The Very best Progressive Pop New music of 2021

Listen: Maandy, “Hivi Na Hivo”


Magdalena Bay: Mercurial Globe

The internet-obsessed rollout for Magdalena Bay’s debut album featured Y2K-type websites, meta tunes videos, and hallucinatory TikToks—playful gateways into a single of the most exclusive pop information of the year. The L.A.-based duo of Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin make new music splashed with markers of the past: vaporwave, G-funk, and Max Martin-sized pop are all touchstones for Mercurial Globe. There are wobbly sugar rushes and glitched-out ballads, but the album reaches its apex on “Chaeri,” a melancholic ode to a crumbling friendship wherever Magdalena Bay provide pathos and electro-pop perfection all at when. –Eric Torres

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Saddest Manufacturing unit / Dead Oceans

MUNA: “Silk Chiffon” [ft. Phoebe Bridgers]

​​Who’d have guessed that, in the yr of our Lord 2021, Phoebe Bridgers would place the words “life’s so fun” to tape—unironically? Even indie rock’s phantom queen bought swept up in the giddiness of “Silk Chiffon,” the first one introduced by alt-pop team MUNA on Bridgers’ possess label. MUNA’s music frequently center queer love this one, explained by the band as anything “for young children to have their very first homosexual kiss to,” is a swirl of tummy butterflies and PG sensuality. But people demure lyrics are backed by dazzling acoustic chords, fizzy electronics, and a refrain that pops like confetti, earning “Silk Chiffon” wonderfully bombastic—a convincing counterpoint in a yr of tasteful, understated A-record pop. –Olivia Horn

Pay attention: MUNA, “Silk Chiffon” [ft. Phoebe Bridgers]


PinkPantheress: “Just for Me”

The aughts revival obtained major this calendar year. With confessional lyrics alongside crushed-out 2-stage and garage beats, 20-year-outdated PinkPantheress soundtracked the confessional side of TikTok in 480p resolution, calling back again to the halcyon days of LiveJournal. “Just for me” lingers in the cutely obsessive, a diary entry that indulges the form of vulnerability afforded by the far more introverted corners of the internet. –Stefanie Fernández

Pay attention: PinkPantheress, “Just for Me”


quinn: “and most importantly, have fun”

More than the earlier two many years, quinn emerged as one of the faces of digicore by her brash, boisterous online pop and rap, but in 2021, disillusioned with newfound fame, she began to reinvent herself. On her 1-off single “and most importantly, have enjoyment,” she navigates this transition with an evil grin. The intro—“You don’t even know me, you really do not even know me”—feels scornful, but together with verses describing a wild, drug-fueled bender, it gets an invitation to sign up for her in the eye of the storm. Jagged bits of tradition fly all all-around: G-funk and drum’n’bass, a Kesha lyric, snippets from CDC director Rochelle Walensky and A Tribe Referred to as Quest. Like quinn’s on the internet presence, the tune generates an illusion of familiarity when preserving the listener at arm’s duration. –Mano Sundaresan

Pay attention: quinn, “and most importantly, have fun”

Matsor Initiatives

Rostam: “4Runner”

Rostam’s twelve-string tribute to the open up highway would make everyone swoon, but this like song might maintain particular significance for queer individuals. “Don’t wanna be pretty like a lady,” he sings. “I consider I’m very a lot your boy.” For any individual who’s at any time felt like a foreigner in their personal skin, being seen in the ideal way by the appropriate person—handsome fairly than gorgeous, say—can sense like a homecoming. In “4Runner,” Rostam and his adore make a new home for themselves on the freeway, leaving the familiar at the rear of and driving forward into a future that after seemed impossible. –Peyton Thomas

Pay attention: Rostam, “4Runner”


Smerz: “Believer”

Smerz, the digital venture of Norwegian songwriters Henriette Motzfeldt and Catharina Stoltenberg, produced its debut whole-size, Believer, early this 12 months. The album’s cold, creeping title monitor is between the duo’s finest work: The song teeters on jagged synths and rattling polyrhythms, while strings surge from at the rear of at gale power. Stoltenberg’s voice is smaller and a bit processed, a mechanical purr that somehow feels each vulnerable and detached. Her clipped dispatches on really like are pragmatic and icy, but beguiling ample to lure you by means of each individual disorienting curve. –Madison Bloom