Listen Up

Video game soundtracks, emotional indie, '90s R&B and more music from the week that was

Yebba: Boomerang

Yebba (aka Abigail Smith) offers yet another taste of her upcoming debut album Dawn with “Boomerang,” a song about toxic relationships, revenge and karma. The West Memphis, Arkansas-based artist co-wrote the song with Tommy Brenneck and Ilsey Juber, and it was produced by Brenneck and Mark Ronson. The track was inspired by a friend of Yebba’s who was in an unhealthy relationship. “As soon as she had a baby, her husband started beating her,” the singer-songwriter explains. “Because I’ve never been married and I’ve never had a kid, the best way I knew how to tell that story was to describe how I feel when I’m blindsided by a relationship, and the shock that comes with that. I walked into this space in my mind where I find the one I love in someone else’s bed, and my mind goes right to violence. It’s the kind of thing where you have so much comfortability with rage, you’re able to think through it logically—like: ‘If I shoot him in the stomach, I’m gonna have to pay his hospital bill, so fuck that. If I shoot him in the head, then I could be convicted of murder. So what am I supposed to do?’ It ends up being a picture of running with your rage, and just trusting that karma will come back around and take care of things for you.”

Aaliyah: Hot Like Fire

Aaliyah’s second album One in a Million (released two years after she escaped her illegal marriage to R Kelly, who produced her 1994 debut) has—20 years after her death—arrived on streaming services. With production from various individuals including Rodney Jerkins, Craig Kallman, Barry Hankerson and Jomo Hankerson, the album sounds just as futuristic and dynamic as it did three decades ago. Aaliyah’s soft and smooth vocals float along the gritty, pounding bass lines. Missy Elliot and Timbaland wrote “4 Page Letter,” a classic R&B ballad. Her cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” which features hip-hop legend Slick Rick, added a playful tinge to the album. “If Your Girl Only Knew” blends funk and pop with ’90s R&B. The album’s title track borrows elements from trip-hop and breakbeats akin to drum and bass. “Hot Like Fire” appears on the album twice, with the bonus version featuring Timbaland and Missy Elliott—the former who borrows a snippet of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” for his ad-libs. It’s a steady, sultry track from an album—and an artist—whose influence remains boundless.

Sylvie: Falls on Me

Sylvie (aka Drugdealer’s Ben Schwab, with Marina Allen and Sam Burton) follow up their debut single, curiously entitled “Sylvie” (a cover of an obscure ’70s track that inspired their band name), with an original composition, “Falls on Me,” from the same nostalgic vein. “This is the one off the [forthcoming, self-titled] EP that is directly about my life and my growth,” Schwab explains in a statement. “This song to me is about deliverance and a returning home that took me many years to arrive at. Itʼs sung by Marina Allen, who really did such an amazing job delivering the sentiment.”

Japanese Breakfast: Glider

The lead single from the forthcoming original soundtrack for the video game Sable, “Glider” by Japanese Breakfast (aka musician and author Michelle Zauner) entrances through mystical instrumentals and beautiful, call-to-adventure vocals. Zauner composed all 32 songs on the soundtrack, noting that she “wanted the main themes to recall iconic works of Joe Hisaishi and Alan Menken, to fill the listener with the childlike wonder of someone on the precipice of a grand discovery.”

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. Hero courtesy of Sable and Japanese Breakfast