Seeing a lime green square everywhere? Here's why you should listen to the album behind the meme (2024)

This week's wrap-up of the best new music is presented by the words Brat and Charli, and the colour lime-green.

There's a good chance you've seen the album cover, but is Charli xcx's new album worth listening to?

Find out below, plus read about new records from KAYTRANADA, Jess Cornelius, NxWorries and DOBBY.

Charli xcx — Brat

Seeing a lime green square everywhere? Here's why you should listen to the album behind the meme (1)

Even if you haven't heard Charli xcx's sixth album yet, you've likely seen it: Its lime-green cover with the word "Brat" in a blown-out, low-res black font has become the meme format du June. Even theAustralian Labor Partyand theGreenshave jumped on the trend.

It's a cultural tipping point for the British singer — a critical darling who, for the past decade, has stood at the cutting edge of pop rather than centrestage.

Brat's 15 tracks are exactly like its cover: a touch abrasive and intentionally messy. Going against current pop trends of nu-disco or sugary hyperpop, Brat looks back to electroclash and the mid-00s raves of Charli's teen years (think Uffie, Justice, Peaches).

But this isn’t a lazy revival, as Charli and executive producer A.G. Cook keep things weird, with slightly manic production of metallic beats and grainy, blown-out beats.

Lead single 'Von Dutch' is all ego and irony – a dance track built around a whirling siren and bragging ("It’s OK to admit that you’re just jealous of me," she sings via vocoder, disaffected). While Brat is packed with boisterous tracks ("When I get to the club / Yeah, I wanna dance to me," she sings on 'Club Classics'), the album leans into the highs and lows of being a 31-year-old it girl.

Stand-out tracks are some of the more vulnerable moments, including 'Rewind', a banger about nostalgia’s pangs. and 'I might say something stupid', a chilly ballad about being the least-famous person at a VIP party.

But nothing sums up Brat quite like the one-two punch of 'I think about it all the time’, a gentle footwork-meets-lullaby where Charli contemplates motherhood, leading into album closer '365', a turbo-charged club hit about dancing all night and day. And it loops perfectly into Brat opener '360': In Charli’s world, the party (and the emotional chaos) never ends.

For fans of:Caroline Polachek, Troye Sivan, SOPHIE

—Jared Richards

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Seeing a lime green square everywhere? Here's why you should listen to the album behind the meme (2)

You won't have another listening experience this year quite like the debut album from proud Filipino, Murrawarri and Ngemba artist DOBBY.

The composer, producer, rapper and drummer (real name Rhyan Clapham) has spent five years putting together WARRANGU: River Story, an ambitious project that tackles complex issues with an innovative approach.

Case in point: remixing the distinct call of the pied butcherbird into a melodic motif on 'Dirrpi Yuin Patjulinya' ('The Bird Names Himself') against cinematic strings, knocking drums, and bars calling for systemic transformation rapped in English and the First Nations languages of Ngemba and Muruwari.

Threaded with evocative instrumental interludes and interviews with Indigenous Elders, the album charts the history and degradation of the three rivers that form tribal boundaries in DOBBY's ancestral home of Brewarrina in New South Wales: the Bogari (Bogan) river to the south, the Culgoa River in the north, and the Barwon River to the east.

As well as celebrating culture and Country, WARRANGU is a fierce protest against the billions of litres of water theft from the Murray-Darling Basin that sparked a royal commission, and the devastating knock-on effects to the environment from this "man-made drought".

"Irrigators hide their face from the papers / This our nation Watergate investigation," DOBBY spits on 'Matter of Time'. "Rivers taken, look at what we facing / All the fish are dead in the Murray-Darling Basin."

WARRANGU: River Story is an immersive hybrid of soundtrack-worthy music and audio documentary, and Australians could learn an awful lot from listening closely to what DOBBY has to say.

For fans of:Ziggy Ramo, BARKAA, DRMNGNOW

—Al Newstead

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NxWorries — Why Lawd?

Seeing a lime green square everywhere? Here's why you should listen to the album behind the meme (3)

Yes Lawd!, the 2016 debut album from NxWorries (pronounced "no worries") was one of the most under-appreciated hip-hop records of the 10s.

A lot has happened since then, especially for vocalist Anderson .Paak, who now has a Super Bowl appearance and an excellent collaboration with Bruno Mars on his long list of achievements.

Just like on that first LP eight years back, Paak and producer Knxwledge lock in effortlessly on its follow-up Why Lawd?, delivering a collection of songs that sound glossy but, not far beneath their surface, reveal some darker aspects of fame.

Musically, the album brings together sleek 70s-style soul and classic hip-hop and wraps it up with a psychedelic sheen that makes it all sound both vintage and timeless. Neither need notes on their composition or delivery: They breeze through 19 tracks of wonky soul with confidence.

Paak's inner monologue is less confident, his lyrics teetering between braggadocious and deeply insecure as he boasts about his greatness in one breath ('86Sentra'), and admits he keeps refreshing his ex-girlfriend's social media feeds in another ('HereIAm').

Some will find it hard to stomach, but those who've followed Paak's work will relish this examination of wealth, fame and masculinity. This moment in 'Where I Go' is as good as anything he's written: "She says I'm so terrible / But this is me."

Celebrity guests abound – Snoop Dogg, H.E.R., Charlie Wilson – but it’s the powerful combination of these two men's talents that makes it unmissable.

For fans of: Teddy Pendergrass, Thundercat, Gang Starr

— Dan Condon

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Jess Cornelius — CARE/TAKING

Seeing a lime green square everywhere? Here's why you should listen to the album behind the meme (4)

CARE/TAKING, the second solo album from New Zealand-bred singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius, was born from a period of immense upheaval.

After a decade fronting Melbourne-based band , Cornelius relocated to LA, became a mother, and experienced the end of a significant relationship.

She grapples with those intense emotional stakes on CARE/TAKING with unflinching lyrical honesty and sonic ingenuity.

"I'm having your child now and I can't stand to play those children's games," she sings on 'Desire' amid a soundscape of longing sax and stark rhythms.

But a streak of defiance and hard-won optimism charges the album.

"Tell me everything will work out right … day will follow night will follow day" Cornelius sings in the cathartic chorus of 'Laps in the Drugstore', which sounds like Aldous Harding fronting The Strokes, and was inspired by the heartwarming image of Cornelius and her child enjoying life's simple pleasures.

Her young daughter also provides a spontaneous toy piano solo on hypnotic opener 'Tui Is a Bird (The Work)'.

Recorded and produced with Mikal Cronin (best known for his work with fuzz rock favourite Ty Segall), the album's vintage sonic touches evoke idols like David Bowie ('The Surgeon') and Kate Bush ('Dying'). But the personality of the record is entirely Jess Cornelius – a songwriter who continues to refine their artistry as they face life and love with resilience and sincerity.

For fans of:Jen Cloher, Laura Jean, Andy Shauf

—Al Newstead

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Seeing a lime green square everywhere? Here's why you should listen to the album behind the meme (5)

KAYTRANADA's long-awaited third album plays out like a seamless hour-long soundtrack to the best night of your life.

Some of the best voices in the business have leapt at the chance to jump on the new KAYTRA project, resulting in an enviably cool collection of soulful electro and R&B that builds on the Canadian producer's already impressive catalogue.

Childish Gambino adds a little star power on 'Witchy', Tinashe's syncopated vocal works brilliantly with the carious sonic treats KAYTRA slips into the mix on 'More Than a Little Bit', while the steely-yet-alluring PinkPantheress brings the whole affair into the current day on 'Snap My Finger'. There are shades of P-Funk in 'Weird', slinky neo-soul in 'Still', and early-00s-aping R&B on 'Video'.

There's value in just about every individual song on TIMELESS, but the record is altogether more exciting when heard in its entirety. KAYTRANADA is a master of mood and flow, and this record is the best example of his particular style of craftsmanship yet.

For fans of:Childish Gambino, Beyoncé, Normani

— Dan Condon

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Seeing a lime green square everywhere? Here's why you should listen to the album behind the meme (2024)
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