We’ll level with you, readers: the rounding up of new music hasn’t exactly beaten the likes of ‘find toilet roll’, ‘refresh the Asda website’ or cry under the table in panic’ of late, but Tracks is back today with a bumper selection of new music from the past few weeks - whether it’s The Killers’ latest banger, the return of Dream Wife, Hayley Williams sharing more from her solo debut, or Biffy Clyro showing their gnarlier side once again.
For what we have to say on some of the biggest and most exciting new tracks, scroll on! And if you’re itching to check out even more, subscribe to Essential New Tracks - and also remember to check out our SXSW 2020 playlist, which features the artists who would have appeared across our three stages at the event.
The Killers - Caution
When The Killers last launched an album, they did so with ’The Man’, a track possessing the most arrogant and flirtatious of struts. Three years on, they’re returning with ‘Imploding The Mirage’, and its lead single is infectious (erk) in an entirely different way. Harking back to their synth-rock days of old, ‘Caution’ is a glorious call-to-arms (mind, not necessarily for right now…), a rousing offering that taps into their love of dusty desert storytelling and massive pop hooks. A hopeful pick-me-up if we ever needed one, this one’s a certified banger, to say the least. (Sarah Jamieson)
Hayley Williams - Roses / Lotus / Violet / Iris
Imagine a list of musicians to make up indie-rock’s ultimate girl band, and the cast of Hayley Williams’ new offering would almost certainly be the perfect fit. A delicate, mesmerising rumination on the individuality and beauty of women, ‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ is a gorgeous meeting of minds, featuring boygenius’ Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. And while it’s perhaps not a platform-stomping, all-dancing version of a Girl Power anthem like we’re used to, it’s a powerful one nonetheless.
Biffy Clyro - End Of
If ‘Instant History’ - the first track to be taken from Biffy Clyro’s forthcoming new album - showed off their more arms-aloft, festival anthem side, it’s on ‘End Of’ that the trio get that little bit gnarlier. A more turbo-charged offering with the juxtaposition of its sultry verses and cutting gang vocal chorus, there’s an electrifying energy to the whole thing. Culminating in a frenzied commotion of guitars and some unhinged screaming from Simon Neil, it’s more proof that their eighth record is very much no holds barred for the band. (Sarah Jamieson)
Dream Wife - Sports!
Miserable school PE lessons might not have made sports seem like particularly fertile creative ground, but in recent years the indie world has attempted to prove otherwise. Sports Team named their whole band after them, Viagra Boys made a certified grubby classic in their 2018 hit, and now Dream Wife have kicked off their entire LP2 campaign with an ode to athletic pursuits. ‘Sports!’ is not, of course, actually about a nice game of tennis though; intoning various cliches (“Put your eye on the ball when it’s in your court”, “This ain’t a run, it’s a marathon”) over fizzing, tightly-wound guitars, the trio are actually - we think - making a comment about pressure, and competition, and the relentlessness of modern life. Possibly. Or maybe it’s just a fun song with some good chanty bits. Either way, it works. (Lisa Wright)
The Magic Gang - What Have You Got To Lose
Following the announcement of second album ‘Death of a Party’, The Magic Gang have shared slow-burner ‘What Have You Got To Lose’. Building from the smoothness of the verses into a characteristically huge punchy and euphoric Magic Gang chorus, the song explores internal vulnerabilities felt when the world keeps spinning on seemingly without you. Yet another example of the quartet’s skill at crafting perfect pop songs, it’s the latest glimpse into the follow-up of their 2018 self-titled debut, which, according to Gus, had them “thinking more about lyrical content and trying to be a bit more attainable and relatable rather than just writing vague sentiments of love”. Can’t wait lads. (Elly Watson)
Rina Sawayama - XS
“‘XS’ is a song that mocks capitalism in a sinking world,” Rina says of her sleek new’un. The latest taste of album ‘SAWAYAMA’, it channels a bit of Liberty X’s 2002 classic ‘Just A Little’ with its R&B flair in the verse, before blazing into its big pop banger glory during the chorus. “I wanted to reflect the chaos of this post-truth climate change denying world in the metal guitar stabs that flare up like an underlying zit between the 2000s R&B beat that reminds you of a time when everything was alright,” she explains. We have to stan. (Elly Watson)
Protomartyr - Processed by the Boys
There is something eerily prescient about the start of ‘Processed By The Boys’: “When the ending comes, is it gonna run at us like a wild-eyed animal? / A foreign disease washed upon the beach?” Protomartyr’s Joe Casey goes on to build a post-apocalyptic world where “everybody’s hunted with a smile”. This imagery blossoms gruesomely in the soundscape laid out by the band, which features rising and ebbing walls of caustic guitars, underscored by disembodied sax that wails like the souls of the lost. “They’ll be gentle enough / gentle enough,” Casey signs off - but it’s forlorn hope in a world that has none left. (Rob Hakimian)
Creeper - Cyanide
While Creeper’s MO is, at first glance, all things dark - see their goth exterior; the convoluted concepts behind their musical output, ‘Cyanide’, the third taste of the Southampton sextet’s forthcoming second album, is pure jazz hands. Think the pomp of Take That’s ‘Shine’ (to which it bears an uncanny resemblance) with purple eyeshadow. Or without Gary Barlow, take your pick. A showcase for the group’s ability to pen unashamedly massive hooks, the lyrics might still meander around the macabre, but ‘Cyanide’ is nothing short of a joyous fist-pumper. (Louisa Dixon)
Diet Cig - Thriving
The first taste of second album ‘Do You Wonder About Me?’, ‘Thriving’ shows a more defiant side to Diet Cig, pairing some less-peppy vocals from Alex Luciano with crunching guitars as she repeatedly asks the record’s titular question, hinting at the themes of LP2. (Greg Hyde)
Haim - The Steps
Tinged with Americana melodies, Haim have revealed the latest taste of their upcoming third album ‘Women In Music Part III’ with rousing new bop ‘The Steps’. An ode to empowerment and doing it yourself, Danielle describes the chorus - which includes meant-to-be-yelled bars like “I can’t understand why you don’t understand me” - as “therapeutic”. Powered by a stomping drum line and an uplifting guitar solo at the end, how could you not love it. (Elly Watson)
Perfume Genius - On The Floor
If you hadn’t gathered from the rugged, topless, sledgehammer-wielding press shot, Mike Hadreas is no longer the timid man hiding behind a keyboard that he once was. The journey’s been gradual and gorgeous to watch, the singer learning to embrace the spotlight over the course of four albums, and now with the advent of fifth LP ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately’, there are even more changes afoot. ‘On The Floor’ is the closest version of a straight-up pop song that he’s ever penned. The chintzy keys are straight out of a Stevie Wonder number, while the sugary chorus climax (“I cross out his name on the page”) is pure ’60s girl group. Of course, because this is Perfume Genius, it’s all done with the utmost class; even when he’s embracing his pop side, this is still smart, emotionally-nuanced stuff. It ends with an angelic piano flutter, as Mike hums a sort of heavenly ‘Winner Takes It All’ melody. It’s almost certainly a coincidence, but it’s an appropriate one; in his latest incarnation, Perfume Genius is striking gold. (Lisa Wright)
Prima Queen - Brownstone
Fronted by best mates Louise Macphail and Kristin McFadden, Prima Queen have shared their dreamy new indie bop ‘Brownstone’. Penned via WhatsApp messages shooting across the Atlantic between Louise’s hometown of Bristol and Kristin in Chicago, it’s bittersweet and melodic and will undoubtedly pull at the heartstrings. The latest look into an EP on the horizon, the accompanying vid sees them sporting some very fetching pink cowboy hats, perfectly melding some of our fave things: simmering indie songs and striking headwear. Thanks gals! (Elly Watson)
The Cool Greenhouse - The Sticks
If the sound of Justin Bieber blandly yowling “yummy” over and over again makes you want to actively seek out some Covid-19 for yourself, then Tom Greenhouse - singer, wordsmith and titular star of new London outfit The Cool Greenhouse - is here to save the day. On the band’s previous EP ‘Crap Cardboard Pet’, he served up the kind of lengthy, bizarre inner monologues that suggested he might be either a genius or a man desperately in need of some fresh air and daylight; now, on ‘The Sticks’ - the first cut from their forthcoming self-titled debut LP - he’s making another strong case for the former. “And sometimes when you close your eyes/ There’s grinning Jimmy Savilles painted on your inner eyelids / Other times it’s Yoko Onos on treadmills, stretching out into infinity,” he intones in a strange cadence that’s sort of like someone doing a crap David Bowie impression, as one repeated guitar motif slowly gets more intense around him. There is nothing here not to like. (Lisa Wright)