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Essential Listening: This week's best new music

We now find ourselves in the fourth month of the year, and with a chunk of the calendar already behind us, we can say it’s been a mighty year for music. The sun has started glaring down upon us all and, suddenly, everything is looking bright once more. The thought of watching your favourite artist in the summer with a beer in hand at a festival no longer seems out of reach and actually feels tangibly close.

The brighter evenings are here to stay, and with only one more week left until the return of beer gardens. If you’re needing something to stick on the summer playlist while having a BBQ weekend, weather permitting, then we’ve got you covered. There’s no shame in wanting to spin some old classics, but these fresh tracks are perfect additions that will sound blistering through a Bluetooth speaker.

The only constant throughout the year is the stream of blissful new sounds that have offered a fine way to stay sane and get those dopamine receptors active. As the months have gone on, there’s been more and more titillating releases, with these past seven days being no different.

Even though playing live for an audience is an impossible dream for musicians right now, that hasn’t stopped artists from continuing to offer up fresh and exciting music straight out of the bedroom studio. Some of the new releases to have come out in 2021 have made it an exciting year for music. Through these turbulent times, music has been a constant release for many of us and kept us going. That feeling of discovering a new artist, one you connect with straight away, is hard to replicate.

Whether it is a song by an artist that you’ve never heard of before — or an old favourite that somehow you have allowed to fall off your radar — we’ve got you covered here.

This week’s best new music:

Pond – ‘Pink Lunettes’

POND, the Australian psychedelic rock group and occasional farm team for Tame Impala, have released a new video for their track ‘Pink Lunettes’. “We sort of lurched straight outta mid-tempo into totally wired speed wobble punk, so I didn’t really have time to write lyrics, just blurt scrapbook snippets and jitter around in fast forward,” the band’s Nick Allbrook said.

“I think we managed to jitter along the neon tightrope between totally unhinged, strobing spontaneity and focused forward momentum,” he added.

Jittering officially accomplished. Lines like “a taste of chill anisette” and “it was like it was like aaaaaaaaa” don’t leave a lot to be interpreted, but it all serves the propellant funk groove drops and peaks, like a good disco record. Allbrook is the hype man making sure you’re still on the dance floor, throwing out random phrases and ululations that don’t have to mean anything at all. As long as the beat is still pumping, who cares?

Sons of Kemet ft. Kojey Radical – ‘Hustle’

London jazz fusion extraordinaires Sons Of Kemet have returned with Kojey Radical’s exemplary assistance for their new single, ‘Hustle’.

The track will make you feel compelled to make a difference and give you that fire in your belly to stride to attack the day that lies ahead. While there’s a poetic poignancy to ‘Hustle’, it’s the urgent delivery from Radical that gives that adds layer after layer of gravitas to the song.

Jazz music has made a resurgence over the last few years, and there are few more blissful genres out there. However, when you can make music that both sounds beautiful and has a salient message at its heart like ‘Hustle’, then it’s cause for celebration.

Sorry – ‘Don’t Be Scared’

Sorry have surprise released their new pandemic EP, Twixtustwain, with dizzy opener ‘Don’t Be Scared’ stealing the show. The new release is the first EP from the genre-defying north Londoners since they dropped their acclaimed debut effort, 925, in 2020 — just a week into the pandemic. 

There’s an undercooked feel to the EP, which gives it a sense of intimacy, and Sorry don’t hide behind any lavish production. Their minimalist approach allows Lorenz and O’Bryens voices to flourish.

This technique pays off across the release, but on ‘Don’t Be Scared’, there’s a conversational aspect to the lyricism, which is where Sorry truly excel, and the painful authenticity shines through.

Sinead O’Brien – ‘Kid Stuff’

Irish post-punk poet Sinead O’Brien has shared her angsty new single, ‘Kid Stuff’. O’Brien has already won over contemporaries such as John Cooper-Clarke and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, whom she has both performed with over the last couple of years. She’s also got a headline tour pencilled in for later in the year, plus a support slot for IDLES at Brixton Academy, with the future only looking up for O’Brien.

While post-punk seems to have become a dirty word over the last couple of years with everyman and his dog following that path, O’Brien has given her enchanting spin on the micro-genre. Her brutally honest lyrics about life’s intricate everyday woes make for a beguiling listen, proving that post-punk is still alive and kicking.

Ten Tonnes – ‘Everything You Got’

Ten Tonnes has returned with his fiercely uplifting new single, ‘Everything You Got’. It’s been almost two years since Ten Tonnes shared his eponymous debut album back in 2019, which The Maccabees’ Hugo White produced — and it’s a strong return.

In November last year, Ten Tonnes broke his silence by sharing the blues-inspired, ‘Girl Are You Lonely Like Me?’ which kickstarted his second chapter. The swaggering ‘Everything You Got’ is the latest effort, which is more pulsating and larger than ever compared to its predecessor.

Ten Tonnes has an eye for a chorus, which the track is weaved around, and it’s a fitting track to add to your playlist as summer is just around the corner. ‘Everything You Got’ is to feature on an upcoming EP from Ten Tonnes, which is pencilled in to arrive this summer.

Twenty One Pilots – ‘Shy Away’

The Twenty One Pilots boys stick to their better instincts on ‘Shy Away’, the newest single from Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun’s now decade-plus long project. There are no cringy rap breakdowns, no weirdly shoehorned-in references to Christian iconography, and faux-rock band aggression from a band that was always a pop act deep in their hearts: just simple pop melodies and elastic guitars.

Maybe it’s just me, but pop music has seemed to take a step back from grandiosity in recent years. With the rise of SoundCloud rap and bedroom pop, artists have embraced the merits of keeping the scope of your ambitions smaller. Cheaper sounding keyboards take up prominent space in arrangements, lyrical themes deal with anxiety and everyday problems, production is minimalist and doesn’t have to have that major studio sheen covering it. After two albums that sound like they were tailor-made for chart dominance, it’s refreshing to hear something like ‘Shy Away’ from Twenty One Pilots.

The Lathums – ‘Oh My Love’

‘Oh My Love’ is a short, acoustic-led affectionate ditty by The Lathums that leaves you pining for more when the blissful two-minute and twenty seconds comes to an end. The track is a sweet ode that captures young love, and it’ll no doubt be a fan favourite once gigs return, as The Lathums serve up rapturous sing-along will ensue.

On the chorus, a heartfelt Alex Moore sings: “Time is weak and demanding of me, It’ll crumble at your fingertips, If you want to be happy then happy you will be, Oh my love, Oh my love.”

The track shows another string to The Lathums bow, and the empathetic nature of the lyrics gives ‘Oh My Love’ an immeasurable amount of heart, which has a rare sincerity to it. Moore’s knack for songwriting is evident, and ‘Oh My Love’ has an essence of vintage pop oozing out of it, which is further proof that The Lathums are far away from being ‘lad rock’ like their critics will have you believe.