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John Preston lists his current playlist of seven essential tracks.
Kelela, ‘Happy Ending’
Kelela is the contemporary queen of chill, vibey house. She’s been gone for a while now and her long overdue return is massively welcome. ‘Happy Ending’ finds Kelela arriving firmly in the club again with a rhythmic, rave-tinged banger that continues to show she’s a standalone artist who dominates the genre.
Tegan and Sarah, ‘I Can’t Grow Up’
It’s been a few years now since Tegan and Sarah were successfully making records that leaned heavily into their long-denied love of electro dance-pop. Crybaby, their latest album, doesn’t return to this, but super producer John Congleton adds loops and hyper-pop smears to the duo’s more classic indie-pop sound with considerable success, as ‘I Can’t Grow Up’ shows.
Brooke Candy, ‘Yoga’
Brooke Candy is one of those artists who frustratingly might never get near the mainstream but still has the persona of a big pop star – one who needs to constantly create and present music because it’s an essential part of their identity. ‘Yoga’ is one of the most perverse things she’s ever recorded – a shock in itself maybe – and thank goodness for it.
Lyzza, ‘Blush Me Out!’
Maximalism is something that multilingual artist Lyzza is a fan of, but on her new mixtape Mosquito there are moments where increased breathing space allows songs to form more solid shapes. This is a good thing as Lyzza is a talented writer and tracks like the Rihanna-adjacent ‘Blush Me Out!’ scream for repeated plays.
Taylor Swift, ‘Maroon’
Bass booms and droning synth lines encase Taylor Swift’s icy, minor key and lower register vocals, marking a return to elegant, creative pop and a whole album produced by Jack Antonoff. Major bops are not necessarily a thing here and instead mood and mid-tempos rule the track list with more fantastically dark insights into the Swift psyche. Maroon does not disappoint.
Darren Hayes, ‘Feels Like It’s Over’
Homosexuality is a creatively ambitious and deeply personal record that Darren Hayes has always wanted to make but felt as though he couldn’t. Hayes’ fifth album as a solo artist, Homosexuality sits sonically as a kind of spiritual sister to Madonna’s Confessions on a Dancefloor with a pinch of PSB and classic Kylie thrown in for good measure – and it is very, very good. ‘Feels Like It’s Over’ feels like this new phase is just beginning.
Tove Lo, ‘Grapefruit’
The stance that Tove Lo takes here is interesting on several levels. A unique take on a dance track, ’Grapefruit’ is an elegantly stomping electro-banger but which lyrically allude to Lo’s perception of her own weight issues and which aren’t remedied by the current body-positive messages. Smart, funky and thoughtful.