This week, Sam Smith makes his triumphant return with emotional new song "Too Good at Goodbyes," a worthy follow-up of his blockbuster breakout album In the Lonely Hour from 2014. Kelly Clarkson also bursts back onto the scene with a soulful vibe. ZAYN, too has new music — this time with the help of Sia on "Dawn Till Dusk." Rising rap trio Injury Reserve show off a thoughtful, trance-like side. And young Austrian producer filous makes something quirky and poignant in "For Love."
"Too Good at Goodbyes," Sam Smith
If it ain't broke, no need to fix it. In his first new release since 2015's Oscar-winning "Writing's on the Wall," the breakout U.K. singer-songwriter sticks to his tried-and-true, get-you-in-the-gut brand of orchestral slow pop — with predictably emotional results. "Every time you hurt me, the less that I cry. And every time you leave me, the quicker these tears dry," Smith croons over near silence. Cue the swelling violins, gospel chorus and Smith's inevitable return to dominance.
"Love So Soft," Kelly Clarkson
America's first — and, arguably, most successful — idol is back with the lead single off her upcoming eighth album. A soulful urban pop track, "Love So Soft" sees Clarkson doing what she does best: serving up powerful, seemingly effortless vocals over a catchy tune. After dabbling in rock and country, it's nice to see Clarkson dig into the rich potential of this particular vein of jazzy R&B.
"Dusk Till Dawn," ZAYN feat. Sia
ZAYN's idiosyncratic first solo album, Mind of Mine, in 2016, felt like a meditation on a singular theme; an exploration of a still-emergent style. His one-off collaborations since then — with Taylor Swift ("I Don't Wanna Live Forever"), Snakehips ("Cruel"), PARTYNEXTDOOR ("Still Got Time") and now Sia on "Dusk Till Dawn" — show a savvy dexterity between mainstream pop and more experimental fares; he's clearly not interested in getting pinned down to a specific sound. "Dusk Till Dawn" is unmistakably a Sia song, with a bombastic chorus and heavy downbeat, but ZAYN proves himself up to the task of layering his distinctive, slinky voice into the track, matching Sia's vocal power with his own, softer inflections.
"North Pole," Injury Reserve
Slip into a bit of a trance with Injury Reserve on "North Pole," a minimalist alt-rap track from the Arizona trio of rappers that call themselves Injury Reserve. Known in previous albums for their sharp beats and sure-footed flows, "North Pole" instead takes a decidedly low-key tack, embracing acoustic guitar and a mournful chorus to give the song its own dreamy, unhurried rhythm. It's the first single off their upcoming album Drive It Like It's Stolen, out Sept. 29.
"For Love," filous feat. Klei
Instrumental prodigy filous — the enigmatic name of a Austrian producer — is out with the title track off his upcoming EP, "For Love." A slim and entrancing piece of electro-pop, "For Love" is both trimmed-back and unexpectedly bubbly, led by the expressive vocals of singer klei. A Hypemachine favorite for his earlier works, filous's latest secures him a spot in the recent wave of producers making accessible music with a thoughtfully-produced backbone.