LOS ANGELES, CA-  In this era of musical abundance, it’s a pleasure to explore albums that stand out for their distinctive sound and artistic vision. Blurred Culture’s Teia Ciornei decided to chime in with her favorite albums of 2023 and it is a collection of albums that are as diverse in their approach as they are united in their quality and impact. From the moody, atmospheric post-punk of Secret Attraction’s “LP3” to the haunting darkwave dreams of Caress’s “Night Call”, each album offers a unique auditory experience. Whether it’s the bold, individualistic sound of More Ephemerol’s “Apotheosis Pageant” or the dark, romantic heart of FEVR’s “FATE”, these albums demonstrate a remarkable depth and range in contemporary music.


1. LP3 by Secret Attraction (Phoenix, AZ)

Listening to LP3 feels like turning off the big light, opening all the windows, and floating away on an early autumn breeze atop a honeycrisp-colored, maple leaf. Secret Attraction’s moody, atmospheric post-punk sound can fill up both a moonlit bedroom and a neon-red concert hall with the same ease. Sometimes their sound is described as dreampop, but I find this term too reductive for the warm, guitar-pedal-gilded gaze they churn out. “Melancholy” and “Return” have quickly escalated to the top of my winter playlist. LP3, clocking in at just over 22 minutes, will leave you hungry for more of their refined gloomy sound, but fear not: Secret Attraction’s brand-new single “Dream Again” is also out now!

2. Apotheosis Pageant by More Ephemerol (Los Angeles, CA)

More Ephemerol has a flair for using big words in their discography, none of which can adequately predict their bold, individualistic sound. Their minimal wave, industrial/EBM, yet sometimes poppy sound sings whispers of their 1980s predecessors like Fad Gadget, Front 242, all the way to The Human League–but More Ephemerol is one of those artists whose sound is impossible to attribute to one or a few influences. Apotheosis Pageant is one of those albums that each listener can walk away from with a different impression. This quality in particular is what, I believe, keeps me coming back to the LP and what makes for such energetic live shows from the duo. “Glamour Victim” and “Colossi” are currently at the top of my personal ‘on repeat’ playlist.

3. Cellulosed Bodies by Augustus Muller (Northampton, MA)

A fully instrumental adult film score composed by Augustus Muller of internationally-acclaimed darkwave project Boy Harsher. Cellulosed Bodies is a spooky, sexy, synthesizer-based record that’s perfect for driving, writing, reminiscing, taking a street-lit stroll, or staring longingly, aimlessly into the night. This year, Muller also composed the original score for modern queer coming-of-age werewolf film My Animal, written by his musical counterpart, Jae Matthews, starring Amandla Stenberg and directed by Jacqueline Castel. Released via Nude Club Records.

4. Imitation by Harsh Symmetry (Los Angeles, CA)

Following the international success of his first LP, Display Model, Harsh Symmetry’s sophomore effort Imitation showcases the natural progression of his dreamy, dark, yet danceable sound. Julian Shwarko’s solo project effortlessly blends 1980s goth, synthpop, and darkwave to craft his unique brand of contemporary dark ballads and dancefloor hits. Released via Fabrika Records.

Interview https://blurredculture.com/harsh-symmetry-releases-sophomore-lp-imitation-it-was-a-labor-of-love/ 

5. Pressed in Glass by Soft Vein (Los Angeles, CA)

Pressed in Glass is like being bundled up on a cold snowy night inside, electricity interrupted by the raging blizzard that’s howling just outside your poorly-insulated window. SOFT VEIN’s music transports you straight into Silent Hill on a quiet, ominous night. Released via Artoffact Records.

Interview https://blurredculture.com/soft-vein-talks-inspiration-aspirations-and-finding-freedom-and-solitude-in-music/ 

6. Bitter Reflection by Body of Light (Tempe, AZ)

Body of Light’s synthesizer-based sound knows no bounds as it continues to evolve through their latest release. Bitter Reflection is a medley of both poppy, upbeat instrumentals, and some brooding melodies which maintain some of the band’s characteristic darkness. Released via Dais Records.

7. New Standard by Auragraph (Los Angeles, CA)

Auragraph’s experimental, lo-fi synthesizer sound brings me back to discovering several vastly different genres, most notably ambient techno and early vaporwave. New Standard, released via Dais Records, is a one-of-a-kind, experimental aural journey. Auragraph is the solo project of musician Carlos Ramirez, who is also known for working on Stranger Things as a score mix engineer. 

8. Lovers From The Past by Mareux (Los Angeles, CA)

From perhaps the most commercially successful “romantic darkwave” artist of the last few years, Mareux did not disappoint the world with his debut LP, Lovers From The Past. Mareux had been releasing music for the past decade in several series of singles and EPs, but in 2023, he finally felt the time was right to release his first full-length effortvia Warner Records. From the title track ballad, to dancier cuts like “DTLA”, to the moody and reflective “Little Lies”, Lovers From The Past delivers something for every type of listener.

Interview https://blurredculture.com/from-soundcloud-to-coachella-the-rise-of-darkwave-prince-mareux/  Coverage https://blurredculture.com/mareux-plays-a-sold-out-hometown-show-at-the-fonda-in-los-angeles/ 

9. FATE by FEVR (Los Angeles, CA)

Locally acclaimed LA-based band FEVR celebrated the release of their debut LP, FATE this year. The darkwave / post-punk LP features a well-paced blend of slower, swaying songs mixed with more uptempo, dancefloor tracks, but always retains the group’s dark romantic heart.

10. Night Call by Caress (Los Angeles, CA)

Night Call is the debut LP of LA-based solo project Caress. Night Call is a darkwave dream characterized by its haunting female vocals and dissonant instrumentals. Another record that’s perfect for late nights.

Follow Teia Ciornei on Instagram.