2021 has been yet another challenging year as the world tries to grapple with the new normal with Covid19 variants repeatedly surfacing in different parts of the world and thus extinguishing any newfound optimism as communities globally try to move forward with their lives. For many of us, music continues to be our sanctuary and source of solace. At Radio Crème Brulee, we are no different. As the year nears an end, we are looking to 2022 to see which of our favorite artists/bands are returning with new material.
The interesting thing about this year’s list is that most of the artists/bands (on our list) with albums due in 2022 have released lead singles for their albums thus giving fans a glimpse into the sonic trajectory in which they are headed.
The artists/bands are as follows:
Tears For Fears:
“Tipping Point” by Tears For Fears might be the most anticipated album of 2022 – especially since it has been teased since the end of 2014. While the band has been touring extensively during the interceding years, the question as to when their first album since 2004’s “Everybody loves a happy ending” was likely to see the light of day was a constant. The band at first collaborated with newer artists only to discover that the musical output was not reflective of who they were. As a result, they had to write new songs in an endeavor to be true to the Tears For Fears brand. Their momentum was further dampened by personal tragedy in the form of the demise of the wife of Roland Orzabal (one half of the duo). This tragedy and the experience around it find their way into the lyrics of the album’s title track and lead single “The Tipping Point”. While some might find the melody (especially in the verses) somewhat pedestrian, the song brims with the majestic production bells and whistles reminiscent of their milestone album “Songs from the big chair”. The follow-up single “No Small Thing”, is minimalist in comparison. The mixed signals given by the band can only make us wonder where “The Tipping Point” will fit in the grander scheme of the band’s stellar legacy. The album is slated for release on 25 February, 2022.
When Norwegian pop/rock trio a-ha returned with their 10th album “Cast In Steel” after having announced their split in 2010 followed by a farewell tour titled “Ending on a high note”, the reaction of their fanbase was mixed. Many were beyond thrilled that a-ha had decided to reform. Others accused the band of being deceptive by doing a farewell tour only to reunite a few years later. At Radio Crème Brulee, we were thrilled since the reunion gave us sonic gems such as the album’s title track “Cast in Steel” and the dramatic “Giving up the ghost”. That being said, we truly believed that this was a one-off and the band’s final output as a creative entity. Given that they are also in the midst of a world tour to play their career-defining debut album “Hunting High and Low” in its entirety, it would be easy for one to think that they are digging into nostalgia as opposed to looking forward. This idea has been challenged by the band’s inclusion of a new song called “Digital River” in their concert setlist. Once again, this song might be a red herring relative to the sound of their overall upcoming album “True North” – an orchestral album accompanied by a film that showcases their home country Norway’s stunning scenery. The album is an ode to the visual backdrop of their country that has more often than not, served as a source of inspiration for their creativity as musicians. The new material is also a collaboration with the Arctic Philharmonic. It is slated for release in the Autumn of 2022.
Poets Of The Fall:
In 2012, we published an article titled “Poets of the Fall prove that rock is not dead” on our blog. That statement of ours continues to ring true in the context of the rock scene’s best kept secret – Finnish rock band Poets Of The Fall. These guys do not believe in taking a break at all. Between constantly touring and recording music, they really are the gift that keeps giving. With a sonic template that blends atmospheric sounds, hook-laden melodies, a rocky snarl, and of course the raw magnetism of frontman Marko Saaresto, their sound is commercially viable and makes for delectable radio fodder – including on a pop broadcast radio station such as ours. Their last album “Ultraviolet” had more of a pop sensitivity than its predecessors with the orchestrally driven lead single “False Kings” and the up-tempo “Dancing on Broken Glass”. Of course, we continue to hurl criticism at them for not releasing their best songs off an album as lead singles (or even as singles). On their last album, their biggest missed opportunity in this realm was the addictive “Fool’s Paradise”. Let’s hope they lead with their strongest on the new album. While the band has shared photos from the recording studio while working on this new album, the sonic trajectory of the band on this album remains shrouded in mystery. Hopefully we do not have to wait too long to find out more.
British singer, DJ, and producer Craig David staged one of the most surprising comebacks in 2015 with the hit single “When the bassline drops” with rapper Big Narstie. This kickstarted a career renaissance for Craig David. He managed to successfully cross over to a new generation while shedding this “yesteryear’s star” label. The string of successful singles which included “Ain’t giving up” and “One more time” paved the way for the success of his 2016 album “Following my intuition” – his first UK #1 album since his debut album “Born to do it”. He managed to ride this momentum into 2018 with his album “The time is now” despite not having any singles that rivalled the best of his catalog (although they did chart well). His new single “Who you are” with British singer and songwriter MNEK just might be one of his finest in a long time and if it is even remotely reflective of his upcoming album “22” (slated for release on May 13, 2022), fans are in for a treat.
Bands that reunite against all odds with new music after a long hiatus from the limelight offer fans a delectable blend of nostalgia and novelty that is seductive. That being said, if the new material does not stand on its own merit (independent of the halo of the band’s back-catalog), the reality of nostalgia’s limited shelf life starts to seep through and gradually extinguishes the rekindled flame of the band’s return. Sadly, this is a fate that many bands meet. Fortunately, British electronic pop duo (formerly a trio with Steve Hillier) Dubstar appears well positioned towards a trajectory that contradicts this trend. Between 2020 and 2021, they released three fantastic up-tempo singles – “Hygiene Strip”, “I can see you outside” and “Tectonic Plates”. These are the singles from their upcoming album “Two” (presumably a sequel to their comeback album titled “One” released back in 2018) which is slated for release in 2022. The duo has undoubtedly set sky-high expectations for the album with these singles. – which have also together eclipsed their previous album “One”. The band also seems to have reignited their sonic chemistry with Stephen Hague (the producer of their first two albums “Disgraceful” and “Goodbye”) with the new material. We can barely wait for a formal announcement for an actual release date for the new album “Two”.
Bastille’s ubiquity on radio around the world started with their 2013 hit single “Pompeii” and while we played this track on high-rotation on our 24/7 global radio broadcast when it first released (and continue to play the song quite often), it was the follow-up singles “Things we lost in the fire” and “Of the night” (a fantastic mashup of 90s hit singles “Rhythm of the night” by Corona and “Rhythm is a dancer” by Snap) that really got us excited about Bastille. Sadly, the material that followed left us quite underwhelmed up until the release of ‘Give me the future” – the second single and title track of their upcoming album in 2022. It brims with the same spirit that made their earlier music as radio friendly as it still is. We are hoping this track is not an anomaly and is reflective of the overall sound of their new album (their fourth album).
Those that tune in to our 24/7 global radio broadcast know that the music of Bryan Adams is a regular staple – and this includes some of his newer offerings in the last decade. That being said, the new material has been “hit or miss” and one might be forgiven for thinking that Bryan Adams is not nearly as reliable with his musical output as he used to be. Simultaneously, the last decade has led to great releases from him which include songs such as “She knows me”, “Shine A Light”, and “Brand New Day”. So far, three singles from the upcoming album “So happy it hurts” have been released. Despite being produced by the legendary hit producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, these songs are not nearly as instant as some of Bryan’s stronger material but we are not counting him out yet. His ability to surprise has never really gone away and we are optimistic that there is plenty of great new material on “So happy it hurts”. This will be his first album with BMG Rights Management.
Brighton-based Indie Pop band Fickle Friends initially struck us as one of those interesting “flavor of the moment” acts riding the indie wave back in 2017. We thought they would have their moment and fade away. But instead, they seem to be getting better and better over time with infectious hook-laden pop. Songs such as “Glue”, “Broken Sleep” and the fantastic “Alone” (slated for inclusion on their upcoming album “Are We Gonna Be Alright?” have definitely got us waiting for new material with bated breath. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait too much longer since “Are we gonna be alright?” is slated for release on January 14, 2022.
Given the US music market’s increasingly geocentric bias since the mid-90s, it is pleasantly surprising that French Indie Pop act Phoenix managed to make inroads with American audiences – even without support from terrestrial radio (which continues to be the key tastemaker for the masses in the US). Their live performances undoubtedly played an instrumental role in their popularity. Their last couple of albums did not yield songs that were instant in the way that they were on the “United” and “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” albums. It is unclear as to where the band is headed sonically but we generally believe that a band that was once great never loses the capacity for greatness – and to that end, we are looking forward to the new Phoenix album. So far, no release date has been announced.
We have made posts about veteran artists returning with new material for multiple years in the last decade. The only other act besides Tears For Fears that we end up mentioning repeatedly only to be disappointed is Samantha James. Like Tears For Fears, Samantha James has been teasing new material for a while and there are bursts of newsworthy photos from her Instagram profile followed by long periods of radio silence but this time, we believe that our optimism is NOT misplaced. It has been over a decade since her last album “Subconscious”. Samantha James blends style, substance, and sophistication laces it with more than a touch of class. Her relative obscurity in the musical mainstream (outside of the dance music scene) is the loss of mainstream audiences. Her music, for the most part, is decidedly up-tempo but is nestled in a soundscape that radiates both escapism and ethereal beauty. For a starlet that does not get the credit she deserves, she sure faces a LOT of pressure from her fanbase owing to the sky-high expectations she has set with just two albums followed by a charity single titled “Wings Of Faith” (in honor of the Japan tsunami victims in 2011). A hiatus of a decade is a long time in pop music and we sure hope that Samantha still retains the sonic brilliance that has made her music a staple on our radio broadcast.
The reunion of Johnny Hates Jazz in 2013 with their comeback album “Magnetized” was the reunion against all odds. Most fans and listeners thought of the name Johnny Hates Jazz as being synonymous with an unfinished story from the past. The duo (formerly a trio with Calvin Hayes) released an album that retained all the elements that made their hit album “Turn Back The Clock” (which features the timeless classic “Shattered Dreams”) a milestone for pop music. This also focused the attention back on lead singer Clark Datchler’s rather baffling decision to leave Johnny Hates Jazz at their commercial zenith and before a follow-up to “Turn Back The Clock”. Clark Datchler kicked off a livestream titled “Journey Songs” in March 2021 and made a concrete attempt at demystifying himself and his unconventional choices. He also leveraged the livestream to re-introduce music from two solo albums of his that did not get the attention they rightfully deserved. He also announced the release of “Journey Songs Volume 1” during the livestream. “Journey Songs” is a 3-part collection featuring remastered versions of Clark’s “Raindance” and “Fishing for Souls” albums. There will also be a 3rd bonus disc featuring previously unreleased material tied to both these albums. Hence, while the material is NOT newly recorded, it is new to the public and to that extent, it qualifies as new material. If it sounds anything like the songs on the two albums being remastered, listeners are in for a treat.
Did we miss any artists and bands of consequence in our list? If so, please let us know via the comments section below! Last, but not least, wishing you all a Happy and healthy 2022!
In case you did not pick up on this earlier, the blog you are reading is affiliated with Radio Creme Brulee – an online radio station that features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. Alongside newer artists, we also play plenty of newer music by bands that rose to prominence in the 80s,90s, and the 00s. Noteworthy examples include Simply Red, Wet Wet Wet, Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, Dubstar, Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, Camouflage, Spandau Ballet, INXS, Depeche Mode, Suede, The Corrs, Jamiroquai, Johnny Hates Jazz, Simple Minds, and Culture Club.
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