Daily Press (Sunday)

Best albums born of all genres

- By Maria Sherman

The best albums of 2023, in no particular order.

Across 14 tracks, Pluma marries contempora­ry swagger with traditiona­l corridos tumbados, bringing the colorful and once-maligned music to the masses — and making it all his own in the same breath.

‘Guts,’ Olivia Rodrigo:

Across 12 tracks of big feelings balladry and riot grrrl-informed power pop-punk, Rodrigo expertly soundtrack­s the throes of fame — and the experience of entering your 20s. From the bloodsucki­ng piano ballad “vampire” to the cheeky backslide anthem “bad idea right?,” Rodrigo makes hard lemonade out of life’s lemons.

‘Lucky,’ Megan Moroney:

Moroney’s stellar debut album emerged fully formed and fully without the male bravado that punctuates much of mainstream country. Her swooning single “Tennessee Orange” was ubiquitous on country radio, but it’s the whole of “Lucky” that makes Moroney one to watch.

‘Hackney Diamonds,’ the Rolling Stones:

This album is as raw and rocking as ever. The collection of 12 crackling songs, their first since the 2021 death of drummer Charlie Watts, was produced by Andrew Watt and features Lady Gaga. It’s a rapturous addition to their already legendary discograph­y.

Here the R&B singer offers a masterclas­s in sensual breakbeats and experience­s in queer Black motherhood. If pulling from U.K. garage, ’90s house and electronic­a has become a trend, Kelela does it with a restrained intensity — soulful vocals atop dance rhythms, hazy sunset music set in a vintage club, like on the single “Contact.”

‘Raven,’ Kelela: ‘Mañana Será Bonito,’ Karol G:

The Colombian superstar proves there has been some serious gender oversight in reggaetón. This album should be considered part of a modern canon for the explosive dem bow of “Ojos Ferrari,” the dance-y “Ciaro,” the breathy “TQG,” featuring Shakira, and the Afrobeats of “Carolina.”

‘New Blue Sun,’ André 3000:

The musical innovator who is half of the duo Outkast plays upward of 40 different types of flutes from around the world on this ambient jazz LP. The most daring release of 2023, it is a minimal, meditative listening experience — in some ways, ancient and, in others, an extension of the Afrofuturi­sm that André 3000 has always worked to bring to the forefront.

The album is a contentiou­s and confrontat­ional continuati­on of the spirit felt on 2018’s “Room 25,” centering Black art and simultaneo­usly unraveling the ways in which it is exploited. A highlight is “Namesake,” a track where Noname targets Rihanna, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s ties to the NFL. Ideologica­l quandaries — speaking truth to power and then highlighti­ng the instances where that fails — abound, delivered in smooth packages.

‘Sundial,’ Noname:

‘Rat Saw God,’ Wednesday:

At the heart of the contempora­ry indie rock band’s album is a tension that plays out like a sonic embrace. It is an album about the complicati­ons of Southern identity, the pride and grit and shame and particular­ities of American geography.

‘My Soft Machine,’ Arlo Parks:

Parks expertly navigates an incredible diversity of sound. She manages to weave sounds together that shouldn’t quite fit together, finding congruency in her downy melodies and romantic lyricism.

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