In this week's Pop Never Dies, James Bay wins us over with a huge comeback, plus new tracks from a bunch of our PND faves.
He’s ditched the hat, cut his hair, and is back in a way we never thought we’d appreciate as much as we do. James Bay’s (pictured above) debut album – headed up by the monster hit that was “Hold Back The River" – may have been successful, but it didn’t really do much in the terms of pushing genre boundaries. “Wild Love”, however, is different, with nods to James Blake and BØRNS. In the new single we see Bay experiment a little, exploring a new promising new direction which will hopefully be expanded upon with the upcoming release of his second album. Layered backing vocals, autotune, guitars are replaced by synths and drums – a whole load of things we never knew we wanted from a James Bay single, but here we are and we’re excited. MK
Riah is already selling out shows in LA, with her dreamy pop – reminiscent of Pale Waves and The Japanese House, but trading in their icy cool for warmer sepia tones. “Prom” is another state of evolution for singer/songwriter Mariah McManus, and the fourth single from her solo project. Her previous efforts have also all been solid gold pop – take last year's “Nice”, for example. This new cut has nostalgia running through its veins, and Riah is at her best with the pulsing beats driving home a sense of regret. The tension breaks and everything is reconciled on the hazy and transcendent autotuned bridge. MK
Another up-and-comer making it four for four with their fourth exceptional single is green-haired Lord Of The Rings fan Au/Ra. "Panic Room" sounds like a concept for a Black Mirror episode: dark, dystopian sounds wrapped together with a foreboding vocal which sees Au/Ra narrate the horror of the nightmare we’re living in. Following an impressive debut UK show at The Waiting Room late last year where she shared new material, this year is already shaping up to be a big one for the young star. MK
It’s a bop! Mallrat has consistently delivered since her very early demos and first EP Uninvited which is still an enthralling listen two years on. Following on from previous single “Better”, another PND feature, “UFO” sees the Australian singer/songwriter/producer go to space as she teams up with her inspirational BFF Allday to add a verse about the world of conspiracies. MK
Galway girl (sorry!) and singer/songwriter LAOISE (pronounced lee-sha) has been dropping killer electro-pop tracks since her debut “You”, and latest single “Bother” is her best yet. It’s a glossy pop song with a break-up at its heart. Shrugging everything off, “Bother” is confident with its evocative chorus, but really comes to life as LAOISE pours emotion into and really belts out that final chorus. Shook. MK