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The Weeknd – Take My Breath

After Blinding Lights, the partnership between the Weeknd and manufacturer Max Martin continues down a rainswept neon highway, where synthwave evocative of a Terminator or RoboCop movie prowl around tales of nocturnal depravity. not even Skynet could have created something so absolutely engineered for dancefloor gratification ; the final examination choir, with its drums tap-dancing across disco strings, is arguably the most beautiful moment in his catalog then army for the liberation of rwanda. BBT


Silk Sonic – Leave the Door Open

Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars are Silk Sonic Loving court … Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars are Silk Sonic.

Photograph: Theo Wargo/EPA In a love court to the baby-making “ quiet storm ” R & B of the 1970s and 80s, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak are alive to the flimsy absurdity of those songs ’ prurience, and lean into it. .Paak is “ sipping wine, in a gown / I look excessively full to be entirely ” ; Mars sings the chorus like a valet hurl roses up to a balcony. They sell it so sky-high, and with such stunning songcraft, that what could have been a Dick in a Box -type parody becomes an unironic masterpiece. BBT


Quiet confidence … Abba. tranquillity confidence … Abba. Photograph: Baillie Walsh/PA By now it ’ s platitude to observe how beautifully Abba essay personnel casualty. possibly in full cognition of that arithmetic mean, Don ’ metric ton Shut Me Down seems to start as a womanhood ’ randomness twilight years set in : she ’ second alone in a park as night falls and the sound of children ’ s laughter fades ; the softest, floatiest strings seem to buoy her reflections heavenwards. But this moment turns out to be one of placid confidence before she heads up to an x ’ randomness apartment to rekindle their relationship, certain, immediately, of what she wants and needs from their reunion. Her conviction is girded by – what else ? – a fabulous left-turn into disco, as choppy, about ska-tinged guitar powers her up the ( presumably illuminated ) stairway to his door. LS


Pearl Charles – Only for Tonight

much like Silk Sonic, the LA singer international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate merely nostalgic. She recreates the white disco-influenced MOR toss off of the 1970s with a cosplayer ’ s degree of exactness and delicacy, correct down to the well-meaning mid-tempo pace, warped harpsichords and backing vocals that swoon as if into a wicker armchair. She obviated the return of Abba until Abba ’ south aforementioned revert. BBT


Wolf Alice – How Can I Make It OK?

Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice. Volcanic swagman … Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice. Photograph: Onstage photos/Rex/Shutterstock Although written pre-pandemic, How Can I Make It OK ? resonated eerily with these strange, transitional times. “ A moment to change it all / Had life earlier been so slow ? ” Ellie Rowsell sings about operatically, conservatively savouring the electric potential for change. Whatever may come adjacent, happiness is overriding. “ How can I make it OK ? ” the band sing in tender, aflutter staccato, before the birdcall cracks open to bolster their reassurances with volcanic tittup – showing this limited band ’ s active at its best. LS


As with Anz – see No 10, below – the dance tracks that have resonated most this year are the joyous ones that grab your sleeve and catch you on to the deck with a sambuca, shaking the listlessness of the year away. here, the snap and strum of Miami freshwater bass pair with a ghetto house breakbeat that keeps dancing away from a steadily tempo ; Samara ’ s vocal lineage is the kind of skipping-game tone that would pair perfectly with a explosion water faucet in the summer. BBT


Cassandra Jenkins – Hard Drive

Sensual ... New York songwriter Cassandra Jenkins. Sensual … New York songwriter Cassandra Jenkins Cassandra Jenkins has one of those address voices, like Laurie Anderson ’ s or Catherine Keener ’ south, that feels like its own calm wellhead of wisdom of solomon. On Hard Drive, she narrates a rickety spell in her life when she appeared like a cellophane negligee on a pack of cigarettes – so guileless that friends could look good through her and spot the break dance parts. Warm guitar and horns build around her, the consequence as animal and protective as being held. LS


Lil Nas X – Montero (Call Me By Your Name)

After the fad that sluiced around Cardi B ’ second WAP finally evaporated, conservative America was primed for something else to get performatively shocked by. Sliding down a stripper terminal on to Satan ’ s lap in the music television came Lil Nas X, with a sadistically catchy bite of Latin-leaning pop. He is radically frank, open and available to his lover – “ I want to sell what you ’ re bribe ” is a brilliant inversion – and his lascivious tone of spokesperson lets you know how much he enjoys it. Power bottoms had their theme song. BBT


Japanese Breakfast – Be Sweet

By hooking a classically brooding New Order sea bass line to a pierce necessitate for fidelity that you could easily imagine at home on Madonna ’ s debut album, Michelle Zauner contrives the perfect mid-80s dancefloor moment. But the enigmatic lyrics are distinctively japanese Breakfast : “ Fantasise you ’ ve left me behind and I ’ m turned back running for you, ” Zauner sings – an irregular way of shocking a relationship back to animation. LS


BTS – Butter

barely when you thought they couldn ’ t get any bum, the K-pop superstars doubled gloomy on the dairy. It ’ s so joyous to hear them go to places you sense that western boybands – not that they evening exist correct now – would find besides naff : saying “ break it down ! ” ; doing a middle-eight rap ; adding glazed “ pink ! ” noises. This is pop at its most good and tidal bore, connecting cleanly with the music genre ’ second kernel. BBTLittle Simz.

little Simz. Photograph: Nick Dale


Anz – You Could Be ft George Riley

If you see the Manchester-based DJ and producer Anz on a cabaret fly, you know you ’ re in for the inverse of chinstroking : her sets constantly have you flinging your hands away from your side and around your oral sex. now she ’ s lighting up day radio with this uptempo update of 80s boogie. Coupled with George Riley audibly batting her eyelashes as butterflies flutter below, there ’ s fiddling better for dancefloor flirt. BBT


Little Simz – Introvert

She begins with the kind of flourish that blares at the begin of battle : horns and martial drums announcing a in truth daunting foe. It ’ s the kind of thing rappers have frequently reached for to telegraph their might, so there ’ s a wry humor in Simz using it for a track about her invagination. The conflict besides turns inward as she considers self, privacy and how much to embrace each – important considerations as her talent propels her to greater fame. BBT


The Weather Station – Tried to Tell You

People ’ s inclination towards suicide is regarded with dignity and such profound kindness by Tamara Lindeman, as she recalls how she attempted to make person realize they loved person else ( even, possibly, rather of herself ). The past tense suggests she failed, and the malaise is possibly bigger than love anyhow : “ Some days there might be nothing you encounter / To stand behind the flimsy theme that anything matters. ” BBT


Billie Eilish – Your Power

Billie Eilish on stage Chillingly veridical … Billie Eilish. Photograph: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images Eilish ’ sulfur rejoinder individual told a familiar fib of a man in the entertainment diligence taking advantage of an minor female child. It ’ s the disappointment in her voice that elevates this everyday fib of abuse ; the feel of yet another adolescent girl being forced to confront this unbearably dogged office dynamic. Where her ghastly debut album revelled in skittish sound effects, this real-life repugnance story required nothing but limpid acoustic guitar and apparitional chill. LS


Olivia Rodrigo – Good 4 U

Having essayed one end of grief with the piano elegy Drivers License, Rodrigo ’ s climate swing like a wrecking ball towards this equally massive hit ( between them, they spent 14 weeks at UK No 1 ). From its sarcastic title downwards, good 4 U ’ s recrimination has the kind of bitterness that softens with age and only a adolescent palate can truly appreciate, as Rodrigo rages against her happily happy x. The ways the chords shift through unlike shades of hurt is riveting, as is Rodrigo ’ sulfur delivery, as if write in a daybook with the beak piercing the paper. BBT


Muna – Silk Chiffon ft Phoebe Bridgers

Label mates ... Saddest Factory Records signees Muna. Label mates … Muna. Photograph: Greg Chow/Rex/Shutterstock Earlier this year, crop up trio Muna signed to Phoebe Bridgers ’ Saddest factory Records, a meet of minds between two of LA ’ s most anxious and emotionally annihilative acts. It was a delightful surprise, then, that their first collaboration revelled in nothing but the purest effective feel of a fully reciprocated crush. Delving into the wrinkle, crunchy textures of early 00s pop, possibly their depicting of this perfect female child queerly subverts millennial boy rockers ’ simplistic fantasies – or maybe it ’ s not that deep. The pierce, oxygenated chorus hits like cannonballing into aplomb water from a high ledge. LS


Caroline Polachek – Bunny Is a Rider

With those liquid, reactive vocals, Caroline Polachek is therefore empyreal at selling a line that whatever Bunny Is a Rider turns out to mean, you know you ’ re on board from the lyric ’ randomness first flinch, indicative interpretation. Her latest collaboration with Danny L Harle concerns the domesticate of this elusive, hurt creature, learning to trust again – “ heart is unbreaking but wear ’ t drop my identify ” – amid a febrile bassline, a tail-shake of glassy percussion and a whistle abstain to lure you into giving pursuit. LS


Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen – Like I Used To

Like I Used To feels fabulously lived in, as if these two generational songwriting talents were wandering the hallways of their lives, weighing up their regrets amid the finished nobility and decision making : fuck it – all you can do is keep living deoxyadenosine monophosphate wholeheartedly as humanly possible. All beefy, stinging guitar and gilded vocal music harmonies, it swaggers and sparkles like Stevie or Springsteen, and extends a hand for any time you need to dust yourself off and stride forth. LS


Wet Leg – Chaise Longue

Wet Leg. instantaneous buzz … Wet Leg.

Photograph: Andy Hall/The Observer This birdcall prompted the kind of instantaneous ring buzz that is rather rare these days : with no other songs out in the populace, the Isle of Wight duet abruptly found themselves in front of heaving festival crowd. Chaise Longue is the stuff of blink of an eye indie disco worship : simple bassline, fist-pumping tempo, and a choir you can chant along to as your pint spills freely around your wrench heels. BBT


Self Esteem – I Do This All the Time

There has been no dearth of bands talking at us this year ; the beauty of I Do This All the Time is how Rebecca Taylor embodies that nagging internal voice, the ever-present bully who is there to remind you of every embarrassing moment and barbarous discussion aimed in your direction. Narrated in a contrite grumble over a backdrop of drizzle and a gloomy beat, her moments of self-sabotage, as it turns out, aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate that big a deal – sending overlong text, forgetting an antique ’ randomness birthday – but it ’ s her auricle for those modest, grubby humiliations, the kind that spread like mold, that captures how it feels to be trapped by an ineluctable sense of yourself. As Taylor touches on the cold exes and smug married mates and demeaning comments that have made her feel undeserving, she subtly outlines the permeant expectations that have made her so fretful and prone to second-guess, and I Do This All The Time becomes vitamin a much a reference to badly habits as to that grim condition. And sol she earns her massive, Lisa Stansfield-worthy chorus of women encouraging her to stand tall and hold sweetheart, the crowning moment of this strange, fantastic, profoundly moving birdcall that alerted a nation to Taylor ’ s actually very considerable virtues. LS