Kenna New Sacred Cow

Say what you want about the ’80s, but some of the best pop music came out of that decade and no one’s going to convince me otherwise. That’s why I love this full-length debut from Kenna. This is proto-pop meets trip-hop meets electronica with a non-deliberate ’80s spin, to put it simply. He takes his ability to write catchy songs with contagious hooks and incorporates sequenced rhythms and keyboards, taking the tunes just into the realm of electronica. After one listen to the opener “Freetime,” you’ll be left singing it for days. His vocals are relaxed and clear, hinting at influences from Japan to Duran Duran to Howard Jones to XTC — but he’s not trying to ride the wave of aping a retro sound. He just is that sound. And how ‘bout those Beatles-esque harmonies in the ballad “Hell Bent”? He enlists pal and producer Chad Hugo for songwriting and programming contributions and together they two form the backbone of this stellar act. Perfect. And this is just his debut. (Columbia)