Exclaim!'s 15 Best EPs of 2023

Photos (clockwise from top left): Sister Ray courtesy of the artist, Hemlocke Springs by Ana Peralta Chong, Tommy Lefroy by Sophie Scott, Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro courtesy of Sony Music

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Dec 11, 2023

People have been predicting the death of the album for years, suggesting that the short attention spans of both listeners and algorithms will push artists toward shorter releases, like singles and EPs.

To be honest — we're not seeing it. Despite many years of such predictions, the full-length album format is how the bulk of the year's best and buzziest releases arrived, and the year's biggest tour was an enormous celebration of the LP format. EPs still feel like an appetizer rather than the main course.

That being said, there were some great EPs in 2023. Legends returned from long periods of absence, hotly tipped artists united for short-format collabs, and rising artists revealed their potential with exciting debuts.

Below are Exclaim!'s favourite EPs of 2023. Read about Exclaim!'s favourite music of the year, including the best albums and EPs, here.

Aphex Twin
Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760
(Warp Records)

For the first couple of bars, the latest Aphex Twin EP sounds like it could have been made by almost anyone, with a straight-ahead pattern of kicks and snares on quarter notes. But almost immediately, the beat starts glitching and stuttering in a way that could only be made by Richard D. James. It's a throwback to the dreamy synth textures and sputtering syncopations of 2014's Syro, and although these four tracks (one of which is an alternate mix) aren't quite substantial enough to be satisfying on their own, it's still Aphex Twin's first new material in five years, so it's worth savouring.
Alex Hudson

New Heart Designs
(Roadrunner Records)

It would be fair to assume that Toronto jazz cats BADBADNOTGOOD and hardcore alt-rockers Turnstile would be like oil and water. Instead, they blend perfectly on this easygoing EP, which offers radical rearrangements of three cuts from Turnstile's 2021 album GLOW ON. From the new age spa vibes of "Mystery" to the funky slow jam groove of "Alien Love Call" and the conga line bop "Underwater Boi," it's a soothing genre-mash that sounds like neither BADBADNOTGOOD nor Turnstile.
Alex Hudson

(Innovative Leisure)

In her debut effort, recent Exclaim! cover star BAMBII infuses dancehall, R&B, hip-hop, jungle and more into the concise eight tracks of INFINITY CLUB — a statement for the queering of electronic music, at home and abroad. In a year that saw the producer teaming up with Canadian royalty Kaytranada on Kelela's latest, and performing alongside Jamie xx at home in Toronto after cutting her teeth internationally at Berghain and in multiple Boiler Rooms, the EP stands as a testament to BAMBII's myriad influences as well as her multicultural, musically diverse hometown. 
Allie Gregory

Rachel Bobbitt
The Half We Still Have
(Fantasy Records)

A Rachel Bobbitt song comes together like a collage, vivid imagery of uncanny specifics somehow amalgamating into a cohesive narrative. Whether or not she's at the centre of the story, the Toronto-via-Nova Scotia songwriter treats her characters with the utmost compassion and brings them to life with the full heft of density in searing, subversive guitar lines, the warmth and purity of her voice, and a steady percussive hand.
Megan LaPierre

Ice Spice
(10K Projects / Capitol Records)

Ice Spice had probably the biggest glow up of anyone in 2024, and it started with Like..? back in January. Breathy flows and goofy bass-breaking beats are at the heart of the Bronx-based Gen Z drill rapper's breakthrough record, which launched her to mega stardom, earned her collabs with Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift and PinkPantheress, and landed her on the Barbie soundtrack. Doled out mainly toward the end of 2022, Like..?'s singles set the stage for her whirlwind year to come, with "Munch (Feelin' U)" expanding our vocabulary and "In Ha Mood" having us all feeling like we're owed some bragging rights.
Allie Gregory


There isn't a shred of posturing on jev.'s eclectic first EP, LONERWORLD, vol 1. The Toronto-based rapper alternates seamlessly between stoking and soothing the listener as he lays down thought-provoking verses and earworm hooks with equal ease atop dynamic, horn-laden production. With complete disregard for the pressure that undoubtedly stemmed from following up his fantastic debut album, the color grey., jev. firmly carves out a niche entirely his own within the city's sprawling rap scene across LONERWORLD's six-track run. 
Ben Okazawa

Time Spent Running

It's been a busy year for Mississauga's Mileena, who hasn't stopped making music after a self-titled debut LP dropped in February. Time Spent Running is a speedy follow-up, but it's in no way a collection of outtakes. As she touches on trip-hop and alternative, the neo-soul artist's soothing melodies quell yearning. "At least I gave it all of my heart," she pines on closer "Pressing Matters" as intoxicating electronic keys carry her away, leaving a plummy mark.
Sydney Brasil

Get Up

NewJeans are a blockbuster K-pop girl group, and yet their Get Up EP almost sounds like it could have been made on a laptop in a bedroom, with tip-tapping beats that borrow from the club but aren't quite fit for dancing to. Fluidly switching between Korean and English, "Super Shy" turns meekness into a grandly uniting anthem, a mission statement that takes an understated approach to sugary pop.
Alex Hudson

Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro
(Columbia Records)

Spanish pop adventurer and Puerto Rico reggaeton star Rauw Alejandro spent a few years fashioning themselves as the sweethearts of global pop, and their duo EP is their grand celebration of their love — something chronicled in their "BESO" video, which depicts their globetrotting romance. They broke up just a few months after RR's release, but the horny thump of "VAMPIROS" and the besotted duet "PROMESA" survive as a monument to a romance that burned brightly and quickly.
Alex Hudson

The Fear of Fear
(Pale Chord)

There's much to say about Spiritbox vocalist Courtney LaPlante's many talents, and many in the metal community aren't shy of weighing in — especially now that Spiritbox have expanded their sonic palettes in a poppier direction. Like on year-ender "The Void," the band embrace their new sound on The Fear of Fear unapologetically and without regard for detractors, winding up at something that, at times, sounds Spit or Meteora refined by 20 years of genre innovation. Blending melody and thunderous riffs, the band are relentlessly experimental, offering guttural aggression and airy vulnerability in equal measure. 
Allie Gregory

hemlocke springs
(Good Luck Have Fun Records)

The debut EP from the rising star embodies the unfiltered texts you send to your group chat and the panicky, amorous delusions that keep us up at night. High camp exudes from her allusions to soapy new wave and Tumblr-era alt-pop, earnestly bursting with catharsis and angst. "I need your attention / In this frail dimension of a brain," she confesses, longing for anyone to recognize the glimmers she sees in herself.
Sydney Brasil

Sister Ray
(Royal Mountain Records)

Sister Ray's Teeth is fragrant — sunbaked skin smelling of grass and sunscreen; a kitchen speared by shafts of afternoon light alive with the scent of ripe fruit; bodies; dusty emptiness. The EP ululates with Ella Coyes's words, which vividly balance the contradiction each of us contains, of wanting and a kind of numbness; a knowingness and feeling known skillfully painted against a disaffected stillness, as if in the face of apocalypse. That the EP is able to communicate this wavering wealth colliding against steady dearth in only four tracks is its genius. 
Alisha Mughal

Tommy Lefroy
(Pheromone Recordings)

While their debut buzzed with the possibility of risk, the sophomore EP from Tommy Lefroy is an unequivocal call to arms. Logophile duo Tessa Mouzourakis and Wynter Bethel had already proven themselves to be whip-smart songwriters, but they intrepidly come into themselves on Rivals. The mountainous outro of "Jericho Beach," the roaring chorus of "Dog Eat Dog" and the Cimmerian shoegaze groove of the sparkplug "Worst Case Kid" — one of my favourite songs of the year — are nothing short of a seismic renovation.
Megan LaPierre

Big Deep Sigh
(House of Wonders)

Veronica Blackhawk's music could swallow you whole if you let it. The Anishinaabe songwriter and bandleader crafts the kind of shambolic, eyes-averted rock music that holds a great maw of feeling at its centre; it hungers and demands and pleads, Blackhawk's flailing riffs tearing holes in the universe. On Big Deep Sigh, the debut EP from Tinge, Blackhawk and their bandmates make a restrained racket, with songs like "Eye Contact" and "Armed to the Teeth" glowing with barely contained fire.
Kaelen Bell

Someone You Can Count On

Vancouver Island's WHIPPED CREAM blew the hell up internationally in 2023 with the release of her Someone You Can Count On EP — an epic collection that sees the producer exercising her range and strutting confidently through its 20 minutes. Her high-energy tendencies offer balance to the emotive guest features throughout, resulting in danceable moments of euphoria, brimming with raw intensity and brain chemistry-altering drops. See "The Dark" to hear the producer born Caroline Cecil flexing her vocal chops for the first time.
Allie Gregory

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