This week was all about surprises for us and that’s reflected in the best songs of the week. There’s the obvious literal one in those late-night drunk dials we’ve all been getting from Drake, but there’s more. A punk band allowed us to catch some lyrical poetry that we might have missed, another reminded us that tried-and-true rock never gets old. One producer we haven’t been able to quite pin down took another left turn in the best way possible, and that still doesn’t include the biggest surprise of the week: An artist we’ve praised for several years just now seems to be finding his voice in ways we had never imagined. The fact that it’s been happening in real time over each new single still seems unbelievable. It was our number one song for the week, but check them all out below and tell us yours in the comments.
When Parquet Courts first announced they would be releasing “Sunbathing Animal” as sheet music, some may have expected a rise in experimentation or pretension from the New York punk band. Some sort of statement in the vein of Beck’s Song Reader. But look at that sheet music a little closer: The song is given the surreal tempo of penitenziaro (or “prison”), the drummer’s “1, 2, 3, 4″ count off has been written down even though it’s already in 4/4, the chords repeat endlessly without a melody in sight, and the song goes in only one dynamic: “forte, forte, forte, forte.” Another of the tongue-in-cheek pages provided offers a good look at Andrew Savage’s increasingly vivid lyrics: “It’s the sound a captive heart makes as it sizzles into vapor/ The tidal hum of fondness like a spike-waved oscillator.” Even better is the shout of “Who greets me when I first arrive? Who breaks into my half-shut eyes? It’s in the blaze of your embrace where I feel more real and alive.” As you listen to them play and chant harder and faster before crashing headfirst into that final rest, Parquet Courts make it increasingly clear they are feeling and saying a lot, music theory be damned. –Miles
Look, it’s not rocket science. You knock out a big, meaty, bouncy riff, and you play it loud. You come up with a simple but elemental chorus (in this case: “I can’t hiiiiide / Because you’re always on my mind”). You get two people — a guy and a girl, say — to howl that chorus at each other like the sound of each other’s voices was the only thing keeping them alive. You play all this hard, with purpose, like the music coming out of your throats and your instruments actually matters. And you get in and get out; you don’t let things cross the three-minute mark. Boom: Instant car-radio singalong. Bands have been doing it for years — for decades — and when they can muster the motivation, they can still do it. Hopefully, they can keep doing it like this forever. –Tom
Drake would sample The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill 10 years after Kanye did it. The unprovoked(?) shade at Chance The Rapper is unconscionable, the Jennifer Lawrence come-on worthy of eye-rolls, the Johnny Football bromance too rich. But in the words of Icona Pop — who may or may not be able to pick Drake out of a police lineup — I don’t care. I love it. Aubrey’s operating at a level worthy of his exceptionally high confidence, that rarefied Kanye zone where a rapper can summon enough charisma and audacity to pull off howlers like “Just hits, no Mrs./ That’s for the married folk.” He’s at the point that the off-the-cuff bullshit he puts on the internet to maintain his profile between albums is more on-point than most of the clones crowding the rap charts and loads more fun than most of the trap zombies and rappity-rappers clogging the underground. He’s in his prime — just enjoy it. –Chris
Tomas Barfod’s deeply emotional dance music reaches a new peak with “True To You,” his warmest serving of comedown music this year. With soft drums hits, buzzing synths, and Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys’ sleepy vocals reassuring that “I’ll be true to you,” it continues a streak of excellent and diverse vocal collaborations. This is a devotional and loving side of his club music; not exactly sober-minded, but certainly further from the high energy of the dancefloor. Sidestepping the drug-fueled desperation of “Happy,” and dipping out early from the amphetamine all-nighter of “Pulsing,” “True To You” was the late night (as opposed to early morning) cab ride home, bathed in a streetlight glow with a Xanax under the tongue and someone special on your arm. –Miles
As Tom Krell has gained control over his wispy, once-fragile falsetto, he’s pushed it further and further forward in the mix, to the extent that his “ghostly R&B” no longer sounds all that ghostly on “Repeat Pleasure.” For that matter, the way his music is evolving, it’s sounding less and less like something that can be pigeonholed as mere R&B. More than ever, Krell inhabits his own sonic space — a plush, pillowy futurescape carried by rhythms as steady and intuitive as the human heart. And on this first official single from his upcoming “What Is This Heart?” (as with the unofficial single that preceded it), hearing him move through that space is indeed the sort of good feeling that keeps you coming back for more. –Chris