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Essential Listening: This week's best new music

The only constant that has remained throughout 2021 is the barrage of exceptional fresh music that continues to get served our way. Lighter needs are here to stay, and beer gardens are now open as places of worship. Suddenly, everything is looking positive for the first time in a long while. The tantalising thought of watching your favourite artist in the summer with an ice-cold beverage in hand at a festival no longer seems out of reach and actually feels tangibly close.

After a year without live music, things are now on the verge of making a more highly-anticipated comeback than Oasis. If you’re needing something to stick on the summer playlist while having a well-earned rest this weekend, 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.

Throughout the year there has been a 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:

Baby Queen – ‘Dover Beach’

The South African-born, London-based singer takes us to the title location where beautiful views and wonderful weather can’t calm the mental maelstrom that comes from thinking about a past love.

Ebullient sounding melodies and bright pop production cover up darker lyrics about obsession and a distinct lack of self-esteem, “In my self-made isolation/ You’re my only inspiration/ When the mirror says I’m ugly/ And if anybody loves me/ It’s a lie”.

When it’s time to pick up the pieces, why not fit them together in a killer pop tune? That seems like the healthiest, and catchiest, way to deal with heartbreak.

Oscar Lang – ‘Stuck’

Oscar Lang is signed to Dirty Hit, home to esteemed indie acts in the UK like Wolf Alice, The 1975 and Beabadoobee. Judging by this fuzzy single, the 21-year-old Londoner looks set to be the next act to make a name for himself from their roster. Over the last three years, Lang has slowly been releasing EPs and has finally reached the stage to share his first full studio album, but that time has been a steep learning curve.

The new track is bursting full of angst which Lang crams into a song that only lasts a little more than two minutes, but every single second sees the upstart show off his full garage rock credentials. ‘Stuck’ is ready-made for the return of gigs thanks to its fervent energy, and Lang must be chomping at the bit to play live.

Chvrches – ‘He Said, She Said’

Chvrches have finally unveiled the new material that they have been hinting at in the form of a new song ‘He Said She Said’. Opening with a beautiful swell of ambient synthesizer noise before exploding with huge processed drums and battling keyboard melodies, the track weaves in bombastic sonic textures to counter Lauren Mayberry’s cutting phrases that sure sound like manipulative gaslighting to me.

‘He Said She Said’ is everything you could ever want in a Chvrches song, is a catchy, gigantic epic that makes me impossibly excited for more new material. 

Feet – ‘Peace & Quiet’

Feet have shared their explosive new single, ‘Peace & Quiet’. The track is the first single from their upcoming EP, Walking Machine, which arrives on August 6th through Nice Swan Records. ‘Peace & Quiet’ is the group’s first effort since their poetically titled 2019 debut, What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham, and their feisty return explains why they are a band that needs to be heard right now.

The lyrics see the band hit out at the state of the current music scene and show them fiercely kick-off at being shoved into incessant boxes. Frontman George Haverson laments faux-punk culture, as he viciously snarls: “Punk is just a haircut, it doesn’t have a meaning.” Elsewhere on the track, the singer takes swipes at “squeaky clean indie boys”, who he calls “corporate ass kissers”.

‘Peace & Quiet’ is about as provocative as you can get, it’s designed to stir up a reaction and asks pertinent questions of the current landscape, which deserve answers before music makes its long-awaited comeback.

Wolf Alice – ‘Smile’

Wolf Alice have unleashed their thunderous new single, ‘Smile’, as they continue to tease their third studio album. The menacing new single couldn’t be a further contrast from their previous effort, which predominantly featured Ellie Rowsell’s exposed vocals, backed only by a gentle piano.

Wolf Alice have always been a band who refuse to tie themselves down to just one sound, and their versatility has been a pivotal reason why they have captured so many hearts with their first two albums. Rowsell sounds like a different artist on this track compared to ‘The Last Man On Earth’, which hinted towards a more polished sound for Wolf Alice, yet with ‘Smile’, they’ve proved that they’re still the same four musicians who provided us with a devilish ‘Giant Peach’ in 2015.

Balancing these two sides to their collective personality is something that Wolf Alice have been doing since day dot, and ‘Smile’ shows that they don’t plan to diminish their untamed edge anytime soon. 

Little Simz – ‘Introvert’

Little Simz has announced her much-awaited return in emphatic style, with new single, ‘Introvert’. Her last album, 2019’s Grey Area, was the rapper’s most complete record to date and was one of the year’s standout albums, proving that she is one of the hardest rappers in the UK.

On the track, Simz takes a moment of deep reflection of her unhappiness, despite everything looking rosy from the outside. She raps: “One day I’m wordless, next day I’m a wordsmith, Close to success, but to happiness, I’m the furthest, At night I wonder if my tears will dry on their own, Hoping I will fulfil Amy’s purpose, Angel said, ‘Don’t let your ego be a disturbance’, Inner demon said, ‘Motherfucker, you earned this’.”

Even though Simbi Ajikawo is a self-professed introvert in day-to-day life, when she picks up a microphone and transforms into Little Simz, you need to hang on to every last word that leaves her mouth. Every rhyme feels precise, and the heavenly instrumentals make ‘Introvert’ even more majestic. This one is heading skyward and Little Simz is going with it.

Everyone You Know – ‘Higher’

Everyone You Know have turned things up on their guitar-heavy new single, ‘Higher’. The stonking effort is a wild contrast sonically from their most recent single, ‘Just For The Times’. That one saw them team up with Joy Anonymous to produce a lockdown-friendly back kitchen banger.

‘Higher’ sees them name-drop rock ‘n’ roll heroes throughout the track, with everyone from Jimi Hendrix to The Rolling Stones getting a mention. Frontman Rhys Kirby-Cox paints a picture as he sings: “And you see Hendrix at the bar, Tokin on Kurt Cobain’s cigar, While Beggars Banquet is banging out through the speaker, And you see Lennon in the car he’s showing 2Pac how to party, While Biggie shows respect to Aretha.”

The new single is Everyone You Know’s most forceful track yet, and although they’ve had a rapid rise over the last couple of years — this genre-bending anthem is destined to take their journey only one way, and that’s ‘Higher’.