The Weeknd returns to his brooding roots on a new six-track project, My Dear Melancholy. Plus, rising pop voice Hayley Kiyoko duets with Kehlani in her new album, soulful rock singer Matt Maeson spends some time soul searching, mysterious alt-pop artist Michl collaborates with Mura Masa for a catchy new track, and Tinashe teams up with Ty Dolla $ign and French Montana for a perfect party song.
"Hurt You," The Weeknd
No one makes dark, brooding electro-R&B quite like The Weeknd. And with a few breakups under his belt since the blockbuster 2016 album Starboy, Abel Tesfaye is back to his searingly honest ways on "Hurt You," one of six tracks off a surprise "project" called My Dear Melancholy, which he dropped on Friday. "Now I know relationship's my enemy, so stay away from me," he croons, softening the blow of the reproach with his velvety falsetto. For fans of early-era Weeknd — way back in his mysterious House of Balloons days — "Hurt You" is a return to form, with the singer mining sonic beauty from love's associated pains.
"What I Need," Hayley Kiyoko feat. Kehlani
Hayley Kiyoko's unapologetically queer pop is as fun as it is vulnerable and honest, packaged with slick future-pop production in debut album Expectations. "What I Need," featuring R&B star Kehlani, is a nimble and instantly memorable duet, with Kiyoko's harder pop edges melding nicely against Kehlani's melodic vocals. Like with her lead single "Curious," Kiyoko is showing a knack for writing songs destined to get stuck in your head — in a good way.
"Better With You," Michl
It starts with a delicate acoustic chord. Then we get a beat, a voice, and a drop. Sometimes, as the mysterious L.A.-based singer and producer Michl proves on "Better With You," that's all you really need to make a good track. Popular producer Mura Masa came in for an assist on this new release, and it's a good combination: Mura Masa's electronic beats are an ideal contrast with the resonant quaver of Michl's voice. Michl keeps a low profile — no press photos, no interviews. But none of that matters when you've racked up over 100 million streams on the strength of a few atmospheric, precise alt-pop songs like "Better With You," which heralds a debut album to come and, maybe, a few more details about the artist himself.
"Me So Bad," Tinashe feat. Ty Dolla $ign and French Montana
Tinashe, who's finally releasing her long-awaited sophomore album Joyride in just a few weeks, tapped rappers Ty Dolla $ign and French Montana for the warm-weather-ready "Me So Bad," a party track with a lightly tropical beat. It's, as they say, a bop, bubbling along with a bright and joyful energy while Tinashe provides her signature R&B-influenced edge, floating around and over French's and Ty Dolla $ign's celebratory verses.
"Hallucinogenics," Matt Maeson
Virginia singer-songwriter Matt Maeson is kicking off his 2018 with "Hallucinogenics," the first song off an upcoming April debut album. The country-rock artist is never afraid to investigate his past and his demons, resulting in songs like "Hallucinogenics" that are clear-eyed in their honesty and raw around the edges. This song plays in contrasts: a tender, balladic opening opens into a rollicking, foot-stomping chorus, echoing a night out's highs and lows.