First Out: New Music From Rina Sawayama, Fletcher, Kelela & More

·4 min read

As the leaves change, so do our playlists — why not pack them full of new music from your favorite queer artists? Billboard Pride is proud to present the latest edition of First Out, our weekly roundup of some of the best new music releases from LGBTQ artists.0

From Rina Sawayama’s therapeutic new album to Fletcher’s incisive debut LP, check out just a few of our favorite releases from this week below:

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Rina Sawayama, Hold the Girl

Trauma is a tricky thing — no matter how fast you run from it, it’s going to catch up with you. So instead of running, Rina Sawayama embraces it head-on with Hold the Girl, her stunning sophomore effort. Written like notes from a prolonged therapy session, Sawayama’s interest in experimentation remains fully intact on the new LP, as she swings between pseudo-country bangers (“This Hell”), pop power ballads (“Phantom”) and rock-fused anthems of angst (“Hurricanes”), Sawayama strips her soul bare and invites you to see her at her most vulnerable — and naturally, it’s a triumph.

Fletcher, Girl of My Dreams

Much has been said, both here and on the vast interwebs, about Fletcher in recent weeks; with the immediate and controversial success of “Becky’s So Hot,” the 28-year-old singer songwriter has become an avatar of queer chaos. But the star’s debut album Girl of My Dreams ultimately shows how her discourse-spurning hit is just one piece of a fluid, psychosocial narrative surrounding healing. While the fabulous album contains plenty of other obstinate pop kiss-offs (“Guess We Lied,” “Birthday Girl”), it also devotes itself to interrogating seemingly self-inflicted anguish (“Serial Heartbreaker”), learning from your mistakes (“I Think I’m Growing”), and ultimately learning to take yourself as you are (“For Cari”). Girl of My Dreams never attempts to brush Fletcher’s idiosyncrasies or imperfections; it instead revels in them.

Kelela, “Washed Away”

The world has been utterly lacking in the delicate, elysian vibes of Kelela’s music for the last five years. But this week, the R&B singer-songwriter is ready to transport you back into her world with “Washed Away,” a fluid, moving new single in which the star trades any and all beats for pure bliss. With a stacked set of synth chords slowly accompanying her, Kelela’s voice occupies a front-and-center spot as she riffs and runs for her life, before offering poetic lyrics like “the hope, the longing, fade away, blurry-eyed.” She may have promised that “bangers are on the way,” but we’re happy to simply live in Kelela’s utopia again.

Mykki Blanco, “Pink Diamond Bezel”

Since the outset of their career, Mykki Blanco has always managed to be an artist who defies expectations. But their latest release “Pink Diamond Bezel” compounds the very concept of expectations into an abstract concept, which it then tosses out the window. This rap-meets-psych-rock-meets-R&B jam is Blanco at their most sonically cerebral, while the lyrics see them engaging in a welcome bit of flirtation and attitude. It’s yet another faultless track in the star’s excellent repertoire.

Chloe Moriondo, “Cdbaby<3”

Toxic relationships have never sounded quite so sweet. On their latest single “Cdbaby<3,” Chloe Moriondo establishes herself as the lovesick main character, pining after some handsome love who they can’t get out of their head. But as the glitchy, undeterred song progresses, the words turn slightly more sour, as she begins to recognize bad patterns in her flame’s behavior. But none of that stops the music from spinning you into a trance, as Moriondo coos on the chorus, “Cdbaby, think I’m going crazy/ All you do is play me lately.”

Daya, In Between Dreams

Romanticizing your every day life can be a blessing and a curse, as pop singer Daya explores on her long-awaited new EP In Between Dreams. Whether she’s singing about pretending to make up with an ex (“See You in My Dreams”) or trying to catch the interest of someone she’s got her eyes on with a slice of escapism, (“New Romantics”), the singer-songwriter enfuses the whole album with a dreamy, flowing dance-pop vibe that will have you blissing out in no time.

Maggie Lindemann, Suckerpunch

Pop-punk revivalists, rejoice — Maggie Lindemann is here to bless you with a brand new album that is perhaps the most faithful to the original genre. On Suckerpunch, the rising star establishes her rebellious voice early with blaring guitars and bravado, as she sings about a “straight” girl who wants to be with her (“She Knows It”), exes who won’t stop drunk-dialing her (“Phases”), and detractors who can’t seem to keep her name out of their mouths (“Cages”). It’s a tour-de-force not only for Lindemann, but for a genre mid-revitalization.

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