FKA Twigs

FKA Twigs. Photograph by Jaime James Medina.

In the wake of 17-year-old pop sensation Lorde’s all-conquering and thrillingly spare debut, these four musical acts make up the next wave of minimalists to keep an ear out for. Even their names are lean and mean. GEMS, the Washington, D.C., duo composed of Lindsay Pitts, 28, and Clifford John Usher, 29, has a romantic-pop sound with plenty of ebb and flow, but the production smartly backs away to let Pitts’s vocals soar. The 19-year-old London singer-songwriter Laurel Arnell-Cullen, who goes simply by Laurel, sets off her storytelling against a restrained backdrop of sharp drumming and hand-clapping. Twigs, or FKA Twigs (as Tahliah Barnett, 26, is now known after a legal dispute with another artist of the same name), grew up in the English countryside, and her hypnotic, bare electro-pop is powerful in the way that a whisper, delivered confidently, can be louder than a shout. (Her first album will be out this summer.) And the Vienna, Austria-based producer and electronic solo artist Sohn, whose new album drops this month, is mournful and moody, stripping down his raw heartbreak to a post-dubstep beat. Some call his sound “sadwave”—but we can just call this mini-movement of small scale production "micro-wave."