Hometown: Los Angeles.
The lineup: Michael Tucker (vocals, production).
The background: Michael Tucker, who has just signed to 4AD as Blood Diamonds, is a 21-year-old producer and musician from Kansas, now based in LA, who also happens to be 6ft 9in and built like a brick out-house, to use the polite vernacular ("I'm about the size of a fridge," he says, helpfully, although he neglects to identify whether he means a small Bosch or a large Smeg). So don't expect us to be anything but complimentary about his music. Luckily it's good. It's the kind of lush electronica and exotic tribal pop that established acts such as Caribou and newer boys such as Tropics have been making for a while, but that's no reason not to luxuriate in its blissful, bubbling embrace.
Tucker, we are told, has a background in classical and modern jazz, and although it would be a stretch to say he brings both disciplines to bear on his recordings, certainly there are methods being employed here that suggest an openness to and knowledge of areas outside pop. He moved from Kansas City to Vancouver to study for a degree in video game design, and again it might be too obvious, not to say fanciful, to conclude that this is music made by someone with an acute sense of the visual, but it does tend to encourage the listener to conjure images in the mind's eye, images of natural phenomena and avian phantasmagoria. Think a flock of seagulls flying over the aurora borealis (either that or Classix Nouveaux under a cherry moon).
The tracks on his SoundCloud are of the dreamy, ambient variety. There's even one handily entitled Dreams which posits Blood Diamonds as a peer of Grimes and Nite Jewel. Tucker's airy voice belies his stature (not that meaty geezers have to sound like Meat Loaf) and merges with not just an unknown female with an equally vapourous whisper but also what appears to be a chipmunk high on helium. Somehow it works. Grins was released last summer by the excellent Transparent (home of old NBOTD faces the Smith Westerns, How to Dress Well and Keep Shelley in Athens) and is somehow melancholy and majestic. Heart is his most Caribou-like track and features marimba, congas and a chopped-up sample of the Temptations for that outer-space carnival feel. Things reach a luscious peak on Lasting Love, but even so we can't help feeling all this loveliness is more of a continuation of the work of our favourite 2009-2011 artists than an attempt to take it anywhere new: it's neo- rather than post-chill. Move the Stars is a bit different, building slowly towards an exultant climax, like Joy Division's Atmosphere on Venice Beach, but hardly the shock of the "ooh!".
Tucker has been listening to a lot of R&B – from R Kelly to the Weeknd – lately and promises that some of this will seep into his forthcoming recordings, but it's the influence of k-pop that has proved strongest on his first release for 4AD, a collaboration with Claire Boucher, alias Grimes, called Phone Sex. "We wanted to do a big pop song and wrote it in my bedroom in a night," he informs us, while Boucher adds: "It's our ultimate pop fantasy brought to life." Her vocals have the pretty vacancy that we love, a saccharine coo to match the song's candy-coated canter. But even given our tolerance for glucose we find it sugary almost to a creepy degree (and we haven't even mentioned the "hey, Daddy, I'm OK" line), and we're worried that Tucker and Boucher, clever types who can probably turn their hand to a multiplicity of electronic-based genres, are stooping to cater to a demand for kiddy sweetness that we're not quite sure exists outside of Korea. Still, there's no denying Tucker is one to watch, and you get the impression this is just one of many directions he'll be pursuing in the months to come.
The buzz: "Spicy tropidelic electro jams that ooze sexual innuendos" – beatroute.ca.
The truth: You'll be heavy breathing this for weeks.
Most likely to: Feel it all around.
Least likely to: Belong.
What to buy: Phone Sex is released by 4AD on 16 July.
File next to: Grimes, Nite Jewel, Tropics, Caribou.
Wednesday's new band: Boy.