Every Friday, artists drop anticipated albums, surprise singles, and hyped collaborations. As part of New Music Friday, EW’s music team chooses some of the essential new tunes. With fresh offerings from Charli XCX, Stargate, and The Shins, here are the the week’s most noteworthy releases.
Charli XCX, Number 1 Angel
While Charli’s angels — no really, that’s what her fans call themselves — await her “next level” third album, the British hitmaker is tiding fans over with a mixtape packed with hyperactive synths, thudding beats, and eye-catching guests. “Lean On” siren MØ helps out on the bittersweet booty-call jam “3AM (Pull Up),” while raunchy rapper CupcakKe puts a NSFW twist on “Lipgloss.” Still, the biggest surprise might be be a rare guest spot from “Pop the Glock” rapper-singer Uffie, who retired from music in 2013 but kicks off her comeback on the song “Babygirl.” —Nolan Feeney
Stargate feat. Pink and Sia, “Waterfall”
The songwriter-production team of Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Eriksen has produced some of the biggest pop smashes of the last two decades: Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music,” and dozens more. Now the pair is stepping out as recording artists for their debut single, “Waterfall,” and they’re tapping hitmakers like Pink and Sia to lend their soaring vocal gifts, plus some additional writing assistance from Diplo and Jr. Blender. —Kevin O’Donnell
The Shins, Heartworms
“Modern pop is very avant-garde, the structure of builds and choruses and solos,” Shins frontman James Mercer recently told EW. “I keep coming across new ideas in that language.” It follows that the band’s fifth album, Heartworms, is one of their most sonically adventurous. Read EW’s B+ review here. —Eric Renner Brown
Nicki Minaj, “No Frauds” feat. Drake and Lil Wayne
Minaj’s biting answer to Remy Ma’s recent diss tracks blends the twinkling tropical sounds and thunderous trap drums of recent Drake songs like “Hype” — and the Toronto MC and Lil Wayne provide reinforcements. Stylistically, it’s a far cry from the trio’s playful 2014 collaborations “Only” and “Truffle Butter,” but it still brims with their dynamic personalities. —E.R.B.
Fleet Foxes, “Third of May / Ōdaigahara”
It’s been six years since Robin Pecknold and his merry band of folkies released their last album, Helplessness Blues. But as the band prepares to return with their third album, Crack-Up, on June 16, Fleet Foxes are reintroducing themselves to the world in grand fashion. Their comeback single is a sprawling two-part suite that features all of the group’s great hallmarks: lilting acoustic guitars, dreamy atmospherics, and some of the most dazzling folk harmonies this side of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. —K.O.
On the second taste of her forthcoming sophomore album, Melodrama, the New Zealand pop star abandons the booming drums and undulating synths of lead single “Green Light” — but without sacrificing any intensity. Coupled with “Green Light,” the stark piano balladry of “Liability” confirms Lorde as one of contemporary pop’s most versatile artists. —E.R.B.
Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Navigator
Over a handful of albums, Hurray for the Riff Raff have earned a name as one of the most dynamic, political Americana acts on the road — but frontwoman Alynda Segarra isn’t resting on her laurels. The Navigator is Hurray for the Riff Raff’s most masterful and musically diverse release yet, commandingly blending folk, country, blues, and even Motown to Segarra’s will. In doing so, she traces her path “coast to coast” as she sings on “Hungry Ghost,” from the Puerto Rican Bronx to where she is now, as a musician in the Big Easy. But it’s not just her tale that matters here: The Navigator bursts with anthems for all those living uprooted lives. —M.V.
The first single from the British indie-rock group’s June album Relaxer is a slow-building stunner: It starts with an Arabic-style guitar melody before mixing in a Flamenco-inspired filigree, industrial static, and sweeping orchestral strings. The sonic ideas are welcomingly all over the place, but Alt-J’s lyrical message is universal when Joe Newman coos, “I just want to love you in my own language.” —K.O.
Matoma, “Girl At Coachella” feat. D.R.A.M. and Magic!
The 25-year-old Norwegian producer, with the help of Virginia rapper D.R.A.M. and Canadian pop-rockers Magic!, takes listeners behind the velvet rope of the VIP lounge in Indio, Calif., with the story of — yep, you guessed it — an ever-so-charming, just a little bit racy festival baby. April can’t come soon enough. —M.V.
Jay Som, Everybody Works
Melina Duterte, the 22-year-old Californian better known as Jay Som, cycles through a gamut of styles on her Polyvinyl debut, from slinky dream-pop (“Baybee”) to squalling indie-rock (“1 Billion Dogs”). Armed with worldly lyricism and a pop sensibility informed by Carly Rae Jepsen, Everybody Works is a landmark release from one of rock’s most promising young talents. —E.R.B.
X Ambassadors, “Hoping”
The “Renegade” alt-rockers returned Friday with a buoyant anthem for a good cause — proceeds from digital sales and streams will benefit the ACLU. On “Hoping,” plaintive piano, a gospel choir, and singer Sam Harris’ powerful croon coalesce for a moving rallying cry. —E.R.B.
Laura Marling, Semper Femina
The U.K. folkie’s sixth LP is an undeniable outing. As the title, translated to “Always Woman” in English, prefaces, Semper Femina explores womanhood through the eyes of women. It’s the first time the 27-year-old has teamed with producer Blake Mills (Jim James, Alabama Shakes) but hopefully it won’t be the last: You’ll get lost in the lush textures they’ve found. —M.V.
Little Dragon, “Sweet”
The electro-pop crew featuring singer Yukimi Nagano fuses chintzy 8-bit synth doodling with a hot New Jack Swing-style beat. It’s just one of many hip-swiveling moments from the group’s upcoming album Season High, out April 14. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis would be proud. —K.O.
Chris Cornell, “The Promise”
The alt-rocker’s latest single will appear in the upcoming film of the same name, due out in April. The solemn cut addresses the sweeping circumstances of the film, which sets a love story against the backdrop of the Ottoman Empire’s 1914 dissolution. —E.R.B.
Old Dominion, “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart”
The men of Old Dominion have shaped the country charts for the last half-decade as songwriters — members have written No. 1s for the Band Perry (“Better Dig Two,” Trevor Rosen), Kenny Chesney (“Save It for a Rainy Day,” Matthew Ramsey, Brad Tursi), Dierks Bentley (“Say You Do,” Ramsey, Rosen), and more. But in 2015, they finally broke out as a band with the release of their stellar pop-country debut, Meat & Candy, which yielded three singles, including two that went to the top. Overnight, they dropped the first sample of their upcoming second LP, “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart,” a pared back rumination on how to best approach a relationship. —M.V.
Greg Graffin, Millport
Orange County’s classic punk bands love roots music: Just check Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness’ discography. The third album from Bad Religion singer Greg Graffin — and his first since 2006’s Cold as the Clay — is a crackling blast of Americana, featuring truly sepia-toned jams like “Lincoln’s Funeral Train.” —E.R.B.