Sunday 17 December 2023

2023: 23 Highlights (pt. 3)

Just in case you're even remotely interested, here's a few more of my fave albums of 2023.

We Are Scientists - 'Lobes'
Me and We Are Scientists go waaay back. I won't pretend I've been with them since the start, but when they broke through in the UK with their debut album in 2005 I took them in and have followed them ever since. They've been up and down in my affections ever since, but have now put out two successive records that I have loved for the first time in a while. 'Lobes' is a lot more synth-heavy than its immediate predecessor, but it's been done exceptionally well - those tunes really do sparkle.

The Keening - 'Little Bird'
The Keening is the new solo project of Rebecca Verson, former frontwoman of doom metal merchants SubRosa. She's very much keeping with the doomy feel, but it feels more expansive and broad than her previous band's work. Her label describes 'Little Bird' thus: "A web of lush orchestration, American Gothic sensibilities and wintry murder ballads set against a backdrop of dark, shimmering folk [...] flowing with flute, strings, harp, French horn, piano, organ and hammered dulcimer." It is as good as that sounds.

Teleman - 'Good Time/Hard Time'
I like this one as MrsRobster loves Teleman and if she's happy, I'm happy. The album's theme of facing challenges and overcoming them, as well as the way various aspects of nature intertwine in order to survive, grow and evolve, may have been inspired by the loss of founder member Jonny Sanders who left the band in 2020. It's their first record as a trio, but they appear to be doing OK, as Trees Grow High (MrsRobster's fave track) illustrates.

Amber Arcades - 'Barefoot On Diamond Road'
PJ Harvey - 'I Inside The Old Year Dying'

I've lumped these two together as I already mentioned them back in my summer trio of posts. Well, in the case of Polly Jean, I posted the first single and my thinly-veiled excitement for her first new proper record in seven years. It took a while to grow on me, but naturally it's brilliant with some wonderfully original flourishes and imbued with some old Dorset dialect in the lyrics. Annelotte de Graaf took five years to deliver her latest record as Amber Arcades, but it was worth the wait. Another grower with, as you would expect, some really good songs on it.

Final post next week.

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