2023 Rookie of the Year Blondshell Stole Our Sardonic Hearts with Her Breakthrough Debut

Our 2023 Annual Report marches on with the announcement of Blondshell as our Rookie of the Year, an accolade given to an artist we feel broke out with a major statement in 2023. Stay tuned for the rest of our annual report, detailing the best music, film, and television of the year. Check it all out here.

You can also listen to our full conversation with Blondshell’s Sabrina Teitelbaum on the latest episode of Consequence Uncut, available wherever you get your podcasts.

For all their crunchy guitars and raw vocals, there was a relaxed confidence in many alternative rock stars of the ’80s and ’90s. Sabrina Tietelbaum brings a similar paradoxical vibe to her music as Blondshell; as she discusses the grungy songs of toxic habits and self-sabotage on her self-titled breakthrough, she’s at once graciously humble and wildly self-assured. Both Teitelbaum’s attitude and personality-driven songwriting almost bring to mind a young Liz Phair — quite fitting given that, as she calls Consequence from a Minneapolis hotel room, she’s in the midst of a tour with Phair.

“I’ve respected her and looked up to her for a really long time,” says Teitelbaum of Phair. “I remember the first show, maybe 10 days ago… we’re packing up and I was like, ‘Oh, I need to go listen because I love this song’ I kept wanting to go back and watch.”

It’s easy to see why Blondshell makes so much sense as an opener to the Welcome to Guyville 30th anniversary tour. Like Phair, Teitelbaum’s songs boast a vulnerable urgency, like the singer might spontaneously combust if she doesn’t deliver brutally emotional lines like, “You’ll make a killer of a Jewish girl.” Along with gut-punch dynamics, wailing guitar lines, and earworm melodies, such ethos serve as the bedrock for the electrifying Blondshell, a record that takes from indie’s past to chart its future.

The journey to the LP was much longer than even the year-long release rollout indicates. Growing up in New York, Teitelbaum knew she had the rocker spirit in her, but she hadn’t quite worked out all of the details. “I was always kind of drawn to guitar, but when I was a kid, we had a piano. So, I started by playing piano, and that was kind of my main instrument,” she recalls.

With the six-string on the back-burner, Teitelbaum initially took a different path into the music industry. She first released electro-pop under the name BAUM, a project that scored a viral hit with “Fuckboy” in 2019. But something just didn’t feel right; perhaps it was the typical growing pains of coming into one’s artistic self, or maybe Teitelbaum just realized it wasn’t where her heart was. “I’m not a pop girlie in terms of what I listen to,” she i-D, “so it made sense there was always a disconnect.”