Words by MC Galang and Ian Urrutia
Illustration by MC Galang
Let’s skip the fanfare and dive right into this week’s round of New Music We Love. Enjoy.
‘In Higher Dimension’ – BABYBLUE (PH)
Music’s relationship with memory is fickle at best, how it vacillates from the silly but ultimately harmless to the random but vivid and piercing—unique to each one of us. BABYBLUE’s “In Higher Dimension” tips on the latter scale. It’s a highly visual piece of work, unspecific and categorically abstract except for its allusions to a “higher dimension.”
It’s hard to attach an emotion to it, but rather, it invites curiosity: no rhyme or reason, but maybe just an opportunity to engage, to experience. It’s not hard, with the lofty production and eerily cosmic atmosphere that I’ve come to associate with BABYBLUE’s work, a strangely comforting space where you can easily find yourself tuning out everything else and allow yourself a moment of self-expansion. Whatever that means for you.
Experience it better below:
‘Carousel’ – Lexie Liu (CN)
Lexie Liu’s latest album, GONE GOLD, sees The Rap of China alumna fully shedding her rap persona and settling a more pronounced pop-R&B wheelhouse. While it’s not unheard of for musicians to make this switch, especially with the artistic and commercial incentives that come with experimenting with multiple styles as genres are becoming convenient marketing strategies to rack up streaming numbers more than anything else, the results may not always be satisfactory.
Liu obviously knows her strengths and plays to it to her advantage. GONE GOLD goes from new wave and disco to trip hop and alt pop with relative ease. “Carousel,” one of my favorites from the album, is a plushy synth-pop, disco lite number that’s not too left-field for nighttime pop radio airwaves but just enough to let your hair down—and shimmy—in the club.
‘Papillon’ – Andy The Thai, YOYO (TH)
With 33 volumes in, New Music We Love has been a great excuse to scour high and low for new electronic artists and releases because god forbid they’ve always gotten so much press from outlets outside of FACTMAG and Mixmag.
Sardonic musings aside, this space will always be dedicated to exciting electronica discoveries. Just because Daft Punk—and by extension, music publications’ interest in electronic music producers in general who don’t feature pop star vocalists—are no more, doesn’t mean the music and art form doesn’t exist.
Andy The Thai and YOYO’s house track “Papillon” is a French delight: chic and soothing, and a repeat listen is required. It’s easy to associate it with luxurious things—beauty and comfort money can buy. It’s VOGUE, a glass of champagne, marble floors, plump pillows, ceiling-to-floor glass windows, and the city beneath your feet.
‘LUFU’ – ØZI f/ GSoul, Arin Ray (TW)
Taiwan’s ØZI excels at delivering radio-friendly R&B and hip-hop ballads and “bangers” to my guiltless pleasure. “LUFU,” his latest single off Pedestal, packages the unrepentant horniness of Jodeci’s “Freek’N You” with the down-on-my-knees confessional R&B hits of the ‘90s and early aughts (Usher’s 8701 immediately comes to mind).
Modern romance may be different in its variety of and limitless access to heady agents of pleasure and pain (The Weeknd has built an entire career out of loveless sex)—as well as their numbing counterparts—but the consequences never really change and chronicling the process and the aftermath will remain to be one of music’s most potent narratives. And I’m always here for it.
‘Be Sweet’ – Japanese Breakfast (US/KR)
After years of embracing grief-stricken pain on her previously released albums, Michelle Zauner is finally ready to make songs that evoke the purest sensations of joy and bliss. “Be Sweet” is a glorious step toward this newfound direction: a vibrant slice of synth pop that touches on the groovy side of music-making. The song finds Summer Noise alum Japanese Breakfast whipping her version of a summer anthem while not exactly pandering to the reigning trends of our time.
Instead of trying to replicate the formula of the buzziest crossover acts on TikTok and pop radio, Zauner travels back in time to cop out some of the most colorful and effervescent bops of the ‘8os—from Madonna to Talking Heads, Blondie to Duran Duran, all while sounding like she’s having a blast.
‘When You Fell Asleep’ (f/ Dara Delila) – Beetleflux (ID)
Beetleflux’s best tracks are often marked by a balance between noise and melodic glitter, and on their cover of a My Bloody Valentine classic, they didn’t hesitate to apply their musical strengths for another shambolic mythology of a romantic relationship gone sour. Dara Delila and Aulia Nasution’s heavenly boy-girl harmonies provide a counterpoint to the song’s fuzzed-out edginess and atmospheric vibe, giving it a more pop sheen. While the band remains respectful of the original’s menacing punk spirit, their version is strong and sweet enough to warrant multiple listens. Weightlessly hazy and eternally lost in a fever dream, the track captures so well the feeling of not wanting to wake up anymore from this unpleasant nightmare.
‘Lemonade’ – Belinda May (JP)
Belinda May coasts through the delicate divide between shoegaze and twee pop on their new single “Lemonade.” Though their brand of music invites you on a journey deeper into the subconscious, the Japanese band avoids the trappings of the genre by bringing a new mix of human-like possibilities to the track, rendering it with a homier touch instead of going beyond the surreal. Swooning its way to perpetual dreaminess, ‘Lemonade’ shimmers with youthful exuberance and gossamer-like harmonies. It’s three minutes of pure pop goodness whose melodies soar above the honeyed stickiness.
‘Lovemonth’ – Yukika (JP/KR)
Beneath its nostalgic sheen and near-obsessive production, Yukika’s ‘Lovemonth’ is an ode to finding love in a new home away from home. The song succeeds in playing up to city pop’s strengths without abandoning the cutting-edge influence of K-pop to its sound. Effortlessly giddy, smooth, and exuberant, ‘Lovemonth’ preserves an aura of seamless artificiality that is not purely meant to be enjoyed for the guiltless pleasures that it brings, but for providing a slick soundtrack to cosmopolitan romance in an era that gravitates toward the ‘80s retro-future rather than the very uncertain present.
‘Talk! Talk!’ – Ena Mori (PH)
Despite the limited possibilities of recording alone at home, Ena Mori finds innovative ways to make use of whatever resources she has and taps into her desire to make game-changing music that reflects her current state of mind. “Talk! Talk!” builds on this creative insularity: an attempt for the indie pop star to listen to the voices inside of her head, and take advantage of the process to create something that she hasn’t done before, sonically and lyrically speaking. Ena Mori shares that the song was recorded over her mom’s little closet, which allows her to a be the person that she wants to be right at that exact moment. With help from producer Timothy Run, “Talk! Talk!” sounds like the work of someone stepping further into the experimental realm of pop music, completely committed to its craft without necessarily rejecting the escapist side of it.
‘All That’ – Ylona Garcia (PH)
No, this isn’t a cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s smooth, effervescent ‘80s ballad. For all its sparkly, post-pandemic vibe and empowering statement, “All That” marks Ylona Garcia’s transformation from a pop underdog to 88Rising’s next-gen star, confidently moving past the shitstorm that was 2020. As part of her conscious effort to turn disco revival into a modern jam that feels spiritually in tune with the distant future, Ylona’s “All That” expands her interest in telling stories about newfound independence, self-love, and resilience, completely unfiltered while demonstrating her capacity to balance commercial demands with her inherent sense of restraint.