The Best Albums of July 2023

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The Best Albums of July 2023

There were so many great new albums every week this month, it made July such a rewarding part of the year. From rock ‘n’ roll to synth-pop, genre records arrived aplenty, and many of them became our new favorites. From an experimental, technicolor debut from Being Dead to Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s first album in 20 years, these last 31 days wowed us all. As August begins today, let’s take a moment to recap the abundance of wonderful music released this past month. Here, in alphabetical order, are the best albums of July 2023.

Allegra Krieger: I Keep My Feet on the Fragile Plane
I Keep My Feet On The Fragile Plane is a wildly successful catalog of the trials of early adulthood, providing a comfortable space to explore painful points on unrealized promise and acceptance. Krieger seems at home within the structures of her languid, smoldering ballads—though the fire burns hot when she picks up speed just a little bit, navigating her compelling vocal melodies with a loping acoustic guitar. What’s always present is her keen emotional intelligence and knack for finding levity. At the heart of her songs, one can always catch a glimpse of the feeling that everything really does work out in the end. This is true if you’re able to accept that you’ll always be on the “fragile plane,” the halfway point between where you were and where you’re going. Rest assured, Allegra Krieger’s there, too—making music to usher us through. —Emma Bowers

ANOHNI and the Johnsons: My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross
My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross is not an album that seeks out an answer to any of its questions. In the wake of an ongoing, unfurling and merciless stream of abuse enacted against trans people, hearing a record that illustrates so closely what the fear of extinction—both ecologically and socially—might look like is necessary, heavy, equitable and full of care. ANOHNI’s work is rid of mythos and, instead, rooted in anti-destiny. The world she colors on My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross is flawed and harsh and unforgiving, yet it is also a great container of love and respect. “You be free. You be free, for me. For me, you. Be free for me,” she echoes out, at the end of the album. Even in her greatest pivot towards darkness, ANOHNI holds her loved ones up through the ashes of violence and demands that fate take the shape of a nurturing, generous light. —Matt Mitchell

Being Dead: When Horses Would Run
Being Dead—Falcon Bitch, Gumball and Ricky Moto—are a trio of Texas-bred besties who make technicolor punk for folks who think the Beach Boys are pretty groovy—yet their music rebels against any sense of influence that can be so easily pinned down. Their work is maximalist and bubblegum bright; full of heart and absurd landscapes just off the road less traveled. “Fields of marigolds and reading, blue skies, white clouds,” Gumball sings at the genesis of lead single “Muriel’s Big Day Off.” “Took a trip into the city, strollin’ around. Find a girlfriend or a boyfriend, baby, lay me down.” Our first proper introduction to Being Dead arrives on the heels of the band taking acid. Mid-trip, they picked up a guitar and, instead of paying much attention to the chords, Falcon Bitch and Gumball found themselves engulfed in the beauty enconscing the patterns of their fingers. Thus, the opening chapter for Being Dead is this surf-rock, jazzed-out cluster of rock ‘n’ roll that is, puzzlingly, worn-in and brand new all at once. When Horses Would Run, their action-packed debut LP, is, in no short words, the most exciting debut of 2023 so far. —MM

Bethany Cosentino: Natural Disaster
Perhaps you best know Bethany Cosentino as the bandleader of surf and power pop duo Best Coast. But may I direct you to her solo work? 14 years after Best Coast was formed, Cosentino has unveiled her debut album, Natural Disaster. Conjuring flickers of Third Eye Blind and Hole. The title track slightly evokes Y2K pop-country styles, while “For A Moment” sounds like it could track a triumphant coming-of-age movie montage or end credits scroll. The perfect part of Cosentino’s artistry is that she has always had such a deft precision when it comes to merging everything that has ever worked in pop music. Few musicians can claim to possess such a singular ability, and Natural Disaster is just one of those albums that you’re going to find something new to love about it with every listen. If you’re coming into this project expecting a Best Coast record, don’t. This is Cosentino’s full foray into her own creative prowess. You thought she was one of the best vocalists in indie rock before? Well, that’s going to balloon 10 times in size by the time the closing track “I’ve Got News For You” fades out. —MM

Beverly Glenn-Copeland: The Ones Ahead
Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s first album in almost 20 years is a sight to behold from beginning to end. After his 1986 record Keyboard Fantasies garnered newfound success in recent years as new generations have found it, Copeland’s genius and kindness have both become better known and all the more adored. His new album, The Ones Ahead, is an ode to both the versions of us yet to be born and the parts of the world we have not yet discovered. It’s hard to put into full words just how important it is to have Copeland making music in this lifetime, but I’m sad for all of the folks in the next infinite number of lifetimes who will not be so lucky. The Ones Ahead is a perfect, moving album indebted to ancestry, ecological wonders and the spiritual truth of growing older and coming to terms with your own mortality. The album ebbs like a singular movement, as if Copeland has constructed this grand, meticulous and generous concerto of every inch of empathy our aching hearts need to make it to tomorrow and beyond. —MM

Carly Rae Jepsen: The Loveliest Time
A companion piece to her 2022 album The Loneliest Time, Canadian pop star Carly Rae Jepsen unveiled The Loveliest Time on short notice. No worries, though, as I’m game to devour a new CRJ record anytime, anyplace. I’ve long maintained that she is our best pop musician, and albums like Emotion and Dedicated only solidified that after “Call Me Maybe” dominated the charts in 2012. That being said, The Loveliest Time is a joyous parallel to The Loneliest Time. Carly is brilliant in her ability to spin happiness and sorrow into the same type of danceable energy. Hearing that she wrote 65 songs during the pandemic, it might be easy to assume that these 13 tracks are simply leftovers from a year ago. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as cuts like “Psychedelic Switch,” “Shadow” and “Shy Boy” are just these electric, career-high tunes. Produced by Rostam Batmanglij and James Ford, this is one of the coolest trios to make a record in a long, long time. In a world where every artist’s catalog is a point and counterpoint, it’s lovely to see Carly Rae Jepsen approach that evolution head-on with two thematically different albums that capture one piece of a superstar’s life. —MM

Cut Worms: Cut Worms
Max Clarke’s newest Cut Worms album embodies traditional Americana in the purest form: It’s jangly, catchy, folksy and a little bit pissed off. Sprinkled amidst the twanging love pleas and swinging piano riffs are explorations of a real, endemic hurt which, for decades, the most talented and brave among us have disentangled from this country’s DNA and woven into art. Clarke does that on Cut Worms, too, just enough that where he’s coming from is familiar without arriving oversaturated. The LP presents itself sunnily, a light-drenched, head-first dive into what Clarke himself calls “pop essentialism”—but hidden beneath its shining surface is a quiet, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it urgency without which the record would lack dimension. Indeed, his sincere, timely discontent with the state of things around him saves the album from being the sort of (very, very well-executed) 21st-century tribute to folk-rock that gets relegated to easy-listening radio stadions and TJ Maxx store stereos. —Miranda Wollen

Georgia: Euphoric
For her third album, Euphoric, Georgia brings in a co-producer for the first time and puts more of herself into her music. Rostam—the songwriter, former Vampire Weekend member and co-producer for HAIM, Clairo and Carly Rae Jepsen with his own intriguing releases—helps Georgia sharpen her longstanding proclivity for hooks and guides her toward straight-up pop, and his warbly, slightly hazy electronic programming enriches every inch of her melodies. The result is Georgia’s most consistent, ebullient album to date and an authentic representation of herself: As she dives into the life-affirming rush of pure sound, she comes off unbothered and effortless, like someone no longer interested in putting on appearances. Euphoric absolutely works in its uptempo moments, though, because, when Georgia creates giddy pop music, she fully commits. Her hooks are simple yet powerful; her lyrics circle love, dancing, and everything in between; and her music is packaged in dazzling technicolor. The album is also a testament to Rostam and Georgia’s connection: Their musical chemistry is so rich that, on Georgia’s first collaborative album, she sounds more like herself than ever before. As she stitches her own euphoria together, one thread stands out the strongest: other people. —Max Freedman

Julie Byrne: The Greater Wings
Julie Byrne has a poetic way of describing the world around her. Thoughts, feelings, sunrises—she treats them all with an almost delicate lyrical touch that can land with the force of thunder: “Love affirms the pain of life,” she sings on “Portrait of a Clear Day.” Paired with song arrangements that often start with intricate, fingerpicked acoustic guitar (surely the source of all those “astral” projections), Byrne’s songs on The Greater Wings are never short of being beautiful, and sometimes even sublime. Though Byrne’s songs tend toward understated, she frequently imbues them with a subtle urgency. Though “Portrait of a Clear Day” hasn’t come out as a single, it is in many ways the standout track on The Greater Wings. Not only does it linger like the heat of a sweltering summer day, it’s the one where Byrne strikes the most compelling balance between the pain of loss (in this case, her creative partner Eric Littmann, who was 31 when he died suddenly in 2021) and letting go of it. “I get so nostalgic for you sometimes,” she sings at the very end. The considerable power of The Greater Wings lies in how Byrne makes that specific feeling universal, and how resonant it becomes in the artfully woven tapestry of her music. —Eric R. Danton

Strange Ranger: Pure Music
Pure Music, the latest endeavor by Strange Ranger, is experimental pop glazed with shoegaze overtones All at once, it’s gigantic and familiar, embossed with clips of YouTube videos dispersed throughout to give the record a rewarding, digital connective tissue. The tether that runs throughout the record is the unbreakable bond between the four musicians, which was tested when Isaac Eiger and Fiona Woodman ended their longterm romantic partnership. The two vocalists remained band members and, alongside Nathan Tucker and Fred Nixon, decamped to a cabin in the Catskills area of Upstate New York to build the framework of their 2021 mixtape No Light in Heaven and Pure Music. The quartet emerged from their structure with songs like “Rain So Hard,” “She’s On Fire” and “Blue Shade”—some of the most-compelling electronic compositions this year. And the standout centerpiece, “Wide Awake,” showcases Woodman’s angelic, euphoric vocalizations. Pure Music, is a bright, ambitious detour from the emo-inspired indie rock they’d been recording and performing for the last seven years. —MM

Listen to a playlist of songs we loved from these albums below.

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