The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Thelma Plum & IDER
Fridays can be overwhelming for pop fans. Every week you’re bombarded with a glut of new music, which can lead to ear candy falling through the cracks. I’m hoping to avoid that tragic scenario with The Drop — a cheat sheet of sorts to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you have probably heard Billie Eilish’s ominous “bury a friend” and possibly bopped along to Ally Brooke and Tyga’s slinky “Low Key.” But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start in Northern Europe. Since launching in 2015, Sweden’s LÉON has put together one hell of a discography. Which is impressive given that she is yet to release an album. That minor glitch will be rectified on March 1. All of the singles (“Baby Don’t Talk” and “Falling”) from her self-titled debut LP have been immaculate, but “You And I” is the best one yet. Norway’s Astrid S also churns out perfect pop songs at an alarming rate. The latest is called “Someone New” and it’s her most instant and, dare I say it, commercial offering since “Breathe.” Which isn’t that surprising given the involvement of Noonie Bao and Charli XCX. This could be the breakout hit Astrid been working towards.
While Scandinavians left their mark on New Music Friday (as usual), the week belonged to Australia. Indigenous singer/songwriter Thelma Plum caught everyone’s attention with viral hits “How Much Does Your Love Cost?” and “Young In Love,” but really took it to the next level on 2018’s “Clumsy Love.” That upward trajectory continues with the instantly hummable, synth-driven breakup song “Not Angry Anymore.” Brisbane’s Mallrat is also deep in her feelings on “Nobody’s Home.” A collaboration with Basenji, this is an unusually mellow and dreamy ditty about unrequited love. Where is the album, hun?
While we’re on the topic of dreamy electronica, nobody does it better than Sydney’s Empire Of The Sun. The duo celebrates the 10-year anniversary (how?!) of seminal debut LP, Walking On A Dream, by sharing a previously unreleased track called “Chrysalis.” It’s as sunny, otherworldly and multi-layered as you would expect from Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore. In the mood for a bit of Aussie pop/rock? The Faim generated serious buzz with their Summer Is A Curse EP and now the band returns to New Music Friday with “Fire.” This boasts the kind of hands-in-the-air chorus that makes radio programmers salivate. Keep a close eye on them.
The Kiwis also had something of a banner week. Kimbra’s Primal Heart was one of the most rudely slept-on albums of 2018, so it’s nice to see that she’s continuing to promote it. “Lightyears” gets an epic electro-pop makeover from Chris Tabron and it sounds like a whole new song. Let’s hope 2019 is her year. The same goes for BROODS. They dropped their much-anticipated third LP, Don’t Feed The Pop Monster, this week and rolled out a video for new single, “Too Proud.” The track is noteworthy for several reasons. For starters, Caleb Nott takes over vocal duties for a change and it offers an unusually frank account of depression.
Jarryd James’ hypnotic “Slow Motion” is the second single produced by Joel Little in this edition of The Drop (he also crafted BROODS’ “Too Proud”). The “Do You Remember” singer’s latest is a mercurial alt-R&B anthem about the tyranny of distance. Kevin Garrett inhabits a not-entirely dissimilar soundscape on “Faith You Might.” The Pittsburg, PA artist/producer was nominated for a Grammy for writing Beyoncé’s “Pray You Catch Me” and there’s a similar level of thoughtfulness, introspection and eerie minimalism about the lead single from his debut LP, Hoax (due March 22).
Let’s wind up with a couple of alt-pop gems. Whether they are dabbling in ’90s grunge or psychedelic surf-rock, Wallows widens their horizons with each new single. The Cali trio now takes us back to the ’80s on the hook-filled, synth-driven “Are You Bored Yet?” The short answer is no, we’re not. (Tapping Clairo for a feature was also a masterstroke). That leaves us with IDER. “You’ve Got Your Whole Life Ahead Of You Baby” was one of my favorite songs of 2018 and the London duo matches that lofty standard on “Brown Sugar.” Check it out in my playlist below.