Listen Up

From the surreal to the sublime, experimental and ethereal, our favorite songs from the week


BENEE’s surreal new single, “Blu,” arrives with a music video wherein she (aka Stella Bennett) puts on a performance aimed at unsettling its sole attendee (and all those watching on a screen). The lyrics suggest this lonely guest, who’s eventually held hostage and forced to watch a video of himself on stage, is an ex—specifically one that was unaware of how awful they’d treated her. Bennett’s performance—which spans the spectrum of human emotion—enchants, disturbs, and, as it slowly dissolves into a horror scene, mystifies.

Free Nationals feat. Benny Sings: Apartment

From Free Nationals’ self-titled debut album, “Apartment” feels like it’s from another era, courtesy of the lush, horn-ladened instrumentals by the Anderson .Paak-backing band and airy vocals from Amsterdam-based Benny Sings. Soulful and slow-burning, the track floats along until an eruption of crescendoing chaos—a cinematic stretch of piano, guitar and horns washes over, clearing the way for Benny Sings’ storytelling.

James Blake: I’ll Come Too

Pulled from James Blake’s Grammy nominated 2019 album Assume Form, “I’ll Come Too” details love and its boundlessness. From following a lover to a new city to promising to be better for the sake of the relationship, the repetition of lyricism—sometimes metaphoric and other times literal—reinforces a familiar plot. But, rather than pair the song with an expected music video, Blake tapped Matt Meech, an editor for the award-winning shows Planet Earth and Blue Planet, to direct. Meech tells the tale of unrequited love using footage of a real penguin and albatross. It becomes utterly moving—and nearly tear-jerking when the lonesome penguin stands by as the albatross takes flight.

Injury Reserve: Injury Reserve (Taylor Skye Remixes)

Essentially a modified reissue of their self-titled debut album from earlier in 2019, Injury Reserve (Taylor Skye Remixes) serves up beloved tracks like “Koruna & Lime” and “Jailbreak the Tesla” with unexpected twists. The raucous, energetic album becomes surprisingly ambient and, at times, nearly unrecognizable, aside from the track’s lyrics. Listening to both versions back-to-back proves entertaining thanks to London-based producer Taylor Skye and Injury Reserve’s innate ability to produce tracks with the potential for reinterpretation.

Listen Up is published every Sunday and rounds up the new music we found throughout the week. Hear the year so far on our Spotify channel.