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Back to Music reviews... / Nov 17, 2023

Best Of The Year 2023 - Incredible Female Led Acts

Every year, we love to look back on all of the stunning music that's dropped and figure out what our faves are. Sophie from hmv Worthing pulled together her favourite acts with incredible female vocalists, check it out!

Black Honey - A Fistful Of Peaches

When you open an album with a song like 'Charlie Bronson', you know you're in for a wild ride and Black Honey does not disappoint. A Fistful of Peaches is unapologetically angry in the best way. Lead singer Izzy Bee Phillips gives us an insight into her mental health journey and vulnerability, adding so much depth to the album. Pair this with memorable basslines and pounding drums and you get the masterpiece that is 'A Fistful of Peaches'. Phillips' fearlessness is what makes the album so great, she's not afraid to take risks with her music. Black Honey are a band who know exactly who they are and they are making sure everyone knows it. This is definitely one of my favourite albums of the year.

Palehound - Eye On The Bat

This album almost feels like you are reading lead singer El Kempner's diary. I'm not usually a fan of break-up albums but I really love this album, it feels more relatable, the personal anecdotes throughout work really well. There's good humour throughout the album as well which makes it fun. 'My Evil' is a great example of that humour and probably my favourite song from the album. I love that you can hear influences from bands such as Sleater-Kinney and The Breeders throughout. As well as providing vocals, Kempner is responsible for the guitar, arguably one of the best bits of the album. Pair it with Lars Brogan on the bass and Zoë Brecher on drums and you get Eye On The Bat, an album that is a delight to listen to.

Daughter - Stereo Mind Game

Indie Folk trio, Daughter, returned after a seven-year absence to give us 'Stereo Mind Game', their third studio album. The album embodies the gentle dream-pop we are used to from the band yet it somehow feels completely new. It's a brighter album that manages to stick to that bands' indie rock roots whilst toeing the line into mainstream pop. The lyrics are magical, almost poetic, and work well with the simple guitar melodies and drum beats. Elena Tonra is what brings the album together, her voice is hypnotic. She has a quiet confidence to her voice that is present throughout the album, whether she is singing about her relationship or her sobriety, her voice remains strong. I think 'Stereo Mind Game' may be one of the under-rated albums of the year.

Hot Milk - A Call To The Void

Hot Milk may have been around since 2018 but this year saw the release of their debut album, 'A Call To The Void.' And what a debut album it is! It takes the pop-rock roots of the band and transforms them into a darker, heavier sound of edgy rock. It feels like the band have really found what works best for them. Lead vocalists Han Mee and Jim Shaw work well together, their voices perfectly matched. Personally, I think Mee really shines on tracks such as "Breathing Underwater" and "Bloodstream". She has a powerful voice that just really suits the songs. Other stand-out songs for me are 'Alice Cooper's Pool House' and 'Party On My Deathbed'. The album has such a great range of songs and is probably my debut album of the year!

Paramore - This Is Why

This Is Why is hands down my favourite album of 2023. We had to wait six years for new Paramore music and they certainly didn't . This Is Why is the band's most experimental album yet with influences from the likes of Bloc Party and Foals present throughout, but at the root of it all, it is the Paramore we know and love. Of course, the biggest reason for this is Hayley Williams. Her voice is simply amazing. You can hear her controlled anger in songs like 'This Is Why' and 'The News' but in 'Crave' and 'Liar', you can feel the raw emotion. The way Williams can switch between the two feels effortless, it is that good. Everything about this album is perfect. Basically if you haven't listened to this album yet, what are you waiting for? If you have already heard it, go and listen to it again.

For more writing from Sophie, check out her blog here, and dive into all of our Best Of The Year titles right here.

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