Life Listens: New music from Cigarettes After Sex, Phoenix, King & Prince, Roy Wang and Rriley

American dream pop band Cigarettes After Sex will play at the Capitol Theatre on Jan 31 and Feb 1, 2023. PHOTOS: EBIRU YILDIZ, SPANISH PRAYERS/PARTISAN RECORDS

Singapore – In this weekly column, The Straits Times curates the most buzz-worthy music you need to know about now.

Stream This Song: Cigarettes After Sex – Pistol

Tickets to American dream pop band Cigarettes After Sex’s concert at the Capitol Theatre on Feb 1 were so in demand that a second show was added on Jan 31.

Fans can be assured that there will be at least one new song to sing along to at the gigs. The Texas trio have released Pistol, their first track in two years.

A track wrapped with their trademark gauzy atmospherics and anchored by frontman Greg Gonzalez’s soft-spoken lament on a love lost, it is not exactly groundbreaking.

It sounds like exactly what the punters would expect, and they seem content to stay with the same formula that has earned them a cult following.

Perhaps Cigarettes After Sex would expand their repertoire further if they were to release a follow-up to their 2019 album Cry. But, for now, Pistol adds to their list of break-up songs to get sad to. – Eddino Abdul Hadi

Ace Album: Phoenix – Alpha Zulu

French indie band Phoenix recorded their seventh album Alpha Zulu at the Louvre. PHOTO: LOYAUTE/GLASSNOTE

French indie pop band Phoenix, which will perform at The Star Theatre on March 9, recorded their new album in one of their country’s most iconic locations – a museum within the Louvre.

The rich array of famed artworks housed there was so inspiring, the quartet – who won a Best Alternative Music Album Grammy for Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009) – finished writing all the tracks in a little over a week.

Phoenix have been around for 27 years, but the songs on Alpha Zulu display a viridity usually associated with fresh acts.

The sparkling synths, peppy rhythms and singer Thomas Mars’ knack for fetching melodies make this album a joy to listen to.

From After Midnight’s buoyant beats to Season 2’s groovy bass line, these are the type of songs that would work well both at a live gig and on the dance floor. – Eddino Abdul Hadi

Singapore Scene: Rriley – growing pains

Singapore singer-songwriter Rriley opts for a more soulful sound on her new single, growing pains. PHOTO: ZENDYLL

Remember home-grown pop quartet The Sam Willows? They are still on hiatus, but are all working on their individual projects.

The latest of these solo works comes from Rriley, the nom de guerre of singer, musician and songwriter Sandra Riley Tang.

Her new single, growing pains, is a little different from previous tunes such as Burn (2019) and Love Me Like A (2020), eschewing bass-heavy, dance-pop leanings for a vibe that is more soulful.

A confessional track about dealing with anxiety, it starts out mellow before building up into a joyous burst of hand-clapping gospel choral singing.

And there is a bonus. Look out for the sample of the call of the koel bird halfway through the song, a distinctive sound familiar to many locals. – Eddino Abdul Hadi

Chart Champ: King & Prince – Tsukiyomi/Irodori

J-pop boy band King & Prince’s latest release has topped Japan’s Oricon and Billboard charts. PHOTO: KINGANDPRINCE_J/TWITTER

King & Prince’s latest release has soared to the top of Billboard Japan’s Hot 100 and Japan’s Oricon charts for total single sales, selling more than 792,000 copies in its first week of release – their best debut week numbers.

The strong sales may have been fuelled by the quintet’s shocking announcement in early November that Sho Hirano, Yuta Jinguji and Yuta Kishi will leave the J-pop group on May 22, leaving Ren Nagase and Kaito Takahashi as the remaining members.

This bombshell from arguably the most successful act right now from Japan’s top male idol agency Johnny & Associates has led to fervent speculation and conspiracy theories.

Of the two singles, Tsukiyomi is more interesting, showing how versatile King & Prince can be, which makes the news of their shake-up that much more poignant.

Incorporating refreshing Latin music influences, the up-tempo dance number is mysterious and sexy, with a stylish hip-hop flair that the guys have previously favoured in releases such as Nanana (2021). It also allows them to showcase their superb dance skills with yet another powerful piece of choreography.

While it remains to be seen what King & Prince will do as a duo, the five-man iteration will be missed. – Jan Lee

Must-See MV: Roy Wang – Till The Edge Of The World

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Chinese singer Roy Wang’s new EP Bedazzling includes Till The Edge Of The World, which has a beautifully shot music video.

The song imagines being with a loved one in various scenarios and the video has no narrative. Instead, it is presented as a series of fascinating scenes featuring Wang and Chinese actress Huang Sirui, and the art direction is superb.

Directed by Beijing-based photographer Shen Siyuan, it shows his penchant for evocative mise en scenes. Its first scene takes place in a blue-tinged room so intricately designed, with a patterned ceiling and lights that gently shift and shimmer, it could have appeared in a design magazine. As the stars lounge around the space, each shot is perfectly composed with lit sparklers and red balloons.

Till The Edge Of The World by Chinese singer Roy Wang imagines being with a loved one in various scenes and locations. PHOTO: ROY WANG/WEIBO

The next shot shows a magical scene of Wang lying on a tree floating in the air amid a flock of birds, which could have come straight out of a storybook. Another sequence pictures him and Huang in a secluded, firefly-lit cave.

It is evident much thought went into this work. Shen has indeed created magic here. – Benson Ang

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