First Stream: New Music From Lil Baby, Blink-182, The 1975 and More
Billboard’s First Stream serves as a handy guide to this Friday’s most essential releases — the key music that everyone will be talking about today, and that will be dominating playlists this weekend and beyond.
This week, Lil Baby takes his turn again, Blink-182 is back and edgier than ever, and The 1975 has a concise mission statement. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Lil Baby, It’s Only Me
On the one hand, Lil Baby is a natural star, with a singular voice and the type of charisma that can carry him through solo hits, guest verses and commercial opportunities; on the other hand, Lil Baby’s music, sometimes anxious and often insular, does not line up with the longstanding tenets of mainstream hip-hop. That tension between personality and product has been fascinating to witness as Lil Baby’s profile has exploded since 2020’s My Turn, and makes up the heart of It’s Only Me, which arrives as a blockbuster (with guest spots from Future, Young Thug, Jeremih and Pooh Shiesty, among others) but is defined by Baby’s attention to detail and searing approach to storytelling instead of any lunges toward catchiness. Complex and affecting, It’s Only Me finds Lil Baby embracing his own definition of stardom.
“I’m a punk rock kid, I came from hell with a curse / She tried to pray it away, so I f–ked her in church,” Tom DeLonge sings in the opening minute of Blink-182’s comeback single “Edging,” cutting to the chase on his first Blink single since a years-long hiatus. The trio’s focus is on next year’s enormous reunion tour, but “Edging” proves that DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker still know how to get in a room and create tight, catchy, exceedingly sophomoric pop-punk; it’s great to have them back.
The 1975, Being Funny in a Foreign Language
The 1975 are responsible for some of the most dazzling pop songs of the past decade, so the fact that Matty Healy and co. decided to team up with Jack Antonoff for Being Funny in a Foreign Language — with the seeming intent of making an album about love — should entice anyone who’s even a casual fan of the UK group. What Antonoff offers on the full-length is focus: the band’s typical studio sprawl is streamlined to 11 tracks here, bursting with hope for a better tomorrow in the digital age and adoration of pop song craft (“Oh Caroline,” for instance, is the sound of everyone involved synthesizing the ‘80s and firing on all cylinders).
Zach Bryan, “Starved”
“Starved” serves as a pristine example of why Zach Bryan has become one of country music’s breakout stars of the year: the new single, which follows the prolific singer-songwriter’s American Heartbreak album and Summertime Blues EP, functions more as an apotheosis of his country-rock songwriting than as a stopgap single, drenched in memories and moving forward with a choked-up growl. “There’s no world in which I am good for you,” Bryan concludes in the bridge, as strings quietly soundtrack his hurt.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Return of the Dream Canteen
Red Hot Chili Peppers may have made fans wait six years for new music following 2016’s The Getaway, but they also made the payoff worth their while, with both Unlimited Love and now Return of the Dream Canteen coming out in 2022 (with a stadium tour across North American in between their releases). At 75 minutes, Return of the Dream Canteen (recorded during the Unlimited Love sessions) is both a deluge of what the Chilis do best — opening track “Tippa My Tongue” gives Anthony Kiedis free range to spit his game — and a project that’s more satisfying than a B-sides collection, especially when it comes to blissed-out cuts like the Eddie Van Halen tribute “Eddie.”
Nessa Barrett, Young Forever
Pop, alternative, pop-punk, emo — however you want to describe Nessa Barrett’s music, the singer-songwriter has found a niche in telling stories that work on radio stations and in TikTok clips. Young Forever, Barrett’s debut album, continues down the emotionally unflinching path that she began with the stunning eating disorder account “Dying on the Inside,” as tracks like “Dear God” and “Tired of California” document feelings of emptiness and ennui above ethereal arrangements.