Listen Up

From synth-pop to house and a Liz Phair cover, some of our favorite tracks from this week

Sudan Archives: Confessions

Sudan Archives (aka Cincinnati-born, LA-based Brittney Parks) returns with a single from her forthcoming album Athena—out 1 November on Stones Throw Records. Beginning with emotive violin, played by Parks herself, the song’s infectious beat and breezy vocals then appear. The result is simultaneously symphonic, hypnotic, mellow and proudly feminine—and the Nathan R Smith-directed video follows suit. “Confessions, a female flip on classic rap music videos and resilient women surviving in a world that seems to be falling apart,” Parks writes about the song on Instagram.

Samia: Never Said

Last year, Liz Phair’s seminal debut album, Exile In Guyville turned 25. The anniversary offered time to reflect on the influence Phair had on her peers and the industry as a whole. Now, New York-based musician Samia has released a beautiful cover of Phair’s track “Never Said.” It’s gentler than the original but equally captivating. Samia directed the accompanying black-and-white music video, along with actors Lucas Hedges and Fred Hechinger; all three star in it.

Peggy Gou: Starry Night

Originally released as an Apple Music exclusive, Peggy Gou’s “Starry Night” plays by typical house music rules—hi-hats, machine claps, a thumping bass line, and prominent piano chords—and leans into the feel-good nature of the genre. Gou lays down a few Korean-language verses and splices them with spoken-word English. The accompanying video, which was directed by Jonas Lindstroem, proves cinematic with wide-angle shots of Gou dancing, silent scenes of contemporary choreography, and artful arrangements of uniformed schoolgirls.

Röyksopp: I Just Don’t Understand You

In Norwegian electronic group Röyksopp’s 20+ year career they’ve amassed plenty of rare and unfinished tracks—alongside the those that were released. The duo (aka Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland) made dozens of the aforementioned available on streaming platforms under a playlist titled Lost Tapes. “I Just Don’t Understand You,” expands as it plays—growing into an intergalactic arrangement of electronic notes, synths, strings and, eventually, vocals.

Mallrat: Drive Me Round

Australian singer/rapper/producer Mallrat (aka Grace Shaw) released her third, and most polished, EP Driving Music earlier this month. From it, “Drive Me Round” is at first a gentle, drifting tune (complete with echoing background chants), but when the beat drops the track turns into a rich, synth-driven bop. Concurrently melancholy and upbeat, the song is a glittery couple of minutes long, and sees the Mallrat’s vocal prowess growing stronger than ever.

Vagabon: Water Me Down

Part chill-pop, part eclectic electronic, “Water Me Down” by Vagabon (aka Cameroon-born Laetitia Tamko) entices with its ethereal and buoyant melody. While she sings of disappointment (“You know me better than that / You know I hate it like that / It really waters me down”) there’s an upbeat energy to her vocals. The Maegan Houang-directed and Derek Nemechek-choreographed video adds to the storyline, flooding scenes with mood-setting color, visceral dance moves and more. The track will appear on the artist’s self-titled album due out 18 October.

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.