45s of the week: English Teacher, Holly Humberstone, Jennie and more!

The tracks you need to hear this week, reviewed by Jenessa Williams


English Teacher – ‘Nearly Daffodils’

Moving with the energy of one of Britain’s most exciting new bands, Leeds-based English Teacher are doing an excellent job of maintaining momentum, slowly unfurling new sides to their sound. Where previous works have often felt brooding or even menacing in parts, ‘Nearly Daffodils’ carries some sonic optimism, an intricate, racing melody that recalls the indie disco days of Cajun Dance Party or Good Shoes, daring to stick out its foot and trip you down a spiral staircase of unpredictable melody. 

At the bottom rung, vocalist Lily Fontaine is waiting with words of thoughtful reassurance. Life is hard, and potential often goes wasted, but in “all the quiet hours we tiptoed around”, there is still some kernel of magic to be unlocked in the acceptance of having been brave enough to try. Spring may be a little way away, but there’s plenty here to ward off any autumnal ennui — whatever you’ve been feeling crap about, it might be time to get back on the horse.

Holly Humberstone – ‘Kissing in Swimming Pools

Holly Humberstone has long been good at wistful ballads, but as the final release before the birth of her debut ‘Paint My Bedroom Black’, she offers a double-edge love story, teetering on the edge of giving yourself to a person without knowing if they can fully return your affection. Through stirring, Americana strings and a whisper-sung conclusion — “We don’t have to complicate it / I just want to be alone with you”, Humberstone seems ready to risk it all, diving into mysterious waters in the hope of a happy ending. 


Jennie – ‘You and Me

Firmly in their ‘solo showcase’ era, each member of BLACKPINK has been pulling the weight for pop crossover releases. This time it’s Jennie’s turn, and with ‘You & Me’, she displays an assertive blend of romantic schmaltz and twinkly dance-pop sass. Perceived by some fans as a kind of covert call-and-response to her rumoured boyfriend (V of fellow K-Pop legends BTS), there’s a sweet, coquettish energy to her promises that “nobody can see/It’s just you and me tonight”. Longterm stans of the band need not fear that she’s lost dance-break edge: the last 30 seconds of the ‘Coachella Edit’ version are quintessential BlackPink, a crunching Arabic-EDM beat delivered in a velvet glove.  

Sleater Kinney – ‘Hell

Written in the eye of the grief’s storm, riot grrrl legends Sleater Kinney are back with the announcement of ‘Little Rope’, an album said to be partially inspired by Carrie Brownstein’s tragic loss of her mother and stepfather in the motoring accident. 

Perfectly capturing the sense of savage limbo one faces in any situation where they are forced to relinquish control, ‘Hell’ is both brash and painfully intimate, carrying the blues and imbibing it with the catharsis of expulsive guitar bass. Experts that they are in tension-building, it’s a thrill to have them back. 

Jæd – ‘Vessel List’

Citing the likes of Yves Tumour, Kate Bush and Death Grips as inspirations, Irish-Puerto Rican artist Jæd certainly seems to feel at home with music’s more theatrical oddballs. 

With its serrated-edge guitars and swooping vocals that ease between loud and quiet moments, ‘Vessel List’ feels gleefully obtuse, recalling the playful, quaint energy of an early Wild Beasts as Jaed’s unspools squeaks and growls and tongue-twister lyrics – “I’m your darkness sister pirate with good squalor vulture in the fern / I come from dour dirt maggot season”. Whether the music clicks for you immediately or requires a few more listens to truly ‘get’, you can certainly never accuse her of being dull. 

Listen to these bops and more of the week’s best new releases on our BRAND NEW playlist