The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Nick Murphy & Birdy
After an extended break (sorry, shit happens!), I’m excited to resume The Drop on a particularly great New Music Friday. In case you’re new to the column, my goal is to guide you through the week’s new releases with as little pain as possible. I’ve separated the essential from the awful so you don’t have to. By now, you’ve probably heard Bruno Mars’ sexy ballad “Versace On The Floor” and possibly even bopped along to Little Mix’s latest kiss-off anthem, “F.U.” — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Swedes always feature prominently on The Drop, but this is a banner week even by their standards. Let’s start with Avante Black. She makes a great first impression with the awesomely-titled, “Drug Money.” An explosion of hazy synths and guitar licks, this winning alt-pop anthem sounds like a cross between Empire Of The Sun and Lykke Li. Another Swedish diva doing pop very right is Noonie Bao. Perhaps better known for her songwriting chops (she penned Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Run Away With Me”), the redhead returns with “Sorry Not Sorry” — a typically offbeat offering that finds her in a quieter, more introspective mood than usual. How about the guys? Well, Kim Cesarion steps up with “Therapy.” That name should ring a bell. After all, “Undressed” was one of the better singles of 2014. His latest is another soulful synth-pop anthem with international appeal.
But wait, there’s more! If you like your Scandipop a little left of center, look no further than RABBII. The duo comes at things from a different angle — combining ambient electro with pop hooks on “Sadness.” It sounds like a bad idea but it all comes together seamlessly. Last but definitely not least on the Swedish front is Elin Bergman. “Naked” is notable for a couple of reasons. There’s a nude dude on the cover and it was produced by NEIKED, who currently has a global hit on his hands with “Sexual.” In fact, this sounds like something of a bookend to that song with its dense electronic production and sugary pop chorus.
The Aussies also had a good week with the man formerly known as Chet Faker leading the charge. It turns out Nick Murphy not only changed his name, but also overhauled his sound. The soulful, minimal electro of Built On Glass gives way to a collision of Heartland rock and future bass on “Stop Me (Stop You).” The original 8-minute version was a big ask, but the three-minute edit is an absolutely perfect. Next up is ’90s vocal queen Tina Arena, who makes an unexpected appearance this week courtesy of a feature on Client Liaison’s “Foreign Affair.” The song’s ’80s dance-pop vibe is adorable and very much on-trend. I think it’s time Tina blessed us with a dance album! Across the Tasman, Broods revamp “Heartlines” (the song Lorde co-wrote) with a killer remix from Cheat Codes. The duo is due for a radio hit and this could well be it.
Speaking of Cheat Codes, the Los Angeles-based trio also released an original song this week. Sadly, “Queen Elizabeth” has nothing to do with the British monarch. Instead it’s a Wheatus-like ode to the girl next door. If you’re looking for something cute, catchy and unashamedly lovey-dovey, here’s your song. Less rosy is the romance Matthew Koma sings about on “Kisses Back.” The singer/songwriter’s love affair with club music is still going strong and he continues to imbue the genre with real emotion. That takes us to The Chainsmokers, who incurred the wrath of several music writers this week. Love them or hate that, there’s no denying they have this crossover-pop song thing down to a science. Just take a listen to XYLO-assisted “Setting Fires” for proof.
Let’s round out this NMF with a trio of Brits. Soul siren Laura Mvula should be familiar to most of you, having dropped one of the year’s best-reviewed albums with The Dreaming Room. As such, I’m a little surprised that she’s already back with new music. The bald-headed diva delivers a defiantly original cover of The Delfonics’ ’60s classic “Ready or Not Here I Come” — a song The Fugees revived in the ’90s. I can’t get enough of this. The same goes for Birdy’s latest dance detour. She joins forces with Sigma for melancholy banger “Find Me.” The 20-year-old’s evolution from morose balladeer to genre-hopping baller continues apace. Looking for something a little quiet? Freja Frances does brooding singer/songwriter pop better than most. Listen to “Breathe” in my playlist below.