The first truly exceptional release of 2013 is Dawn Richard‘s album Goldenheart, which hasn’t been adequately hyped yet — so let’s change that. Maybe the siren’s multiple artistic incarnations as a team player (first in Danity Kane and then Diddy Dirty Money) have left listeners skeptical, or perhaps it’s the independent route she’s taking with the release, but whatever the reason, her debut LP — which hits digital retailers January 15 — deserves to be lauded with praise. Goldenheart mostly picks up where Diddy Dirty Money’s album left off (but without all that unnecessary Diddy interference), all slick, rhythmic beats and emotive, spine-tingling vocals, with a liberal approach to ’80s sampling.
But mostly, what’s surprising is how effortless it all feels — hyper-listenable and hook-laden, as fresh a rhythmic pop release as any in the last year. Go listen to it over at AOL. (Our recommendation: Start with “Pretty Wicked Things” and “86,” then get obsessed with the rest.)