Listen Up

From art-pop to atmospheric R&B, our favorite music from the week

Empress Of: Save Me

Empress Of (aka Lorely Rodriguez) has just released her first new solo work since the 2020 album I’m Your Empress Of. “Save Me” by the multi-talented synth-pop artist (and CH favorite) is dramatic with a frenetic energy thanks to soaring strings that punctuate the layered track. “This is probably one of my favorite songs I have ever made. I’ve never put live strings on a recording before, it was very emotional,” she says. “There’s a sexual urgency. There’s a power play. I think it’s one of the sexiest songs I’ve made.”

Akemi Fox: See You Soon

Manchester-based singer-songwriter Akemi Fox embraces a sweet, summery vibe with her new song “See You Soon.” The optimistic, breezy tune—with acoustic guitar, soft percussion and horns—is carried by Fox’s exquisitely airy vocals. The artist says, “It’s a song about confessing your love to someone and wanting to see them soon to reconnect to relive all the special moments you feel when with them. The song is described as though being in the sun during summer, and makes anyone listening want to bathe in that warm feeling of being in love.” Produced by Swindle, the track is a teaser from Fox’s upcoming EP.

Art d’Ecco: Only Ones

Sensational and seductive, “Only Ones” is the latest single from Victoria, British Columbia-based recording artist and producer Art d’Ecco. The glam-infused, art-rock track boils retro influences down into a dance-rock anthem. A sleek, stylized music video directed and edited by Brandon William Fletcher accompanies the release. “I’ve always been a fan of the pre-MTV era music videos,” Art d’Ecco says, with “instruments plugged in, band ‘playing’ live. It was colored by Lu Wu—my only notes were, ‘Make it icy, like frozen syrup.'” The track will appear on the forthcoming album After The Head Rush, out 24 June.

Kadhja Bonet: Dear Gina

Equal parts elegant and eerie, Kadhja Bonet’s “Dear Gina” is a luminescent, lo-fi track that’s imbued with atmospheric ’80s synths. It’s the companion piece of “Delphine” (which begins “What’s it mean Delphine? This letter you wrote to me”) from her 2018 debut album Childqueen. As Bonet explains, “‘Dear Gina’ is… for anyone who ever wondered what Delphine’s letter said.” The gorgeous song comes accompanied by an equally mesmerizing video.

Sun’s Signature: Golden Air

The first new original release by Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser in 13 years, “Golden Air” finds the ethereal singer-songwriter and musician working under the moniker Sun’s Signature with (life and musical) partner Damon Reece, an esteemed percussionist who’s worked with Massive Attack, Spiritualized and Echo and the Bunnymen. A profound beauty courses through the single, which debuts within an official visualizer of mesmerizing natural phenomena. The diaphanous track will appear on the duo’s forthcoming five-song physical release, out 18 June (Record Store Day) via Partisan Records; a digital release will follow in July.

Lil Silva feat. Sampha: Backwards

London-based singers, songwriters and producers, as well as frequent collaborators, Lil Silva and Sampha have teamed up once more for “Backwards.” The track contrasts soulful vocals with club-ready elements; there’s a sense of introspection combined with a frenetic energy that’s enthralling. Lil Silva shares, “‘Backwards’ is the feeling of alienation and constantly venting in a matrix you find yourself inside, whatever that may be… Restricted and feeling guilty to move forward, constantly going backwards mentally… I guess the song is about being in a never-ending cycle and the heaviness that can bring on you.”

Saya: No Return

With clever, charismatic and (at times) chilling lyrics set amidst an R&B-inflected alt-pop soundscape, “No Return” is the latest from Toronto-based recording artist Saya’s new EP, Ready To Burn, out today. “Ready To Burn was a project I started writing in 2019 that made me fall back in love with making music,” Saya tells COOL HUNTING. “‘No Return’ acts as an interlude on the project—it reminds me a lot of my old music, teasing at revenge… I think this is the last song I’ll make like this. The rest of the project is more vulnerable and when I was going down that route with the EP it made me want to open up even more to that darker, melancholic style that you hear with track 6; ‘Novocaine.'”

Wet Leg: Ur Mum

The fifth and final single to be released in advance of Isle of Wight duo Wet Leg’s eponymous debut album (out 8 April), “Ur Mum” is just as playful and catchy as the previous teases. Anticipation for a Wet Leg LP began last June with the irreverent “Chaise Longue” and extends through the narrative music video release accompanying “Ur Mum,” directed by Lava La Rue. “The ‘Ur Mum’ video was all about bringing the viewer into the Wet Leg world—sprinkling details throughout the visual that not only reference at least four songs off the album but also plenty of inside jokes within the band too,” the filmmaker explains in a statement. “Artistically it shows where the aesthetic of American indie films like Napoleon Dynamite fit perfectly in the scape of rural British settings—this concept first came to me when the band took me to IOW [Isle of Wight] for the first time—I saw the connection and it all clicked into place.”

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 Kadhja Bonet