Listen Tracks: Bleachers, Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen, Japanese Breakfast and more

The pick of week’s new music also features newbies from Lucy Dacus, Holly Humberstone and Matt Maltese.

While for those of us in parts of the world that have opened up just a little since Monday, this week’s new releases might be playing second fiddle right now to such things as ‘indoor pints’ and ‘actual real gigs’ (not to mention that this New Music Friday’s big talking point is a whole album), there has been a sprinkling of fresh songs to whet our appetites. Bleachers returned with news of his third full-length, singer-songwriter powerhouses Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen teamed up, Japanese Breakfast continued to show why she’s on the top of everyone’s list and much more besides. Subscribe to our Essential New Tracks playlist on Spotify here, and read on…

Bleachers - Stop Making This Hurt

It feels like almost a century could've passed since Bleachers last returned with new music (it was only last November when 'chinatown' and '45' landed fwiw, but y'know, time and all that...) but that's all change now that he's back with another slice of his forthcoming third album. A typically joyous-sounding offering, 'Stop Making This Hurt' may have been born from a dark place ("I fell into a dark place after a loss and then starting to have that feeling of rage towards the depression," says Jack Antonoff, of its beginnings) but it's yet another example of Bleachers' incredible talent for creating effervescent, cathartic pop hits. A perfect antidote for times like now. (Sarah Jamieson)

Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen - Like I Used To

That it’s taken a worldwide pandemic to push Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten together in collaboration is quite frankly wild. The pair’s singular visions have long felt almost parallel; both specialise in indie rock that’s emotionally tuned-in and unafraid to bite - and with at least half an eye aimed back at the ‘70s. So that the visuals for ‘Like I Used To’ ape Abba, and the track itself - particularly the euphoric chorus - has a sprinkling of witchy Stevie Nicks magic should come as no surprise. The duo have the very nostalgia that’s circled most of our lives since March last year and spun it into a potential anthem. (Emma Swann)

Japanese Breakfast - Savage Good Boy

While falling short of apocalyptic levels of degradation, the last 14 months could certainly have been enough to incite greater interest in the purchase of underground bunkers. Inspired by reading an article on just that topic, Michelle Zauner’s latest imagines the musician as a rich man, luring a younger woman into his protective shelter. Shifting from plastic romanticism to barely restrained glee (“As the last ones standing we’ll be tasked to repopulate”), the seedy attempts to legitimise their wants turn the bunker from a haven into a cage. Her whimsical indie-pop only juxtaposes the debasement further, resulting in a sickly tale of power imbalance stretching beyond any apocalyptic nightmares. (Ben Lynch)

Lucy Dacus - VBS

Tender and lilting, ‘VBS’ (that is, Vacation Bible School) is the latest cut from Lucy Dacus’ forthcoming third LP ‘Home Video’. On it, she recalls coming-of-age experiences at Christian camp where she met her first boyfriend, the “resident bad boy who loved Slayer and weed more than Jesus”. As her last record, 2018’s ‘Historian’ proved, Lucy has exceptional control over volume in her songs, proven here by a gradual slow build, creating a false sense of security before she rips open the flood gates to a barrage of static and feedback. (Alex Cabré)

Holly Humberstone - The Walls Are Way Too Thin

We’ve all experienced that awkward feeling of listening intently for movement outside our rooms in order to avoid bumping into random housemates in the corridor, and it’s this experience that has formed the core of Holly Humberstone’s latest ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’. A goosebump-inducing pop jam, perfectly encapsulating feeling alone and a bit lost in the world, Holly’s latest is an effortlessly catchy sleek and striking new number. Not like you needed any more proof why she’s one of the buzziest newbies in the ’biz, but ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’ is here to cement her blossoming pop status anyway. (Elly Watson)

Matt Maltese - Mystery

Run yourself a hot bath and light those candles because schmaltz-core purveyor Matt Maltese is back with a tune so romantic it deserves the full monty. ‘Mystery’ is the first taste of young Matthew’s third album, due out later this year. It finds the singer/songwriter posing “a loving question mark” as he muses on “why we are what we are, and think and feel the way we do” over the glistening mirage of hotel lobby keys and dusky guitar which is, by now, his signature sound. (Alex Cabré)


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