Music | January 12, 2023 5:37 am

The Albums We’re Most Looking Forward to in 2023

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Lana Del Rey, Gorillaz and Rihanna
These are the 2023 records we're most excited about.
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Steve Jennings/Jon Kopaloff

We’re not quite halfway through January, which means you’ve had enough time to abandon those impossible New Year’s Resolutions and focus instead on the things most likely to bring you joy in the coming year. If you’re anything like us, that means keeping an eye out for new releases from your favorite musicians.

Fortunately, no matter where your tastes lie, there’s plenty to look forward to in 2023. The year promises to bring excellent new records from old favorites, some reimagined classics and of course, some killer new material from up-and-comers you may not have heard of. To help you keep tabs on all of it, we’ve rounded up a list of 15 of our most anticipated albums of 2023 — in chronological order — below.

Belle & Sebastian, Late Developers

Jan. 13

Surprise! There’s a new Belle & Sebastian record coming out tomorrow, and we just found out about it a few days ago. The just-announced Late Developers was recorded during the same sessions as last year’s A Bit Previous, and fans of the beloved Scottish group should pounce on the new material while they can: Stuart Murdoch recently told Rolling Stone that the band might take a long hiatus after it comes out. “I do feel that maybe we’re at the end of an arc or a chapter or an era or something,” he told the publication. “I think, in a sense, putting these two LPs out might be the last thing we’ll do for a while.”

John Cale, Mercy

Jan. 20

Mercy is John Cale’s first new album in over a decade, and it sees the legendary Velvet Underground co-founder teaming up with the likes of Animal Collective, Sylvan Esso and Weyes Blood. The latter is featured on lead single “Story of Blood.” “I’d been listening to Weyes Blood’s [2016 album Front Row Seat to Earth] and remembered Natalie [Mering]’s puritanical vocals,”Cale explains in a statement. “I thought if I could get her to come and sing with me on the ‘Swing your soul’ section, and a few other harmonies, it would be beautiful. What I got from her was something else! Once I understood the versatility in her voice, it was as if I’d written the song with her in mind all along. Her range and fearless approach to tonality was an unexpected surprise. There’s even a little passage in there where she’s a dead-ringer for Nico.”

King Tuff, Smalltown Stardust

Jan. 27

Kyle Thomas, better known as King Tuff, describes his latest record as “an album about love and nature and youth,” and it sounds like fans of the garage rock musician can expect a bit of a departure from him on it. “The truth is I never really wanted to leave my little town in Vermont. I knew it was something I had to do in order to actually pursue a career as a musician, but I loved my life there, and I cried and cried the day I left on a Greyhound bus for LA in 2011,” Thomas explains in the press release announcing the record. “In some alternate dimension there’s a version of me still living there, still hanging on the stoop, drawing pictures in the coffeeshop, walking the railroad tracks that run along the river…but alas, in this here dimension, I’m nothing but a townie without a town! ‘Smalltown Stardust’ is a song about keeping that little place and all its strange magic with me wherever I go. It’s a portal that I can access when I need inspiration, or when the city feels too big and hot and I need to mentally escape into some dark woods. It’s a place I found myself going to often in the last few years while I was writing this record, stuck in scorched and crispy ol’ Los Angeles, so it felt fitting as an album title as well as the first song to release into the world.”

Young Fathers, Heavy Heavy

Feb. 3

Part of what makes a new Young Fathers record so exciting is the fact that every track the genre-defying Scottish trio puts out sounds different from the last. What will the 10 songs that make up the follow-up to 2018’s Cocoa Sugar have in store for us? “Heavy Heavy could be a mood, or it could describe the smoothed granite of bass that supports the sound…or it could be a nod to the natural progression of boys to grown men and the inevitable toll of living, a joyous burden, relationships, family, the natural momentum of a group that has been around long enough to witness massive changes,” the band said in a statement. “You let the demons out and deal with it. Make sense of it after.”

Yo La Tengo, This Stupid World

Feb. 10

Last month, they took over New York’s Bowery Ballroom for their annual run of Hanukkah shows, but there’s more in store for Yo La Tengo fans this year with the release of This Stupid World. It’s their first LP since 2020’s We Have Amnesia Sometimes, and the Hoboken legends have described it as their most live-sounding work in many years — reason, of course, to get excited.

Quasi, Breaking the Balls of History

Feb. 10

There are many, many reasons why this record, out next month via Sub Pop, is one of our most anticipated of the year: The title alone is an instant classic. It’s the first new LP from Quasi, the Portland duo that consists of Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss, in a decade. And, of course, it’s Weiss’s first new project since her high-profile departure from Sleater-Kinney in 2019 ahead of the release of The Center Won’t Hold.

Caroline Polachek, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You

Feb. 14

Maybe you’ve been following her since her days in Chairlift, or maybe she’s only recently caught your attention thanks to recent massive singles like “Bunny Is A Rider” and “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings.” Either way, you’ve got Valentine’s Day plans this year, and they involve giving Caroline Polachek’s new record a spin. It features contributions from Olivia Rodrigo collaborator Dan Nigro, Danny L Harle and Jim-E Stack, so we’re expecting great things.

Gorillaz, Cracker Island

Feb. 24

Your favorite cartoon band is back, and they’ve brought along a lot of famous friends to help them out. For their eighth studio album, they’re joined by Bad Bunny, Stevie Nicks, Beck, Tame Impala, Thundercat and more. The follow-up to 2020’s Song Machine – Season One: Strange Timez was recorded in London and Los Angeles throughout 2022, and it’s produced by Greg Kurstin, Remi Kabaka Jr. and, of course, Gorillaz.

Shame, Food for Worms

Feb. 24

Frontman Charlie Steen has called the forthcoming Food for Worms “the Lamborghini of Shame records,” so we’re expecting a doozy from the English post-punk group. The album reportedly explores the theme of friendship. “I don’t think you can be in your own head forever,” Steen explained. “It’s weird, isn’t it? Popular music is about love, heartbreak, or yourself. There isn’t much about your mates.” 

Ron Gallo, Foreground Music

March 3

Fans of fuzzy garage rock, post-punk and freak-pop will all find something to latch onto with Ron Gallo’s new album, Foreground Music. As you might surmise from the title, it’s all music that demands your full attention as it tackles everything from xenophobia and gentrification to toxic masculinity, climate change, consumerism and a slew of other contemporary concerns. As Gallo puts it, “The world is completely fucked, but the universe is inside you.”

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

March 10

She’s always been a bit polarizing, but there’s no denying that Lana Del Rey has been on a creative tear in recent years, following up 2019’s career-best Norman Fucking Rockwell! with 2021’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club and Blue Banisters. In March, she’ll make her return with Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. So far, only the title track has been released as a single, but the album will also reportedly feature collaborations with Jon Batiste, Bleachers and Father John Misty, among others.

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U2, Songs of Surrender

March 17

To accompany Bono’s recent memoir, U2 have announced an accompanying album, Songs of Surrender, which will see the band reimagining 40 songs from various periods in their career. “Once we surrendered our reverence for the original version, each song started to open up to a new anthemic voice of this time, of the people we are now, and particularly the singer that Bono has become,” The Edge said recently. There’s no word yet on which 40 songs will be included on the record, but it’s safe to assume that they’ll correspond to the 40 U2 tracks Bono devoted chapters to in his book.

The New Pornographers, Continue As a Guest

March 31

This spring, The New Pornographers will return with Continue As a Guest, their follow-up to 2019’s In the Morse Code of Brake Lights. The title likely calls to mind the little button you have to push to make online purchases without logging into an account, but it touches on broader themes as well. “The idea of continuing as a guest felt very apropos to the times,” A.C. Newman said. “Feeling out of place in culture, in society — not feeling like a part of any zeitgeist, but happy to be separate and living your simple life, your long fade-out. Find your own little nowhere, find some space to fall apart, continue as a guest.”

Rihanna, TBA

Fans have been begging for a follow-up to 2016’s Anti- for what feels like an eternity. (Seven years is more like 20 in pop-star years.) Rihanna has, of course, kept herself busy in the meantime, launching Fenty Beauty and becoming a mother. She deserves to take her time with the new record, but all signs point to 2023 being the year we finally actually get to hear it. Nothing’s been formally announced yet, but she put out her first new single recently on the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, and she’s playing the Super Bowl halftime show this February. Could her appearance at the big game be the kickoff for a new album and accompanying tour?

boygenius, TBA

Like Rihanna, boygenius have not announced a new album yet, but the supergroup — which consists of Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers — will perform at this year’s Coachella in April, and they were recently spotted posing for a photoshoot. Could a follow-up to their 2018 self-titled debut be in the works? We can only hope.