5Best

There was a lot of exciting and new things for Stereogum this week. We finally heard the music Arcade Fire has been teasing and, even better, we welcomed our newest staff member (and old friend) Chris DeVille to the team. And what was one of the first things he did on-staff? Write long and thoughtfully about “Reflektor.” But does that mean it made it onto our list? Find out below.

5. Miguel – “Can’t Sleep 2gether”

Two songs in the past year have rewritten the rules for the Booty Call Jam format. The first is Jeremih’s “Fuck U All The Time,” which with all the falsetto-cooed similes wouldn’t sound like it’s about long-distance sex (save the FaceTime reference) if the guest vocals from Natasha Mosley didn’t sound like they were coming from the other end of a telephone. “Can’t Sleep 2gether” by Miguel is the other. Like Jeremih’s track, its title is misleading (the operative part of J’s hook is that it goes, “I could fuck you all the time” not that he does). Miguel isn’t singing about someone off-limits, he’s singing about when Fresh Prince re-runs and smoking all your weed isn’t enough to kick insomnia — so you shoot a (super sus) text over to a girl you’re pining for. But what makes “Can’t Sleep” so great is not just that it shakes up standard R&B tropes, it finds him back in his space-pop soundscape roots of his cataclysmic debut All I Want Is You. And anything that can get me to prod someone to revisit “Girls Like You” or give it a spin for the first time is tops in my book. – Claire

4. The Dismemberment Plan – “Daddy Was A Real Good Dancer”

The Dismemberment Plan’s upcoming Uncanney Valley very much picks up where 2001′s Change left off, continuing the band’s progression from rainbow-colored quarter-life anxiety to grown-up contemplation in muted tones. The Travis Morrison of …Is Terrified was too concerned with audience members not dancing at his shows to sit back and ponder his father hanging up his own dancing shoes due to parental responsibility. “Daddy Was A Real Good Dancer” gracefully captures one of those moments of dumbstruck perspective when you realize your parents are real people with the same doubts, fears, dreams, and desires as you — and just how many of those longings they have to put on hold when you hit the scene. That it embeds those insights in a chiming, churning swoon reminiscent of Change-highlight “The Face Of The Earth” is a bonus. – Chris

3. Blood Orange – “Chamakay” (Feat. Caroline Polachek)

Nearly a year after both songs landed, it’s safe to say that both Solange’s “Losing You” and Sky Ferreira’s “Everything Is Embarrassing” are new-pop watersheds, and that Dev Hynes, the man who helped will both songs into being, is a producer with a transformative vision. And now Hynes may have made a song on that level for himself. On “Chamakay,” his breathy falsetto dances over a humid waft of steel drums and sax-tootles and smooth keyboards, using the tools of ’80s adult-contempo cheese as a vehicle for sublime expressiveness. In the background Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek pushes him onward and upward, her voice meshing with his in delicate and perfect ways. – Tom

2. Cut Copy – “Free Your Mind”

With every new album Cut Copy has gotten spacier and sweeter, but “Free Your Mind” is an overwhelming leap forward. After that Avalanches-style intro (a nod to their Australian forefathers that reminded me of that Men Without Hats reference on the last album) the song just explodes with soul singers, pitch-perfect acid-house synths, bongos, and all the while encouraging us to “shine on” and “reach for the sky.” You might have been able to predict they’d make something this indebted to Primal Scream’s Screamadelica when they got that album’s famous producer Andrew Weatherall to remix their epic “Sun God,” — but seriously, who could have guessed that they’d drop something that could actually one-up that classic. There’s something else going on here too. It sounds weird in 2013, but back in 2008 some people felt that MGMT took the synth-pop rock-star crown that Cut Copy really deserved more. So perhaps it’s fitting that five years later as the latter is badly struggling to shift into making psychedelia, Cut Copy showed up out of nowhere this week and modestly dropped this effortless gem. – Miles

1. Arcade Fire – “Reflektor”

As mentioned before, Chris has already written a novel about this one, but allow me to share a quick anecdote. More than six years ago, when Sound Of Silver was about to come out, I interviewed James Murphy and had one of the best on-record conversations I’ve ever had in my life. When Murphy turned his phone back on after that conversation, he had two missed calls, and one of them was from Win Butler. Now, I know that Murphy and Butler have been friends forever; they toured together, Butler and Regine Chassagne sang backup at the last LCD Soundsystem show, and Murphy has talked openly about how he regretted that his LCD responsibilities kept him from producing an Arcade Fire album. But I’d like to imagine that they were already talking about this song. They were talking about where they’d put the synth-bips and conga fills and French vocal counterpoints and snare-cracks and David Bowie backing incantations and sax-honks and big rock choruses. They were discussing how far they could stretch the song, how they could find that exact perfect combination of sashaying disco thud and Depeche Mode stadium throb and Berlin-era Bowie glam-lurch and cosmopolitan twinkle and stadium-rock vroom. It didn’t take them six years to come up with all this, but if it had, I’d understand. This thing is a monster, and monsters don’t build themselves. – Tom

Comments (7)
  1. I absolutely love Miguel, and his consistency is beyond impressive, and if there’s one thing I love is simple, straight to the point but clever chorus. And I loved that Blood Orange song, I thought it was moving and the video was great. And of course, Reflektor is amazing. And I like how that Cut Copy song is already better than most in Zonoscope (which is an album i really liked). So… fantastic week for music.

    BUT Givin’ Em What They Love or one of Janelle’s new songs should’ve made the line-up.

  2. That new Lorde single just dropped and it should already be #2.

    • It could get in next week, it’s too late for this one.

      I love that “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air… So there.”

      I’m not into her as most seem to be, but I think this new single is her best song yet.

      • Yeah, with pop stars, I tend to take their singles on a case by case basis. I think Florence + The Machine’s “Shake It Up” was a beast, but it’s not like I care for the rest of her stuff. Same thing with Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and the rest of what her big forehead does. That’s pop music for ya…

        • I like Florence’s two albums, but I see what you mean. And Shake It Out might really be the best thing they have ever done.

          Teenage Dream is an anomaly, as in, the only truly excellent Katy Perry single. I don’t have much patience for her cutesy California Gurls/Firework/Roar stuff, but that song really works.

          As for Lorde, I do think her songwriting needs to improve. Royals has kinda grown on me (partially because of The Weeknd remix), but the lyrics can be a bit too on the nose and reminiscent of other recent hipster pop acts, but I also think it’s only a matter of maturing and evolving, which I think she already has done quite well in this new track, which gave me a better sense of a personality than Royals and is just all around a better song.

  3. I will thank every comment that makes the “Reflektor” universe even bigger and greater. So thanks a lot.

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