It’s been a long time since I did a proper rundown of the best songs of the year – since Landfill Indie in fact – but with Spotify Wrapped and Apple Music Replay becoming increasingly more popular, here’s a few standout tracks from my 2023 playlists.
What’s Next – Brutalligators
I’ve followed Brutalligators since seeing them at Washed Out Festival in 2019, and was delighted to hear this when it popped into my Release Radar at the end of May. For a band that fly anywhere between screamo and pop punk, this is at the latter end, and right up my street. “Got misgendered agin, because my parting’s exemplary / Citalopram, alcohol, hypnosis, and therapy” – one of my favourite lyrics, and tracks of the year.
The Narcissist – Blur
While Blur’s 2015 comeback The Magic Whip was perfectly pleasant, if not revolutionary, this new single another eight years later proved there’s still some musical genius to come from one of Britpop’s finest. Of course, Blur were always much more than that era – you only have to look at Damon Albarn’s recent solo record to see that. Graham Coxon (whose own solo output isn’t to be sniffed at) is on fine form here too, albeit restrained until the final act of the song.
Rebound – Millie Manders and the Shutup
Despite being around for a few years now, the first time I came across this band was in February’s new releases with this excellent three minute pop punk masterpiece. Clearly influenced by the 2000’s scene, it’s got a huge chorus that wouldn’t have been out of place in a No Doubt’s or even My Chemical Romance setlist.
Springsteenian – Deforesters
This really does what it says on the tin – a first new song in five years for the Canadian DIY band, that almost could’ve been written by The Boss himself. In truth, it’s not too far from their previous The Gaslight Anthem sound – certainly one to check out with a new album on the way.
The Aeroplane (feat. Asmara Feik) – Tim Minchin
Heading to the Southern Hemisphere, Tim Minchin (of comedy and musicals fame) released his first ‘straight’ album last year to many plaudits. This track follows that, and comes from his excellent TV drama ‘Upright’, featuring Asmara Feik on vocals who starred alongside him. Not only the perfect ending to the show, but also a truly beautiful track in its own right. The live version is wonderfully tear-inducing too.
While not actual singles out this year, here’s a couple of bonus entries…
Look For The Light – Only Murders In The Building: Season 3 Original Soundtrack
Another song from a TV show, Hulu’s excellent ‘Only Murders In The Building’ this season centred around a spoof musical for which this was written. Penned by Sara Bareilles amongst others, and sung by guest star Meryl Streep, it’s almost too good to not be heard outside of the show.
Morning Afterglow – Electrasy
Finally, it’s the re-emergence of a ‘lost’ track – and a Britpop classic at that. For as long as I can remember, this was ‘greyed-out’ on Spotify, blocked by legal wrangling from their now-defunct US record label. It’s great to hear it again finally in its original form, and hopefully will find a resurgence on throwback playlists once again.