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well_2023: "NO" albums (1/2)

hey alexa give me another gag about the writers who burn out at the end of the year and dive headlong into quantity over quality haha. this is the worse half of everything I heard this year please enjoy it.

133Sleep Token
Take Me Back to Eden

All the genres you never needed to hear together

Proud of (most of) you for this
132Thirty Seconds to Mars
It's the End of the World But It's a Beautiful Day

Stooge pop

Jared Leto climbing the Empire State Building to promote this hunk of nothing reflects his greater destiny to suck your dick in return for bumping up your Letterboxd scores
131Morgan Wallen
One Thing At A Time


a cornucopia of things i would *love* to try in a small town


minortimbo almost changed my life
129ezra varier
estonian snow


the fate awaiting 9/10 of the users commenting "I wanna make this kinda music" in the Panopticon thread
Periphery V: Djent is Not a Genre


We are not going through this shit again.
127Alice Longyu Gao
Let's Hope Heteros Fail, Learn, and Retire


I love a good so-bad-it's-good kick more than most, and the irony of Oli fucking Sykes guesting on an EP named as a declaration of war on hetero trash is one of the best terrible things to happen in any year, and well yeah you get where this is going my expectations pwned me so hard in so many orifices that I'm not convinced I even have a sexuality anymore. Checkmate.

Kerrang Industrial

one of the most exciting bands active today in an oversaturated market filled with a dime-a-dozen bands and artists all replicating the “hip” thing in their respective fields
125Ava Max
Diamonds and Dancefloors


A stain on the otherwise precious name of Pop Garbage
124Beach House

Dream pop

bankruptcy of drem

Dream pop

bankruptcy of d[2]em
June Songs Vol. 1

Concept emo

Rare band that has both tried and succeeded in specifically targetting this site for their clicks & cash, and every single warning flag you can possibly extract from that claim is exactly as bad as it sounds. June & July can go fuck themselves - stick to Coheed & Cambria for your high-concept dork operas.
121Vylet Pony


swings and roundabouts innit
120Zach Bryan
Zach Bryan


Look, I love it as much as the next guy that Zach Bryan discourse has hit its long-overdue reckoning over whether or not he qualifies as bro country, but let's not get distracted from the core points: this guy sings like a bag of dicks, thinks midwestern emo is the best genre of music (not a bit!) and writes a million songs you'll never tell the difference between because he's tricked you into thinking you're spinning on the same tune on repeat while his copious Spotify royalties harvest your fucking soul. The fact that people are saying his sound has been *improved* by collaborating with fucking Bon Iver tells you all you need to know here - get out.
One More Time...

Pop punk

Glaring case-in-point as to why retirement projects should never be obsessed with recapturing your glory days


heard this in time for it to make my 2022 list, but Pitchfork naming it AOTY is as healthy a reason as any to remind everyone that it still sucks arse
117Chamber (USA)
A Love to Kill For


always good to find a kindred spirit who feels strongly enough about shitting out mindless jank that they would literally fight to the death for it
This Is Why

Pop rock

whoever deleted my soundoff is a perfect illustration of the thin-skinned spirit of brittle indignation that made this record such an embarrassment to sit through
115The National
First Two Pages of Frankenstein


Distressingly limp in every single respect - the urge to delete this from my library for the sake of the band's dignity is about the only trace I've got left of any residual attachment to them

Goodnight, God Bless, I Love U, Delete.

Alternative whatevers

Anyone who swiped right on this is dead to me
Sky Void of Stars

Gothic wimp shitmetal

Worst metal frontman/lyricist of all time performs fresh overproduced babygoth snooze
111Humanity's Last Breath


Some of the worst production I've heard in my life (THIS is Will Putney's legacy on heavy music) + arse-first djunz un-songwriting, but this was a bit of an easy target and I'd be lying if I said it didn't have a couple of slappers

Bratty zoomershit

too polished for its own good - ditch ethel cain and the trent reznor bootsniffing and lean back into the chaos plz. honestly distressed this one can't go any lower *or* higher
72 Seasons

Thrush infection goes harder than this -metal

i simply cannot decide on the right retirement barb to lay here
108Ruston Kelly
The Weakness


the world's least significant R. Kelly gives up on disguising butt country as drab emo and hits a minor identity crisis
Nothing Here is Held Sacred


some glimmers of potential at the backend of this, but otherwise new dxc band playing the same old shite
Black Tar


bargain bin beatdowns in an otherwise largely excellent year for grind
105Narrow Head
Moments of Clarity


pallid grungegaze at its most forgettable. feed that vocalist some vitamins
104Explosions in the Sky

Post rock

"Just listen to it even if it’s dead or not dead who gives a shit, it’s music."
103Animal Collective
Isn’t It Now?

Bullshit psych

Enfeebled mess that makes it that much easier to regret that this godawful tumour of a band didn't cease its existence years (maybe as many as 20 of them) ago
102In Flames

Melodeath / alt metal

"great return to form"
101Balance and Composure
Too Quick to Forgive


emoGBT throwaways disguised as a comeback -- i mean, "Swallowing my pride / You're out the door, so I'll spare you all my emotions this time / This time / Now that you might die / I find it selfish to pain you with wanting closure / 'Cause it's closed, I know"? urgh.
100Caroline Polachek
Desire, I Want To Turn Into You

New wave of gentrified spa pop

unfairly talented vocalist gives up on music and suggests her true calling lies in a hideously-packaged luxury soap brand


jespercore's version of sleep paralysis
98Black Country, New Road
Live at Bush Hall

Spiralling Windmillcore

100% of songwriting talent fucks off to sell cakes; band promptly plummets
97Magdalena Bay
mini mix Vol. 3


vapid trendbait duo almost make bangers
Childhood Eyes

Pop punk

Gotta concede it's a huge accomplishment for any 00s pop punk band to pull off an EP title involving children and not have it read incredibly sus: wholesome victory?
95Enter Shikari
A Kiss For The Whole World

Post-hardcore / alt rock

my one spin of this album somehow secured these guys a slot in my spotify wrapped (which was topped by sleep token), and fwiw i appreciated their video message too much to shade this album. cute gang drops ball cutely.
94Lana Del Rey
Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd

Coma pop

LDR sneaks about 25% of a decent album into a gruelling marathon of her classic foibles
93bread experiments


haha breadgaze
92De Staat
Red Yellow Blue

Alternative dance dance stuff rock

91Johnny Booth
Moments Elsewhere


the least offensive showing from the year's most bafflingly awful brand of sputhype? apparently not quite!
The Sin of Human Frailty


visceral allstar hardcore reduced to plasticated jank. fuck will putney with a rusty spoon
89The Callous Daoboys
God Smiles Upon The Callous Daoboys


everyone's favourite metalcore breakthrough act drinks one too many milkshakes and shits their pants in the nearest hot topic
88Spanish Love Songs
No Joy

Alternative doomrock

no comment
87Total Downer

Pop punk / Emo

screwball aping of most of Jeff Rosenstock's worst qualities somewhat redeemed in the lyrics dept

Post-everything throb jank

tfw dickriding p4k is the most straightforward answer to your tasteless album-long manifesto of plz-get-me-laid
85Wisteria Lodge
Spoken Secrets

Dream Pop

are lynchian vibes still lynchian if they come with next to no mystique?
American Gothic

Post-metal / black metal / americana

Butt boring post-metal repping deeply weathered cowboy boots = dusty, dusty snooze
83Jeff Rosenstock

Pop punk / power pop

The DIY man-of-the-moment slogs out another set of pithy spleeny woke-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-bed-(that's-ur-life!) whatevers, almost all of which are distressingly piecemeal
82Hannah Diamond
Perfect Picture


one of PC music's oldest and most deservingly forgotten mascots is slowly getting better at vapid squeak pop: she'll have a 3.5 for us by 2030
81The Republic of Wolves
Why Would Anyone Want To Live This Long?


underproduced attempted exorcisms of patently Catholic upbringings like it's 2000 and fuckin 6 Perfect Picture
80King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of...

Thrash bong

if one more person tells me that Actually These Guys Are Great Musicians we are all going to find out precisely how many diplomas you have to burn to get incarcerated for arson

Idiot pop

about as (very) stupid and (moderately) entertaining as every any Poppy full-length - not feeling this as a 'step down', but it sure as shit ain't making the good list either
78Ayumi Hamasaki
Remember You


With a score as high as 2.7, I apparently felt at some time that this was the best full-length I have ever heard from Ayumi Hamasaki and boi oh boi do I wish I could remember the reasons why
77The Ocean

So over it it's not even post -metal

Metal band listens to Mezzanine one time and thinks they're suddenly masters of slowburning atmosphere. Unfortunate record
76Beach Fossils

Dream pop

Hilariously vapid dremshit, so much so that it almost hits so-lame-it's-good territory. Almost.
Under Glass


gamerboi-harvesting edgelord switches tracks to disappointing vanilla synthpop. a sad day for Perturbator worship the world over!
74Nicole Dollanganger
Married in Mount Airy

Dream pop

Creep pop for those who like their room temperature frigid and their vocals constantly on the brink of asphyxiation
73The National
Laugh Track


A respectable effort from indie's ailing maestros, but not enough to hide that they're just one Lana del Rey feature away from the end of the road.
72Invent Animate

Metalcore progshit whinge

Tbqh, I think this album has been slightly overly maligned by metalcore haters this year - its chronic dependency on idiot chugs and questionable clean vocals may be as useless as anything else on this particular hype circuit, but the band's emphasis on atmosphere and occasional flashy leadwork are a cut above. There's a decent melodic record buried under all that polish and djunz. That feels nice to say! Band are still criminally atrocious lyricists and would be better off writing in, idk, French or Mandarin or some other language where their garbage word fumbles are easier to ignore, but tentative peace out? Bye!
71Sufjan Stevens

Indie folk

Audible proof that you can add as much nuance and experience as you like to your basic pocket handkerchief, and it ain't gonna fit the brief of your own portable mop bucket any better or worse
70Fall Out Boy
So Much (For) Stardust

Pop punk / pop / pop pop

A few legitimately fun bangers don't quite offset the rank obsequiousness of this album's pop wing. Acceptable return to form? Probably - this boi took a pass on FOB's entire pop-pop era, so we'll let that one fly
69Indigo De Souza
All of This Will End

Indie pop / indie rock

Major disappointment for me - Indigo de Souza's 2021 record had some of the most enduring indie tracks of the last few years, but this is a crass, sawn-off flop in comparison that frequently devolves into the wrong kind of ugly mess and mistakes its notions of rawness and catharsis for the substance of good songwriting in a way that IdS once seemed to have such a remarkable knack for *not* doing. Still some good tracks here, but ugh

67Molly (AT)

Post rock? Dream pop? Slowcore? No fucking way am I revisiting this lol

Jesper's early-year pitch played me like a sock and now I am full of holes. Unsure whether this record ever truly existed.
O Monolith


The third (or maybe fourth) most popular band in nu-UK dorkwave drop another compendium of useless irregularities
Higher Lonely Power


*adequately produced attempted exorcisms of patently Catholic upbringings like it's 2000 and fuckin 6

Math rock / 'shoe''gaze'

elevator rock act tries and largely fails to spice up their game
63Young Fathers
Heavy Heavy

Neo-psych woohoo bullshit

Get promised a subversive pop masterclass // get dumped with a bunch of wavyshit hippy-baiting Anco B-sides. Waste of great artwork.
62Blut Aus Nord
Disharmonium – Nahab

Avant-black metal

A perfect illustration of why gravely staring into the void makes for boring af cosplay
Love in the Void

Post rock

Even I don't nap enough to get sparks flying with this one
The Book 3

Yakousei / J-pop / K-pop bait

YOASOBI's meteoric rise continues on an (apparently) international level, which apparently means leaning even harder towards pandering to vocaloid fans (the sanitary ones) and K-Pop fans (all of them?), while losing sight of the majesty they commanded for a few crucial moments on their first EP. First track gets points for landing the opening to Frieren but loses them immediately for being a poor fit. Lotta these choruses already feel like self-aping and they haven't even dropped a full-length yet: the future of J-Pop, I, uh, guess.
This All Will End


This style of whingy emo vox is long overdue for permanent abolition, but the songwriting + band performances are at least strong enough to deserve better
58Kylie Minogue

Pop pop

The kind of singles album that makes you remember how important it is to, uh, listen to a singles album once in a while? Yknowwhatimean?
The Beggar

Retirement home post-noise postrock

""michael is done""


There are so many reasons why this should be good/fun trash, but whatever the star factor needed to see it off as a bona fide keeper is, I'm not convinced Slayyyter has it
nature morte

Drone metal

This on paper is all things excellent: sludge, drone, doom, bracing vocal performance, bold narrative, sympathetic band. Something about their sound doesn't hit right though - the production is far too dry for its own good and the atmosphere rarely sticks the landing for me, feels airless where it should be gritty. Too bad!
54Flyying Colours
You Never Know


New palatable immemorable tepid gazethings 4... u?
Hive Mind Narcosis

Avant-psych-black metal dissoshit

Mercilessly proficient (read: frequently dull) dissonant EVIL metal - these guys almost have it, but the psychedelic end of their sound and the wavy key changes that accompany it both strike me as procedural and overbearing. Fix that major-ish pitfall and this might have been worth some hype.
52Home Is Where
The Whaler

Emo vermin

nu-Pitchfork darlings pivot from enjoyable Cap'n Jazz ripoff bangers to convoluted Cap'n Jazz ripoff shrapnel that runs the gamut of every emo-adjacent style in the textbook without ever landing an essential statement (sorry, my bar is not low enough for "Every day feels like 9/11" to qualify). Definition of an ambitious flop.
51Xiu Xiu
Ignore Grief

Post-industrial / avant-classical / dualitycore / halfism / fuckoff

Some of the industrial tracks on this are pretty cool, but for the most part it's Xiu Xiu at their most macabre, contorted and, uh, dull
50Kassem Mosse
Workshop 32


Plainest techno I've heard this year, nothing offensive though
49The Clientele
I Am Not There Anymore

All of the indies chamber pops things

Pondorous baroque reflectionpiece that never quite finds its groove
48Lotus Eater Machine
Prisoner to Seven Demons


Unsure whether this is the best of the bad or the worst of the decent for the year's brvtal mathy/(vaguely) grindy beatdowns - struck me as belaboured and not nearly as visceral as it very clearly sets out to be
The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We

Emphatically songwritery music (singing optional)

most memorable part of this album is how every single thing I've read on it *either* hails Mitski as a genius songwriting *or* critiques her songwriting as piecemeal half-arsery. guess which side is on the money...
46Logan Ledger
Golden State


SPOILERS: by the maths of this list and the next, this thing did in fact turn out to be a strong contender for the best country album of 2023. Sowing my angel my broken clock.
45Queens of the Stone Age
In Times New Roman...

Custody rock

DAD GOALS = get divorced, beat cancer, churn out perfunctory set of midtempo snooze rockers, go grey in style
44Thy Catafalque

Avant-garde black metal (+stuff)

this guy is way too talented to waste himself on indistinct dm riff compilations this way. thy catafalque is firmly in its flop era (but i have faith there'll be a comeback)
43Water From Your Eyes
Everyone's Crushed

Post-industrial art pop

o trendy artfarts, how i love thee
Lovers from the Past


This is seven layers of morose kitsch too far for me *in theory*, but my taciturn teenage gothself feels thoroughly catered to and I am NOT okay with this!!

Indie pop / art pop / not pop / huh

Cult classic weirdo pop act decide that now is the time for a Japanese language debut, and back it up with one of the least remarkable tracklists I've heard from them

Progressive blackened spork metal

A few fun moments on this - "Kingdom" and BEHIND THE MIRROR??? really gun for it, almost enough to camouflage that the rest is mostly cheesy flatulence
39There Will Be Fireworks
Summer Moon

Now! That's What I Call Music!

Too precious to live, too corny to die: Sputcore in 2023, y'all (and yes, the Fray did do it better)
38Dai Dai Dai

J-Pop / Synthpop / Alt-idol

One of the funnest chaos jank projects in pop drops an EP of odds and ends, and, uh, the highlight is a remake of an old single(?)? Thrills n spills :/
37Steven Wilson
The Harmony Codex

Porgressive Rock

as someone who has paid as little attention to the lyrics on this thing as possible, i view it as a largely background cocktail of ponderous space opera and vapid We Live In A Society potshots. does it deserve a deeper dig? has a GOOD closer so will leave the door open, but you'd better speak up soon because my mind has already wandered
36Rebecca Black
Let Her Burn


rebecca black making a good mid pop album is tbqh the feel-good story of the year
35Portrayal of Guilt
Devil Music

Black metal skramz chambershit

hevyshit's edgiest bunch of stoner dorks drop their tightest set of rippers since their debut and then ruin it all with a chamber-themed reskin.
34Gazelle Twin
Black Dog

Art pop

creepy arthouse jank that brings about as much horror as, i dunno, finding your partner's fingernails in the bathroom sink. once is enough and anything further has no claws
33Better Lovers
God Made Me an Animal


the worst halves of two metalcore titans drop a timely reminder that both their original bands washed up before they broke up, and then throw will putney into the mix as an added fuck-you to anyone who believed in their creative potential regardless. this EP doesn't suck, but its hype would never have taken off if it weren't helmed by genre celebs.
32The Tallest Man on Earth
Henry St.


The 21st century's stomping, bleating folk goat delivers his most innocuous record to date, and tbqh he has never sounded better.
31Nathanael Larochette
Old Growth


Musk Ox guitarman weaves together a string of pastural vignettes - all are pleasant, few make a deep impression.

Sludge metal ~kinda

Baroness take a gamble on good production: enjoy the novelty of being able to kick back, take in every instrument in rich fullness of great musicianshiply friendly dadmetallic tone, and making your own damn mind up about whether the notes themselves are-
Magic Lantern

Yakousei / J-Pop

less peppy though no less pleasant than everything else i've heard from this group, enjoyably harmless
28Triangulo de Amor Bizarro

Shoegaze / Noise pop

a solid middle third can't disguise the pretty major step this takes back from these guys' upside-down record (one of the most inspired and engaging gaze albums of recent memory) to their years of noise pop shrapnel


This level of cheese doesn't quite hit like it used to and the production is slightly off the mark, but this is still a proficient showing from these melobois of deaf
26Olivia Rodrigo

Pop / pop 'punk'

Catchy enough to get away with being completely insufferable - O Rod may not have a single original idea as a songwriter, but she knows her source texts well enough to land them hits where they count
25Closure in Moscow
Soft Hell

Alternative funk fart

this is a silly album make your own apologies for it you callous bitch
24oedipus apartment complex
The Blissful Sounds of Miracula


Bit vaporous, but these ambient bleeps and bloops are surprisingly endearing across repeats
23King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
The Silver Cord

Progressive electronic

I flame this band a lot and for good reason, but the extended mix of the t/t is a huge highlight and up with "The Dripping Tap" as one of the few heavily worthwhile things I've heard from them since Mind Fuzz. The synths 'n' shades look in general is far from their worst, but the short version is all piecemeal choruses and the extended mixes are infrequently worth the extra mileage. Decent release all in all.
22Danny Brown


Erratic first half with a few truly bad tracks, but once this thing settles into more pensive territory it holds its own. Solid backend, and (bar that cringe "Celibate" chorus) rarely so drawn out that it demands much patience

Soft Hell this is a silly album make your own apologies for it you callous bitch


3/5ths of this have vaguely annoying screwball post-punk overtones, but when it goes it goes. "icecreamwitch" is a never-skip banger and probably my favourite song from this entire lower stretch of the list, really tight shit
20Mayu Tsuruta and Haruka Nakamura

Ambient / chamber

Nice album, but majorly handicapped because I do not own a conservatory to play it in. Get onto this, houseplants gang!
19100 Gecs
10,000 gecs


The meme remains the same(ish), but it ain't as fun now that we're braced for impact. The gecs have done good work streamlining their brand of chaos for the vast lost_generation//audience they've conjured out of nowhere, but they ain't demolishing my braincells with quite the same delight as they used to
With A Hammer

Weirdo electronix pop zing

Scatty and occasionally aggravating, Yaeji has just enough personality to get away with a pop-adjacent-ish meander through whatever electronic palettes cross her mind

The Rime of Memory

Atmospheric black metal

I stg for a solid fortnight now this entire site has been a mix of a) whingy comments complaining that this was released too late in the year to get the acclaim it supposedly deserves and b) endless NPC yearlists with guess which fucking album almost invariably in the top 10. It's... fine. It's fine. Some of the metal drags its heels, some of the transitions are jank, almost all the folk is great, the last song is a new genre template, the runtime is very nearly worth it. Keep the change.
15Carly Rae Jepsen
The Loveliest Time

Pop pop

Last year, Carly Rae Jepsen came in swinging with the worst album on my good-2022 list; this year, she contents herself with my strongest 3.0. Frankly, she's unstoppable at this point.

Zoomer bullshit

One of *the* best awful artists in the game right now, daine keeps getting better while I'm praying they get worse
13Ruby Haunt
Between Heavens

Dream pop

A more immediate angle for these rainy-day bringers of Mellow - not sure it's their best look though, their tones n vibes are competent as ever but the songwriting feels underbaked here
12Domestic Terminal
The Flooded Basement EP


intriguing teaser cannot wait to hear this band dive headlong into Halo lore on their next one
To Be Cruel

Drone metal

This one filtered the balls off me and I guess I'm proud to be left thinking it's still decently cool regardless?
10Oneohtrix Point Never

Sappy glitch

A few significant saving graces here, but this is mostly a tossup between Lopatin's most glitched-out indulgence and his most sentimentalist cornballs
9Complete Mountain Almanac
Complete Mountain Almanac


This is SO CLOSE to being a gorgeous understated knockout, and I'm trying to pin down exactly where it falls short - there's something a little demure, a little too slight that sends it through one ear and out the other, but it's still pretty as hell and *almost* a great record? Came here ready to argue that it's secretly underrated, but ended up relucantly dropping it a few places :[
Dusk to Dawn

Shibuya-Kei / Jazz pop

I can vibe with Lamp on a good day and can hardly deny their mastery of their craft, but this slog of hazy lounge/jazz pop sugarthings gets me all indistinct in the most wrong kind of nap music -way. Hmmm

R&B / garage

extremely high on style, relatively strong for consistent v i b e s, paper-thin on the songwriting front: a flattering indication of this year's standard for almost-greatness


Bit plain in places, bit sparse in others, but this lovely, gentle album has a load of delicate melodies and really lovely highlights ("Dorothy Bay"!) - shame to see it miss the main list 063 Backloaded but pretty fun at its best. "Venus" is a sweet highlight, enjoy how close this one gets to trance at points
5Tiny Ruins

Indie folk

Bit plain in places, bit sparse in others, but this lovely, gentle album has a load of delicate melodies and really lovely highlights ("Dorothy Bay"!) - shame to see it miss the main list

Yakousei / J-pop

ACAne + co. make a fun bounce back from their underwhelming sophomore album, but still nowhere near to the magic of their 2018 debut. definitely this year's best outing from the core yakousei trio though
3Hail the Sun
Divine Inner Tension


Pretty cool surprise from a band I'd written off by now - vocalist still sounds like he's gargling nail polish, but this is about the tightest songwriting and highest ratio of bangers I've heard from these guys. Kudos babies
2Billy Woods and Kenny Segal


Not sure what it is about this that never clicked with me - I dig Billy a lot, loved Aethiopes and Hiding Places, appreciate the relatively understated scattergun storytelling at play here, but it just doesn't add up to a wow. Kenny Segal's production is reined way in compared to Hiding Places, and I miss a lot of the flair he brought to that record even if the beats here are still tight. Has its moments though and I can't hate on it, so let's blame all my scruples on that one stinker of a Danny Brown verse and call it a day

IDM / Microhouse

Look'ee here, this is a cool record and I am going to pull a bunk and admit that a) it should be much higher on not this list but the GOOD list, and b) that I am not cool enough to click with it. Huh. There's a lot to like here, from screwy vocal samples (opener and "Its me ( g 8 )", hello there) to murky ambience ("Green Blue Amnesia Magic Haze ( d 7 )" is a great highlight), but it never comes together as an album-spanning vibe and the lack of cohesion narrowly withholds the 3.5-shaped blessing of GOODness from it. And so here it is. The best NO album of the year. Listen to it? Please
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