Our monthly roundup of the best music continues, with a 50-song playlist hosted on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music, and 10 highlights picked out below. Subscribe and listen via the widget, and suggest your own faves from this month in the comments.
Fever Ray – To the Moon and Back
Karin Dreijer Andersson – formerly of Swedish electro duo the Knife – staged an unexpected return to music this month with Plunge, her first record in almost a decade. Heralding her surprise comeback was To the Moon and Back: a bundle of pointillist synths overlaid with lyrics that strain under the weight of erotic promise. Infinitely more buoyant than her previously icy electronica, its stark sexual imagery and lush sound prove a seductive combination.
Rina Sawayama – Alterlife
Rina Sawayama only played her first live show last week, but the former model already has a collection of impressively off-kilter R&B in her arsenal. Alterlife, however, sees her taking a slightly different tack, merging bubblegum pop vocals with a peacocking goth rock riff and glitchy, industrial beats. Inspired by the soundtracks of video games such as Gran Turismo, Alterlife is an exhilarating blast of high-octane euphoria.
Migos, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B – Motorsport
While this might not be remotely as hooky as Migos’s mega-singles this year, it does come with the richly enjoyable one-two of Cardi B and Nicki Minaj going head to head. The former’s sexual frankness – “he comes more when I see him less” – is unsurprisingly matched by the latter, who announces that her genitals are so juicy that her lover should fetch himself a straw.
Giggs – The Essence
As well as delivering a top-notch verse on Sneakbo’s Active elsewhere on the playlist, Giggs released his mixtape (well, album in all but name) Wamp 2 Dem this month and hit No 2 in the UK charts. Mostly featuring tough, slow UK drill, The Essence is a brilliant curveball, a laidback but laser-focused conscious rap track that sees Giggs unable to enjoy his wider fame: “I’m mentally fucked / I’m mentally scarred, I’m meant to be up / I’m meant to be high, I’m meant to be chuffed / Fam I fought for my life, I’m mentally stuck.”
Errorsmith – Superlative Fatigue
The Pan record label is known for its difficult, experimental electronics, but its last two releases have vibe-filled twists on African-Caribbean rhythm. First there was Italian producer Still and his squelching, off-kilter album I, and now Errorsmith, who uses a pared-back palette of playful vocals, knowingly preset percussion and chirpy melody. Imagine Mark Fell jamming with Toddla T and you’re getting there.
Amor – Amnesia
The artpop supergroup E Bias, made up of Franz Ferdinand drummer Paul Thomson, Turner nominee Luke Fowler, and visionary folk singer Richard Youngs, never really delivered on their promise. But renamed Amor and with double bassist Michael Francis Duch joining them, they’re suddenly one of Britain’s most exciting bands, playing long-form Balearic disco with shades of Arthur Russell and the Blue Nile. Thomson, meanwhile, is back with his main band elsewhere in the playlist, with the strident Always Ascending.
Grave Pleasures – Joy Through Death
Underpinned by the eternally satisfying sound of driving, chugging guitars are Finnish post-punkers Grave Pleasures, delivering an anthem that gothically revels in how great the unceasing oblivion of death is: “Death is unconquerable / Death is the meaning of life!”
Hak Baker – Like It Or Lump It
Originally a member of grime crew Bomb Squad, a period in prison prompted East Londoner Hak Baker to pick up the guitar – nowadays he makes music that blends folky fingerpicking with grime’s blunt lyricism and Afrobeat flavours. Extolling the virtues of a big night out (irrespective of whether you’ve got work in the morning), Like It Or Lump It is a slacker’s anthem that’s perfectly served by Baker’s swaggering, lethargic flow.
Linda Perhacs – We Will Live
In 1970, Linda Perhacs released her debut album, Parallelograms. The record – a collection of ethereal psychedelic folk – was largely ignored and Perhacs soon returned to her job as a dental hygienist. Then, at the turn of the millennium, her otherworldly output was rediscovered by the contemporary folk scene: Parallelograms has since been reissued multiple times and Perhacs has collaborated with a roster of alternative rockstars. We Will Live sees her team up with Julia Holter and Devendra Banhart for a haunting dirge steeped in wisdom and soul.
Sophie – It’s Okay to Cry
After startling the world in 2014 with the super-sacharrine minimalism of Lemonade, Sophie stayed behind the scenes during subsequent collaborations with major league popstars such as Madonna and Charli XCX. It’s Okay to Cry sees the British producer, now using the pronoun she, finally emerge from behind the decks, transforming into a histrionic (and, in the video, topless) diva for a twinkly power ballad in which everything – from the schmaltzy vocal delivery to the thunderous climax – brims with bombastic intensity.