It’s almost July, there’s still no sign of a new Rihanna album, and the offerings from her near-mythical eighth LP have been decidedly hit-or-miss. “FourFiveSeconds” was pleasantly out of left field for an artist famous for her prolific club-bangers and crotch-patting dance moves, but “Bitch Better Have My Money” had more attitude than substance and “American Oxygen” was downright anemic. Of course, Rihanna has every right to take her time and make a record that creatively fulfills her, but now that summer’s in full swing, the rooftop parties and summer barbecues and beach excursions aren’t going to wait for her.
Luckily for those occasions, there’s a surrogate bad gal to fill the R-shaped void in your heart: meet 17-year-old Zara Larsson, who sounds like a dead ringer for Riri on her new single “Lush Life.” (You may already know Larsson from her viral Instagram post in which she put a condom over her leg to make fun of guys who think they’re “too big” to wear one.) Mixing the island-pop of Rihanna’s early days with a pulsing bass line on par with “Fancy,” “Lush Life” is the song of the summer that never was—a track so jam-packed with hooks that the song’s real chorus doesn’t even arrive until after the two-minute mark.
Larsson has a biography that’s guaranteed to make you feel old and unaccomplished. Born in 1997—the year the Spice Girls took America and the year fellow swede Robyn scored a hit with “Show Me Love”—Larsson won the Swedish equivalent of America’s Got Talent at the weathered old age of 10. (The country’s TV competitions are real hotbeds for talent: Tove Styrke, who placed third on Swedish Idol as a teenager, released one of the best albums of the year so far earlier this month.) Larsson dropped her debut LP in only a few European countries last fall, but several songs from it made their way to the U.S. via January’s Uncover EP. There, you’ll find even more songs to pad your summer playlists (like the seasonally appropriate “Rooftop”) and keep you busy till Riri comes through.
Keep an eye out for the proper album Larsson has in the works, however—Uncover makes it clear she’s worth appreciating on her own terms.
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