Today has been a blessed day. Why, you ask? Because #FyreFest is trending on Twitter and the memes are good. We all woke up thinking today would be just another Friday, but no. Instead, we got to spend the entire day LOLing at rich dummies wandering around without cell reception on an island in the Bahamas. And it just keeps getting better. Too bad no one invited the Trump family! Heh. Anyway, who needs an island vacation when the sun’s finally out in New York? Check out the best songs of the week below.
CTRL — SZA’s long-awaited debut full-length — has been one of the cruelest casualties of label purgatory in recent memory. We thought we’d get it last year, but then SZA theoretically quit TDE in frustration with the delay before seemingly patching things up and finally letting out an official single in the warbly, beachy “Drew Barrymore.” But it’s been months since that song, and the label have let it come and go without keeping up any of the album’s momentum. Yet “Love Galore” manages to build all that hype right back to where it should have been, and although it doesn’t come with any indication of when CTRL will be released, it’s probably the surest sign yet that all might actually turn out alright in this saga. After penning album-standout “Consideration” for Rihanna’s ANTI last year, SZA’s taken cues from the pop-mogul with her brash, unfuckwittable new soul-and-sweat sound. “We do whatever we want/ Go wherever we want/ Love however we want,” she sings on the stuttering slow-jam, before going from confident to commanding: “You do whatever I want/ Give whatever I want/ Give whatever I need.” After all the difficulties she’s faced trying to get her voice out there, it’s reassuring to know it’s still one of the most compelling, unflinching ones we’ve got. Who knows when we’ll hear CTRL, but at least SZA’s at this moment definitively in control. – Pranav
After last year’s excellent WORRY., Jeff Rosenstock got it in his head that he’d do something a little more off-the-cuff for his next album and release the first 10 songs he wrote on the road as his next full-length and worry about whether they were “good” or not later. But life fucked up his plans, as it tends to do, and the recorder and notebook that he was documenting those songs with was stolen from a rental car in San Francisco. The only song that remains from that writing experiment is “Dramamine,” and it’s cosmically appropriate that the only song to survive is a lullaby to a drug that, besides its prescribed use, puts you the fuck to sleep, one that seems like it’d be a necessity on long tours where you’re constantly traveling and can’t get your brain to shut up for a single second. A commercial featuring a soothing female voice plays out under a characteristically driving and urgent arrangement from the punk veteran, as Rosenstock begs for the medicine to knock him out in his snarly-sweet voice: “Let me sleep, let me be, Dramamine.” –James
Palm make music like a puzzle box. You just want to take it apart, examine it from every angle, figure out how all the pieces fit, and then put it back together again, which is exactly what it sounds like the Philly math-rock quartet are doing as they play. “Walkie Talkie” progresses like a conversation, Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt’s jagged guitars first responding to each other, then interrupting each other, then finishing each other’s sentences, slipping in and out of an unsteady groove as the guitarists’ voices attempt a similar dance. It sounds both totally improvised and intricately choreographed, and somehow, it still manages to succeed as pop music. It’s exhilarating. –Peter
This one really puts the “grand” in Granduciel. How else could the War On Drugs have properly reintroduced themselves, after all, except by blowing the already epic proportions of Lost In The Dream’s heartland rock reverie all the way into the stratosphere? The 11-minute “Thinking Of A Place” sounds like a late-period Bob Dylan song that got tangled up in Sky Blue Sky on its way to heaven but made it there eventually. As various gorgeous accents fade in and out of the frame — mournful harmonica, spacey keyboards, sublimely casual guitar solos — Adam Granduciel’s weary rasp reflects on memories and visions before inviting an ex-lover to gracefully soar toward transcendence together. It’s unclear whether the intended recipient comes along for the ride, but you absolutely should. –Chris
Frank Ocean is a hard guy to get to know. He doesn’t really do interviews, and when he does, he’s elusive as fuck. He has ascended to the realm of the mythical, and because of that, he doesn’t really owe us anything. He is Frank “sometimes I feel like a god but I’m not a god” Ocean. This is why I love Blonde so much and listen to it almost every day of my life. It is an intimate album that’s all about fame and isolation and feelings. It’s the closest most of us will ever get to Frank Ocean, and he gives himself over willingly through a series of characters that populate the album; pitch-shifted or Auto-Tuned or barebones singing, all of those songs are born of the same brain. Frank’s been releasing pop songs again, but “Lens” really sounds like it could be a Blonde B-side. It’s a sparsely arranged song that rides on sudden bursts of autotune before it builds into a meditative bit of astral pop that sparkles in all of the right places. It has drums, too, which is more than you can say for a lot of the songs on Blonde. Not that I’m listening for them or anything… –Gabriela