Harpsichords patter with gentle applause. Space synths whirr and bleep. Sitars plink and slide. Guitars throb.
Yes, Yeasayer return with an album that’s as idiosyncratic and weird as ever. The band described the cover art as “Sgt. Pepper meets Hieronymous Bosch meets Dali meets PeeWee’s Playhouse”. That sort of surrealism applies to the album too. There are at times Beatles levels of creativity in the production (with a modern twist of course), but the overall sound transcends genre, time and place. Take I Am Chemistry: whistles and grinding synths launch into hypnotic bass guitar, then there’s a psychedelic break, bleeping space sirens, an acoustic sing-along with a choir of angelic voices, more spacey synths, and a final chorus that dissolves. All of that in one song. Phew.
And yet somehow it all sounds cohesively Yeasayer. The band are known for their experimental psychedelia and ‘Amen & Goodbye’ is no different, even if it’s a step beyond the neon vibrancy of debut ‘Odd Blood’ and the deep electronic murmurings of its follow up ‘Fragrant World’. Here we have a Baroque pop album that merges old and new – flutes, harpsichords and “computer canticles”. It’s wonderfully creative, but lacks the hooks of their past material: standout singles like O.N.E or Henrietta. Silly Me comes close, but this is more successful as an experimental album than weird pop.
Listen: ‘Amen & Goodbye’ is out now.
Tegan & Sara – Boyfriend / U-Turn
The Canadian twins have graced us with not one but two new singles. Both continue the fizzing electro-pop style of their exceptional ‘Heartthrob’ album from 2013. Both will feature on their forthcoming album ‘Love You To Death’, out in June. Both are infectious, polished, and tightly constructed pop songs. Everything is indeed still awesome.
But more so, they position Tegan & Sara in a growing list of outspoken LGBT pop performers that includes the likes of Years and Years frontman Olly Alexander and Troye Sivan. “You call me up like you would your best friend / You turn me on, like you would your boyfriend / But I don’t wanna be your secret anymore”, they sing on Boyfriend. That’s a lyric that anyone, gay or straight, can relate to.
Listen: Boyfriend and U-Turn are out now. ‘Love You To Death’ is released on 3rd June.
Listen: I Ain’t Your Mama is out now.
Erik Hassle – If Your Man Only Knew
Typically dark, yearning stuff here from Sweden’s Erik Hassle. If your man only knew how good he is so that everyone would buy his records so he becomes a star over here like he deserves.
Listen: If Your Man Only Knew is out now.
Noonie Bao – Reminds Me
More Swedish goodness, this time from Noonie Bao. Reminds Me is a delicate waltz of string droplets and swirling piano arpeggios that lurches into a dizzying, bass wobbling chorus. The mix of classical and pop styles is intoxicating.
Listen: Reminds Me is out now.
Lido – Crazy
This new track from the Norwegian artist is a vibrant concoction of chopped samples, hip-hop beats and processed vocals that swirls and morphs in kaleidoscopic fashion. But watch the video to see him literally conducting the heck out of a load of lights – it’s mesmerising stuff.
Listen: Crazy is out now.
Laura Mvula & Wretch 32 – People
Mvula has teamed up with Wretch for this melancholic call to action that stirs up gospel, soul, classicism and hip-hop. “Our skin was a terrible thing to live in”, she sings, before the enlightening chorus “How glorious this light in us, we are a wonder” and a surprisingly powerful rap from Wretch (“life’s a bitch oh life’s a bitch”). This is the sound of urban Britain, politically charged and beautifully performed.
Listen: People is out now.
Chelsea Lankes – Secret
Secret is taken from the Texan’s self-titled EP that follows a handful of single releases. The evocative synths, driving bass guitar and lush vocal harmonies provide a typically American-Swedish sound – it’s not difficult to imagine Katy Perry singing something like this. Breezy, solid pop from a future star.
Listen: The ‘Chelsea Lankes’ EP is out now.
Sigala feat. John Newman & Nile Rodgers – Give Me Your Love
Sigala = one of the biggest names in dance-pop music, delivering some great tunes.
John Newman = that Rudimental guy with the grating soul voice.
Nile Rodgers = guitar legend.
The result? A funk banger that needs more guitars and less singing.
Listen: Give Me Your Love is out now.
Tom Odell – Wrong Crowd
The King of Boring has released a new single and it’s….ok!
Listen: Wrong Crowd is out now.