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The best new albums to get you through exam season

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

Since the dawn of the overly pretentious Spotify account that I created aged 14, I have (like many of us do) self-medicated my way through every exam season with music. It is an utter personal ritual; Life without buildings with morning coffee, The Smashing Pumpkins to aggressively romanticise the library, Mazzy Star to ease the evening anxiety. This year so far has been a beautiful one for music- here are some gorgeous 2023 releases that i’ve been introducing to this ritual to aid the stress.

Live at Bush Hall – Black Country, New Road

Maybe the best thing that has happened to me all semester was being forced to listen to this album by my bandmate Paul, who tragically has a far better taste in music than I do. Taped live from a three night stand in London last December, this album is eternally shimmery and starry and simply wonderful. It comes after the departure of the band’s lead singer Isaac Wood, and is a manifestation of the other members of the band simply carrying on, deciding to step up to the mic themselves. The album’s sound is thick in timbre, jazzy, and beautifully maximalist while retaining a deeply intimate feel. It comes to an emotional peak in track 7 ‘turbines/pigs’, which is twinkly and stripped-back, singer May Kershaw’s voice almost ringing true of Björk’s. Such deeply feeling vocals are accompanied by near radiohead-esque instrumental moments in ‘I won’t always love you’, which melt into swooping, lilting crescendos pushed along by a saxophone.

This Is Why – Paramore

Whenever I listen to Paramore’s older albums, I am 15 and wearing converses again. I bounce around my obnoxiously decorated room in long stripy socks and ignore my maths homework, inconsequentially. This album evokes that exact same feeling – the weighty restless Paramore angst- but evolved. The album is very guitar-focused, brimming and spilling with twinkly, swaggering riffs, and accompanied by surprisingly frank lyrics that are rooted firmly in the listener’s world; ‘I feel useless behind this computer’, Williams tells us, ‘turn on, turn off the news’. The band’s progression is particularly felt in C’est comme ça, which almost feels to me as an older sister to their hit track Misery Business. It retains their same unruly energy, just with a much fuller, slower sound.

Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd – Lana Del Rey

This is Lana’s ninth full length studio release, and it feels like leafing through a diary. It retains Lana’s signature woozy, Americana sound, but is distinct in how utterly raw, experimental, and vulnerable it feels. The album’s opener, The Grants, is a perfect first track- harmonic and vocal-focused, and dripping in synth and keys and low strings. The track actually starts with a mistake – the backing singers slip up, are corrected, and continue. This is not scrubbed out but left in, establishing the perfectly unpolished tone of the album. The vibrations of the piano played in Paris, Texas are similarly left in the final cut, giving this untangled intimacy to the song; we are almost in the room with Lana as she sings. Lana also experiments with perspectives – A&W is sang from the viewpoint of the other woman. The lyricism in A&W is like a punch in the gut-

I mean, look at me

Look at the length of my hair and my face, the shape of my body

Do you really think I give a damn

What I do after years of just hearin’ them talking?

It is incredibly tender, these pieces of the experience of womanhood that she spills into her music. The album is sweeping and beautiful and glossy, and yet utterly raw.

Honourable mention goes to the record – boygenuis which just feels like a kiss, and is generally the sweetest emotional bloodbath I have ever listened to.

Emily Christaki

St. Andrews '25

Hey! i'm emily, a second year at St Andrews studying history and IR. In my free time I am utterly obsessed with art, particularly painting, and music.