Plus Pharrell, Chuck Berry, SZA, and more
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. From Katy Perry’s long-awaited album to another rootsy Miley Cyrus single, here are the week’s most noteworthy releases.
Katy Perry, Witness
The pop megastar’s first album in four years contains some of her most reflective and anxious music yet. As EW’s Kevin O’Donnell wrote in a B review, with Witness‘ topical “proud girl-power moments” and “Big Important Messages,” Perry continues to “distance herself further from the PG-rated fun of [2010’s] Teenage Dream.” —Eric Renner Brown
Miley Cyrus, “Inspired”
Cyrus’ stylistic reboot continues with “Inspired,” the second earthy track she’s released this spring. The violins and acoustic guitars are still jarring after the hippie-raver psychedelia of her 2015 Dead Petz project, sure, but Cyrus has remained the same in one important way: “Inspired” celebrates Pride Month and comes in tandem with a donation she’s making to her Happy Hippie Foundation to commemorate the month. —E.R.B.
Pharrell Williams, “Yellow Light”
The superproducer and pop auteur scored his biggest solo hit with “Happy,” his contribution to the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. Naturally, he linked back up with the film franchise for its third installment. Funky and moderately paced, “Yellow Light” isn’t as brazenly ebullient as “Happy,” but it still conveys some seriously positive vibes: “One thing you can’t kill is the fun,” Williams sings at one point.
Chuck Berry, CHUCK
The rock pioneer died in March at the age of 90, but not before laying down one final batch of songs. Berry loaded CHUCK — his first LP since 1979 — with his signature style and also recruited the likes of Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello. —E.R.B.
David Guetta ft. Justin Bieber, “2U”
Could the pop prince notch his third No. 1 on the Hot 100 as a featured artist this year? Last month, he topped the chart with his appearance on DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One” — and, a week later, promptly replaced himself with his guest spot on the remix of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito.” After the hip-hop and reggaeton teamups, he’s switched genres once again, pairing with EDM megastar David Guetta for “2U,” a blaring cut loaded with cascading synths and Bieber’s ubiquitous warble. —E.R.B.
SZA is the sole female signee to Top Dawg Entertainment — home to Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q — and her long-awaited debut showcases her silky pipes and canny neo-soul instincts. —E.R.B.
Phoenix, Ti Amo
Full of shimmering synths and pristine production, the foursome’s sixth album ushers in summer with a set of bright, feel-good songs — including the delightfully spacey single “J-Boy” — fit for a pulsing disco. “The new songs are more physical,” guitarist Christian Mazzalai recently told EW. “In a way, we were looking for something a bit obscure and complex on the last one, and this one is very innocent. Everything we recorded is the first take, the first idea.” —Ariana Bacle
On her 2013 debut, Pure Heroine, Lorde wrote about parties like a teen anthropologist, always keeping her distance from her subject matter. On the latest cut from her upcoming Melodrama LP, she’s throwing herself into the action: “My hips have missed your hips … king and queen of the weekend / ain’t a pill that could touch our rush.” —Nolan Feeney
Vince Staples ft. Ty Dolla $ign, “Rain Come Down”
On the third taste from his imminent Big Fish Theory, the rising MC continues to expand his sonic palette. (“We were trying to create a new soundscape,” Staples recently told EW.) With a soulful assist from crooner Ty Dolla $ign, “Rain Come Down” is the slowest, most pensive sample of the album Staples has shared yet — but a steely bass line and eerie synths give the song an uneasy air. —E.R.B.
Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie
Buckingham and McVie’s first collaborative effort as a duo brims with infectious pop-rock melodies that recall their glory days as longtime bandmates in Fleetwood Mac. —E.R.B.
Vic Mensa, The Manuscript EP
The rapper has been a little quiet since releasing last year’s fiery There’s Alot Going On EP, but he’s whetting appetites for his debut studio album, due this summer, with this EP. Guest spots from Pharrell Williams, Pusha T, and Mr. Hudson round out the four-song set. —N.F.
Glen Campbell, Adiós
The beloved country legend is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s, but he’s put together a final studio album. Campbell recorded the LP with longtime collaborator Carl Jackson. —E.R.B.
Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James McAlister, Planetarium
This indie supergroup fuses rock guitar, electronic rhythms, and orchestral flourishes for a gorgeous genre-bending ode to the cosmos. —E.R.B.
Lady Antebellum, Heart Break
After taking a break from the band for a couple years, the members of Lady Antebellum reunited for Heart Break, their sixth studio album. “We wanted this album, from top to bottom, to be our story,” vocalist Hillary Scott previously told EW, adding they’re still, at their core, “the Lady A [fans] have always known” — but with a few updates. “I hope their ears are perked up and excited by the new sounds and the different production and the new lyrics.” —A.B.
Big Thief, Capacity
The indie-rock band’s often-gorgeous second album swirls with folk-inflected instrumentals and beautiful lyricism from gifted singer Adrianne Lenker. —E.R.B.
What M.I.A. lacks as a powerhouse singer she more than makes up for with lyrical bravado and feisty rap swag. But on her latest standalone single, “Goals,” produced by Branko and recorded during the sessions for her 2016 album A.I.M., the 41-year-old gently croons over a hauntingly modest electronic beat. “Pick up your receiver, I’ll make you a believer,” she repeatedly trills, hawking her signature brand of self-confidence that, after all these years, proves M.I.A. is still more present than ever. —Joey Nolfi
Big Boi ft. Gucci Mane & Pimp C, “In the South”
Next week, the OutKast legend releases Boomiverse, his first album in five years. For the blustery “In the South,” he teams with Southern hip-hop compatriot Gucci Mane — who just last week featured on Fifth Harmony’s latest single — and exhumes a verse from the late MC Pimp C. —E.R.B.
D.R.A.M., “The Uber Song”
After storming the charts with “Broccoli” and his infectious enthusiasm last year, D.R.A.M. has returned with another love song for the Millennial set: “Baby, let me get you that Uber,” he croons, “just so you can come over and chill.” —E.R.B.
Gorillaz, “Sleeping Powder”
Before this April’s Humanz, Damon Albarn had put Gorillaz on ice for years — but he’s quickly followed their recent full-length with the new single “Sleeping Powder,” a lurching jam that’s by turns mellow and ready for the dance floor. —E.R.B.
Oneohtrix Point Never ft. Iggy Pop, “The Pure and the Damned”
The Robert Pattinson-starring Good Time was the talk of Cannes, and its soundtrack is similarly buzzy. On “The Pure and the Damned,” elder punk statesman Iggy Pop teams with experimental electronic producer Oneohtrix Point Never for a spare, affecting ballad. —E.R.B.
Third Eye Blind, Third Eye Blind (20th Anniversary Edition)
Weezer’s Blue Album, Pearl Jam’s Ten, Oasis’ Definitely Maybe: In the ’90s, rock bands often came out swinging on their debuts. Though it may not occupy the same rarefied air as the aforementioned albums, the self-titled 1997 debut from the Bay Area alt-rockers spawned three iconic hits — “Semi-Charmed Life,” “How’s It Going to Be,” and “Jumper” all cracked the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 — and reverberates to this day. To coincide with the record’s 20th anniversary and this reissue, Third Eye Blind will perform the album in its entirety on their summer tour, kicking off tonight in Miami. —E.R.B.
Khalid feat. Rae Sremmurd & Lil Yachty, “Young Dumb & Broke (Remix)”
One of R&B’s most promising young voices — who recently reviewed this year’s Song of the Summer candidates for EW — revamps this trap-flavored highlight from American Teen with the help of Rae Sremmurd and Lil Yachty. —N.F.
Toro y Moi, “Girl Like You”
Chaz Bear — formerly Bundick — has dabbled in all sorts of styles since leading the chillwave revolution at the start of the decade. From funk to electronic to straight-ahead rock, he’s offered something for everyone. The lead single from his freshly announced full-length Boo Boo flashes yet another side, with mildly Auto-Tuned vocals and synth sounds straight from the ’80s. —E.R.B.
Rise Against, Wolves
The Chicago band’s eighth album is another helping of their reliably high-octane and politically aware brand of punk that continues in the vein of alt-radio smashes including “Savior” and “Prayer of the Refugee.” It’s not subtle — take one guess what songs like “Mourning In Amerika” and “How Many Walls” are about — but perhaps brash punk-rock is just what today’s world needs. —E.R.B.
Ice Cube, Death Certificate (reissue)
As the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton depicted, Ice Cube left N.W.A. at the height of their popularity to go solo. But it doesn’t explore the seismic influence of his early solo output, including his 1990 debut AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and its 1991 sequel Death Certificate. Packed with detailed narratives about race and violence, Death Certificate remains relevant today — as evidenced by the new tracks Cube recorded for the reissue, which include the Black Lives Matter-referencing “Good Cop Bad Cop.” —E.R.B.
Rancid, Trouble Maker
Rancid have always occupied their own corner of the early ’90s punk boom; for 26 years now, they’ve churned out bouncy, singable, and resolutely working-class punk rock. All the elements of the band’s classic sound are firmly in place on their new record, Trouble Maker, and on tracks like “Telegraph Avenue” those elements have settled into a comfortable fit like your favorite beat-up old leather jacket, befitting the group’s transition into elder statesmen of a genre very much rooted in youth. —Alex Heigl
RAY BLK, “Doing Me”
The winner of the BBC Sound of 2017 poll — an honor previously bestowed on then up-and-comers Adele and Ellie Goulding — tells the haters to mind their beeswax with this swaggering ode to self-confidence and self-expression. It’s India.Arie’s “Video” for the Instagram set. —N.F.
Mutemath, “Hit Parade”
The New Orleans natives bring back their brand of chilled-out, soul-inflected psychedelic rock with “Hit Parade,” the groovy first cut from their upcoming Play Dead. —A.B.