Fan poll: 5 best albums of 2023
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2023 has been packed with great releases that deserve recognition. From the jump, Paramore ended their six-year break with a funky, “fierce portrait of millennial angst.” Meanwhile, Drain’s Living Proof served as a mission statement and acknowledgment of their influence, and boygenius’ the record proved how much love can come from being in a band with your best friends. That said, we asked our readers to name their favorite albums of the year, and the answers were wide-ranging across genres. Ultimately, though, the poll had to be narrowed down to five.
Read more: 25 best albums of 2023 so far
5. Sleep Token – Take Me Back to Eden
Sleep Token, the masked band from the U.K., started the year on a high note with their viral epic “The Summoning.” Then, like a seance, they conjured a slew of spellbinding singles — including the equally viral “Granite” and “Chokehold” — that led up to their third studio album, Take Me Back to Eden. The anonymous band aren’t too far off from headlining arenas now, as their dizzying blend of R&B, djent, and pop-metal smarts resulted in an unlikely breakout that inducted thousands into their cult.
4. Fall Out Boy – So Much (For) Stardust
On Fall Out Boy’s eighth album, So Much (For) Stardust, they returned to their roots in more ways than one. For one, they reunited with producer Neal Avron, who helmed some of their most beloved records. They also signed to Fueled by Ramen, the label that backed them in their early days. Now, they’re armed with the sophistication and wisdom that comes with being a group for more than two decades. Employing lesser-used influences like orchestral music (“I Am My Own Muse”) to the bonafide pop punk that made their name (“Love From the Other Side”), Fall Out Boy sound sharper, rejuvenated, and an expansion of everything they do well.
3. Ren – Sick Boi
Ren is a one-man show. He does it all, acting as a frontman, producer, and creative director, but above all, he prides himself on being a teller of profound truth. Over the last two years, the Welsh rapper has undergone treatment for Lyme disease and brain damage, making the title of his second studio album, Sick Boi, painfully literal and metaphorical. The result is an hour-long record that chronicles his journey through debilitating sickness and mental health in brutal detail.
2. blink-182 – One More Time…
blink-182’s reunion album with Tom DeLonge, One More Time…, made this year feel like their glory days. Their first album with the classic lineup since 2011, the band’s moment has proved to be endearing, consuming, and a ton of fun. From acoustic ballads that acknowledge the catastrophe that they’ve endured to pop-punk romps featuring DeLonge’s whiney vocals — his trademark — One More Time... is a welcome addition to their catalog.
1. Waterparks – INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Flashes of Green Day and blink-182 will always be part of Waterparks’ DNA. On INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, though, they push their experimental pop to the brink and employ heavy themes. “There is a love story throughout the record that is expressive to and for other people, but the album itself has to do with overcoming, unlearning, and growing past religious guilt,” Awsten Knight told us earlier this year. Naturally, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY sees the frontman face his trauma and come through the other side, with the songs possessing a “hypersexualized” energy to thwart that conservative past.