No sooner had we (at least those of us south / east of the border / over the sea) mourned our losses, commiserated with our pals and saluted the heroes on the Wembley pitch at the start of the week, when the glut of new music took over. This week saw Willow unleash album ‘lately I feel EVERYTHING’ which as well as pop-punk godfather Travis Barker, features a collaboration with genre icon Avril Lavigne. Conan Gray confirmed his return with ‘People Watching’, cult rock outfit Turnstile teamed up with Blood Orange, Haim gave us a new number thanks to a movie soundtrack, and much more. For our pick of the week’s new numbers, read on!
Willow ft. Avril Lavigne & Travis Barker - G R O W
‘G R O W’ is a microcosm of pop-punk history - boasting features from Avril Lavigne and Travis Barker, Willow’s foray into riffy, hooky guitar music has definitely been blessed by those at the top. Instrumentally, it’s the 2000s blueprint, going more for catchy than striking (à la lead single ‘t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l’), but Willow firmly takes the baton from Travis and Avril in the lyrics. In a genre that’s long been awash with, at best, rousing but slightly gloomy overcome-your-demons anthems, it’s a delight (and, actually, just as cathartic) to hear Willow and Avril duetting about how great it is to be in a good place. (Ims Taylor)
Conan Gray - People Watching
Bittersweet and introspective, ‘People Watching’ tells of Conan Gray’s experience with the all-too-familiar balance of loneliness and longing. Conan’s wallflower style lyricism and knack for storytelling is apparent throughout the song (written with Julia Michaels), the words inspired by conversations he overheard whilst people watching couples in his university cafe. Although hopeful, Conan also wears his heart on his sleeve as he reflects upon his tendency to “cut people out like the tags on my clothing” - all making for a wholly immersive and emotionally honest listen. (Flo Stroud)
Turnstile ft. Blood Orange - ‘Alien Love Call’
Turnstile continue their moves away from the hardcore punk scene that birthed them with ‘Alien Love Call’, a collaboration with Blood Orange. And rather than take from Dev Hynes’ own noisy past, the track is the band’s softest, most ethereal yet, and in a tongue-in-cheek move, comes with a video showing the band playing more abrasive material to a good-naturedly violent audience. Fans of the group’s early work will probably hate it, but ‘Alien Love Call’ is undeniably lush and hauntingly melodic, and demonstrates a similar approach to genre transcendence to that taken by their hardcore contemporaries like Touché Amoré and Title Fight. (Greg Hyde)
Haim - Cherry Flavored Stomach Ache
Written by the trio alongside Ariel Rechtshaid and produced by Dave Fridmann, ‘Cherry Flavoured Stomach Ache’ marks the first music from Haim since last year’s ‘Women In Music Pt.III’ and is a folksy, upbeat offering. The playful production is balanced between modern and retro, and laid on a foundation of catchy beats and syrupy string instrumentals, it ushers in warm, comforting visuals and feel-good vibes. (Malvika Padin)
Caroline Polachek - Bunny Is A Rider
An escapist pop bop of the highest order, Caroline Polachek has reunited with Danny L Harle for a post-‘PANG’ instant hit whose arrival is perfectly timed for the weekend’s heatwave. With a synth whistle intro and stick-in-your-head chorus, as well as a suitably slippery bassline primed for our imminent return to dancefloors, it proves once again why they are a match made in music heaven. As if that wasn’t reason enough to have it playing on repeat, there’s also an unexpected star of the show: Danny’s baby daughter, who makes her debut - downright adorable - vocal cameo. (Ben Jolley)
Pixey - Sunshine State
From Merseyside to the east coast of America, ‘Sunshine State’ sees Pixey channeling the kind of laidback contentedness that you only feel when it’s t-shirt weather. It follows her March EP ‘Free To Live In Colour’, and is packed with baggy beats and the kind of airy guitars we know to expect from her, with the dancey bits turned right up. Her falsetto delivery of “stand up, feel the rhythm behind you” is an irresistible command – and what better timing for an ode to losing yourself dancing in a crowd of other people totally taken in by the music? (Ims Taylor)
Manic Street Preachers ft. Julia Cumming - The Secret He Had Missed
Manic Street Preachers have good form with recruiting guests; from Kylie to The Cardigans’ Nina Persson, the Welsh icons’ way with the ladies has regularly proven fruitful. Their latest finds them bringing Sunflower Bean’s Julia Cumming into the fold, and though an all-out, vitriolic punk collab from the pair would have been a treat, ‘The Secret He Had Missed’’s more restrained flourishes still suit the singer, the theatrical slant to her delivery playing the foil against James Dean Bradfield’s ever-recognisable power pipes. (Lisa Wright)
The Ninth Wave - Maybe You Didn’t Know
The Ninth Wave return with ‘Maybe You Didn’t Know’, steering boldly back into their glassy, opulent dancefloor fillers. This dreamy-yet-industrial single marks their first release since the 2020 EP ‘Happy Days!’ A brooding layer builds and extinguishes as the track hums into motion, later climaxing into a heady, undulating chorus supported by Millie Kidd’s vocal hidden within Haydn Park-Patterson’s haunting repetition of “Maybe you didn’t, maybe you didn’t know.” The accompanying video depicts a frantic yet controlled scene of the band surrounded by unwieldy rally cars, recognising their self-captivity is a consequence of their own actions. (Alisdair Grice)
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