Listen Up

Silky, sultry, soulful and psych-inflected new songs from the week

Ruthven: Don’t Keep It To Yourself

Released on Jai and AK Paul’s label-meets-collective Paul Institute, Ruthven’s hypnotic “Don’t Keep It To Yourself” is a spacious, slinky and sultry track about pillow talk and secrets—”bedroom feels,” the UK-based singer-songwriter and musician says. Blending elements of future funk, ’80s R&B and more, Ruthven (aka Sean Nelson) effortlessly transitions between delicate falsetto and big, soulful pop vocals.

MICHELLE: MESS U MADE

New York collective MICHELLE is a predominately queer and POC sextet that succeeds in blending their various experiences and styles into one cohesive, R&B-tinged whole. Their latest release, “MESS U MADE,” does so through an indie-inspired jam that expertly harmonizes and interweaves vocals from each of the group’s four leading singers: Sofia D’Angelo, Emma Lee, Layla Ku and Jamee Lockard. Accompanying the bop, a music video—shot and recorded live under the direction of Justin Ongeri—sees the collective jamming, screaming and dancing in a living room; an intimate visual for a raw, heartfelt song.

KAINA: Anybody Can Be in Love

Singer-songwriter KAINA (aka Kaina Castillo) teases her just-announced album It Was a Home (out 4 March) with “Anybody Can Be in Love,” a dreamy, psych-inflected, soulful song that meanders along, buoyed by the Chicago-based artist’s pretty vocals. “‘Anybody Can Be in Love’ is about letting go and accepting love when it comes to any sort of relationship, romantic or platonic,” she says. “I’ve seen myself and my close friends miss out on a really great moment we’ve wished for or a great relationship because we’re so fixated on getting hurt or being fearful. ‘Anybody Can Be in Love’ is a little reminder to keep it simple and enjoy the moments you’ve been waiting for.”

Charli XCX feat. Christine and the Queens + Caroline Polachek: New Shapes

Charli XCX has officially announced her upcoming album Crash (out 18 March) and from it released “New Shapes” featuring French singer-songwriter Christine and the Queens (aka Héloïse Adélaïde Letissier) and NYC-based artist Caroline Polachek. The glittery, ’80s pop-inflected track features plenty of synths, over which the three singers trade verses. The album will include cameos by Lotus IV, Rina Sawayama, Oneohtrix Point Never, Jon Shave and others.

Curtis Harding: Explore

From Curtis Harding’s new album, If Words Were Flowers (out Friday, 5 November), comes another soulful, psychedelic track. With horns, spacey synths and a groovy bass line, “Explore” possess a smoky, lounge energy that’s buoyed by Harding’s vulnerable but debonair vocals. The Atlanta-based artist also announced a 2022 tour that will see him visiting cities in the US, UK and Europe.

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 image courtesy of KAINA