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The 25 Best Australian Albums of 2023

The exciting and innovative albums Rolling Stone AU/NZ writers couldn’t get enough of in 2023

The best Australian albums of 2023

L-R: Troye Sivan, Angie McMahon, Genesis Owusu

2023 has been another year of excellent releases by Australian artists, but you’d be forgiven for not thinking that if you’d looked at the ARIA Albums Chart at any point over the past 12 months.

“From cultural cringe to clogged charts: why aren’t Australians listening to Australian music?,” The Guardian asked in June, sparking a period of heavy online discussion about the potential reasons Australian releases were being overlooked in favour of the music of global artists.

The discussion between Australian journalists and publicists and music lovers was thoughtful, encouraging, but it was also inescapably disheartening, there being a prevailing worrying feeling that this country’s relationship with its artists and their music was, perhaps irrevocably, damaged, at least in a commercial sense.

As 2023 came to its end, and Rolling Stone Australia‘s writers started preparing our shortlist of the best albums of the year, one thing became clear: Australians continue to produce some of the most exciting, innovative, and noteworthy music in the world.

In our list of the 25 best Australian albums and EPs of the year, which you can check out below, there are legends reminding us of their pop power and local rappers taking on the world; there are scrappy indie rock bands just fighting to be heard and myriad incisive singer-songwriters with monumental stories to tell.

In our 25 picks there are some evident chart monsters, but there are just as many albums that didn’t receive the commercial (or even critical) success that they deserved. The talent is there, the talent has always been there, and when 2024 rolls around, be mindful of this: that US superstar doesn’t need you to buy the deluxe version of one of their old albums, but your local Australian artist needs you to check out their record.


Angie McMahon, ‘Light, Dark, Light Again’

It takes a special artist to make you feel less alone in the vastness of the world. Angie McMahon, seeking solace from her anxiety, found transformation in nature and being alone with herself, and she freely instilled her renewed spirituality into her art.

McMahon’s second album is the result, a sometimes unsparing listen that doesn’t offer easy answers but instead provides comfort through shared experience. The singer-songwriter still struggles with self-doubt in her songs, but she has a stronger sense of her place in the world, which makes all the difference. The songs are more cinematic and expansive than on her previous releases, a sign of her growing assuredness.

Much of McMahon’s lyrics become mantras, for both her and her listeners, reminding us to relinquish, breathe, and find light through the darkness. The light, she reminds us, always comes again. We’re lucky to have brave songwriters like McMahon embracing the feelings we’re afraid to face.


Genesis Owusu, ‘Struggler’

It was never in doubt that Genesis Owusu would deliver a mighty second album, was it?

After the rapper and singer’s debut, Smiling With No Teeth, conquered Australia in 2021, expectations were high for Owusu’s follow-up album; if his debut hinted at the presence of a generational talent, Struggler confirms that this is indeed the case.

Owusu’s genre-hopping collection gave him his second consecutive ARIA Award for Best Album, while it was also shortlisted for the 2023 Soundmerch Australian Music Prize. The songs are excitingly eclectic, Owusu changing moods and tone at will. His vision of himself as an artist is secure, even at this early stage of his career.

The Ghanaian-Australian artist will somehow have to top his first two successes on his third album, but it would be unwise to bet against him doing just that.


Troye Sivan, ‘Something to Give Each Other’

Troye Sivan begins his latest album with intent. As soon as the addictive “Rush” surges forth, both he and his listeners are locked in. It’s an unsubtle beginning, certainly, but one that clearly sets the tone for what’s to come: a whole lot of unbridled fun.

Sivan’s third album is a marvellous ode to euphoria and hedonism, the sound of someone assured in who they are as a person and artist. Sivan’s queerness proudly powers Something to Give Each Other, the songs standing as testaments to the transformative nature of finding comfort in one’s own identity. For someone who came out very publicly a decade ago, it’s impossible to ignore the liberation that Sivan is enjoying in 2023. He’s joyful and horny, seeking pleasure and finding it wherever he looks.

The songs on Sivan’s album are dripping with sweat. They feel so alive because the artist who created them was feeling so good when he made them. Just look at that album cover: Sivan smiles ecstatically, his face nestled securely between a friend’s legs in a moment of genuine connection.

In the public eye from a very young age, Sivan was always going to be a global pop star, but Something to Give Each Other has sent him into the musical stratosphere. His album has dominated charts around the world, including in his home country and the US, the market he craves. Where once he was a nervous musical guest on Saturday Night Live during his Bloom era, Timothée bloody Chalamet is now doing entire sketches about Sivan’s twink allure on the late night comedy show. Sivan the Superstar is here; he’s “One of One,” as his Rolling Stone AU/NZ cover story rightfully declared.