‘Euphoric’, ‘opalescent’, ‘perfect pop confection’: Australia’s best new music for December

Holiday Sidewinder – Ripe

For fans of: 80s Madonna, Prince, Ladyhawke, Liz Phair

Born into showbiz and a teenage star with the brilliant Bridezilla, you could say Holiday Sidewinder, now 32, is “ripe for the picking” – she says so herself on this lascivious, playful piece of electro-funk. There’s a lot going on here: a calypso rhythm underpinning heavily treated guitars and spikes of strings to create a monstrous dance groove. The lyric is overtly sexual, but as knowing and daring as anything by Liz Phair; there’s no question about who’s in control here. – Andrew Stafford

For more: Sidewinder is currently on tour in the UK with Sophie Ellis-Bextor; her third album, The Last Resort, is slated for release in March 2024.

Fig – Our Night

For fans of: Bruce Springsteen, Soft Cell, Brandon Flowers

Sydney six-piece Fig began as the solo project of frontman Tim Burnett, whose voice is plain anachronism – a showboating, Springsteen-y caterwaul that just as easily dissolves into a diaphanous falsetto. On this track – a single from the band’s second album No Need to Rest – Burnett ascends high above a synth buzz and a stampede of percussion, eulogising the sort of night with a lover that’s destined to become mythology. It’s perfect 80s pastiche. Cue the montage. – Michael Sun

For more: Listen to the rest of No Need to Rest, and watch the music video – a kitschy Halloween terror.

Thelma Plum – We Don’t Talk About It

For fans of: Tia Gostelow, Stella Donnelly

Thelma Plum’s slinky new single will be familiar to many women, describing the fear of seeing an abusive ex with someone new, and the protective urge of sisterhood. “If it happened to me, it’ll happen to her / It doesn’t make it better that I went first,” the Kamilaroi musician sings. We Don’t Talk About It is a companion of sorts to her 2019 song Woke Blokes, which took aim at toxic masculinity and performative allyship. - Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen

For more: Thelma Plum’s latest EP, Meanjin, was released in 2022.

Willaris K and jamesjamesjames – Silversun

For fans of: Fred Again, Calvin Harris’s mid-2010s output, the film We Are Your Friends

Brisbane producer jamesjamesjames is known for slick bubblegum dance songs that are heavily influenced by early 00s trance and house – think the Ministry Of Sound 2002 Annual filtered through a Tamagotchi. His new EP with Melbourne producer Willaris K, Silversun, loses the candy shell but retains his music’s euphoric thrills and imperturbable drive. Highlights, including Crying at High Speed and Silversun, capture a distinctive sense of DayGlo melancholia. – Shaad D’Souza

For more: Listen to jamesjamesjames’s calling card single, My Purple iPod Nano (2nd Gen).

June Jones – Bubblegum

For fans of: Charli XCX, Shygirl, Sophie

Since making the move from Melbourne to Sydney, Jones has fully indulged in the sugary highs of dance music. Bubblegum – filled to the brim with rubbery beats, chipmunk background vocals, and glossy synths – is another perfect pop confection, following her previous single Good Girl. The song narrates a desire to be chewed and spat out, used for temporary fun. But there is a touch of melancholy here; as Jones singers, the sweetness only lasts “til I lose my flavour”. – Isabella Trimboli

For more: Listen to Jones’ 2022 record, Pop Music for Normal Women.

The Summertimes – My Beautiful Girl Harbour

For fans of: Teenage Fanclub, You Am I, The Church

Related: The Birthday Party: the danger, drugs and rancour behind Nick Cave’s post-punk band

If you have a hankering for old-fashioned power pop, the Summertimes are for you. My Beautiful Girl Harbour has everything you could want: jangling guitars that dovetail and counterpoint, harmonies that go ooh-ooh and aah-aah, and a charming lyric set on Sydney harbour. It’s the third single peeled off the Summertimes’ self-titled album, which is making deserved inroads on American radio. Songwriter David Beniuk is backed by an all-star cast including Steve Bull from Icehouse, Tumbleweed’s Steve O’Brien and the ubiquitous Ashley Naylor. – Andrew Stafford

For more: The Summertimes’ self-titled debut is available via Bandcamp.

The Native Cats – Suplex

For fans of: The Fall, Rowland S Howard

Hobart duo The Native Cats are one of Australia’s most wonderful post-punk bands, putting out record after brilliant record. Their fifth full-length album, The Way On is the Way Off, may be their best - a perfect blend of sneering petulance, janky but tender piano numbers, and urgent, tightly wound bass. Suplex is a personal favourite. It starts simply enough: antagonistic guitars and vocals drenched in gleeful contempt, delivered by Chloe Alison Escott: “Put some shimmy in your shoulders, get in there, get shoved!” But midway through, the track shifts, with fragile piano and misty distortion engulfing the drums and guitars. – Isabella Trimboli

For more: Listen to the band’s new record The Way On Is the Way Off

Related: Party Dozen, Jamie Marina Lau and Troye: Australia’s best new music for November

Cry Club – Wanna Wanna Wanna

For fans of: Paramore, Motion City Soundtrack, Olivia Rodrigo

If sparkling pop hooks and crunchy 80s guitars are your thing, Cry Club might be too. Melbourne’s queer “bubblegum punk” duo has recently released a deluxe edition of their second album, Spite Will Save Me, and this glittering earworm is one of its bonus tracks (as well as a great cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s Good 4 U). Singer Heather Riley’s bright vocals brim with both desire and frustration as they muse on a budding romance just out of reach. - Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen

For more: Spite Will Save Me and its deluxe edition are out now.

Acopia – Eyes Shut

For fans of: HTRK, Circuit des Yeux, Lolina

The self-titled second album by Acopia, a Melbourne three-piece comprising electronic producers Morgan Wright, Lachlan McGeehan (Lil Uzu) and Kate Durman (Purient), improves on their striking 2022 debut in nearly every way, making their atmospheric, dubby take on dream pop sound richer, more distinctive, and more emotionally resonant. Eyes Shut, the standout, burns slowly before reaching a heavy, buffeting conclusion. – Shaad D’Souza

For more: Listen to Acopia’s 2022 debut Chances.

Memphis LK – Black and Blue

For fans of: Mallrat, PinkPantheress, Erika de Casier

Everyone is making music for wallflowers these days: people who stalk the edges of clubs, trading mumbled incantations and sidelong glances across the dancefloor. There’s Erika de Casier’s glassy R&B – the bedrock for NewJeans’ introverted K-pop – and PinkPantheress’ viral hits where she spitballs, blasé, above skittish UK garage samples. Joining the whisper network is Memphis LK, whose latest EP unfurls like a secret. Opener Black and Blue is as opalescent as it sounds: a lovelorn declaration that gazes upwards at the firmament, breaking into a galactic squiggle halfway through whose closest analogue is the Silversun intro. – Michael Sun

For more: Memphis LK’s EP True Love and its Consequences is out now.