New Sensations: Just In Time For Summer, Here’s Some Fresh Mope-Pop, R&Bleak And Swedish Ice

New Sensations is our semi-regular roundup of emerging acts you oughta know.

In rap, there’s always competition in the lower ranks, and the biggest stars tend to have the most unhealthy competitive streaks, always paranoid some up-and-comer is scheming to topple them. It’s like Game Of Thrones, with so many storylines and alliances and slights and regional loyalties, and it’s nearly impossible to keep track of all the players. In the pop sphere, things don’t seem to be so interconnected (despite the era of constant star collaborations). You really only see gamesmanship in the upper echelons, with the diva rivalries and shade wars. Newcomers are above (well, below) the fray, largely off on their own islands and maybe only making a splash when a diva’s galleon swings by for a co-write or supporting slot on tour.

Is one system better or worse? I dunno. It’s like comparing GoT and its ever-changing network of protagonists with The Simpsons and its small group of main characters and sub-universe of ancillary ones. Hip-hop has a thriving middle tier, so that there are multiple angles for scrappy young guns to plot their rise and play the chess game, but pop’s system certainly seems to be weighted against new names. When there’s virtually no middle class, it’s tougher to make the leap.

So here’s our latest attempt to boost five new names so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.

Oyinda

Born in Nigeria, based in London, Oyinda works with a lot of textures but pulls them all together in such a sleek package that at first it seems like just another smooth dose of future-R&B. But these are aggressive arrangements, with soul vocals and pop hooks getting pelted by techno and no-wave shrapnel. Oyinda had a hand in producing “Flatline” and “Never Enough,” and she directed the latter’s visual, which was inspired by the “Single Ladies” video. Both are off her sophomore Restless Minds EP, out June 10 on her own Blood & Honey label.

Trace

Imagine the so sad today account set to twinkling electronics and gloriously forlorn vocals, and you’ve nailed Trace’s emotional and aural wavelength. She’s making the rare type of mope-pop that’s so exhilarating it makes you wish you were going through a breakup just so you could ~really~ ~feel~ everything.

Djustin

American musician Rose Suau and Swedish musician Johan Angergård were pen pals — as in legit, writing letters to each other across the Atlantic pen pals. Eventually they graduated to email, and ultimately decided to use those same internet capabilities to make music together in 2015, having never met in person. It’s got all the keywords: Sweden, computers, female singer. Both these songs are off their just-released debut EP Tryst.

Raveena

So you’re watching Mad Max: Fury Road and you remember that, oh yeah, a lot of CGI is total butt and when someone masters real, tangible effects it can be much more arresting. There’s a similar experience listening to Raveena’s summery soul tunes. The Brooklyn singer’s placid vocals are the kind you hope to — but never actually do — hear in a jazzy cocktail lounge, and the boom-bap production from Everett Orr is so sumptuous and sweeping and warm it’ll get you talking like an old head, wondering why nobody raps over music like this anymore.

Grace Lightman

This Londoner’s weightless coo sounds like the halfway point between Kate Bush‘s chilly ethereality and the yearning soprano of Natalie Prass. Debut track “Vapour Trails” is a lovely mist of a song befitting its title, and likewise new tune “Faultless” lives up to its name.

Which new pop voices are you excited about? Let us know in the comments, or hit us up on Facebook and Twitter.