During times of chaos, readjustment, and a preponderance of fear, it can be difficult to maintain routines of happiness. Such as, listening to new music. Though some of the artists who were scheduled to release albums this spring have cancelled, several have seized the moment to deliver fresh singles, perform private concerts over livestream, and even drop entire albums.
We understand: during times of stress, new music releases aren’t top priority. It might even feel unnatural to listen to, or even think about music right now. But for those of you who need songs to turn to, who could benefit from hearing their favorite artists: We’re here with the recent releases, the music you (almost) missed.
The 1975: Notes on a Conditional Form
Now The 1975’s long, long overdue fourth album Notes on a Conditional Form has finally arrived. The 1975’s latest offering suffered several delays before its eventual release, but was preceded by singles “People,” “Frail State of Mind,” and “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know).” From deep and introspective, to silly and sprawling, Notes on a Conditional Form is a beautiful, albeit glitchy, viewpoint into the ever-evolving mind of Matt Healy and his raucous, unpredictable company (both real and imagined, of course). Notes on a Conditional Form may mark the end of one era, but it also beckons the new—and the sublime.
Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated: Side B
Looking to refresh your “dancing on my own” playlists? Or for a soundtrack to ignite a Zoom happy hour with your besties? Carly Rae Jepsen has delivered a bright, joyous, pop-party powerhouse of b-sides. Much like 2016’s Emotion Side B, Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest offering proves that even her cast offs, the singles that didn’t make the cut for last year’s Dedicated, still manage to cast powerful spells over our moods and boredom. They uplift and energize. They help us summon the will to dance. They conjure happiness in this summerless summer, reminding us of the better.
Agust D: D-2
According to a fan poll conducted by Billboard, Suga of BTS—also known as the rapper “Agust D”—has just dropped one of the best mixtapes we’ve seen this year. D-2, Agust D’s second mixtape, arrived on May 22nd, along with the music video for the lead single “Daechwita.” Said to be a documentation of the present, directly in contrast with 2016’s Agust D which focused on Min Yoon-Gi’s past. You can check out the “Daechwita” music video, which draws out the single’s South Korean military influence, below.
Charli XCX: How I’m Feeling Now
When the typically workaholic Charli XCX was placed under quarantine like the rest of us, she decided that she would not only catalog her experience, but that she would do so through an album. Made primarily from her home, Charli XCX’s fourth album, how I’m feeling now, has officially arrived.
Preceded by singles “Claws” and “i finally understand,” how I’m feeling now is a daring, steely, and at times claustrophobic listen. Using a bank of emotions that probably feels familiar to many of us who’ve been obeying quarantine orders, Charli XCX has created one of her most volatile works to date, an homage to the bewilderment and chaotic self-reflection imposed during this time of pandemic. In short: Charli XCX is here to say this, this is how I’m feeling now, and it’s okay if you are too.
Drake: Dark Lane Demo Tapes
In typical Drake fashion, he’s not releasing just one album but two. More specifically, a 14-track mixtape of previously leaked tracks and a full sixth studio album to arrive later this summer. The mixtape, titled Dark Lane Demo Tapes, features appearances from Future, Chris Brown, Playboi Carti, Young Thug, and more. His first studio album since 2018’s Scorpion, which Drake has referred to only by “lucky number 6,” is said to arrive in the coming months.
Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Anyone else spend the whole weekend listening to Fiona Apple‘s new album Fetch the Bolt Cutters while standing over the bathroom sink, threatening your quarantine-lengthened locks with a pair of dull scissors? No? Just me? Fetch the Bolt Cutters, her fifth album and first in eight years since 2012’s The Idler Wheel…, is an impossibly perfect album for these times. Using her female gaze, Apple allows us to confront notions of entrapment, violence, oppression, and finally, exhaustion. Trust us, a listen of Fiona Apple’s latest is a much needed act of self-care in these darker times.
KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl
Now that we are in an age of more homegrown music, artists such as the Chicago-bred, New York-based singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist KeiyaA have been welcomed to emerge. And emerge she has. Just a few weeks ago, beneath the radar of many quarantine-splintered minds, KeiyaA dropped her debur album Forever, Ya Girl. Working largely on her own, with occasional production assists from rapper MIKE under his DJ Blackpower moniker, KeiyaA harnesses the Earl Sweatshirt-esque grime and loneliness that propels fascination. She is gritty, funky, real. We’ll all benefit from supporting this rising voice on Forever, Ya Girl, undoubtedly the first of many stellar releases.
Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
The highly anticipated sophomore album from British pop musician Dua Lipa has arrived a week early. Future Nostalgia follows the artist’s Grammy award-winning debut album, released nearly three years ago. The album was preceded by singles “Don’t Start Now,” “Physical,” and “Break My Heart.” Future Nostalgia
—the electro-80’s-driven dance album we all need right now
—is now here for us all to giddily consume.
Pearl Jam: Gigaton
It’s been seven years since iconic American rock band Pearl Jam released a new album. But apparently these times call for those who’ve been long-silent, to emerge. Pearl Jam just dropped their new album Gigaton. Using the subjects of climate, government, and Donald Trump, Pearl Jam have devised a record brimming with relevance and harshness. For all those Pearl Jam fans out there, Gigaton is here for you, a beloved band of voices to anchor us in this darkly inspirational era.
NIN: Ghosts V-VI
NIN have dropped two new albums in surprise mode, continuing the Ghosts series they began in 2008. Ghosts V-VI, which is comprised of Ghosts VI: Locusts and Ghosts V: Together, arrived suddenly on March 26. Now, NIN fans have even more to sonically landscape this categorically strange time to be alive
5 Seconds of Summer: CALM
The pop band hailing in from Sydney has been boasting their follow-up to 2018’s Youngblood since last Spring. But how to best themselves when they’ve already debuted at No. 1 on Billboard‘s pop chart? CALM, their fourth studio record, contains the already hit singles “Wildflower,” “Easier,” “Old Me,” “No Shame,” and “Teeth.” Due to the matters at hand, 5SOS undoubtedly dropped and titled CALM as an ode to their fans
—a truly dashing move from the Australian pop band. Listen here, now.
The Weeknd: After Hours
Abel Tesfaye has finally delivered the highly anticipated follow-up to 2018’s My Dear Melancholy. Now, fans are able to blast After Hours, which was preceded by singles “Blinding Lights,” “Heartless,” and the title track.
The new album arrived last week, chased shortly with a deluxe version featuring five additional remixes. After Hours, and After Hours (Deluxe), are contagious and compelling. The Weeknd, a maestro mixologist of new wave, dream pop, and R&B influences, successfully sang out the villainous vision he put behind several of the album tracks. In short: Tesfaye is a hedonist, a cinematic one, but he’s our hedonist.
Childish Gambino: 3. 15. 20
In 2018, Childish Gambino dropped a trap-gospel song with seismic repercussions. “This Is America,” with its haunting choral rounds and ear thrumming bass, spurred millions of fanatics. Donald Glover, though already a big player in our media consumption, cemented his apocryphal importance. So when he went on the “This Is America” tour and boasted his next album would be his last, we didn’t think it would, one day, appear out of nowhere.
But it did. Childish Gambino’s fourth studio album, cryptically titled 3. 15. 2020, arrived on March 22nd. Spanning twelve tracks
—all but two of them informally named by their time signature as they appear on the album
—3. 15. 2020 is a stylistically packed record that testifies to what Childish Gambino managed to be through to the end of his ego: at the forefront of what’s cool.
Ellie Goulding: “Power”
Foster the People: “Lamb’s Wool”
Haim: “I Know Alone”
Remi Wolf: “Photo ID”
John Legend and Kane Brown: “Last Time I Say Sorry”