50 great tracks for November from Dua Lipa, Destroyer, Selena Gomez and more

From Victoria Monét’s sublime R&B to Lanark Artefax’s squirming electronics, check out 50 new tracks and read about our 10 favourites

Playlist November

Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now

As the most successful British pop export since Ed Sheeran, the pressure was on for Dua Lipa’s second album – especially given that her debut only took off six singles in with the release of New Rules. In no uncertain terms, she delivers. Don’t Start Now is a flex in every sense: Lipa sets herself apart by eschewing the charts’ predominant rap-influenced sound and going classic. It starts with the tightest disco bassline, adding strings and sparkle until the song’s sharp scaffolding builds out to an opulent penthouse, all velvet cushions and mirrored halls. And her voice is the ritziest fixture of all: she swoons witheringly as she reminds a begging ex that he was the one who ditched her – via a canny I Will Survive reference – and struts when she says she’s quite all right without him, thanks very much indeed. It’s the inverse of Robyn’s Call Your Girlfriend: a confident shot across the bows in which she makes clear that if he comes after her, chances are she’ll be snogging someone else. Sorrynotsorry. LS

Victoria Monét.
Victoria Monét. Photograph: PR Handout

Victoria Monét – Ass Like That

One of the key figures in helping Ariana Grande ascend to her current place in the pop firmament is songwriter and producer Victoria Monét, who has credits on every one of Grande’s albums, including some definitive hits like Thank U, Next. Earlier this year the pair duetted on the single Monopoly, with palpable chemistry: “I’m so thankful working with my best friend, she the cheat code,” they rap at one another. Fanbase duly widened, Monét is gearing up for a solo project in 2020, and this single is a sensational calling card for it: perhaps the best R&B track of the year. Over gorgeous production flourishes like a bathwater-warm brass section and a distorted guitar solo, she sings a witty, equally warm song admiring her own behind – one that has men apparently regarding it not so much with lechery as baffled wonderment. BBT

Låpsley – My Love Was Like the Rain

Before the current crop of super-young, hyper-emotional pop stars – Billie Eilish, Beabadoobee, Clairo et al – there was Låpsley, who released her confident, heartfelt debut aged just 19. Three years on, with millions of streams and the greatest disco song of recent years in the DJ Koze-remixed Operator behind her, she’s returned with this wise, poetic new single. With a smooth, cool electropop backing, she characterises the love she gives as various natural elements – sky, rain, sea, fire, flowers – and there is such sureness to her voice as she sings: “So I embody these elements / I wear them as a fragrance.” It’s the bracing sound of someone who has figured out who they are – until the next youthful epiphany. BBT

Harry Styles – Lights Up

Someone else who sounds like they’ve done some growing up and learning is Harry Styles, who has released the best song yet of any of the ex-One Directioners. The lyrics have been read by internet gossips as a defiant announcement of bisexuality, though truth be told they’re so vague (“I could, but wouldn’t stay / Wouldn’t put it like that / What do you mean? / I’m sorry by the way”) that he still sounds buffeted by confusion. There is a stridency, though, to the chorus line: “Step into the light … I’m not ever going back.” Musically, it doesn’t sound like anything else in the charts – there’s a touch of the cosmic funk of Tame Impala, but the gospel chorus, supple bassline and Balearic guitars all cohere into something genuinely fresh. BBT

Twin Atlantic – Novocaine

This is rock music at its most compressed and synthetic – a sound that can be wretchedly empty. But the Scottish band, approaching veteran status with 13 years in the game, have a truly euphoric chorus that befits their recent jump to a major label. The lyrics are all drunken, teary blank poetry – “If I’m nothing, you’re it all / My foolish electric heart” – sung with jolting passion by Sam McTrusty. There are shades of Bloc Party’s Helicopter to the rhythm guitar and relentless pace, and the whole endeavour is suffused with the Big Music of their Celtic forebears: Simple Minds, U2, the Waterboys, the Blue Nile, Big Country et al. BBT

Davido. Photograph: Frank Fieber

Davido – Risky (feat. Popcaan)

West Africa meets the Caribbean – via, for the video, a housing estate in west London – in this brilliantly written pop-dancehall ballad, with Nigeria’s Davido and Jamaica’s Popcaan stepping and skanking around the beat with nimble vocal melodies. Their earnestness and casual mastery makes the track, but credit also to producer Speroach Beatz, whose love of lithe, ringtone-cutesy melodies has cemented him as one of the prime movers in the Afropop scene. BBT

Selena Gomez – Lose You to Love Me

There’s unavoidable celebrity subtext here: Lose You to Love Me is a towering revenge ballad aimed at Justin Bieber, who reportedly broke up with Selena Gomez in spring 2018, only to be married to model Hailey Baldwin by that September. But Gomez’s comeback (after she took a few years away to recover from lupus and a kidney transplant) stands independently from the gossip as a timeless riposte. The weighty piano is just spare enough to let her words sear (“sang off-key in my chorus ’cause it wasn’t yours” is a great evocation of someone’s careless egoism), building to a chorus laden with choral backing vocals. The amassed voices offer protection to her fairly devastating conclusion – one that sets new stakes for the self-love pop song: “I needed to hate you to love me.” There’s an air of an avant-garde Adele to it, and it also marks the arrival of Billie Eilish’s brother and producer, Finneas, into the big leagues. LS

Dan Bejar, aka Destroyer.
Dan Bejar, aka Destroyer. Photograph: Maegan Hill-Carroll

Destroyer – Crimson Tide

Dan Bejar’s voice has a very specific pleasure: it’s laced with a sneer, and he tends to ease into a song weighed down by a sighing sense of contempt for the world around him. Yet he can’t help himself from leaning in deeper, picking up the pace and stacking his opaque observations until they find a captivating sense of momentum. On Crimson Tide, there are “chicken shit singers paying their dues”, a funeral that “goes completely insane”, a woman who instructs him to “get into the zone” when “the zone is brimstone and wire”. His strange yet beguiling images slip down easier thanks to a synth-pop turn that rumbles in on classic Peter Hook bass and snapping drum machines. LS

The Orielles – Come Down on Jupiter

The Halifax band feel like the closest thing we have to a contemporary Stereolab: as sharp as they are spacey, at home with psychedelic wooze and seductively chugging guitar pop. The lead single from their forthcoming second album wildly expands the indie ambitions of their debut: it starts out mystic and silvery, the sound of coils lazily unwinding, then snaps into a determined riff that grows ever tighter, like a Chinese finger trap. There’s no telling what dreamy singer Esme Dee Hand-Halford is on about (“thrift shop cowboys”, anyone?), but the four-piece mingle their joyful yips with Clangers-worthy cosmic transmissions, creating a unique, glittering energy. LS

Lanark Artefax – Corra Linn

It often takes an artist years for their sound to slough off its influences and reach maturity, but Scottish producer Lanark Artefax seemed to arrive fully formed in 2017 with his debut EP. Yes, there were hints of Aphex Twin and Arca, but the way his beatific chords spluttered and spat, like an ersatz gas fire on a flatscreen TV, was all his own. His live show, performed in front of a 2001-style monolith, is excellent, and it was little wonder Björk came calling: his take on Arisen My Senses is one of the best ever remixes of her work. There’s often a latent jungle energy to his tracks, which he brought to the fore for 2018’s Styx, and is now combined into this chimeric lead track from an EP of the same name. As well as the breaks – and the startled vocal whoop that has become his signature – there are hints of dancehall and trap rhythms, and the tracks squirms around itself, never allowing itself comfort. BBT


Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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