Listen Up

From '90s R&B influences to a distinctly Motown sound, several new songs that debuted this week

Shura feat. Ivy Sole: Elevator Girl

Shura (aka Alexandra Lilah Denton) has teamed up with Ivy Sole for “Elevator Girl,” a breezy tune based on a date Denton once went on. It’s “about the elation of a first date—the fact that it can make you feel kind of high without drugs,” she says. Through breathy vocals, a groovy bass line and Ivy Sole’s effortless verse, the song is dappled with ’90s R&B influences and sweetly conveys that giddy feeling brought on by a crush.

Låpsley: Speaking of the End

From her album Through Water, Låpsley (aka Holly Lapsley Fletcher) has released the serene “Speaking of the End.” At first featuring only a piano and Fletcher’s silken vocals, background singers join in after two minutes, creating a delicate ballad. The accompanying video (directed by Steph Wilson) complements the song with its tranquil, slow-motion underwater scene.

Japan, Man: Cautious

Offbeat and endearing, 15-year-old Beirut-based artist Japan, Man’s newest single, “Cautious,” bears all of the traits of the bedroom-pop genre, but employs lyrical patterns with gravity. “‘Cautious’ is a song about desperately wanting people to understand the struggles one might experience within themselves. It’s a call for emotional intelligence in our counterparts and patience when it comes to getting into any sort of relationship with another,” the artist (aka Leaticia Acra) says in a statement. The track will appear on an EP scheduled for release in May.

The Avalanches feat. Rivers Cuomo + Pink Siifu: Running Red Lights

Dedicated to David Berman, “Running Red Lights” by The Avalanches features vocals by Rivers Cuomo and rapper Pink Siifu, who delicately recites Berman’s lyrics from the Purple Mountains song “Darkness and Cold.” The upbeat track glitters amidst moments of melancholy and poignancy. The Avalanches’ Ben Chater says the song reflects “the way life is so beautiful and overwhelming and heartbreaking all at the same time.” Directed by Greg Brunkalla, the gorgeous video stars Erik Cavanaugh dancing down the street at night. Considering 16 years passed between The Avalanches 2000 debut Since I Left You and their second album Wildflower, the fact that the Australian band is poised to release their third album this year is an unexpected delight.

The Radio Dept: You Fear The Wrong Thing Baby

Lund, Sweden’s The Radio Dept. follows up this year’s previous single, “The Absence of Birds,” with another shimmering dream-pop wonder, “You Fear The Wrong Thing Baby.” In a release, the band explains that the lyrics honor youth as a progressive force. The hazy sound, however, carries a heartbeat beneath layers of harmonious synth and guitar work.

Duffy: Something Beautiful

With a distinctly Motown sound, Duffy’s new “Something Beautiful” (her first release since the 2010 album, Endlessly) premiered on BBC Radio 2 after the Welsh singer sent it to DJ Jo Whiley, saying, “It’s just something for you to play people on radio during these troubling times, if you like the song of course. If it lifts spirits.” The pared back tune is carried by Duffy’s soulful vocals, altogether creating an enchanting and stirring listening experience.

Perfume Genius: On the Floor

Poised to release Set My Heart On Fire Immediately, Perfume Genius (aka Mike Hadreas) has released the upbeat, funk- and disco-inflected “On The Floor.” While diverging in style from the record’s previous release “Describe” (which leans toward alt-country/indie), it’s just as infectious as listeners have come to expect from the artist. In the self-directed video, Hadreas dances in the dirt (with movement direction from co-performer Tate Justas) to the song, as the lyrics describe the overwhelming energy of a crush. “I wanted to show that maddening, solitary part of desire,” Hadreas says. “But keep the core which is a real warmth and belief that you have something crucial to share with each other.”

Vundabar: Out Of It

“Out Of It,” from Boston-based indie band Vundabar’s newest album, Either Light, feels like a daydream. It begins slowly, but the song progressively transforms into a danceable tune highlighted by its joyous outro. The Holler Film music video suits the band’s altogether quirky tone, with frontman Brandon Hagen and drummer Drew McDonald appearing in odd locales—performing the tune on a boat, out of a car’s window, on jagged rocks, and beyond. A limited edition clear vinyl pressing of the album is available for purchase now.

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.