45s of the week: Alvvays, NIKI, Doechii, and more!

The tracks you need to hear this week, reviewed by Rhian Daly

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NIKI – ‘Oceans & Engines’ 

On ‘Oceans & Engines’, the second track from NIKI’s upcoming new album ‘Nicole’, the Indonesian singer-songwriter says goodbye. It’s not a casual farewell, but the kind that wrenches at your heart and threatens to overshadow your days for months to come. “How is it now that somehow you’re a stranger? / You were mine just yesterday,” she sighs over melancholy guitars, mourning how “something beautiful died too soon”. It’s not all doom and gloom though – midway through, NIKI acknowledges better times on the horizon, she just needs to get through the grief first. 

Doechii – ‘Bitch I’m Nice’

Since going viral on TikTok last year, things have only been skyrocketing for Tampa rapper Doechii. In the time since, she’s joined SZA’s tour as opening act, performed at the BET Awards, collabed with David Guetta and signed a deal with Top Dawg Entertainment. Her latest single ‘Bitch I’m Nice’ is yet another big move. Although it only clocks in at under one-and-a-half minutes, she packs plenty into it, her rapid-fire flow commanding your attention and her hushed chorus delivery making you believe it when she purrs: “I’m the best thing in your life.” 

aespa – ‘Girls’

K-pop might have been taking influence from rock and pop-punk for a hot minute lately, but aespa take the sound in a different, darker direction on ‘Girls’. The title track from their second mini-album – also released today – revs with heavy metal energy, crunchy, beastly guitars grinding beneath the four-piece’s pop hooks. Even when a metallic synth riff bursts into the track in its final throes, it fizzes with distortion. It’s a powerful new approach from Korea’s most-hyped new girl group. 

Alvvays – ‘Pharmacist’

It’s been five long years since we last heard from Alvvays, but ‘Pharmacist’ immediately makes up for their long absence. The first track from their upcoming new record ‘Blue Rev’ is a dizzying delight – one full of sparkling guitars that rush and surge in exhilarating bursts. “I know your back / I saw your sister at the pharmacy / Picking up / Said you had that new love glow,” Molly Rankin sings in its opening lines, sorrow ringing through her poised delivery. Later, she adds: “I know I never crossed your mind.” That might be true of the person she’s singing about, but Alvvays have stayed firmly in the minds of many and this comeback proves why. 

Phem – ‘brkdwn’ 

I just wanna feel alive / So bring it on,” Phem challenges on their energetic new single ‘brkdwn’, their first release for new label home Hopeless Records. It’s a buzzing anthem that collates all the pain, confusion and fear of the last two years and transforms it into something bold and brilliant; an invigorating reminder of the electricity of life. By the time they sing “Let’s fall in love with the breakdown”, you’ll feel supercharged again. Read our interview with Phem.

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