Hackney Diamonds (2023)
As Rolling Stome memorably put it, "It's 2023, and the Rolling Stones Have Made a Record You'll Want to Play More Than Once -- Seriously." Their incredulous review went on to call "Hackney Diamonds" A collection of bangers... that nobody in their right mind had a right to expect." The question of what changed for the now-threesome, and how Hackney Diamonds came out so good will be the defining debate of 2023.
Perhaps Hackney Diamonds is ever so slightly more inconsistent than Blue and Lonesome because of exactly one filler song, and a few more moments that veer close to filler territory. But it's the best Rolling Stones album of the comeback era by many orders of magnitude.
What's stranger than Hackney Diamonds being as good as it is, is the fact that it kinda feels like the rest of the comeback era never happened. There were certain tropes and cliches of the comeback era that mostly aren't on Hackney Diamonds. It's like an alternate history of the last thirty-five years of the Rolling Stones. For what may be the last Rolling Stones album, they hit the reset button.
Hackney Diamonds has quite a few highlights, starting with the single and first track, "Angry," a song that makes a statement that the Stones have more energy than anyone would expect, and is beautifully simple. The rest of the album is a showcase of the Stones' strengths, with another highlight being the Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder-assisted "Sweet Sound of Heaven," a showstopper that elevates Hackney Diamonds from consistently good to excellent.