POP ETC (Sony)

Berkeley’s POP ETC. seem to have spent a lifetime consuming popular music’s nuances. They can funnel decades’ worth of synthesizers and crushing melodic textures into a bright pastiche of a song, but still manage to make it sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

Their newest track, “Running in Circles”, recalls ’80s grooves with spastic pizzicato, with vocalist Christopher Chu bellowing like he’s mid-power ballad in a John Hughes film. That reaching for familiar aesthetics in their music, though, is a strategy they often employ — not just a novel pursuit for their newest release.

“Pop music always elevates and celebrates the hook—the catchy bit that sticks in your head, or sends you reaching to turn up the volume,” Chu says. “At its best, pop also mixes familiar elements with the fresh and unexpected.”

And “Running in Circles” has some far out there influences as well. After spending the first half of 2014 living in Japan working with popular J-rock and J-pop artists, they undoubtedly upped their songwriting abilities before returning home to help produce WATERS‘ new album.

Since then, they’re back to working on their own music, starting with their new lead single. Check it out below.