The 40 Best Albums of 2023

We rank the highest-scoring new albums released in 2023.
by Jason Dietz — 

This page contains Metacritic's official list of the 40 best-reviewed albums of 2023, ranked by Metascore. This list only includes new albums receiving at least 7 reviews from professional critics.

Otherwise, all full-length studio albums (or mixtapes) released between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023 are eligible, though EPs, singles, reissues, live albums, box sets and other compilations are excluded. (Those excluded titles are included in a separate list at the bottom of the page.) Albums are ranked by Metascore prior to rounding based on scores as of December 12, 2023.

#40 through #21

#40The Candle and the Flame by Robert Forster 86
#39Scaring the Hoes Vol. 1 by JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown 86
#38With a Hammer by Yaeji 86
#37Raven by Kelela 86
#36 The Great White Sea Eagle by James Yorkston 86
#34(tie) But Here We Are by Foo Fighters 86
(tie) Bird Machine by Sparklehorse 86
#33Praise a Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) by Yves Tumor 86
#31(tie) The Hypnogogue by The Church 86
(tie) Turn the Car Around by Gaz Coombes 86
#30Tension by Kylie Minogue 86
#29Imagine This Is a High Dimensional Space of All Possibilities by James Holden 86
#28Heavy Heavy by Young Fathers 86
#27Jaguar II by Victoria Monét 87
#26We Buy Diabetic Test Strips by Armand Hammer 87
#25Hit Parade by Róisín Murphy 87
#24Sundial by Noname 87
#23Javelin by Sufjan Stevens 87
#22i/o by Peter Gabriel 87

The top 20

Everything Harmony by The Lemon Twigs

#19 (tie): 87 Everything Harmony (Captured Tracks)
by The Lemon Twigs

Everything is the self-produced fourth studio LP from the New York indie-rock duo of brothers Michael and Brian D'Addario. It may be a clear homage to Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys (and other bands of the late 1960s and '70s), but critics praised the pair's timeless songwriting.

"Their enthusiasm truly does show. And with tracks as catchy as these, it's pretty clear that the brothers have done their homework through the years and then some." —No Ripcord

Listen With Apple Music

Nothing's Gonna Stand in My Way Again by Lydia Loveless

#19 (tie): 87 Nothing's Gonna Stand in My Way Again (Bloodshot)
by Lydia Loveless

Ohio alt-country artist Lydia Loveless returned to her longtime label Bloodshot Records (after a 2020 detour) for this sixth album, perhaps their best to date.

"Loveless may have left the twang behind, but returns with one of the most powerful, moving and musically sophisticated offerings in a career that is clearly still growing despite, or perhaps because of, any self-doubts." —American Songwriter

Listen With Apple Music

Lahai by Sampha

#19 (tie): 87 Lahai (Young/XL Recordings)
by Sampha

Just the second album to date (following 2017's Process) from in-demand South London producer Sampha, Lahai was released this fall just a few weeks before Sampha received his first Grammy nomination (for his work on Kendrick Lamar's most recent album).

"Lahai is a transformative album that explores themes like afrofuturism and magical realism across 14 tracks that span a multitude of genres, including soul, rap, jazz, dance, jungle and West African music. And it's a record that's as intimate as it is imaginative." —Paste

Listen With Apple Music

My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross by Anohni & the Johnsons

#18: 87 My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross (Secretly Canadian)
by Anohni & the Johnsons

After going the solo route for her 2016 album Hopelessness, Anohni reunited her longtime backing band The Johnsons for their first album together in 13 years. The soul- and R&B-influenced My Back features production work from Grammy-winner Jimmy Hogarth.

"The scaffolding of ANOHNI's voice across these 10 tracks is remarkable, and the way she excavates a deep, unrelenting love within them through accessible and awing prose is magnetic, thoughtful and intricate. From a lyrical place, My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross enacts an exotic balance that is so rarely seen in contemporary music." —Paste

Listen With Apple Music

Wait Til I Get Over by Durand Jones

#17: 88 Wait Til I Get Over (Dead Oceans)
by Durand Jones

Wait Til I Get Over is the solo debut for Louisiana-born soul artist Durand Jones, who previously released a trio of acclaimed albums with his band Durand Jones & The Indications.

"Multifaceted and consistently brilliant." —Mojo

Listen With Apple Music

Valley of Heart's Delight by Margo Cilker

#16: 88 Valley of Heart's Delight (Missing Piece Records)
by Margo Cilker

Roots-inflected Oregon singer-songwriter Margo Cilker gained a cult following for her 2021 debut Pohorylle. This year she reunited with that LP's producer/drummer Sera Cahoone to release her sophomore set, which has garnered even more praise for Cilker.

"Across 11 tracks, the album is a near flawless exercise in songwriting." —Glide

Listen With Apple Music

I Am Not There Anymore by The Clientele

#15: 89 I Am Not There Anymore (Merge)
by The Clientele

London-based trio The Clientele rarely stray too far from their formula of hazy, breathy, shimmery, 1960s-folk-influenced indie pop, and why should they when the results are consistently gorgeous? But they do indeed dabble with a variety of new sounds (including punchier beats, new vocal treatments, and a greater emphasis on strings) on this excellent seventh LP, which follows a rare six-year recording hiatus and stands as their least Septembral recording to date.

"As the album draws to a close, it's hard not to see I Am Not There Anymore as their most ambitious, artistically progressive offering to date." —musicOMH

Listen With Apple Music

Sanguivore by Creeper

#14: 89 Sanguivore (Spinefarm Records)
by Creeper

English goth-punk band Creeper have scored 89 , 91 , and now 89 for their first three albums—an impressive achievement suggesting sustained excellence. Sanguivore is another concept album, this time centering on vampires.

"Sanguivore may well be Creeper in their ultimate form, and by embracing their biggest, most bombastic sound ever, they've created black magic." —Kerrang!

Listen With Apple Music

False Lankum by Lankum

#13: 89 False Lankum (Rough Trade)
by Lankum

The progressive Irish folk band Lankum returned with March with a genuine follow-up to their award-winning 2019 set The Livelong Day. Somehow, that 89 score makes the intense and ambitious False Lankum the band's "worst" album to date (following two 90 + releases).

"There is so much to revel in here. ... They remain a radical band while making music that is reaching out to the mainstream – while also giving off the thrilling sense that there is so much more to come." —The Guardian

Listen With Apple Music

Rat Saw God by Wednesday

#12: 89 Rat Saw God (Dead Oceans)
by Wednesday

Wednesday is an indie-rock five-piece from Asheville, North Carolina, and fifth album Rat Saw God—which blends elements of shoegaze and country musicmarks their Dead Oceans debut.

"Without polish or overproduction, Wednesday sound is a powerful exclamation of a narrative, full of noise, beauty, and deeply relatable feelings and stories. It may not feel perfect, but it's real." —Sputnikmusic

Listen With Apple Music

That! Feels Good! by Jessie Ware

#11: 89 That! Feels Good! (Interscope)
by Jessie Ware

English pop singer-songwriter Jessie Ware's fifth studio album (and follow-up to 2020's excellent What's Your Pleasure?) is the best-reviewed release of her career to date.

"That! Feels Good! nimbly catapults Ware from being beholden to What's Your Pleasure?, to cementing herself as one of the most agile and important dance artists working today. ... A punchier and more immediate album than What's Your Pleasure?, slicker and far funkier, but equally iconoclastic." —Glide Magazine

Listen With Apple Music

Maps by Billy Woods and Kenny Segal

#10: 90 Maps (Backwoodz Studioz)
by Billy Woods and Kenny Segal

Brooklyn rapper Billy Woods (or billy woods, as he seems to prefer) proved that his 2022 breakthrough Aethiopes was no aberration with this quick follow-up set, which finds him teaming with L.A.-based producer Kenny Segal and includes appearances by Danny Brown, Aesop Rock, and Quelle Chris.

"Played front to back it works as a dazzling kaleidoscope; on shuffle, every combination worked in a different way, with no weak links because the quality of each track is insanely high. Underground, resistant US rap par excellence." —The Wire

Listen With Apple Music

the record by Boygenius

#9: 90 the record (Interscope)
by Boygenius

The indie-rock trio of accomplished solo artists Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus previously released an EP (2018's Boygenius) and performed live together, but it's this debut full-length that really puts the "super" in supergroup. The Record is a hit with reviewers and listeners alike and topped a number of sales charts around the world following its March release.

"All over The Record, they keep recombining their individual styles into a different kind of chemistry for each song. That's why they transcend any kind of 'supergroup' cliché. After all, supergroups are a dime a dozen compared to actual great bands. And boygenius leave no doubt about where they stand." —Rolling Stone

Listen With Apple Music

The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We by Mitski

#8: 90 The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We (Dead Oceans)
by Mitski

The seventh and best-reviewed album to date from singer-songwriter Mitski follows her 2022 release Laurel Hell. The 11-song set features a stripped-down sound on some of its tracks, while enlisting an orchestra and choir on a few others.

"There are an awful lot of singer-songwriters around exploring the kind of subjects Mitski touches on here: disillusionment, isolation, broken relationships, overindulgence. But it is questionable whether anyone else is doing it with this much skill, this lightness of touch or indeed, straightforward melodic power: in the best possible sense, Mitski feels out on her own." —The Guardian

Listen With Apple Music

1989 (Taylor's Version) by Taylor Swift

#7: 90 1989 (Taylor's Version) (Republic)
by Taylor Swift

In a year in which she was named Time Magazine's 2023 Person of the Year and mounted the most successful tour that the music industry has ever seen, Taylor Swift can be forgiven for finishing a "mere" 7th place on Metacritic's year-end chart. Actually the second of her 2023 album releases and fourth of her re-recorded LPs, this October release remakes her pop breakthrough 1989 (which scored just 76 at the time of its 2014 release) while adding five new "From the Vault" tracks. The day that 1989 (Taylor's Version) came out, Swift broke the record for most Spotify streams in a single day by any artist, besting the previous record set by ... Taylor Swift.

"Swift's remake is astonishing in its exactitude, another reminder that she is a star of a different magnitude with a mastery of her own talents and a bold business acumen. ... All of the new songs are satisfyingly deft and clever, replete with sinuous melodies, burbling synths and agitated percussion that correspond with the updated eighties stylings of the original. ... The one new song that really punches its weight with Swift's original 1989 singles is the razor sharp Is It Over Now?" —The Telegraph

Listen With Apple Music

Guts by Olivia Rodrigo

#6: 91 Guts (Geffen)
by Olivia Rodrigo

Scoring eight points higher than her acclaimed 2021 debut Sour, follow-up Guts finds the Disney actress turned popstar diving more fully into rock sounds (with great success). Every one of the album's dozen tracks (on the standard edition) charted on Billboard's Hot 100, and Guts received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year among other honors. Not bad for someone whose 21st birthday is still a few months away.

"[A]nother instant classic, with her most ambitious, intimate, and messy songs yet. Olivia's pop-punk bangers are full of killer lines ("I wanna meet your mom, just to tell her her son sucks") but she pushes deeper in powerful ballads like "Logical." All over Guts, she's so witty, so pissed off, so angsty at the same time, the way only a rock star can be. And this is the album of a truly brilliant rock star. " —Rolling Stone

Listen With Apple Music

Black Rainbows by Corinne Bailey Rae

#5: 91 Black Rainbows (Thirty Tigers)
by Corinne Bailey Rae

English singer-songwriter and Grammy winner Corinne Bailey Rae finally returned this fall with a follow-up to her 2016 release The Heart Speaks in Whispers, putting an end to the longest recording hiatus of her career so far. The result—a stylistically diverse concept album inspired by an exhibit on Black history and culture, and very distinct from her past work—is by far the most critically adored album in her discography.

"Black Rainbows magnificently roars around garage rock, jazz and even, on Erasure, Black Flag hardcore. Better still, Before The Throne Of The Invisible God is a heavenly soul-psych masterpiece, equally Sly Stone, Prince and Billie Holliday. It'll continue to uncover fresh layers of magic for years, while being enticing from the off." —Record Collector

Listen With Apple Music

The Greater Wings by Julie Byrne

#4: 91 The Greater Wings (Ghostly International)
by Julie Byrne

The third LP overall and first since 2017's Not Even Happiness from folk singer-songwriter Julie Byrne finds her dealing with the grief of losing her partner Eric Littmann, who was also producing The Greater Wings until his sudden death in 2021.

"The Greater Wings joins Sufjan Stevens's Carrie & Lowell and Ghosteen by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in the ranks of minimalist yet multi-layered, masterfully realised albums that are unmistakably rooted in loss and grief but ultimately transcend their painfully personal origins by blooming into life-affirming, universal beauty and resonance." —The Line of Best Fit

Listen With Apple Music

Desire, I Want To Turn Into You by Caroline Polachek

#3: 94 Desire, I Want To Turn Into You (Perpetual Novice)
by Caroline Polachek

Former Chairlift member Caroline Polachek has been releasing solo albums since 2014, with her most recent, Pang, arriving in 2019. Her eclectic but career-best follow-up is a collaboration with English producer Danny L Harle and includes the Grimes and Dido collaboration "Fly to You."

"Desire, I Want to Turn Into You is one of these future classics. ... Engaging at every turn and carefully calibrated to its point of view, it represents art pop hitting yet another dizzy apex." —PopMatters

Listen With Apple Music

Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die (world war) by Jaimie Branch

#2: 95 Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die (world war) (International Anthem)
by Jaimie Branch

New York-based jazz trumpeter Jaimie Branch died in the summer of 2022, leaving behind a legacy that included two studio albums. One year later, a posthumous third LP followed, thanks to the efforts of family members and Branch's three bandmates in her quartet Fly or Die to put the finishing touches on an album that was nearly complete at the time of her death.

"It is just as electrifying as the group's first two LPs, but with a wider sonic horizon and more parts in motion. And there's a triumphant streak running through it that only heightens the pain of Branch's demise." —The New York Times

Listen With Apple Music

Fountain Baby by Amaarae

Metacritic's Official #1 Album of 2023
95 Fountain Baby (Golden Child)
by Amaarae

Bronx-born, Ghanaian-American singer-songwriter Amaarae followed her debut LP The Angel You Don't Know with this major-label debut. Fountain Baby blends American R&B and African pop (among other genres) into 2023's highest-scoring album—a title it has held since its June release.

"This is a sexy, sparkling snapshot of borderless youth in 2023, with Amaarae emerging as an ascendant star." —The Observer

Listen With Apple Music

BONUS: Best reissues and compilations

We excluded reissues, box sets, EPs, singles, live albums, and compilations from our main list above. But here are 2023's highest-scoring releases that fall into any of those categories.

#1Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 3: The Asylum Years 1972-1975 [Box Set]
by Joni Mitchell
#2Chrome Dreams
by Neil Young
#3The Complete Dirty South
by Drive-By Truckers
#4The Bootleg Series, Vol. 17: Fragments - Time Out of Mind Sessions 1996-1997
by Bob Dylan
#5Live in Brooklyn 2011
by Sonic Youth

BONUS: Biggest disappointments

While most out-and-out terrible albums don't get enough reviews to obtain a Metascore (if they even get reviewed at all), here are 2023's worst-reviewed albums receiving a minimum of 7 reviews from professional critics.

#1For All the Dogs by Drake 53
#2How Do You Sleep at Night? by Teezo Touchdown 56
#3Take Me Back to Eden by Sleep Token 60

View a list of all 2023 albums ranked by Metascore >