Drake surprised fans with two new songs this week, sticking to his sweet spot of low-key dance beats and promptly blowing up his streaming numbers. Sting pairs up with Shaggy for an unexpected — but expertly executed — Jamaican-themed collaboration, the first of a full project to come. Electronic group Keys n Krates come through with an airy, chilled-out dance tune for after the party. James Blake chops up vocals in an experimental new song. And alt-pop duo Leyya dig into playful sounds on a slick new album.
"God's Plan," Drake
Out of the blue, Drake dropped two singles this week; “God’s Plan” was the easy standout of the two, quickly catapulting Drake back to his top-streaming position; it broke the Apple Music first-day streaming record and debuted at number one in the U.K. charts. It’s more of that “Work” vibe, a juicy dance beat overlaid with Drake’s familiar, highly-quotable flow. (“I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry” is a standout lyric on here, mostly for just how relatable it is; “Don’t pull up at 6 a.m. to cuddle with me” reminds us that Drake is still very much Drake, lonely and in his feelings.) Sounds like Drake still has plenty he wants to tell us.
"If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead," James Blake
No one sounds quite like James Blake, the idiosyncratic artist whose compositions often capture mood more than melody. “If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead” is a stuttering, shimmering song that never quite settles into the prettiness of its underlying structure. That’s OK; Blake is best when forcing us to reorient our sonic expectations. If this is a harbinger of what’s to come, then we can strap ourselves in for an unusual ride ahead.
"Don't Make Me Wait," Sting and Shaggy
It’s the collaboration you didn’t know you needed: iconic Jamaican-American singer Shaggy and rock mainstay Sting have teamed up to produce a laid-back Caribbean-flavored love song of sorts. This is just the first track in a forthcoming joint album (out, appropriately, on April 20), but the mix of their styles is surprisingly adept: Shaggy brings the rhythm, while Sting’s signature croon soars above the island beat. It’s like vacation in a song. “I know you like to take your time,” Sting admits, but “I’m already sold on the idea of you and I / just tell me where I need to sign.” If commitment is as sweet as this song makes it sound, then we’re all in.
"My Night," Keys n Krates feat. 070 Shake
Canadian electronic music trio Keys n Krates have a subtle way with beats, like on the slow-burning “My Night” off their upcoming debut album Cura, out next week. They’re minimalists with a keen ear for sticky percussion, and the addition of 070 Shake for vocals — she has an unusually resonant voice for the music — lifts it into unexpected territory. This one’s good for chilling out after the party’s over, but before you’re ready to crash.
For fans of the quirky, airy alt-pop of groups like Psapp, Leyya will hit all the right notes on a new album, Sauna, scattered with endearingly light tracks like “Drumsolo.” Leyya, an enigmatic Austrian pop duo, is hard to pin down, but excels at keeping up a playful tone over pared-down songs that know exactly when to amp up the production. (In “Drumsolo,” for instance, the vocalist even helpfully shouts out the moment when the drum solo hits.) It all adds up to pop that’s left of center, but sounds just right.