Every Friday, artists drop anticipated albums, surprise singles, and hyped collaborations. As part of New Music Friday, EW’s music team will choose some of the essential new tunes. With new songs from Halsey, Robyn, the xx, the Chainsmokers, and more, here are the most noteworthy new releases this week.
Halsey, “Not Afraid Anymore”
Fifty Shades fans got another taste of the sequel’s soundtrack when Halsey released “Not Afraid Anymore,” the second song from the collection, which also features new music by megastars like Nicki Minaj, Sia, John Legend, and The-Dream. Following in the footsteps of lead single, Zayn and Taylor Swift’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker),” “Not Afraid Anymore” employs synth-heavy drumbeats and breathy vocals to relay a very Anastasia Steele message: “Push me like you never/ And touch me like you never/ ‘Cause I am not afraid, I am not afraid anymore. —Jessica Goodman[spotify id="spotify%3Atrack%3A57IT5XRc5ImuTqxwrFZFdd" /]
The xx, I See You
For their third LP, the minimalist British trio threw out their usual studio rules—no samples, everything must be playable live—for their boldest, most adventurous work yet. Witness their new sound in action on tracks like the club-ready opener “Dangerous” and the lead single “On Hold,” which puts an anxious twist on a Hall & Oates sample. —Nolan Feeney
Robyn and Mr. Tophat, Trust Me EP
Robyn may never drop a proper follow-up to 2010’s indispensable Body Talk, but Sweden’s reigning DGAF pop queen continues orbiting the world of space disco. Her latest: a sprawling three-track EP, with ABBA’s Per Lindvall on drums. —Kevin O’Donnell[spotify id="spotify%3Aalbum%3A6PW5IcVc0g9l4xlal8d1dO" /]
The Chainsmokers, “Paris“
The Chainsmokers return with their first new music of the year, a nostalgic electro-pop tune about running away to Paris “to get away from your parents.” The first followup to last year’s runaway hit “Closer,” “Paris” features similarly hyper-specific lyrics about growing up: “You look so proud standing there with a frown and a cigarette/ Posting pictures of yourself on the internet out on the terrace.” And the duo stays true to the formula that brought them success on tracks like “Setting Fires,” “Roses” and “Don’t Let Me Down”: Guest female vocals that help the track become an instant earworm. —J.G.
The Flaming Lips, Oczy Mlody
Even after more than two decades in the game, the Oklahoma City psych-rockers haven’t lost their zeal for weirdness. Their 17th(!) studio album, Oczy Mlody reads a bit like music that came from a Flaming Lips generator: Some of the titles take their names from a Polish book frontman Wayne Coyne found at a used bookstore, Reggie Watts delivers a Gil-Scott-Heron-inspired interlude about the eye colors of unicorns, and Miley Cyrus stops by for an ode to “famly.” Bizarre? Sure. But would it really be a Flaming Lips album if it wasn’t? —Eric Renner Brown[spotify id="spotify%3Aalbum%3A1hnkDGUipQikSFdjRoBOFK" /]
The Regrettes, Feel Your Feelings, Fool
Joan Jett and Courtney Love would flip for this Los Angeles-based group. On the Regrettes’ debut album Feel Your Feelings, Fool, the 16-year-old singer Lydia Night shrieks and wails and howls about the trials and tribulations of adolescence with refreshingly unfiltered lyrics—”I’ve got pimples on my face and grease in my hair,” she admits on “A Living Human Girl.” Meanwhile, guitarist Genessa Gariano, bassist Sage Chavis, and drummer Maxx Morandao whip up taut, frenzied garage-rock grooves that echo other California punk greats like the Germs and early Go-Go’s. —K.O.[spotify id="spotify%3Aalbum%3A3AWvlkLV6Wmys6G85zwz98" /]
Sampha, “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano“
In 2016, Sampha lent his pipes and songwriting acumen to the likes of Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and Solange — and those appearances, along with his driving single “Blood On Me,” only ratcheted up anticipation for his debut, Process, which drops Feb. 3. With heartfelt piano, Sampha’s croon, and little else, “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” is a stark aesthetic contrast and suggests the singer should add “balladeer” to his rapidly swelling bag of tricks. —E.R.B.[spotify id="spotify%3Atrack%3A528cn9VuUcjioySL0258gV" /]
Julia Michaels, “Issues”
An in-demand songwriter for the likes of Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber, Julia Michaels didn’t think she wanted to be an artist herself. “I’m not a very confident person,” she told EW last year. “I didn’t believe in myself to do it.” But after racking up 12 hits on the Hot 100—not to mention scoring a coveted gig at the 2016 Summer Olympics closing ceremony—she’s ready to step out from behind the scenes with “Issues,” a string-driven slow-jam about embracing all your flaws. “The day I wrote ‘Issues,’ It was the first time I had written a song that felt so much like myself that I couldn’t picture anyone else singing it,” she said. —N.F.[spotify id="spotify%3Atrack%3A6AeQlMyRzvSl1nkFztZyKl" /]
Syd, “All About Me“
Formerly an in-house producer for the Los Angeles rap collective Odd Future, Syd has spent recent years quietly concocting silky neo-soul as one half of the Internet. Now, after a scene-stealing cameo on Kaytranada’s 99.9%, she’s stepping out on her own with Fin, her solo debut due out Feb. 3. The album’s first single features the skittering drums, woozy synths, and understated vocals that define Syd’s aesthetic. —E.R.B.[spotify id="spotify%3Atrack%3A7AXWSA3MrpbAZupErraBmp" /]
The Knocks and Absofacto, “Trouble“
A pulsing four-on-the-floor beat, slap-funk bass, and cartoonishly pitch-shifted vocals: The electro duo, who recently opened for Justin Bieber, are back with another rousing call to the club. No trouble at all. —K.O.
With the xx expanding beyond their well-worn subtlety on I See You, listeners craving their previous, low-key stylings could turn to Migration, the sixth studio album from British producer Bonobo. Achingly gorgeous — particularly when the singer Rhye appears on “Break Apart” — Migration evokes Four Tet at his most serene and is electronic’s first slam-dunk release of the year. —E.R.B.[spotify id="spotify%3Aalbum%3A2T64N96AVfsrRFJCUXQEoZ" /]
This British-born artist has relocated from his adopted hometown of Vienna to Los Angeles, but there’s still a distinctly European flavor to his chilly brand of R&B, best heard on the stunning thumper “Falling.” —K.O.[spotify id="spotify%3Aalbum%3A4ReJh8aIFJ1LlHzg3PBA15" /]
Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White, Gentlewoman, Ruby Man
The two indie songwriters have joined forces for a covers album that’s easy like Sunday morning. Breezy takes on the Bee Gees (“Grease”), Leonard Cohen (“Suzanne”), and more are a downright revelation. —K.O.[spotify id="spotify%3Aalbum%3A61BS9Wq7wjbraHEEUCDTH7" /]
Slowdive, “Star Roving“
Intoxicating, droning guitars; an undulating rhythmic pulse, multi-layered, reverb-dunked vocals. On their first single in 22 years, the pioneers of shoegaze music prove they’re still as fierce and vital to the genre as ever. —K.O.
Colony House, Only the Lonely
Jonesing for new Strokes music? You could do worse than firing up the debut album from this Nashville-based rock group. But Colony House deliver more than the icy austerity of Julian Casablancas and Co; the lead single “You & I” is a joyful blast of chiming guitars, old-school “do do do”s, and one knee-slapper of a beat. —K.O.[spotify id="spotify%3Aalbum%3A5vBnIcG7nD3XEt8ErHpytO" /]