We’re halfway through 2023 and critics are slouching towards their Best Records Of The Year So Far lists. They’re rarely happy about it. If dicing releases every 12 months is arbitrary, then six months is labor on a factory line, wood chips for the content mill. But this year, I feel like they hate these lists more than usual. They’re having a hard time picking much. And maybe you are, too.
Plenty of people, from Fantano to Picky Bastards to Steve and Ian from the Indiecast pod, have picked up on the slump that’s characterized January to June in the Year Of Our Digital Camera Renaissance 2023. I agree. The last great mainstream record was SZA’s SOS, a vertiginous leap across soul, rap, trap, rock and sad-happy ex assassinations. It came out in December. Since then, every big release from the likes of Caroline Polacheck, Paramore, Lana Del Ray, Everything But The Girl and Danny Brown/JPEG Mafia has been merely fine or commendable. Whether you’re a diva looking for slay music or a soft-bruiser desperate for a kicking, there’s a good chance you’ve been a little lost.