Every Friday, artists drop anticipated albums, surprise singles, and hyped collaborations. As part of New Music Friday, EW’s music team will choose some of the essential new tunes. With new releases from Big Sean, Sampha, Syd, MUNA, and more, here are the most noteworthy releases this week.
Big Sean, I Decided.
The Detroit rapper’s fourth LP is also his most ambitious as he unspools a four-act story inspired by the idea of reincarnation over heavy trap beats and woozy transitions. And if that’s not enough of a sell, peep the guest list: Eminem and Migos both add fire to the set. -Madison Vain
Imagine Dragons, “Believer”
The Las Vegas rockers roar back with what’s presumably the first single from their new album. Like their breakout anthem “Radioactive,” “Believer” tweaks arena-rock tropes for the Snapchat set: it’s got thudding tribal drums, a massive shoutalong chorus, and a wicked bassline that’s the sonic equivalent of a slug to the gut. - Kevin O’Donnell
Ansel Elgort, “Thief”
A disco current runs strong in this young actor. Elgort’s first single of the year got a shadowy music video early Friday morning and long gone is the sweet teen who starred as a heartbreaker in The Fault in Our Stars. On “Thief,” Elgort is a ladykiller, and a convincing one at that. -M.V.
Syd worked as an Odd Future producer, garnered a following as a member of the Internet, and made waves through recent guest spots on cuts by Common and Kaytranada - but on her solo debut, she’s leveled up, creating an immediately satisfying collection hip-hop-oriented R&B jams. -Eric Renner Brown
Beyoncé, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Drake - the 28-year-old Brit has worked with them all. His accomplished solo debut runs the gamut from intense electronica to stark piano balladry. -E.R.B.
Sam Hunt, “Body Like A Back Road”
While the name is regrettable, the infectious ditty is anything but. Hunt broke out with a bunch of break-up tunes in 2014 with his debut album, Montevallo, but the first single off his anticipated second album sees the 32-year-old reuniting with a lover he knows like “the back of my hand.” -M.V.
MUNA, About U
This pop trio-which formed in 2013 while its members were still college students-uses dark, 80s-inspired synth-pop tracks to explore topics rarely found in pop music: “Loudspeaker” touches on the aftermath of sexual abuse; “So Special” addresses slut-shaming; and “I Know a Place” celebrates the LGBT community while acknowledging the struggles it still faces. “I’m a hopeless romantic about pop music,” front woman Katie Gavin told EW earlier this year after EW named MUNA one of “10 New Artists Who Will Rule 2017.” “I really do believe that I can put bigger concepts in my songs. And I believe that people who listen can use that on a smaller level to achieve understanding and empathy and peace in their lives. And from that point forward, we change the world and all that sh-.” -Nolan Feeney
Mac DeMarco, “This Old Dog” and “My Old Man”
With the announcement of his third album, indie-rock’s goofiest character shared two new songs, “My Old Man” and “This Old Dog.” Slightly more sedate than 2014’s Salad Days and prominently featuring acoustic guitar, the tracks hint at a new direction for DeMarco that still retains his easy-going aesthetic. -E.R.B.
Mumford & Sons, Live From South Africa: Dust and Thunder
The UK folk-rockers took their third album, the plugged-in Wilder Mind on a shockingly expansive world tour following its release in 2015, and their trek through South Africa proved influential for the group. They released a collaborative mini-album with Afro-Western dance/hip-hop outfit The Very Best, Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal, and Cape Town pop group Beatenberg last year - and now they’re sharing that live experience with fans. Concert film Dust and Thunder relives one of their Gentlemen of the Road stopovers in the country. Few outfits work as hard each night as Marcus Mumford and Co., and Dick Caruthers brilliantly captures their set, plus the energy of 50,000 fans in the crowd. (A deluxe edition also features a live 13-track album of the concert on CD, a booklet of exclusive photos from the run, and another documentary, We Wrote This Yesterday.) -M.V.
The Menzingers, After the Party
The fifth album from the Pennsylvania emo-tinged punk outfit is everything you wished last year’s blink-182 album was and more. Nearly every song grapples with getting older, and in the process proves that punk-rock is anything but a young man’s game. -E.R.B.
The Band Perry, “Stay In The Dark”
The trio of siblings’ first single of the year is a strummy pop tune about those moments when getting out just ain’t gonna happen - stay in, draw the blinds, lock the door, and get down with your flame. Your cuffing season anthem has arrived. -M.V.
The Copenhagen quartet’s debut is packed with pop-rock nuggets that roughly resemble Oasis’ Liam Gallagher fronting an ’80s jangle-pop outfit. Glimmering guitar riffs interweave with Strokes-like precision for a product that’s addictive from the first listen. -E.R.B.