Listen to this: New singles from The Flaming Lips and The xx

By Nicholas Jennings

Pop music is a cyclical thing, always moving forward and backward in search of inspiration. Some have warned that cannibalization might one day be the downfall of pop, due to the constant recycling of old ideas. The name of one English alt-rock group, Pop Will Eat Itself, is actually based on that very concept. Happily, pop is far from finished and there are still plenty of bands willing to keep pushing the music forward.

The Flaming Lips
“We Are Family” feat. Miley Cyrus

The Lips have been stretching musical boundaries for over two decades. Led by wacky frontman Wayne Coyne, the Oklahoma City band has fearlessly charted a course deep into its own brand of psychedelic rock. The name of the group’s latest album, Oczy Mlody, and some of its songs were taken from the Polish translation of a book Wayne found at a thrift store (he liked the sound of the words rather than their meaning). Wayne and the Lips have met a kindred freaky spirit in Miley Cyrus. In 2015, they backed the “Wrecking Ball” singer on her Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz album. Now Miley returns the favour, dueting with Wayne on the Lips’ spacey new single.

The Lips’ frontman, who credits Miley and unicorns as inspirations for Oczy Mlody, has posted photos of himself with both on Twitter.

The xx
“Dangerous”

England’s the xx won the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2010 for the starkly minimalist sound of its debut recording. The electro-pop trio’s third album, I See You, broadens its sonic scope, adding danceable beats and melodic hooks while exploring the challenges of love and heartache. Friends since they were teenagers, the xx’s Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith have managed to retain the intimate fragility that became a signature of their songs. “You’ve had faith in me,” Oliver sings on the band’s new, horn-driven single, “so I won’t shy away.” Then he adds: “Should it all fall down, you’ll have been my favourite mistake.”

Romy, Oliver and Jamie took to Twitter to share a happy photo of themselves, along with an explanation of the meaning behind I See You.

Hello music columnist Nicholas Jennings surveys the pop landscape each week to find the most dynamic tracks to add to your playlist.

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