Including bar italia, The Japanese House, Jungle, Caroline Polachek, Paramore, Olivia Rodrigo, Lana Del Rey and more.

From distorted confessions of loneliness to warming moments of euphoria and albums for your main character moments to nostalgiaevoking comebacks, these are the records that captured the hearts and minds of the Notion team in 2023. 

Liam Cattermole – Editorial Cordinator

bar italia – Tracey Denim

For a band who’ve prolifically toured the UK, Europe and US and released four albums in three years, there’s still an air of the unknown surrounding bar italia. Tracey Denim, the first of two records in six months, is teasingly tentative in moments but, overall, incredibly revealing. On ‘my kiss era’, they speak of an innate desire to let loose while being cautious of what their deepest fantasies may mean in the future. Building to a point of earsplitting distortion and cacophony, the track entwines muddy melodies with relentless riffage to create the edgy feeling they describe so desolately. Album highlight Punktattempts to rationalise their raging subconscious, but fear ultimately overrides any motivation to break from the stale scenarios they describe with such contempt.  

Kitty Robson – Head of Editorial

Olivia Rodrigo – GUTS

A sophomore album is always a tough endeavour, especially after meteoric success like Olivia’s, but I for one think she pulled it right off. GUTS explores everything that Sour does and takes it all to a new level. Feeling less 15 and heartbroken, it’s more like it takes you back to that age where you’re discovering who you are for better or worse, with or without someone by your side. A few highlights include the deeply thoughtful and gorgeously delicate ‘making the bed’ which explores the bittersweet reality of getting what you want, and ‘all-american bitch’, an absolutely masterful opener epitomising an album switching between head-bangers and tear-jerkers alike. My favourite though has got to be ‘get him back’, because we love a double-entendre as cleverly catchy as this track. Just like the Sour tour last year, I will 100% proudly be the oldest gal in the vicinity at a GUTS show next year.

Rosie Byers – Managing Editor

Lana Del Rey – Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd

Apart from a few self-indulgent hungover binges of ‘Summertime Sadness’, Lana’s Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd was my peaceful girl summer album. From first listening to the record in full on a rainy Sunday in March, to witnessing her perform it live with the biggest crowd of girls with ribbons in their hair on record at her Hyde Park show in July, it soundtracked all my mundane, melodramatic and main character moments in between.

Georgia Sims – Editorial Account Manager

The Japanese House – In The End It Always Does

I’ve been a huge fan of The Japanese House and I’d been waiting three years for this one, so yes I’m obsessed. This album really fits with how I feel 99% of the time – a deeply down bad queer, packaged in a vibrant incredibly catchy exterior.

Yazzi Gokcimen – Editorial Intern

Jungle – Volcano

To me, this album is sunshine bottled up. I saw Jungle close All Points East this summer, my friends and I had planned to avoid the crowd rush by leaving early but we couldn’t drag ourselves away; we were dancing to Volcano like no one was watching and shared this moment of love-filled euphoria. It was definitely a highlight of my year. I think the project unlocked Jungle’s creative potential since it was the second release on their own label, Cailo Records. The record features Erick the Architect and Roots Manuva, who bring their own distinctive flair to the disco nostalgia the duo are known for. I love how their collaborators are positioned at the fore, as if Jungle is a collective rather than a rigid band. The music videos are equally incredible, who hasn’t seen the choreography for standout single ‘Back on 74”s on their socials? ‘Candle Flame’ is perfect for gloomy winter days. I put it on knowing it’ll lift me into a better mood. I think Volcano is one of those albums you can play pretty much anywhere, at any time, to anybody and it’ll be welcomed warmly. Great vibes!

Maria Mukaranda – Editorial Intern

Paramore – This Is Why

Paramore was the very first band that I ever got into and the very first concert that I ever attended. I listened to my first Paramore song over 10 years ago but I’d be surprised if a year went by where they weren’t one of my most played artists. We’ve all witnessed their constant evolution and grown up alongside them, each new album a turning point in their metamorphosis and my own life. It seems fitting that – after an over five-year hiatus – Paramore entered their renewed This Is Why era. 2023 was an amazing year for revisiting many of my childhood bands but this album unfolded as a much-needed, zeitgeist-y revelation – with some really artful bass riffs too.

Darcy Culverhouse – Editorial Intern

boyband – but it’s goth.

If you don’t know boyband, then you should get to know. Not only is he a Grammy-nominated producer, he also makes some of the hottest beats in the game. ‘but it’s goth’ sees boyband channel his inner brooding spirit. Laden with gothic edges and darkwave nuances, witness the beats being carried by heavy drums interplayed with rich bass melodies. The albums lead track, ‘outta town’, quickly took TikTok by storm, as he racked up millions of views for his mix of the track with Sexxy Red’s ‘Pound Town’. Viewers quickly hailed him as a pioneer for this new genre, ‘goth rap’, whilst the majority of the comment section hosted the question: SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME HOW TO FIND MORE MUSIC LIKE THIS.”

Kinga Kutermankiewicz – Graphic Designer

Olivia Dean – Messy

After discovering Olivia Dean’s music this year, Messy became the soundtrack of my summer. The album reminds me to make choices even if they’re not perfect, to not be afraid of taking risks and to be “messy”, from time to time.

Italia Minchella – Producer Intern

Caroline Polachek – Desire, I Want To Turn Into You 

To me, this is the perfect album. What made it that bit more special this year, was being at the front of Caroline Polachek’s performance at Wideawake Festival, experiencing the American polymath perform all my favourite songs right in front of my eyes.

Ed Sullivan – Partnerships Manager

Young Fathers – Heavy Heavy

I saw them a few times this year and like any Young Father album, it translates harmoniously onto a live stage. With effervescent energy running throughout the album, it transports the listener to a place of celebration, encapsulated through ‘I saw’, a definite must-listen. I’d recommend that everyone goes to see them!