1 Jun 2016

Weekly Listening: Nao, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Joey Bada$$ and more

11:55 am on 1 June 2016

A showcase of some of the best new music releases from the past week.


British singer Nao's new song 'Girlfriend' has a seductive quality.

British singer Nao's new song 'Girlfriend' has a seductive quality. Photo: Unknown

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – First World Problem

Ruban Nielson &co. return with their first new single since last year’s award-winning album Multi-Love. Recorded in March with the help of Ruban’s brother Kody, ‘First World Problem’ is a nugget of pop gold, with a melody that nestles into your head – one you’ll find yourself humming late at night while you’re washing the dishes. It is a natural continuation from the likes of ‘Can’t Keep Checking My Phone’, with its opening horn blasts and the recurring motifs of modern love and broken communication. No word yet as to whether this song is a sign of an album to come (who can predict album cycles these days?), but it’ll keep the fans happy in the meantime.

Joey Bada$$ - Devastated

Don’t be fooled by the title of Joey Bada$$’s new single – ‘Devastated’ is an uplifting tribute to resilience and putting in work. It’s the most radio-friendly song we’ve heard from the Brooklyn rapper, but that is only a bad thing if you don’t like making lots of money. With lyrics like, “I used to feel so devastated / At times I thought we'd never make it, yeah / But now we on our way to greatness / And all that ever took was patience”, keep this one handy for when it feels like all of your hard work is getting you nowhere. Just have a little patience and soon you’ll be “flowing the ceiling”, just like Mr Bada$$ here. Skrrt skrrt.

Lawrence Arabia – A Lake

It was a surprise to learn, considering how good of a songwriter he is, that Lawrence Arabia has been self-conscious about writing lyrics recently. He told The Pantograph Punch “It somehow seems like a portentous responsibility to encapsulate some profound insight and wit into songs these days, which makes me deeply fearful of picking up my pen and actually writing. In my heart I know this kind of approach is self-defeating.” ‘A Lake’ is the first single from his forthcoming album Absolute Truth and there is no sense of nervousness here.

Rihanna – Kiss It Better (Kaytranada edition)

Kaytranada’s remix of Rihanna’s 'Kiss It Better' is just the banger I was waiting on this week. The music’s bounce has become something of a trademark for the Haitian-Canadian producer and is reminiscent of his stellar rework of Janet Jackson’s ‘If’. With ‘Kiss It Better’, he turns Riri’s slow burn into five fire emojis. The vocals have been slightly sped up, looped and wrapped lovingly with house and calypso elements. He told Beats1’s Zane Lowe that he already had the song on repeat when he was approached to do the remix and that “It’s hard to explain how it works. I just think about it, and then… Boom!”

Nao - Girlfriend

British singer Nao is on a roll. ‘Girlfriend’ is the third track she has released this month in the lead up to her debut album, which is due in July. In the song’s chorus, there is a pause and hold, as if she is psyching herself up to reveal her feelings to her boo. “If I was your… Girlfriend / Could you love for two?” Here, the music soars as she does before floating back down to the RnB slow jam with a bluesy guitar line. The beautifully produced song has a seductive quality and is worthy of a place on your Spotify playlists.