The best (and worst) new singles: Donny Benét, Bat for Lashes and more

The best (and worst) new singles: Donny Benét, Bat for Lashes and more

Words by Augustus Welby

Sui Zhen and Fionn Regan also feature.

Sui Zhen ‘Matsudo City Life’

Living in the same city as a songwriter gives you no claim over their work, but when new music surfaces from someone like Sui Zhen, you can’t help but feel proud to share a city in common. That said, Zhen’s latest single has more to do with another city: Matsudo in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture. Over a disco throb akin to Robyn, Zhen speaks affectionately of being somewhere no one knows your name. Like most of her work, it comes awfully close to pop music without sacrificing its personality.

Label: Dot Dash

Fionn Regan – ‘Riverside Heights’

About halfway through Fionn Regan’s new album Cala, the Irish songwriter unleashes some of the darkest, most abstract writing of his career. It’s easily his most satisfying work. It’s as though Regan is lowering himself into one of the bodies of water that occupy his attention throughout the record. In that context, ‘Riverside Heights’ is a gentle paddle on a clear night. It’s an acoustic strummer decorated with rich imagery; “The sand dune and the stars, the moon is a tambourine.”

Label: Abbey Records

Bat For Lashes – ‘The Hunger’

Natasha Khan’s work has always harkened back to the post-punk era while putting forward a celestial, new age quality. On a practical level, this is reflected in Khan’s fondness for merging electronic programming with organic textures and earnestly expressed vocals. It’s all contained within ‘The Hunger’, but there’s a contemporary sheen to the production that lends itself to commercial airplay. Khan’s radiant spirit is the song’s nucleus, however. She’s not trying to be a cool kid, which is precisely what sustains the vitality of her work.

Label: AWAL Recordings

Donny Benét – ‘Second Dinner’

Including food references within pop songs tends to bring down the sexiness quotient. Donny Benét’s attractive and approachable disco has defined itself via a refreshing amount of self-awareness – there’s no deception, just hot love – but can that quality withstand Benét declaring his passion for double dinners? “I could touch my toes once, could make love all night,” he sings in the second verse. “But these days it’s eating that gives me all my delight.” It’s hard to imagine anyone taking issue.

Label: Dot Dash