The band The Internet drops an album full of slinky, mellow R&B that feels both fresh and familiar. Billie Eilish proves on an eerie, minimalist new track that she’s come to conquer pop in her own style. ZAYN tests out funk and finds a new lane with “Sour Diesel.” LANY make breaking up sound just a little bit more bearable on “Thru These Tears.” And Daya dreams of a safer world over EDM-pop beats.
"Thru These Tears," LANY
Los Angeles-based band LANY have never shied away from leaning into their feelings. On “Thru These Tears,” their new single off upcoming album Malibu Nights, the trio best known for indie pop confections like “ILYSB” and “Super Far” allow a breakup to weigh heavy on their hearts over their 80s-leaning synth stylings. Kicking off with echoey beats and forlorn musings, singer Paul Klein’s soft vocals build to a cathartic moment of reflection, while the music stays tightly wound, sparse and airy. “Out of sight but you’re not out of my mind,” he admits, “so it might take somebody else at night.” Eventually we get a piano interlude before a closing chorus that offers strains of Coldplay-like earnestness.
"Sour Diesel," ZAYN
ZAYN’s latest release might give longtime fans whiplash — or might draw in a whole new audience. Up until now, the One Direction defector has dabbled in experimental R&B (“Pillowtalk”), mainstream pop (“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” “Dusk Till Dawn”), dancehall (“Still Got Time”), and lately even more sugary R&B (“Let Me,” “Entertainer”). But it turns out he has more genres in sight, as new release “Sour Diesel” proves. The song, produced with longtime collaborator Malay, is a marked departure from everything that’s come before. With a driving bassline, groovy beat and screaming electric guitar riffs, it’s a funk song with smooth ZAYN vocals and some strong falsetto runs, dispensing entirely with any attempt to be radio-friendly. In either case, all signs now suggest the young artist’s upcoming second album will be more eclectic in both sound and style than 2016 debut Mind of Mine. Then again, there’s really only one thing we can predict about ZAYN: he’ll keep on surprising.
"you should see me in a crown," Billie Eilish
On 16-year-old pop ingenue Billie Eilish’s latest song, “you should sing me in a crown,” Eilish finds a vibe that’s the right kind of eerie as she makes an unabashedly dark statement of confidence and purpose. Starting with nothing more than a few haunting chords, her insidious, lingering whisper and the shiver-inducing sound of a sharpening knife, Eilish’s track builds to a stuttering, fragmented electronic chorus over which she slowly unspools her plan of world domination. “I’m gonna run this nothing town / watch me make ’em bow,” she drawls, and it’s hard not to believe her.
After smash feature success in The Chainsmokers’s early Grammy-winnning hit “Don’t Let Me Down” and a 2016 debut album, teen EDM-pop singer Daya is back at it with an ethereal, thoughtful tune in “Safe.” Written in response to the tragic Las Vegas music festival last fall, Daya recalls in her song a past that doesn’t involve constant fear. At 19 now, she knows there’s no going back, though. “There’s not much comfort in this place,” she admits about the present. Yet her song — cushiony and melodic, with feathery falsetto riffs — offers up elements of the exact kind of lullaby dreamland she would like to conjure back to reality, a small blessing in a moment of uncertainty.
"Stay the Night," The Internet
Syd’s voice on “Stay the Night” is a tender, soft expression of intimacy. As the vocalist of the five-person future-R&B group, Syd’s singing can come across as a whisper — but an infinitely controlled and flexible one at that. On “Stay the Night,” a track off of their new fourth album Hive Mind, The Internet lean in to their sweet spot: understated production, sensual delivery and precise mood-setting. It takes a lot of talent to make something this minimalist (a tick-tock beat, a guitar strum or two) sound so effortless.