Perfume Genius kicks off the spring with a new album filled with bittersweet, slinky pop. Newcomer Billy Raffoul reinvigorates old-school rock, adding his own rough edge with a debut single. Electronic dance duo Galantis finds a smooth, minimalist groove in "Hunter." Singer-songwriter Emily Warren — who has written songs for big-name stars like the Chainsmokers and Fifth Harmony — comes into her own on "Hurt By You." And singer-rapper Russ finally releases an album composed of casually infectious R&B vibes.
"Just Like Love," Perfume Genius
It's hard to choose just one track to highlight off of slinky alt-pop artist Perfume Genius' new album No Shape. But "Just Like Love" is a good place to start — a song at turns pretty, symphonic and haunting. Singer Mike Hadreas turns a bevy of ingredients — synth and guitar, rich violin, bouncy percussion — into an unexpectedly sweet cocktail, tempered by the haunting, feathery fluctuations of his voice. "Just Like Love" is no simple love song, though. It's an ode to the innocence of queer youth, as he explained to NPR.
"Driver," Billy Raffoul
Singer-songwriter Raffoul, 22, comes out of the gates swinging with the explosive debut single "Driver," a rock song that derives its power from its satisfyingly rough edges. Inspired by an experience with a lost hitchhiker, the Canadian-born singer's voice swings from whispering confession to hard-rock howl as he sings of being afloat in a world of uncertainty. Come for the poetry, stay for the anthemic guitar blaze.
"Hurt By You," Emily Warren
Emily Warren may not be a household name yet, but the music the 24-year-old has written has definitely wormed its way into your life, whether in "Paris" from The Chainsmokers, "Capsize" from FRENSHIP or any of the other songs to which she's contributed for pop acts like Shawn Mendes and Fifth Harmony. "Hurt By You" marks the silky vocalist's debut single, and like all of her work, it's a deeply personal, melodically rich, slow-burning pop track.
"Me You," Russ
The bright, tinkling backing loop on R&B singer-slash-rapper Russ' "Me You" is instantly infectious. Off the dexterous artist's debut album There's Really a Wolf, it's a prime example of everything he does best, from the casual lyrical delivery to the easy, consistent vibe of the holistic work. Originally making a mark on the scene with streaming hits "What They Want" and "Losin Control," Russ proves with tracks like "Me You" that those hits weren't one-offs.
For an electronic tune, "Hunter" is surprisingly minimal. The new track from the Grammy-nominated dance music duo is as crisp as it is mesmerizing, making smart use of female vocals and synth beats to craft a nearly skeletal song. But just when you expect a big drop, Galantis serves up a soft fall instead, turning what could have been a run-of-the-mill banger into a more affectingly smooth jam.