A few weeks ago Dua Lipa dropped ‘Future Nostalgia – The Moonlight Edition’. The deluxe edition of her second album keeps the record’s disco euphoria going, with four previously unheard tracks. These include slinky, groove-laden current single ‘We’re Good’, and JID collab ‘Not My Problem’, but it’s strutting floor-filler ‘If It Ain’t Me’ we’ve chosen for this week’s NME Radio playlist.
Here are all this week’s additions to the NME 1 & 2 playlists:
On the A List
For Those I Love
‘Birthday / The Pain’
In ‘Birthday / The Pain’, Dublin producer and singer-songwriter David Balfe has one of most arresting songs of 2021. Heavy piano chords combine with dreamy vocal samples, euphoric synths and Balfe’s bracing lyrics that tell of childhood trauma, the pains of adulthood and the life-saving importance of heady escapism. “You spend your whole life being brave / And you hope things will change,” he mutters. “So don’t fucking ask me why I don’t want to age / It just marks the time of things staying the same.” It’s a powerful preview of Balfe’s debut album as For Those I Love, out in March.
The latest single from Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth’s critically acclaimed solo debut album ‘To Love Is To Live’ is gorgeous ballad ‘French Countryside’. According to a press statement from Beth, the song “caused me the most issues” in the studio and almost didn’t make it on the album, although she is “very proud of it now”. The intimate and emotional track was co-written by Beth with longtime collaborator Johnny Hostile and The xx’s Romy Madley Croft. “Romy was a huge influence for me to be able to [write this song],” Beth said. “It’s a promise song, I wrote the verses on a plane as I was convinced it was going to crash. I was making promises to myself about what I was going to do differently if I survived.”
On the B List
‘If It Ain’t Me’
The highlight of Dua Lipa’s ‘Future Nostalgia: The Moonlight Edition’, ‘If It Ain’t Me’ is a slick cut of nu-disco euphoria.
Nipsey Hussle & Jay-Z
‘What It Feels Like’
Appearing on the soundtrack to Shaka King’s latest film, Judas And The Black Messiah, ‘What It Feels Like’ is a moving collaboration between Jay-Z and the late Nipsey Hussle, which came together long before its official release. According to producers Mike & Keys, the song was continuously worked on from 2013, when Jay and Nipsey first met, until about a year ago. “We always thought that was going to be Nip and Jay-Z,” they told GQ. The result is a poetic and powerful joint effort.
‘Riot!’ is aptly titled. The opening track of Native Son’s debut EP ‘Metro Dread’ overflows with nervous, excitable energy as it paints in vivid, hurried strokes the story of a woman and man, both buffeted by the merciless waves of New York City living. “Oh it’s a cold world / It’s got us dreaming of breathing / But every time I turn there’s someone bleeding / I’ve seen it – no reason,” sings Native Son, aka rising star Ano Chrispin.
Fable explains that her new single ‘Orbiting’ is: “quite literally and metaphorically, an observation of the earth from far away”. On it she pairs remote musings on earth with precision-tooled trip-hop and her silky vocals, resulting in a gorgeously haunting slice of neo-soul.
On the C List
Claud & Shelly
‘Falling With The Rain’
Signed to Phoebe Bridgers’ brand-new Dead Oceans imprint, Saddest Factory Records, Claud is the latest bedroom pop sensation to keep your eye on. Pairing emotive lyrics with sparkling soft rock, ‘Falling With The Rain’ featuring Shelly – the closing track on Claud’s splendid debut album ‘Super Monster’ – will no doubt appeal to fans of Samia and Soccer Mommy.
Kings Of Leon
Kings Of Leon’s comeback album is just around the corner, and their latest single, ‘Echoing’, harks back to the Nashville outfit’s earlier dirty Southern rock sound, featuring a steady drumbeat and glistening guitar. On the euphoric chorus, vocalist Caleb Followill belts: “Said if you love me and you’re willing to dance / We could take it to the high sеas / Echoing, echoing, where do wе stand.”
There’s plenty more music in store this year from the Irish artist born Jessica Smyth, and the first Biig Piig single of 2021 is a tantalising preview of what’s to come. ‘Cuenta Lo’ – sung entirely in Spanish – is a ghostly bass-driven track centred around the theme of greed. It arrived alongside an equally chilling video that Smyth explains is “based around when I used to be a poker dealer, and it’s about the coldness and greediness that money can bring in all industries… including music.”
NiNE8 are an irrepressible, idiosyncratic collective of singer-songwriters, rappers and producers from the UK’s underground scene. Their number include Biig Piig, Lava La Rue and NAYANA IZ – all NME 100 alumni – as well as Bone Slim, LORENZORSV, L!BAAN, Nige, KxRN and Mac Wetha. The smooth, soulful ‘FVR 105’ is their first single of the year, proof that they’re not slowing their roll even as their solo careers take off.