While we’ve spent the week with one eye on that Number One album battle (everyone’s a winner in the end: Olly, Yard Act, anyone who’s at home enjoying either on their record players), the other has noted just how many big new songs emerged over the last seven days. Charli XCX is ramping up to March’s ‘Crash’ with a Rina Sawayama collab; George Ezra announced new record ‘Gold Rush Kid’ in plenty of time for those Mothers Day panic buys; Walt Disco have finally prepped their debut full-length… and that’s just for starters!
Feast your eyes and ears on 100 must-hear tracks via Essential New Tracks on YouTube below (or find it here on Spotify, if you’ve not followed Neil Young’s lead).
Charli XCX ft. Rina Sawayama - Beg For You
Having teased their collab for ages, long-time pals Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama finally delivered the goods this week, dropping new track ‘Beg For You’. Sampling dance hit ‘Cry For You’ from Sweden’s September, the shimmering new bop from two of pop’s leading tastemakers is a bewitching dance-floor ready new’un. And with Charli and Rina’s vocals bouncing off of each-other with hypnotic results, the ear worm melody of the chorus will undoubtedly be going around in our heads all weekend. (Elly Watson)
George Ezra - Anyone For You
Four years on from the release of ‘Staying At Tamara’s’, George Ezra is back, teasing his third album ‘Gold Rush Kid’ with first single ‘Anyone For You’. Inspired by a notebook entry George wrote at 23, the euphoric new cut fizzes with the warmth that characterises all of his songs. Marrying an upbeat jingle with an infectious rhythm, George says “I can’t help but smile every time I sing”, and we can’t help but agree. (Elly Watson)
Grimes - Shinigami Eyes
Strip away the bullshit, and the fact remains: Grimes is pretty damn good at writing a pop hook. Take the sonically-shimmering ‘California’, or ‘Realiti’; the industrial (and slightly less salubrious) ‘We Appreciate Power’. Even the synth loops of breakthrough hit ‘Genesis’ are pure earworm. So that ‘Shinigami Eyes’ is an immediate pop bop comes as little shock. Being picky, it might’ve served the song well to have a little more sonic impact - the titular eyes are a reference to anime Death Note, where they’re bought by half of one’s own lifespan to see others’ tallies - she’s shown she can go hard in the past, the refrain “Are you ready to die?” need not be quite so sugary. But it’s a bop all the same. (Emma Swann)
Warpaint - Champion
Warpaint’s fourth album ‘Radiant Like Me’ was created with the band spread out over continents, but even thousands of miles couldn’t come between one of the most inter-connected bands around. The four-piece’s voices swirl around one another as the track slides towards a psychedelic, danceable conclusion. “We are all in this together,” they say of the song’s meaning, adding that “life is too short not to strive for excellence in all that we do.” Mission accomplished. (Will Richards)
The Smile - The Smoke
Where debut offering ‘You Will Never Work In Television Again’ introduced The Smile - the new project spearheaded by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood - as a vehicle for the most visceral, antagonistic sides of its creators, ‘The Smoke’ is a far more restrained, subtly ominous beast. Sparse, loose-limbed and comprised solely of Yorke’s falsetto, a circular, spidery bass line and puttering dry drums, it spins an eery, tale made all the more uncomfortable by its minimal ingredients: “Don’t mess with me / As I die in the flames / As I set myself on fire”. (Lisa Wright)
Rex Orange County - Keep It Up
Opening up with an orchestral flourish that sounds more in keeping with old school black-and-white Hollywood movies than alt-pop tracks, the first new material from Rex Orange County is still a Grade A hit. Built around a charming message of encouragement - “Keep it up and go on / You’re only holding out for what you want” - ‘Keep It Up’ sparks up the same kind of giddy but nostalgic enthusiasm that Vampire Weekend so effortlessly manage; all while serving as a wonderful introduction to the singer’s next chapter. (Sarah Jamieson)
Denzel Curry - Walkin
One of the most talked about rappers of 2021, Denzel Curry is everywhere. Collaborating with Glass Animals, appearing on League of Legends soundtracks and even taking on a career-defining two part EP series with producer Kenny Beats, his exuberant sonic evolutions are reflected in a series of characters he embodies every album cycle, and contributes to his justified global buzz. ‘Walkin’’ is no different. Pairing Denzel’s swagger with an old school East Coast rap twist, this is certainly the most ‘Nas’ Denzel has ever dared to sound. All is calm before a smooth beat switch-up in the latter half of the track, taking on a more contemporary trap cadence with sprinkler hi-hats and thudding 808s accompanied by the Tarantino-esque western visuals of director Adrian Villagomez, Denzel is so deep in his element, it’s impossible to fault his untameable creative vision. (Alisdair Grice)
Alice Glass - Love Is Violence
Veering from pulsating beats and sugary sweet, almost-whispered vocals, through to throbbing bass and dark electronics, the sonics of Alice Glass’ latest track manage to encapsulate the underlying menace of its title perfectly. Once again channelling deep into her own personal experiences, ‘Love Is Violence’ is a track that faces up to the devastating reality of its subject matter, with Alice opening up the conversation about toxic relationships in an entirely bold and open way. (Sarah Jamieson)
Walt Disco - How Cool Are You?
Centred around a sing-song merry-go-round chant that has more than a hint of the Bugsy Malones to its “la la la”s, the latest from theatrical Glaswegian sextet Walt Disco is as gloriously unpredictable a romp as we’ve come to expect from the group. The icy ‘80s pouts and operatic vocal trills are present and correct, but musically - entering into just-announced debut LP ‘Unlearning’ - they’re trying all sorts of new tricks. A Viennese waltz of a piano dances about somewhere in the background, bombastic crescendoes of vocals and overdriven guitar notes punctuate at random intervals, and the whole thing feels plucked out of a wonderful fever dream. How cool are they? Very, as we already knew. (Lisa Wright)
Japanese Breakfast - Nobody Sees Me Like You Do
If there are three better-known words more indicative of music - and art’s - inherent misogyny than “doing a Yoko…” Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard is on the same page, as he collates a star-studded cast for covers album ‘Ocean Child’, a charity compilation of the musician, artist and activist’s work: “My hope for the people who hear this music for the first time is that their idea of Yoko Ono is completely flipped upside down,” he says. Japanese Breakfast strips back ‘Nobody Sees Me Like You Do’ musically - the original, from 1981’s ‘Season of Glass’, is more instrumentally full, as opposed to the lone piano here - but with her own sweeter, more harmonious vocal, still matches the song’s mournful tone impeccably (the album was recorded just months after Yoko became a widow). Here’s hoping “doing a Yoko” means the rest of the collection matches up. (Bella Martin)
Tove Lo - How Long
Saccharine, smooth and silky, Tove Lo’s inviting ‘How Long’ is a lo-fi synthwave-slash-dance track, written in conjunction with the release of Euphoria Season 2, the cult high-school drama. The track shape shifts colourfully between her staple dark dance sound and the anthemic pop of Ellie Goulding, making it a perfect fit for Euphoria’s backdrop, and having the knock-on effect of opening many new ears to Tove Lo’s brooding pop mastermind. The track desperately yearns for an answer to ‘How long?’ with Tove Lo asking “How long have you loved another, while I’m dreaming of us together?’ to no reply. An open letter to cheating, relationships and the burning questions we ask ourselves when lying awake in the middle of a double bed. (Alisdair Grice)
Confidence Man - Feels Like A Different Thing
Lockdown must’ve been harder for Confidence Man than most. This is a duo who thrive off personal connection, partying and throwing themselves into festival crowds. Having listened to their new single ‘Feels Like A Different Thing’, though, we feel a little better about their wellbeing. They sound like they had the most fun imaginable creating this jubilant romp of a pop-house song, and every ounce of that enjoyment seeps through when listening. (Will Richards)
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