John Preston’s essential tracks of the week include woozy R&B from Yaya Bey, a throwback dance homage by Röyksopp, simmering trip-hop from Telenova, a blues-bar cover by Lana Del Ray, a swooping ballad from FKA Twigs, a discofied club banger from Anish Kumar and a revamped classic by Madonna.
Yaya Bey, ‘don’t fucking call me’
Yaya Bey’s sophomore album Remember Your North Star is a work of exquisite beauty powered by Bey’s quietly glowering voice and layers of intricate details and compelling, inventive soundscapes. Presented in a style that is more reminiscent of a mixtape with short track lengths, spoken interludes and numerous genres, this is modern R&B at its best. Showcasing the album’s versatility, ‘don’t fucking call me’ is a spacey, jerky, ethereal masterpiece.
Röyksopp feat Karen Harding, ‘Unity’
Röyksopp will follow-up April’s Profound Mysteries with Profound Mysteries II in August – not a long wait for two albums from a band who had previously announced their retirement. ‘Unity’ is an expected homage to the house music of the early 90s and incorporates the frequently sampled ‘Funky Drummer’ beat that was ubiquitous at the time.
The Melbourne group up the ante from their previous EP with the elegant and appropriately mysterious ‘Haunted’. This song stands out for the all best reasons, including solid song-writing and a tangible mood which is heightened by Angeline Armstrong’s vocals. Trip-hop beats and extravagant strings simmer beneath and ‘Haunted’ makes a considerable impression.
Lana Del Rey, Father John Misty, ‘Buddy’s Rendezvous’
Originally Father Misty’s song from his recent album Chloé and the Next 20th Century, this Lana Dey Rey variation, essentially a cover version, now has its own official release. Certainly, ‘Buddy’s Rendezvous’ is very much within Del Rey’s wheelhouse but never has she sounded as much the late night, blues bar chanteuse as here.
FKA Twigs, ‘killer’
Twigs has taken to occasionally releasing tracks that pivot more to the mainstream than her usual avant-R&B soundscapes. ‘killer’ is a mid-tempo ballad that incorporates a traditional pop-song structure; it swoops and sways delectably throughout, and in many ways is more experimental than her edgier material. A truly curious performer, ‘killer’ is a welcome addition to Twigs’ discography.
Anish Kumar, ‘Steamroller’
Simple and efficient – and sometimes that’s all you need for a considerable summer banger. Based around an unidentified, cut-up vocal sample that sounds like it’s lifted from a certifiable disco hit from the Disco 54 era, this will become a staple for clubs and barbecues alike, and should fit in nicely with the current trend of nostalgic house revisits.
Madonna, ‘Ray of Light (Sasha Ultra Violet Remix Edit)’
2022 will be a busy year for Madonna: she has an imminent pride appearance, the release of a compilation of her many dance remixes up her sleeve, a biopic overseen by the pop icon herself, and for the first time ever, an authorised delve into her back catalogue and previous albums. ‘Ray of Light’ is one of very best and this might just be the definitive version of the song.