8 dec 2023

Doja Cat, Lana Del Rey, Caroline Polachek… What are the best albums of 2023?

Doja Cat, Lana Del Rey, Caroline Polachek… Numéro has selected the best albums of 2023.

Desire, I Want to Turn Into You by Caroline Polachek


American singer Caroline Polachek has chosen Valentine’s Day to unveil her new album, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You. It is a fitting date, given the 38-year-old songwriter’s ability to tug at our heartstrings. This dreamlike record, first introduced by the highly successful singles Bunny is a Rider and Welcome to my Island, features new tracks of ambitious, adventurous synth pop, as well as collaborations with Grimes and 2000s singer Dido. We often think of Suzanne Vega, EBTG, the Cocteau Twins and Enya, even if Caroline Polachek always manages to create unique songs thanks to her spectacular voice. The woman who has collaborated with Redcar, Beyoncé, Charli XCX and Sébastien Tellier confirms all the good things we thought about her with this inspired, daring album – you can hear bagpipes, jungle and acoustic guitar – about the turpitudes of love and desire, which is the heir of the excellent Pang (2019). (VS)


Desire, I Want to Turn Into You (2023) by Caroline Polachek, available now.

Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd by Lana Del Rey


Lana Del Rey’s ninth album, Did You Know that There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, released on March 24th, 2023, makes you fall in love with her all over again. On this record, the American singer offers sensual, vulnerable, bittersweet, restless songs that unveil their full intensity, beauty and complexity when listened to. Besides, the pop-folk star impresses her audience with her trap, jazz, folk and gospel sounds, subtle self-references to her discography (she covers her track Venice Bitch on Taco Truck x VB), and unexpected guests like Canadian rapper Tommy Genesis. The great poetess dives into the themes of family, death, spirituality, healing, and love in moving, haiku-like lyrics. She moves away from the storybook images of America with its gangsters and starlets in order to convey intimate, universal memories and emotions. With her deeply tearful new songs, Lana Del Rey has reclaimed her throne – the one she sat on in her video Born to Die – and her crown of flowers. Although this time, it has a lot more thorns and a lot less plastic than the one she once wore (VS)


Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (2023) by Lana Del Rey, available now.

Scarlet by Doja Cat


After a breathtaking performance at the MTV VMAs 2023, in which she showcased her three latest tracks Attention, Demons, and one of the hits of the year Paint the Town Red, Doja Cat unveiled Scarlet last September. The album highlights the American’s talents as a rapper. It features a number of fascinating tracks, including the haunting Balut, in which she warns her audience: “I’m needed / I’m competing, you are incompetent / Copy the greats, that’s my number one strategy / But beware that you can’t copy stats”. One thing’s for sure, Doja Cat has turned a new page in her career and is proving herself stronger than ever, despite the controversy caused by the virulent comments she made to her own fans (EC).


Scarlet (2023) by Doja Cat, available now.

Madres by Sofia Kourtesis


Released on October 27th, Sofia Kourtesis’ debut album Madres has clearly not gone unnoticed. Unanimously acclaimed by the critics, this record with its misty scarlet cover offers eminently theatrical electronic compositions conceived as collages. The Peruvian-born musician blends the frenzy of the nightclubs with elements of huayno, a traditional Peruvian music that already existed in pre-Columbian times. No matter how curious it may sound, she incorporates the 7th art into her tracks. You can hear the dramas of Pedro Almódovar, the occult tales of Guillermo del Toro and, in her own words, the “wow effect” of German filmmaker Wim Wenders. (AT)


Madres (2023) by Sofia Kourtesis, available now.

Black Classical Music by Yussef Dayes


A splendid album of modern jazz music encapsulated in an equally breathtaking 33-minute live video. Truth be told, only a few drummers from that music genre manage to make such a name for themselves… If Yussef Dayes is so respected by his peers, it is certainly because his practice isn’t limited to… jazz. From grime to 1970s funk music, the collaborator of pianist Kamaal Williams – they formed the brilliant duo Yussef Kamaal in 2015 – is back with Black Classical Music, a new 19-track opus conceived as a spiritual journey released this year. (AT)


Black Classical Music (2023) by Yussef Dayes, available now.

Jaguar II by Victoria Monét


Nominated in seven categories at the 2024 Grammy Awards, including “Record of the Year”, “Best R’n’B Album” and “Best R’n’B Performance”, Victoria Monét has finally received the recognition she deserves. Her second album, Jaguar II, a direct follow-up to her namesake album released in 2020, is simply flawless. It has to be said that the 34-year-old songwriter has remained in the shadows for too long – she has produced hits for Chris Brown, Nas, Kendrick Lamar (Memories Back Then), the duo Chloe x Halle, and Ariana Grande’s iconic Thank u, next. (AT)


Jaguar II (2023) by Victoria Monét, available now.

Lahai by Sampha


Five years after the success of Process, which won the Mercury Prize, the London pianist who collaborated with Kendrick Lamar, Solange and Frank Ocean, released his second studio album, the luminous Lahai. And from the very first extracts, Spirit 2.0 and Only, everyone fell in love with this record. Sampha’s music both conjures up images reminiscent of Studio Ghibli films and of quiet oceans under a jet black night sky. A special mention should go to the track Jonathan L. Seagull, a tribute to Richard Bach’s novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970). (AT)


Lahai (2023) by Sampha, available now.

My Back Was a Bridge For You to Cross (2023) by Anohni and the Johnsons


Anohni, the brilliant transgender soul priestess behind Antony and the Johnsons, has made a stylistic comeback. Earlier this week, she released the spellbinding My Back Was a Bridge For You to Cross under the name Anohni and the Johnsons. It features lush, haunted soul marvels such as the single It Must Change, which follows in the footsteps of Marvin Gaye and Al Green. With the tormented, angelic sound of its singer, committed lyrics, short-film-style videos, and gut-wrenching melodies, Anohni and the Johnsons is one of the most beautiful projects of the year. (VS)


My Back Was a Bridge For You to Cross (2023) by Anohni and the Johnsons, available now.

I Was Mature For My Age, But I Was Still A Child by Grouptherapy


The LA-based quartet is reminiscent of the Odd Future collective, which includes Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Syd, and Frank Ocean among others, particularly in its advocacy of an alternative rap that couldn’t care less about conventions. Grouptherapy rejects simplicity and mainstream top lines. Instead, it indulges in a dark, slightly mad hip-hop genre, built on strange, dying synthesizers and saturated guitar riffs. At the end of June, Jadagrace, KOI, TJW and RHEA unveiled I Was Mature For My Age, But I Was Still A Child, a 16-track album which ranks among the best records of 2023 according to Numéro. (AT)


I Was Mature For My Age, But I Was Still A Child (2023) by Grouptherapy, available now.

Raven by Kelela


On her new album, Raven, American artist Kelela unveils 15 tracks which seem to come from another universe with their almost celestial sound. She was already captivating on Take Me Apart, her debut album released in 2017. Since then, the 39-year-old artist has kept a low profile, apart from remixes and a few singles, such as Washed Away released in 2020. Now she is back with the club spirit and intensity we have come to expect from tracks like Happy Ending and Bruises, as well as with hazy pop and soul ballads like Missed Call and Holier). With this second solo album, Kelela has crystallized everything we dream of waking up to – a futuristic pop slightly punctuated by techno and soul references. (NM)


Raven (2023) by Kelela, available now.

Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume by Yves Tumor


Two years after his brilliant EP entitled The Asymptotical World, the mysterious Yves Tumor has unveiled his new studio album, Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds). The American artist is staying the course, collaborating with Noah Goldstein – Kanye West’s sound engineer behind My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) – and with star producer Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Depeche Mode, U2). The result is a twelve-track art rock album at the crossroads of magic and terror, revealing Yves Tumor’s unstoppable and abundant artistic palette. Once and for all, it reconciles fans of throbbing R’n’B, music lovers in ecstasy over blaring guitars, and aesthetes in search of a long-lost ‘sonic matter’. (AT)


Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) (2023) by Yves Tumor, available now.

Other best albums of 2023:


New Blue Sun by André 3000
Heaven Knows by PinkPantheress
Red Moon in Venus by Kali Uchis
God Games by The Kills
The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We by Mitski
Internal Affairs (2023) by Buzzy Lee
Blonde Venus by Sam Quealy
Where’s the Light by Joanna
Dernier orage by Eloi
Falling or Flying by Jorja Smith
Everything is alive by Slowdive
Sincèrement by Hamza
Javelin by Sufjan Stevens
Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert by Cat Power Endless Summer Vacation by Miley Cyrus
I Killed Your Dog by L’Rain
Guts by Olivia Rodrigo
Elowi by Yamê


Translation by Emma Naroumbo Armaing.