Now Hear This: New music from The Weeknd, Waxahatchee, The Avalanches and Perfume Genius
In her weekly column, our music correspondent goes through the best new releases
The weekend is here, which means it’s time to crank up your speakers and let this week’s new releases distract you from the chaos outside. Missing the club? There are plenty of tracks on the Now Hear This playlist to dance around your living room to. Feel like wallowing? There are sad bangers aplenty, too.
Let’s start with someone who did both – The Weeknd on his new album, After Hours. This is, as I noted in my full review here, music for after the party’s over – introspective and surprisingly contrite songs that regret the way he treated people (mostly women) in the past, but also some Max Martin-produced numbers to get you moving.
Another album we reviewed this week is Kelsea Ballerini’s third, self-titled album, Kelsea. It’s a great mix that plays to her country roots but also her excellent ear for pop melodies – I’ve added the track I feel is the best of both worlds: “Club.” There’s also Twinnie, who I remember better as Porsche McQueen from Hollyoaks (the very same!) but who is now carving out a pretty respectable reputation as a singer-songwriter. I defy you not to sing along to “Better When I’m Drunk”.
Perfume Genius has released his single “On the Floor”, a groovy, swinging jam that needs to be included on the Sex Education season 3 soundtrack. Up and comer Sans Soucis, meanwhile, has released her swooning “Make One from a Two” – her vocals remind me of delicate steps across splintered ice. There's a timely rock track from Nothing But Thieves: “Is Everybody Going Crazy?” and the lovely lads in Scottish band Fatherson have released a gorgeous acoustic version of “Just Past the Point of Breaking”; Lady Bird, a riotous punk band from Kent (yep) dropped the snarling but witty “Get Lucky”.
There are plenty of bops from new and emerging pop stars: Conan Gray has “Wish You Were Sober”; Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui has the sultry “Lento”; and Indian singer Armaan Malik has (I think) his first English-language track, “Control”. Waxahatchee, who releases her album Saint Cloud next week, shared “Can’t Do Much”. Even for this record, which is exquisite, the new single is a standout, and apparently the first one Katie Crutchfield wrote for the album.
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A real highlight this week is “Running Red Lights” from The Avalanches, featuring Rivers Cuomo and Pink Siifu. It’s a dreamy, trilling number about love and loss – rapper Pink Siifu recites the late David Berman’s lyrics from his Purple Mountains song “Darkness and Cold”. From Lux Lyall, there’s a moody new song called “Baby is a Vamp” that falls somewhere between The Cranberries and Iron Maiden.
Remember to keep supporting your favourite local venues and new and emerging bands via crowdfunders, merch and music sales. Bandcamp has currently waived its fees to support artists, so anything you pay on the service will go straight to the musicians.
Stay healthy and have a great weekend!