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Music Preview: Familar artists bloom once again in upcoming spring releases

(Hao Tam Tran/Daily Bruin)

By Sydney Gaw, Ana Camila Burquez, Ruwani Jayasekara, Talia Sajor, and Allison Bushong

April 10, 2024 4:44 p.m.

This post was updated May 21 at 5:45 p.m. 

Like many Bruins, these icons of pop culture are coming out of hibernation.

Following several years between projects, artists are making their return to music this season. From releases embracing joy and rebellion to candid recounts from members of beloved boy bands, it seems a breeze of resilience is in the air. Just like a flower that blooms after a harsh winter, these seasoned musicians are back to reclaim their fame.

Read on for the Daily Bruin’s guide to this season’s sonic bloom.

[Related: Dave Grohl named 2024 UCLA Spring Sing George and Ira Gershwin Award winner]

girl in red&squot;s sophomore album cover reads the title “I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!” as an individual sprints by. The April 12 release includes the prerelease tracks "Too Much" and "You Need Me Now?" the latter of which features pop starlett Sabrina Carpenter. (Courtesy of Columbia Records)
girl in red’s sophomore album cover reads the title “I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!” as an individual sprints by. The Friday release includes the prerelease tracks “Too Much” and “You Need Me Now?” the latter of which features pop starlett Sabrina Carpenter. (Courtesy of Columbia Records)

“I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!” by girl in red

Friday will be “A Night To Remember,” thanks to girl in red’s new album.

The Norwegian singer is releasing her sophomore album Friday titled “I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!” The release follows her April 2021 debut album, “if i could make it go quiet,” by almost three years to the date. The artist heavily emphasizes her return to releasing music through her 10-song tracklist, with the opening track titled “I’m Back” and track two taking inspiration from the album title.

girl in red became an icon of the queer community with her bedroom pop releases “we fell in love in october” and “i wanna be your girlfriend,” characterized by soft instrumentals and sapphic lyrics. “I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!” promises to show stylistic growth as girl in red embraces punk and veers away from all-lowercase track titles. Themes of defiance and individualism bleed through the lyrics, “You just don’t understand me,” of pre-release single “Too Much.” In the following tracks, Sabrina Carpenter’s feature on “You Need Me Now?” sets an upbeat and airy tone for the album, reminiscent of Carpenter’s “Feather.”

Fans can look forward to an evolution of girl in red’s style as she explores what it means to do it all again.

– Allison Bushong

5 Seconds of Summer member Luke Hemmings looks down for his hazy album cover. The singer&squot;s sophomore album "boy" will be released April 26. (Courtesy of Arista)
5 Seconds of Summer member Luke Hemmings looks down for his hazy EP cover. The singer’s second solo project “boy” will be released April 26. (Courtesy of Arista)

“boy” by Luke Hemmings

With wide-eyed nostalgia, Luke Hemmings is reexploring his journey into adulthood.

The 5 Seconds of Summer lead singer and guitarist will be releasing his second solo project, “boy,” on April 26. Living in the musical spotlight since the band’s inception in 2011, Hemmings shared on Instagram that the songs came from a place of self-doubt and uncertainty toward the world around him. He later announced the accompanying tour, “Nostalgia for a Time That Never Existed,” with stops in Europe, Australia and North America.

Sonically and thematically similar to his debut album, “When Facing the Things We Turn Away From,” “boy” marks the returning collaboration between Hemmings and Grammy award-winning producer Sammy Witte. The EP’s first single dropped March 6, titled “Shakes,” followed by “Close My Eyes.” Contrary to the more upbeat, pop-rock sound Hemmings usually fronts in 5SOS, the two tracks provide a more introspective, dreamlike atmosphere, reminiscent of dream-pop group M83. The synthy foreground also lays the foundation for an emotional rollercoaster of existentialism, with influences from alternative acts such as LCD Soundsystem, Cocteau Twins and The Verve.

Come April 26, the wistful narrative of this “boy” will shake the hearts of listeners.

– Talia Sajor

[Related: Second Take: Young, female fan bases face undeserved scrutiny for music taste]

"New Rules" singer Dua Lipa goes for a swim in shark-infested waters. Her May 3 album "Radical Optimism" will include the singles "Houdini" and "Training Season." (Courtesy of Warner Records)
“New Rules” singer Dua Lipa goes for a swim in shark-infested waters. Her May 3 album “Radical Optimism” will include the singles “Houdini” and “Training Season.” (Courtesy of Warner Records)

“Radical Optimism” by Dua Lipa

Submerged in a sea of chaos, positivity is keeping Dua Lipa afloat.

Four years after her “Levitating” ascension through the charts with her sophomore record, the English artist brings her third studio album back down to earth with a renewed focus on authenticity and raw lyricism. Set to release May 3, “Radical Optimism” draws influence from the sounds of London, the Grammy winner’s hometown, intertwining ‘90s Britpop, trip-hop and ’70s-style psychedelia, as reported by Variety. Previewing the 11-track album, the two pre-release singles “Houdini”’ and “Training Season” sonically adhere to Lipa’s distinctive dance-pop and disco blend yet expose an added element of lyrical vulnerability.

Revealed in the album’s trailer on Instagram, “Radical Optimism” reflects the message of happiness and positivity expressed in Lipa’s victory speech on the Grammys stage in 2021. Weaving a voiceover from Lipa throughout a rapid montage of clips from studio sessions and rehearsals, the trailer echoes the prevailing theme guiding the upcoming album: finding calm within the chaos of the storm. While the album showcases a new level of honesty in Lipa’s lyricism, “Radical Optimism” is sure to be rooted in the electro-pop, dance music style Lipa’s fanbase has grown to love.

Embracing self-discovery and resilience, “Radical Optimism” marks not just the “End Of An Era,” but the start of a new one for Lipa.

– Ruwani Jayasekara

A blue silhouette of a face contains a rendering of the namesake for ZAYN&squot;s upcoming album, "ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS." The project includes the single "What I Am" and offers a closer look into the life of the former boy band member. (Courtesy of Mercury Records/Republic Records)
A blue silhouette of a face contains a rendering of the namesake for ZAYN’s upcoming album, “ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS.” The project includes the single “What I Am” and offers a closer look into the life of the former boy band member. (Courtesy of Mercury Records/Republic Records)

“ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS” by ZAYN

ZAYN’s new era comes with a motto: “Just take me for what I am.”

Set to release May 17, “ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS” is ZAYN’s fourth studio album as a solo artist and has been in the works for over half a decade.The artist revealed in his Hot Ones interview that the album is his most vulnerable and honest piece of work yet. Named after a recording room at ZAYN’s house, the album welcomes listeners into the artist’s home through songs that provide insight into different aspects of his life, from internal dilemmas to romantic relationships and parenthood.

This new chapter in ZAYN’s music shows a different side of the artist, his public persona and his sound. The artist started this era by deleting all Instagram posts unrelated to the album and has continued it by actively promoting the album with interviews, as well as hinting toward his first solo tour. Most importantly, this album is a shift in ZAYN’s sound, which can already be heard in his latest single, “What I Am.” The artist told L’Officiel that this new sound is more raw and stripped-back than what he has done in the past in hopes of creating the confidentiality of a one-on-one conversation with the listener.

After over 14 years in the industry, “ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS” will allow fans to get to know ZAYN like never before.

– Ana Camila Burquez

Lindsey Stirling is surrounded by blue-green butterflies and coral flowers on her album cover. "Duality" will continue the musician&squot;s crossgenre exploarion and includes reflections on past epochs of her artistic journey. (Courtesy of Concord Records)
Lindsey Stirling is surrounded by blue-green butterflies and coral flowers on her album cover. “Duality” will continue the musician’s crossgenre exploarion and includes reflections on past epochs of her artistic journey. (Courtesy of Concord Records)

“Duality” by Lindsey Stirling

With a new rendition of electric violin polyphony, Lindsey Stirling is rocking the world.

The violinist’s seventh studio album is set to release June 14. “Duality” will feature 12 songs that showcase the ethereal and experimental qualities characteristic of Stirling’s previous compositions. In accordance with the album title, “Duality” consists of two distinct melodic themes. The first half highlights grandiose melodies that are reminiscent of Celtic music, while the second half leans more towards alt-pop. Side B will also feature artists Royal & the Serpent and Walk off the Earth. The album’s release will be followed by the “Duality Tour” starting July 12.

Known for writing and performing a variety of music styles ranging from classical to rock and pop to electronic dance, Stirling often experiments with different genres, and “Duality” is no exception. The upcoming album focuses on the artist’s refusal to be defined by a single style, as well as other people’s expectations of her. In the music video for the album’s first single, “Eye Of The Untold Her,” Stirling responds to the critiques made by America’s Got Talent judges over a decade ago and references her previous musical eras to demonstrate the progression of her career and identity. Ultimately, the album alludes to the wisdom, strength and confidence Stirling has gained on her journey as a musician, redefining what the violin can sound like.

In “Duality,” listeners will get to hear a new side of the longtime composer and musician.

– Sydney Gaw

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Sydney Gaw
Talia Sajor | Arts editor
Sajor is the 2023-2024 Arts editor. She previously served as the 2022-2023 Theater | film | television editor and a Photo, Opinion and PRIME contributor. She is also a third-year communication student from Oxnard, California.
Sajor is the 2023-2024 Arts editor. She previously served as the 2022-2023 Theater | film | television editor and a Photo, Opinion and PRIME contributor. She is also a third-year communication student from Oxnard, California.
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