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January new music: From Miley Cyrus to Belle & Sebastian

EL PAÍS compiles a list of the most notable songs that have been released by artists such as Rosalía, Iggy Pop and Yo La Tengo

Miley Cyrus in a scene from the music video for her song 'Flowers.'
Miley Cyrus in a scene from the music video for her song 'Flowers.'

Miley Cyrus – ‘Flowers’

Flowers, the first single from Miley Cyrus’s eighth album, hit No. 1 on charts across the world nearly as soon as it was released. In the song, the singer from Tennessee talks about bouncing back from her breakup with ex-husband Liam Hemsworth. Cyrus sings of the importance of self-love, stating that “I can love me better than you can” – a message that is underscored by the music video.

Belle & Sebastian – I Don’t Know What You See In Me’

Stuart Murdoch, the lead singer of indie pop band Belle & Sebastian, says that whenever he produces a record, he secretly produces another one. While the first has meaning and order, the second is about fun and messiness. Perhaps that is why the song I Don’t Know What You See In Me is much lighter and brighter than the band’s last studio album, A Bit of Previous, which was released eight months ago. The song, which comes off the band’s 12th album Late Developers, is as ironic and fresh as any of the band’s classics, but also has a touch of – as Murdoch puts it – “1990s power ballads.” What’s the secret to this new sound? The song was co-written by Pete Ferguson of the band Wuh Oh.

Iggy Pop – ‘Frenzy’

It’s good news that Iggy Pop is still making music at age 75. The song Frenzy is the opener to his new, impressive album Every Loser, which is already a candidate for one of the top records of 2023. Iggy Pop performs without The Stooges, enlisting instead Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) on drums, Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses) on bass and Andrew Watt (Ozzy Osbourne) on guitar. Together, they create the abrasive sound that is the trademark of Iggy’s music. Fired up with 1970s punk rock, Frenzy is fast-paced, aggressive and on point – an especially notable feat for a musician who could be playing dominoes in a mansion in Los Angeles. Iggy, however, prefers to keep spitting fire.

Josh Ritter – ‘For Your Soul’

Josh Ritter is one of the great talents to emerge from the impressive American neofolk scene of the 21st century. Whatever he plays, he always makes it his own: he’s a very special musician. Ritter’s new song For Your Soul, with its soaring choruses, has a more upbeat sound. It could come off as cheesy, but instead it worms its way into your head. Simply put, Ritter has the ability to ignite the spirit with simple songs filled with feeling.

The US band Yo La Tengo.
The US band Yo La Tengo.

Yo La Tengo – ‘Aselestine’

Yo La Tengo can move between many different styles, but the veteran trio has special skill when it comes to the lazy ballads sung by Georgia Hubley. These songs are sweet, tender and very exciting. You hardly ever know what they are talking about, but they create an atmosphere that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go. This ability is seen in force on Aselestine, the band’s second single from their upcoming album This Stupid World. We may have no idea who Aselestine is or why they are walking on snows, but you can almost feel the chill on your face.

Everything but the Girl – ‘Nothing Left to Lose’

In the one of the biggest announcements of 2023 so far, Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt – the English duo behind Everything but the Girl – will release their first new album in 24 years. Nothing Left to Lose is the first single off the record Fuse, which is set to be released in spring. What’s first notable in the song is Thorn’s voice, which is deeper and raspier than it was in the past. Nothing Left to Lose is halfway between a ballad and a dance song. It shows that the band has something new to say. Their comeback is not just an exercise in nostalgia, even if their 1994 track Missing is as powerful today as it was when it was released.

A$AP Rocky – ‘Same Problems?’

Same Problems? is a single from A$AP Rocky’s fourth album. In the song, the Harlem rapper openly reflects on the impact of violence and drugs in rap music, pointing out the frequent deaths of rap artists. “Am I a product of things that I saw?” he sings. “Am I product of things in my songs?” Co-written with artists such as Tyler The Creator, Lil Yachty and Thundercat, Same Problems? is a slow, deliberate song that has the power to move all listeners, whether or not they like rap.

Sleaford Mods - ‘UK Grim’

This Nottingham duo doesn’t like the state their country is in very much. With that frustration as their main driving force, Sleaford Mods have built a surprisingly successful career, considering the aggressiveness of their lyrics and sound. UK Grim is the first single off their new album. In the song, the duo criticize the British political class – a critique that is furthered in a music video that compares the UK to a medieval kingdom. But the track repeats too many of the band’s tropes and adds an unnecessary industrial element to the music.

Arlo Parks – ‘Weightless’

Arlo Parks was one of the biggest surprises of 2020, when she took the music world by storm with her dark and confessional songs. But the Londoner’s sound became less original over time. Now she is back with Weightless, a trip hop song that combines 1980s production. It’s a beautiful melody sung by a now well-recognized voice, but it lacks depth. It’s as pleasant as it is inane.

La Plazuela – ‘El lao de la pena’

There is a lot of anticipation surrounding the Spanish band La Plazuela, which is set to drop their first full-length album in April. The first track from the record is El lao de la pena (or, The Side of Shame) which gives listeners a taste of what they can do.

Rosalía – ‘LLYLM’

Rosalía’s self-esteem is so high that she is convinced that we are going to memorize the title of her new song: LLYLM. Take the test and ask a friend: “Have you heard LLYLM?” The name of the song is actually an acronym for Lie Like You Love Me. Musically, the track falls halfway between El mal querer and Motomami. In other words, it’s neither very flamenco nor very pop. In LLYLM, Rosalía sings in a mix of Spanish and English about an impossible love. It’s not one of her best songs, and the sudden shift to flamenco is a bit forced, but here we are, humming it anyway.

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