45s of the week: Japanese Breakfast, Holly Humberstone, Sinead O Brien, and more!

The tracks you need to hear this week, reviewed by Kate French-Morris.



Irish poet and musician Sinead O Brien channels a restlessness inside a stillness on ‘Kid Stuff’ – watching clocks, sunsets, cool blue Zoom screens. Boy does that feel familiar.

“The spirit of a horse following me out / Following me out / Up and down / Stark pavement slates / Riding over scattered shadows / Reminds me / That I am still on the run,” she sing-speaks over lively guitar. Sure, the spirit of Patti Smith follows her, but the writing, pace, and intensity are undeniably O Brien’s own. Produced by Speedy Wunderground whizz Dan Carey, ‘Kid Stuff’ wriggles with repressed energy, heading towards groovier pastures after her 2020 debut EP ‘Drowning In Blessings’.


Holly Humberstone’s house is falling down. An elegy to her crumbling childhood home – “like a seventh family member” and rapidly becoming too old to live in – ‘Haunted House’ evokes memories of growing up with her three sisters and plenty of ghosts. The music video takes place in that same home, with cameos from Humberstone’s mum and dad. Displayed in all its dust-sheeted glory, the house’s lights flicker as Humberstone plays piano by candlelight.


More emo love song than family snapshot, the short ballad swerves from melancholic to urgent in the outro, reflecting that inevitable, painful tug of time. The breakthrough pop artist, known for her work with Matt Healy and Lewis Capaldi, released her debut EP ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ last year, and she’s got a second EP on the way.


Michelle Zauner, aka Japanese Breakfast, eats a box of noodles under a Japanese Breakfast poster. Her vampiric mouth is stained with blood. The lights of an empty late-night grocery store blink behind her, every bit as spooky as Holly Humberstone’s house.

Under flickering neon, to an audience of milk cartons and crisp packets, Zauner probes modern-day loneliness. ‘Posing In Bondage’ builds from an initial base of stark slow synths to bittersweet chimes that would satisfy Bjork, Grimes, and FKA twigs alike, before the song breaks into heavier bass beats.

Lush, elegant, and unsettling, ‘Posing In Bondage’ is the latest single from Japanese Breakfast’s highly anticipated third album ‘Jubilee’ – a record determined to seek out joy and sweetness after a long season of grief.


Telephone button bleeps form part of the eighties electronic backbone of ‘Telephone’, Lou Hayter’s strutting new R&B-adjacent track. “Now I’m walking in the rain without you,” she repeats to the lover she longs to see again, as cosmic synth showers subside into an unexpected, foot-stomping sax solo.

Hayter recently recast Steely Dan’s ‘Time Out Of Mind’ as an infectious disco stomp, and ‘Telephone’ continues her experiments “making pop tunes in hip hop kind of way by sampling and looping”. Proficient in new wave and French pop, the Londoner and former New Young Pony Club keyboardist invites an even wider array of styles to her solo work – electro-pop, funk, soul – and her debut album ‘Private Sunshine’ lands next month.


Kirby doesn’t need fifty ways to leave her lover(s) – a scathing hot R&B song will do just fine. ‘Boyz II Men’ features a cast of no-good exes, who slink around dripping synths and funk guitar rhythms. Kirby’s biting lines leave no room for hand-wringing. “He had another woman, yeah-yeah, a couple of ’em,” she eye-rolls witheringly, later pointing out, “I’m too grown to be checkin’ through your phone, baby.”

Last summer, the Mississippi-based artist who writes for the stars – Beyonce, Rihanna, Ariana – called out the racist origins of Aunt Jemima pancakes via a viral TikTok video, prompting a rebrand of the famous 130-year-old product. Clearly, Kirby is unafraid to take on corporate racism as well as immature lovers. Weary, defiant, and emboldened all at the same time, ‘Boyz II Men’ is a two-minute tease, leaving you thirsty for a follow-up to her 2020 debut record ‘Sis.’.

Listen to these and more new tracks on our BRAND NEW playlist.