By the time you’re reading this, maybe the heatwave has run its sweltering course. Or you’re lucky enough to be situated in a corner of the UK in which the Factor 50 isn’t a necessity. Or better still, in another hemisphere. In short, it’s hot. And it’s as if some big pop faves could see it coming, dishing up tracks set to soundtrack the weekend’s park meets, barbecues and balcony bashes.
Keep up with the best new music via Essential New Tracks below, and read on for what we’ve got to say…
Lizzo - Grrrls
With conversation around Lizzo’s latest almost entirely centred on the track’s use of and subsequent apology for including ableist language (side note: how that got past an entire major label team, we’ll never know), there’s not been a whole lot of talk surrounding the quality of ‘Grrrls’ itself. Maybe that comes as something of a blessing in disguise; it’s not that ‘Grrrls’ is bad, it’s just not nearly as clever as we all know Lizzo can be, replete with a gal pal 101 chorus (“Where my girls, where my girls at? (Woo hoo)”) and not enough zingers to quite shake the idea of a TikTok box-ticking exercise. It’s fine, but from Lizzo, we always want 100% that banger. (Lisa Wright)
FKA twigs - Killer
While also possessing the fun, offhand nature that not-quite-album releases offer, January’s ‘Caprisongs’ also showcased a steelier side to FKA twigs: moments that were unashamedly intended to place her firmly in the pop world. ‘Killer’, written alongside long-established hitmakers Jimmy Napes and Amanda Ghost, continues this. The song sees twigs’ singular sonic palette placed around an immediate, made-for-radio chorus: pop magic, without losing any of her artistic identity. (Bella Martin)
Biig Piig - Fun
Having lured us into the boudoir on steamy 2021 EP ‘The Sky Is Bleeding’, ‘Fun’ sees the ever-shapeshifting Biig Piig heading back to the club with a hefty drum’n’bass beat in tow. Yet though you could isolate that element and pump it out at any rave, it’s the addition of BP - aka Jess Smyth’s - featherlite vocal that adds an intriguing foil; sure it’s all larks on the dancefloor, but when she coos “Is that fun to you?” in the track’s scattershot chorus, you’d better have a good answer. (Lisa Wright)
Brockhampton - Hollywood Swinging
We’ll whisper it, but maybe, just maybe, the Jack Antonoff-helmed ‘Minions: The Rise of Guru’ soundtrack might be - to quote one over-egged Twitter meme - the sound of the summer. Following Tame Impala and Diana Ross’ slow-burning bop ‘Turn Up The Sunshine’, St Vincent’s ‘Funky Town’ and Kali Uchis’ ‘Desafinado’ comes a posthumous Brockhampton contribution; their take on Kool & The Gang’s ‘Hollywood Swinging’. As expected, it’s funky to the nth degree, but with new verses showcasing the outfit’s playfulness in mixing up genres, stays firmly homage rather than pastiche. (Bella Martin)
Two Door Cinema Club - Wonderful Life
After touring South America without frontman Alex Trimble (an odd situation by anyone’s standards), Two Door Cinema Club return in full capacity to introduce fifth album ‘Keep On Smiling’. Where 2019’s ‘False Alarm’ proved somewhat of a curveball, introducing funkier textures and deft pop nous to the trio’s arsenal, ‘Wonderful Life’ seems to suggest a return to pastures previous, almost aggressively optimistic in nature - while borrowing considerably from ‘80s pop (try not to hear Aztec Camera’s ‘Somewhere In My Heart’ here, we dare you). (Louisa Dixon)
Sløtface - Beta
One of two songs to be released to announce the outfit as now a solo endeavour by frontwoman Haley Shea, ‘Beta’ is a slow-paced number that takes from the expansive side of ‘80s pop, and the leftfield side of the genre from the last decade. Not unlike Sky Ferreira produced as if soundtracking a John Hughes movie, or Lorde fronting Haim. Whether it’s enough to fully carve a new niche for Haley remains to be seen, but for now it’s pleasant enough. (Bella Martin)
Dry Cleaning - Don’t Press Me
“You are always fighting me / You are always stressing me out,” sings Dry Cleaning’s Florence Shaw to her own brain on comeback single ‘Don’t Press Me’. While she does so, though, she sounds blissed out, adding soft melodies to her usual sprechgesang. Old fans are still in safe hands, though, with Florence’s usual mastery of daily minutiae (“don’t touch my gaming mouse,” she sings) still in full flow. (Will Richards)
Whitney - Real Love
On new single ‘REAL LOVE’, the first taster of third album ‘SPARK’, Whitney add some electronic thud to their blissful summer harmonies. Despite the track’s glitchy underbelly, the pair’s penchant for glorious indie-rock songwriting and sunny disposition still shines through on a return that signals a subtle but significant shift for the duo. (Will Richards)
Miya Folick - Ordinary
It’s been four years since Miya Folick’s outstanding, multi-faceted debut album ‘Premonitions’, which swung from singer-songwriter majesty to Fleetwood Mac-esque pop jams and full-on pop romps. Comeback single ‘Ordinary’ is the softest and most tender she’s ever sounded, stripping away the excess and leaving a song she says is about “slowing down, looking inward, taking time with the people you love.” The end result is sparse but delightful, taking joy in the little things as she sings: “My life is small, but it’s big enough for me” and ends on the resolution that “I can’t have it all, but I wouldn’t want to.” (Will Richards)
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