The 12 best albums of 2023 so far

It has been a great year for female-led bands.

The Linda Lindas Perform At The Regency Ballroom
The Linda Lindas Perform At The Regency Ballroom / Steve Jennings/GettyImages
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Ashnikko
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11. Chappell Roan – The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess

One day, all witty, snarky pop divas will seek out Daniel Nigro and his magic will finally wear off. But if he keeps working with Olivia Rodrigo and Chappell Roan, that won’t happen anytime soon. If Chappell Roan’s songs aren’t as consistently sharp as Rodrigo’s, she offers a broader range of styles, from the Katy Perry pop of “Red Wine Supernova” to softer power ballad like “Coffee,” that would not be out of place on an Adele album.

There’s even the Swiftian revenge of “My Kink is Karma.” And on the anthemic “Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl,” she begins as a Rodrigo sound-alike but quickly morphs into an extraterrestrial extravaganza worthy of its title.

BEST TRACK: SUPER GRAPHIC ULTRA MODERN GIRL

10. Ashnikko – Weedkiller

2019’s "STUPID" was a major hit and a minor song. A couple of mixtapes later, Ashnikko hits 2023 with Weedkiller, and there is nothing minor about it. From the opening cosmic stew of “World Eater,” the 27-year-old has bigger things on her mind than stupid boys and sex.

Weedkiller is both angrier and more romantic than anything we have heard so far. She can toss insults with the best of them (“You Make Me Sick!”) and call up righteous retribution (“Chokehold Cherry Python”). And she can offer up beautiful coming-of-age heartbreak (“Miss Nectarine”).

She does it all with the voice of a pop star and the music of some post-industrial noise band. She makes it fit – even when it doesn’t exactly fit. “Worms” could be a 100 gecs tune – Dylan Brady plays guitar on the track – with its sing-song chorus. But it is undeniably catchy, and if it is a sillier tune, it provides nice balance to some of the vitriol that surrounds it. Her first full album is a major work.

BEST TRACK: MISS TANGERINE