Soooo many albums that made our hearts whoosh! Here’s a list of the best 20 long-players of 2023…

  • MUSIC FOCUS: The best albums of 2023.
  • ACTIVITY FOCUS: Come up with your own ‘Best Of’ list and/or write a creative story.

Listen to Sound of Pen’s favourite tracks of the year!

20. 100 gecs, ‘10,000 gecs’: The polysemic 100 gecs gifted us the most wonderfully hyperactive and hectic 27 minutes of the year!

19. Currents, ‘The Death We Seek’: Listening to Currents’ music is like falling into a Thomas Cole painting. An overwhelmingly garangtuan experience.

18. Bury Tomorrow, ‘The Seventh Sun’: Bury Tomorrow remain one of the most consistent, compelling metal acts on the planet – ‘The Seventh Sun’ is proof of that.

17. Tate McRae, ‘Think Later’: Tate McRae’s sophomore record captures the sound of a singer at last escaping those labyrinthine teenage years. ‘Think Later’ is self-assured and slick.

16. PVRIS, ‘Evergreen’: No one else sounds like PVRIS. Equal parts gorgeous and gritty, ‘Evergreen’ is a force of nature.

15. VV, ‘Neon Noir’: During those halcyon days of the early 2000s, HIM released some of the best albums ever recorded. Sounding like a battle between sunrise and sunset, ‘Neon Noir’ reminds us why we loved Ville so much.

14. Sincere Engineer, ‘Cheap Grills’: Sincere Engineer’s ‘Cheap Grills’ is an acerbic treat. Absolutely raw, incredibly fun and weirdly analeptic!

13. Graphic Nature, ‘A Mind Waiting To Die’: A record that manages to capture the spirit of the original nu-metal scene – heavy and uncompromising.

12. Ava Max, ‘Diamonds & Dancefloors’: An album that sounds exactly like its title. Dazzling!

11. Ellie Goulding, ‘Higher Than Heaven’: Escapist pop to liberate you from even the darkest, doomiest of days! Impossible not to love.

10. Hannah Diamond, ‘Perfect Picture’: There’s no resisting Hannah Diamond’s snow globe of a second album. Iridescent and absolutely irresistible.

09. Kim Petras, ‘Problematique’: A delayed and difficult release, Petras’ second album of 2023 proved how perfectly suited the singer is to living in that liminal space between pop and provocative.

08. Holding Absence, ‘The Noble Art Of Self Destruction’: The sempiternal struggle to know ourselves – let alone love who we are – is one Holding Absence are all too familiar with. Their latest album serves as a reminder that at least we’re not going through the battle alone.

07. Avenged Sevenfold, ‘Life Is But A Dream’: Listening to Avenged’s latest will make you feel like you’re floating deep into space. An unearthly, yet strangely equanimous experience.

06. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, ‘Tilt At The Wind No More’: Andrew McMahon is an expert at taking all the things we could never put into words and putting them into words! ‘Tilt At The Wind…’ is up there with his best work.

05. Thirty Seconds To Mars, ‘It’s The End Of The World But It’s A Beautiful Day’: The old school might be crying out for a return to the rock sound that underpinned the inredible ‘This Is War’, but Jared Leto is as obdurate as he is ostentatious – and 30STM’s latest justified his bloody-mindedness!

04. Enter Shikari, ‘A Kiss For The Whole World’: Enter Shikari’s best record in years (and that’s saying something!) is as much a love letter as it is a lament. A truly important album.

03. Kim Petras, ‘Feed The Beast’: Kim Petras makes life sound soooo pink and bubbly. In a world that’s too often grey and very much uncarbonated, her alchemical approach to music is hugely appreciated!

02. To Kill Achilles, ‘Recovery’: ‘Recovery’ is the sound of To Kill Achilles taking the interminable darkness and transforming it into a record of devastating beauty.

01. Trophy Eyes, ‘Suicide and Sunshine’: The elegiac ‘Suicide and Sunshine’ somehow subverts the evanescent nature of life by offering it a soundtrack that will stay in our heads and hearts FOREVER. Paradoxical but potent.


Put together your own ‘Best of…’ list. It could be your favourite 20 albums of 2023, the best 100 songs of all time, the best 5 Taylor Swift music videos – whatever!


Write a story – or the opening to a story.

Perhaps you’ll write about a character’s first experience of live music. You could write about the anticipation and expectations; then the first moments entering the venue – the sights and sounds; the sensation of seeing and hearing live music; the journey home.

It doesn’t have to be a story about going to a gig, though! That’s just an idea if you’re stuck or want direction!

Write about whatever you want!! But do make sure to use some of the words from the list below.

  1. acerbic: sharply or bitingly critical, sarcastic, or ironic in temper, mood, or tone.
  2. alchemical: involving a seemingly magical process of transformation.
  3. analeptic: tending to restore a person’s health or strength; restorative.
  4. devastating: extremely impressive or effective.
  5. elegiac: something that expresses/shows sadness.
  6. equanimous: calm and composed.
  7. evanescent: soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing.
  8. garangtuan: gigantic; enormous; colossal.
  9. halcyon: a halcyon time is a time in the past that was peaceful or happy.
  10. interminable: endless or apparently endless.
  11. iridescent: showing many bright colours that change with movement.
  12. lament: a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.
  13. labyrinthine: like a labyrinth; irregular and twisting.
  14. liminal: between or belonging to two different places/states.
  15. obdurate: stubborn.
  16. ostenatious: characterized by pretentious or showy display; designed to impress.
  17. paradoxical: if something is paradoxical, it involves two facts or qualities which seem to contradict each other.
  18. polysemic: capable of having several possible meanings.
  19. sempiternal: eternal and unchanging; everlasting.
  20. uncompromising: determined not to change opinions or aims in any way.

Now, let To Kill Achilles lead you through a lesson in light/dark imagery!

And do send us your own ‘Best Of…’ list!