Our music recommendations: What we’re listening to this week, from Charli XCX and Lorde, to NewJeans

Charli XCX  (Harley Weir)
Charli XCX (Harley Weir)

Is your playlist in need of refreshment? We have some suggestions.

Charli XCX - The girl, so confusing version with lorde (ft. Lorde)

Just when you think that Charli XCX’s roll-out of neon green new album Brat can’t possibly get any better, she goes and outdoes herself again. When she sang about being compared to a mystery pop star with “the same hair”, and her worry that the artist in question hates her, many speculated that she was singing about Lorde – the resemblance between the pair is so striking that it’s already the subject of a meme. And now, she’s invited the star herself onto a surprise remix. “Well, honestly, I was speechless when I woke up to your voice note,” Lorde says in a characteristically candid new verse, “You told me how you'd been feeling, let's work it out on the remix.” Rather than slinging mud at one another, the two admit to being caught up in their respective insecurities, get to the bottom of things, and quickly realise that they’re each other’s biggest fans. Genius.

Ariana Grande – “The Boy Is Mine (Remix)” (Feat. Brandy & Monica)

Clearly, it’s a huge week for self-referential remixes – after taking huge inspiration from Brandy and Monica for this standout from her latest album eternal sunshine, Ariana Grande has invited the OGs in for a reworking. All three stars flex their vocal chops, complete with flawless harmonies.

NewJeans – Supernatural

Jam-packed with strutting basslines, cartoonish synthesisers, heaps of choreography, and the clear influence of Japan’s late Seventies genre City Pop, Supernatural is an immediate earworm from rising K-pop stars NewJeans.

The Japanese House – :)

Fresh from last year’s In The End It Always Does, Amber Bain is taking a country-pop turn – on new track :) she sings about the early days of a long distance online romance that actually ended up working out. “Talking to someone who I’ve never met,” Bain sings, “Thank you God for making internet, I had a feeling on the phone at 3am that something needed to be done. And now I’m jumping on a jet.”

Bree Runway - Just Like That

“Indie, but imma still do it majorly,” raps Bree Runway on Just Like That – her debut single as a independent artist. The Hackney rapper was previously signed to a major label, but parted ways after feeling at odds with “the rat race mentality” and the “desperate agendas” that often got attached to her music. Accordingly, Just Like That is triumphant and elated, playfully throwing back to Bree’s earlier song titles.

Charli XCX – Spring breakers

Three days after putting out her neon-green album Brat, Charli XCX dropped the deluxe – with its matter-of-fact title Brat and It’s the Same but There’s Three More Songs So It’s Not. The best of the bunch is Spring Breakers, which samples Britney Spears’ 2003 ballad Everytime, and transforms it into a wonky, fast-paced, brash, and bold slab of dance-pop mayhem. Our Chazza at her very best, basically.

Joan As Policewoman – Long For Ruin

American singer-songwriter and classically trained violinist Joan As Policewoman is gearing up for her tenth album Lemons, Limes & Orchids (out September 20) and lead single Long For Ruin is a sumptuous and despairing exploration of selfishness. ”We seem intent on destroying ourselves,” she explains in a statement. “We seem unwilling to share resources. We seem to have turned away from ourselves and in turn, each other.”.

Macseal – Four Legs

Long Island punks Macseal were heavily inspired by the cream of Noughties pop-punk – Fountains of Wayne and Goo Goo Dolls – for the the heartfelt power chords of Four Legs, a touching ode to meeting a baby for the first time, and having a mild existential crisis in the process.

Charli XCX - Sympathy is a Knife

It’s quite a task to choose a standout from the across-the-board brilliant new Charli XCX record Brat, but the hyperpop juggernaut Sympathy is a Knife comes closest. A tangled web of a song, Charli sings of irrational, all-consuming insecurity, and a particular pop star she keeps encountering at her boyfriend’s gigs (she is in a relationship with The 1975’s George Daniel) “This one girl taps my insecurities,” she sings, ”Don't know if it's real or if I'm spiraling.” Since Taylor Swift was previously linked to Daniel’s bandmate Matty Healy, there’s understandably been plenty of speculation about the subject of the song.

Sabrina Carpenter – Please Please Please

After hogging the US number one spot for weeks with the grammatically-dubious pop banger Espresso, Sabrina Carpenter has now achieved the feat of dethroning her own song with another equally massive single. Drawing on a similar formula of cool, slightly subdued pop, with an extra sprinkle of country, Please Please Please knowingly begs her boyfriend Barry Keoghan to try and behave himself.  “I heard that you're an actor, so act like a stand-up guy,” she sings. “Whatever devil's inside you, don't let him out tonight”. Adding an extra iconic layer, he stars in the music video.

PONY – Freezer

The Liz Phair and Veruca Salt vibes are potent on Freezer, the spiky new standalone single from Toronto’s excellent duo PONY. It’s a surprise follow-up to last year’s album Velveteen, and as usual, it’s a total ripper.

Confidence Man – I Can’t Lose You

Another duo that rarely put a foot wrong, Confidence Man have also added to their succession of bangers, and laden with UK garage synths and mischievous rewinds, I Can’t Lose You has summer dance anthem written all over it. All we need now is some sun, eh?

Ayra Starr – Last Heartbreak Song (feat. Giveon)

Nigerian singer and rapidly rising star Ayra Starr released her second album Turned 21 today (May 31) ahead of a sure-to-be massive set on Glastonbury’s iconic Pyramid stage next month. Featuring US R&B singer Giveon as a guest star, Last Heartbreak Song is a smouldering ode to waving farewell to a one-sided love.

Amber Mark – Space & Time

This beautiful new track from Summertown song-writer Amber Marks starts life as a piano-led ballad, her vocals clear and honeyed. But as the track gradually and unexpectedly ramps up from its sparse beginnings, it just gets better, and better.

Body Meat – North Side

A genre-defying feast of artfully deployed autotune, retro video game sounds, and a symphony of frantic bleepy bloops competing for space, the latest from Philly oddball Body Meat is – in the most complimentary terms possible – one of the most bonkers new songs I’ve heard in a long time. Brilliantly bizarre.

Magdalena Bay – Death & Romance

The LA duo Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin used to play in a prog rock band together, but have since binned it off in favour of Magdalena Bay’s psychy spin on pop. New single Death & Romance – their first release since signing to New York indie label Mom + Pop – is apparently about sitting at home and waiting “for your alien boyfriend to pick you up in his UFO...but this time, he’s not coming.” Heartbreaking.

Clairo - Sexy to Someone

Surprise – indie singer-songwriter Clairo is back in the game, returning with lead single Sexy to Someone along with news of album three. Charm is slated for release on July 12, and ahead of that, Sexy to Someone is an early first glimpse: a bright, breezy track with a strong whiff of Carole King’s influence.


Billie Eilish’s latest Hit Me Hard and Soft is blazing ahead in the potential Album of the Year stakes (we gave it a 5 star rating) in 2024, and one of its many standout moments comes from L'Amour de Ma Vie’s shock swerve from soft rock into thumping hyperpop. Now, the pop star has put out an extended edit, honing in on the club feel of the original’s second half.

PinkPantheress - Turn It Up

Another dominating much of last year with her Ice Spice collab Boy’s A Liar Pt. 2, PinkPantheress is back with Turn It Up, a misty-eyed pop song she says is inspired by the melodies of the late Tejano icon Selena, and her hit Dreaming of You.

Been Stellar - Pumpkin

Based on the strength of its lead singles, Been Stellar’s upcoming debut Scream from New York, NY is shaping up into a right old doozy; and with its uneasy, Slint-styled riffs, Pumpkin is their most slow-burning and brilliantly subdued yet.

Vince Staples - Shame on the Devil

Long Beach rapper Vince Staples, who first rose to fame as part of the hip-hop collective Odd Future, has been reflecting a lot recently on his artistic growth since; and new album Dark Times – out now – dissects how far he’s come, as well as turning the magnifying glass onto fame itself. Shame on the Devil is just one highlight from the new release.

Wishy - Love on the Outside

Indianapolis’ Wishy specialise in bright, sunny hunks of Nineties inspired indie-rock – and the influence of Bristol alt-rockers The Sundays is written all over the jangling surroundings of their latest, Love on the Outside.

Peggy Gou - Lobster Telephone

Ahead of throwing a massive, open-air party in Gunnersbury Park, Berlin-based DJ and producer Peggy Gou is here with the pumping, syncopated warm-up: the retro-flavoured summery house track Lobster Telephone.

Winter - Shaniatwainlovestory

Lo-fi acoustic indie meets UK Garage – with the life story of Shania Twain chucked in as an additional influence – sounds a bit weird, sure. Strangely, though, it all comes together on this atmosphere new release from Brazilian-born singer Samira Winter, and her project Winter.

Charli XCX - 360

Emma Chamberlain, Julia Fox, Rachel Sennott, Chloë Sevigny... it’s easier to count up the patron saints of the perpetually-online who don’t appear in Charli XCX’s new music video. Together, they chair a meeting to try and select “the new hot internet girl” – “I'm everywhere, I'm so Julia,” Charli boasts, paying tribute to one of the gang inparticular.


Between collaborative Boys Noize and Rico Nasty EP HARDC0RE DR3AMZ and lilbubblegum link-up SCRAPS ON, the Washington D.C. rapper has been busy as of late, and now returns with a new solo track BLEACH BROWS.

Sorry Mom - But I’m A Quarterback

The latest from New York punks Sorry Mom is a genius tribute to But I’m A Cheerleader – Jamie Babbit’s cult 1999 comedy, which starred Natasha Lyonne as a lesbian cheerleader who gets packed off to a satirical conversion camp. “Now I’m 23 and broke, and thinking about all the football boys I could’ve been,” they sing.

CMAT - Aw, Shoot!

Irish singer-songwriter CMAT is having one hell of a year between stealing the show at the BRITS with her bum-baring dress, and scooping a nomination at the songwriting-centric Ivor Novellos awards. Now, Aw, Shoot! paves the way for a new musical era following the huge success of last year’s album Crazymad, for Me

Kevin Abstract - Tennessee (feat. Lil Nas X)

With “the best boyband since One Direction” now on indefinite hiatus, Brockhampton founding member Kevin Abstract is continuing to branch out solo, teaming up with Lil Nas X for this smooth, Quadeca-produced single.

Illuminati Hotties - Can’t Be Still

Fronted by Boygenius and Weyes Blood producer Sarah Tudzin, Illuminati Hotties has to be one of the best monikers in music right now: and the music is just as fun. New single Can’t Be Still recalls the super-pacey, joyous punk rock of Mary Timony’s Ex Hex.

Dua Lipa - Falling Forever

One of Dua’s best vocal performances to date, Falling Forever is also the highlight of her decidedly patchy new album Radical Optimism: if you ask me, this should’ve been the lead single.

Jessica Pratt - The Last Year

Here in the Pitch, the fourth album from LA singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt, is one of this year’s best so far; here’s hoping it’ll propel her from alternative indie fave to more mainstream success. The old-timey The Last Year is a standout that grapples with keeping faith in dark times.

Pardoner - Future of Music

“I don’t care about the future of music,” San Francisco’s Pardoner drawl sardonically on their latest, the lead single from upcoming EP Paranoid In Hell. “The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to how the future of music most likely will sound like… the past of music?” explained guitarist and vocalist Max Freeland.

NewJeans - Bubblegum

Punchy, fizzy, and peppered with jaunty disco flutes, Bubblegum – the latest from rising K-Pop group NewJeans – offers up its own updated and addictive spin on City Pop, a 1970s sub-genre of Japanese pop which has enjoyed a recent second wind on TikTok.

Crumb - The Bug

The Kafka vibes are strong on The Bug, a warped slice of dream-pop from the Brooklyn-based psych-pop band. “But my wings won't open wide, while the bug stays on my mind,” sings Lila Ramani, sweetly, a nagging feeling

Sabrina Carpenter - Espresso

Enter, the grammatically dubious slogan of the summer – ”that’s that me espresso”. Does the oft-quoted lyric from Sabrina Carpenter’s exceptionally hooky, uber-glossy, nu-disco influenced smash hit actually mean anything? The jury’s out on that one, but don’t let that get in the way of a good time.

Chappell Roan - Good Luck, Babe!

Rising star Chappell Roan cements her position as the new queen of queer pop with her latest track - her first since last year’s album Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. She’s described it as “about wishing good luck to someone who is denying fate”, and over the blaring synths, her voice hits Kate Bush levels of high and wispy. The overall effect is exceptionally toe-tapping.

Charli XCX - Club Classics

On the frantic and fun Club Classics ‒ the next glimpse of upcoming album Brat ‒ Charli adopts the persona of a picky DJ’s worst nightmare, demanding all manner of club classics by her favourites (along with her own music, her requests include regular collaborator AG Cook, the late SOPHIE, and one of Brat’s rumoured producers Hudson Mohawke) and getting very sweaty on the dancefloor in the process. Chuck in an abundant dollop of wobble-bass, and you have yourself a winner.

Doechii & JT - Alter Ego

Tampa’s Doechii, labelmates with SZA on Top Dawg Entertainment, just keeps getting better, and in fairness her breakthrough hits Persuasive and Crazy set the bar pretty high. This playful, dance-influenced new single, with fellow Floridian JT, samples Spread the P*** by Ayesha Erotica and feels like a summer club smash in the making.

NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge) - 86Sentra

Right in time for the joys of spring, Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge have reignited their collaborative project NxWorries, along with news of a hotly awaited second album. Why Lawd? will be their first new full-length record since 2016, and the funky 86Sentra is a promising first glimpse.

LAUREL - Burning Up

Despite its chipper synth-pop surroundings, Burning Up ‒ the latest to come from LA-based Brit LAUREL ‒ delves into darker subject matter, detailing the feeling of teetering on the brink of a panic attack, the tension between pop polish and raw, candid lyrics keeping up the momentum.

mary in the junkyard - Marble Arch

Experimental London trio mary in the junkyard have built up a solid rep as regulars on the stage of Brixton new music spot The Windmill, and are now gearing up to release debut EP This Old House on May 9. Ahead of that, here’s an early glimpse in the shape of Marble Arch, which borrows its name from a reference to the London landmark in a copy of Angela Carter’s Wise Children. The song, explains Clari Freeman-Taylor, is about “the intense relationship between sisters, and leaving home and not wanting to come back.”

Jessica Pratt - World On A String

There’s a haunting, lo-fi quality to World On A String; its blend of classic-sounding pop melodies and fuzzy production reminds me of the Baltimore dream-pop band Beach House. It lands ahead of the LA singer-songwriter’s new album Here in the Pitch, out on May 3.

Chastity Belt - Laugh

This grungey highlight from the Walla Walla rockers’ new album Live Laugh Love sees Julia Shapiro and the band reflecting on carefree days, with bittersweet fondness: “remember that summer we spent living instead , I wanted it to last, but it’s all in my head.”

Tyla - Art 

“Handle me carefully,” Tyla sings on this amapiano-influenced highlight from her debut album, which ‒ despite first impressions ‒ is not actually about taking a responsible approach to painting conservation. Instead, the gallery metaphors make for a pleasingly steamy love song.

John Grant - It’s A Bitch 

There’s plenty of strut to this sleazy, smirking hunk of electro-funk, with typically witty and wordy one-liners from US singer-songwriter John Grant. “I am feeling an itch in my medulla oblongata,” he complains, “yeah, it happens a lot the doctor says I got a wild imagination.”

Logic1000 - Can't Let Go 

Mother ‒ the hotly-anticipated debut album from Sydney dance producer Samantha Poulter ‒ is out today, and stomping four-to-the-floor house cut Can't Let Go is a standout moment destined for a whole summer’s worth of dancefloors.

Warpaint - Underneath

Somehow, Warpaint have been a band for twenty years, and in that time they’ve done a sterling job of keeping things creatively fresh between their individual solo projects, drummer Stella Mozgawa’s production career, and a fairly sporadic approach to putting out records. Now, they’re celebrating the big 2-0 with a new 7” single, and b-side Underneath is a dreamy, paired back treat.

Kacey Musgraves - The Architect

So, you’ve probably heard already that everybody and their nan is having a crack at country music this year; Beyoncé and Lana Del Rey are two of the biggest names donning stetsons and getting involved. On the other hand, Kacey Musgraves has been bringing its influence into mainstream pop for years, and the philosophically-minded acoustic track The Architect is a timely reminder of her influence. Luckily, there’s enough room in this saloon for the whole lot of ‘em.

MØ - Fake Chanel 

This year, Danish pop star MØ is celebrating 10 years of her cult debut No Mythologies To Follow, and digging out a number unreleased tracks recorded during the album sessions for the occasion. The moment those muffled parps sound on Fake Chanel, it’s straight back to her glacial synth-pop days of 2014.

Cola - Bitter Melon

The latest to come from Montreal post-punks Cola - which includes former members of both Ought and US Girls - reminds me of In Rainbows-era Radiohead with an extra side-dollop of krautrock: it’s intricate, thorny, brooding, and brilliant.

Lizzie McAlpine - I Guess

Philly indie-folk artist Lizzy McAlpine is gearing up for new album Older (out April 5) and I Guess is a promising early glimpse. Building from spare foundations into a rich wash of brass and strings, McAlpine lays bear the loneliness of a spent relationship that’s falling off the rails. “We eat our dinner, then we undress,” she sings, “and now we're equal, more or less.” Ouch!

Ariana Grande - We Can’t Be Friends (Wait For Your Love)

Fans of teary synth-pop, step this way – this highlight from Ari’s new album eternal sunshine (out now) channels the juggernaut influence of Robyn’s ultimate sad-banger Dancing on my Own. It also shares a producer: the lushious production comes from Swedish pop architect Max Martin.