Listen Up

Dark, soulful, haunting and poignant music from the week

Seinabo Sey: Blessed

Swedish and Gambian artist Seinabo Sey returns with “Blessed,” a song written by her best friend, songwriter Isak Alverus. The track (produced by Carli Löf and Simon On The Moon) possesses a sparse, laidback energy with soft percussion and sprinkles of jazz, electronic and R&B. She says, “I like the lyrical message—that it is enough to wake up in the morning, get up and be good enough, be loved. You should not have to perform all the time.” The accompanying video, which she co-directed with Klara Kristoffersson, depicts Sey as a waitress in the Gambia (her father’s homeland) and the softly lit, insouciant energy perfectly matches the song. “I fantasized about what my life would have been like if I was living in the Gambia. I might be working as a waitress by day and singing at night. I might be working as a taxi driver,” she explains. “I wanted to present something that feels more like scenes from a life.”

El Michels Affair feat. Piya Malik: Kahbi

El Michels Affair returns with “Kahbi,” a one-off track following their excellent 2021 album, Yeti Season. The psych-leaning track features singer-songwriter and frequent collaborator Piya Malik, along with plenty of Turkish funk and Bollywood elements that create an amalgam elevated by Malik’s haunting vocals.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs feat. Perfume Genius: Spitting Off the Edge of the World

The first single from alt-rock trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ just-announced fifth studio album, Cool It Down (their first new music together in nine years), “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” rises to anthemic levels with collaborative vocals from Perfume Genius and layered production by Dave Sitek. Within, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs directly address the weight of the environmental crisis. Frontwoman Karen O says in a statement, “I see the younger generations staring down this threat, and they’re standing on the edge of a precipice, confronting what’s coming with anger and defiance. It’s galvanizing, and there’s hope there.” The poignant, powerful track debuts with an electrified music video directed by Cody Critcheloe (who also directed the beloved visuals for Perfume Genius’ “Queen”).

Kimi Stär: Wildfire

With a swell of interwoven vocals atop precise pop production that features live instrumentals, “Wildfire” makes for a triumphant debut track from LA-based duo Kimi Stär (composed of vocalist-producer ZOSIA and singer-songwriter Kaitlyn Kaerhart). Amidst its electric beauty, the single’s lyrics traverse the relationship between suffering and success over pain.

Beth Orton: Weather Alive

The title track from singer-songwriter Beth Orton’s first album in six years, “Weather Alive” threads together a dreamlike soundscape with lyrical reflections on reality. Stretching beyond seven minutes, the melodic song comes with an equally ruminative music video, directed by Eliot Lee Hazel. Orton self-produced all eight tracks from the forthcoming LP (out 23 September) at her home studio in London. “Through the writing of these songs and the making of this music, I found my way back to the world around me, a way to reach nature and the people I love and care about,” Orton says. “This record is a sensory exploration that allowed for a connection to a consciousness that I was searching for. Through the resonance of sound and a beaten up old piano I bought in Camden Market while living in a city I had no intention of staying in, I found acceptance and a way of healing.”

BLK ODYSSY feat. Baby Rose: Complex of a Killing Man

A poignant release from BLK ODYSSY, “Complex of a Killing Man” features singer Baby Rose and will appear on the forthcoming Blk Vintage Reprise album—which includes contributions from rapper Benny The Butcher, vocalist Eimaral Sol, funk legend George Clinton and others. Dark and mesmerizing, the track works as an opposing perspective to “Benny’s Got A Gun” and draws elements from R&B, hip-hop and funk.

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 BLK ODYSSY