Tinashe comes back to start the year off right with a slow-burning new R&B single, "No Drama," backed up by Offset. Indie pop favorite Betty Who signals the start of a new chapter with a light but meaningful bop. Sweden's First Aid Kit prove that folk can come from unexpected corners of the world. Idiosyncratic North Carolina rock outfit Rainbow Kitten Surprise begin croon on "Fever Pitch." And a British teen sings a timely parable about consent.
"Ignore Me," Betty Who
Indie pop favorite Betty Who brings back her playful touch on "Ignore Me," a light, frothy confection that she grounds with her expressive voice. Aussie-born Who has always leaned towards songs that offer her a way to wink at the listener; in "Ignore Me," that wink is in the unexpected dissonance between the down-and-out lyrics and the sugary beat. "The best thing you could do is ignore me," she breathes, "like I was never even born." It's a biting commentary, but comes delivered with a caress. The back story might be even better: although ostensibly about a romantic relationship, this is actually Who's clapback to the record label she has since departed.
"Polygraph Eyes," Yungblud
We're in the midst of a new sexual revolution — a reckoning of consent — so it's lucky that 19-year-old Brit pop-rocker Yungblud has penned a cautionary tale to go along with the times. "Polygraph Eyes" is the sad story of intoxication, bad decision-making, and missed signals. "Leave it alone mate, she doesn’t want to go home with ya," he pleads to a friend over a rich, melodic beat. It's a request that falls, it seems, on deaf ears. "We all know what happens next: a bit of fun turns to regret." If kids like Yungblud are already making memorable music exploring consensual romance, perhaps the future is bright after all.
"Fever Pitch," Rainbow Kitten Surprise
The North Carolina indie rockers of Rainbow Kitten Surprise — yes, that's the name of an idiosyncratic folk-rock band from the South — offer up the first tune off their second album with "Fever Pitch," an insidiously smooth foot-tapper. Lead singer Sam Melo is hard to pin down: sometimes approaching country, sometimes talk-singing, sometimes making good use of his whispery falsetto, he wrings unexpected melody from the pared-back production, before opening up into an undeniable beat.
"No Drama," Tinashe feat. Offset
Don't sleep on Tinashe who returns with one of the most anticipated releases of early 2018 on "No Drama," a slow burner of an R&B jam. It's a bold statement of a song: although Tinashe has been tinkering with her expected upcoming album for years now, she's ready to make a splash once more, and won't be written off if her lyrics here are anything to go by. And if the rest of Joyride is anything as alluring as the dark, unhurried "No Drama," the multi-talented Tinashe should have no problem winning a legion of new fans.
"Hem of Her Dress," First Aid Kit
Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit make the kind of bittersweet, folksy Americana that fans of Joni Mitchell and the Dixie Chicks should have no problem digging right into — and keeping on repeat. New album Ruins is a sharply reflective journey through love and loss, with "Hem of Her Dress" one of the album's most spare acoustic compositions. Yet that simplicity lets the sisters' harmonizing voices eke out new expressions of emotion. "You tried to pinpoint me, I guess that was your mistake," they complain, equal parts angelic and angry.