and young

Is not how the damage gets done”

This nomination comes from one of our albums of the year selections, Unreal Unearth. This beautiful duet attempts to debunk the myth that our younger years are purely a learning curve, making countless mistakes.

They reveal a void in their present-day lives, yearning for their youth because they in fact had it more figured out,  living freely and happily. It is a wise reminder to not lose your inner child, and to recapture that youthful exuberance. 


Bleachers - Modern Girl

“I guess I’m New Jersey’s finest New Yorker

Unreliable reporter

Pop music hoarder”

Jack Antonoff’s band Bleachers announced their switchover to indie label Dirty Hit with a single that has verse delivery similar to the iconic ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’. However, this one only dabbles in social commentary, instead prioritising playful urgency with energising saxophones.

In this fairly individual-specific lyric nomination, Antonoff jokes about being geographically synonymous with a place he isn’t actually from as well as being pop’s most sought-after producer (“pop music hoarder”). 


Arlo Parks - I’m Sorry

“Butterflies in my skull when you sat me down

At the Dayglow café

I know that I haven't been myself

That I lost my courage”

The opening lines to track 10 of Arlo’s sophomore album might be subtle, but paints a clear & relatable picture of a significant coffee shop chat. It describes a time when someone had an important conversation with her, which made her realise she wasn’t feeling in good form. “Butterflies in my skull” is a phrase-altering, poetic coining to describe the nervous, overthinking mental cycle you can experience during trepidation.


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