Admittedly, this is a bit of a weird week for 5 Best Songs. Not weird because the songs are stranger than usual (they’re not) or because they’re weak in some way (they’re super not), but because there’s no single track that casts a gigantic shadow over the others. But weirdness often makes for great spectacle. Check ‘em out.
Louie Diller and Liz Nistico aren’t doing anything particularly groundbreaking with Holychild. Their self-described Shape Of Brat Pop To Come sounds a lot like the last decade of indie pop mixed with some in vogue ’90s schoolyard attitude, but what they do is so charming and infectious that it’s hard not to get drawn into their orbit. They come close to brushing off those similarities at the beginning of “Money All Around”: “Tell me who I’m meant to be/ Fake originality — everyone is nothing.” What’s the point in pretending you’re original and maybe missing your mark when you can just dig into a well-mined sound and have as much fun as you can? “Money All Around” is one of their less immediate tracks — compare it to the stomp of early singles “Happy With Me” or “Playboy Girl” and it’s practically molasses, but it still has enough of a satisfying fizz to it to keep your attention. Even though what Holychild are doing isn’t overly complicated, it’s a whole lot of fun. And sometimes it’s nice to just dance around and not overthink it. –James
“Emo” has been a pejorative, or at least a word that carried a bit of an implied smirk, pretty much since the term was coined. But maybe it’s time for us to take the power back, to use it as a term of endearment. For instance: The Ohio band Annabel’s song “Another Day, Another Vitamin” is emo as fuck. It’s everything great about the term. It’s guitars that wrap each other around each other in intricate ways until it’s time to hit the afterburners and flare up heavenward. It’s a strangulated boy-yelp that seems to mean everything even if you can’t quite make out the words without a lyric sheet. It’s a spindly intro that turns into a thundering roar after 12 seconds. It’s an unrepentant, unpretentious Midwestern guitar-basher. It’s sweaters and cold floors and house parties full of shy people and 3-hour road trips to go to some show at some college. Say it loud: It’s emo, and it’s proud. –Tom
“Moon In My Mouth” is like a Russian nesting doll carefully arranged on your nana’s mantle. The track unlocks in layers, growing smaller with each listen once you peel away the coating that lends sparkle to No Joy’s distinct brand of gloomy shoegaze. Separated, each of these filmic layers becomes all the more defined, finessed to the point that they would sound delicate and lovely entirely on their own. As a cumulative whole, “Moon In My Mouth” is an awkward pop song; its unorthodox time signature dampening any impulse to instinctively label it as “dreamy” or “beachy.” That being said, No Joy are still making undeniably chill kickback music, songs to soundtrack life’s simpler moments. –Gabriela
“What will we do when our dreams come true?” PINS’ Faith Holgate submits on the chorus of “Young Girls.” Heavy query, man. Holgate knows, so she cushions it by twisting the question into something like a playground word game. Her guitar, too, hangs jangly from the monkey bars — a lightness that might keep the song out of the realm of anthems, much as it still resembles one. But to hell with categories. “Young Girls” is as green and billowing as the shaggy grass just beyond the wooden swing set. Lyrically, Holgate’s spinning some invincible, under-the-stairs, sleepover girl talk (or maybe just what I imagine such scenes bring) and her awed confidence electrifies the song, turning it absolutely massive. Anthem or not, “Young Girls” typifies all the hallmarks of one without any of the baggage, making it something of a wonderful anomaly. Nothing can top that kind of dream fulfillment. –Patrick
Every once in a while a band comes along and sums up an entire era’s worth of trends while sounding entirely self-possessed. There are a zillion recent reference points for Wet, but who can even remember that any other music exists while “Deadwater” is streaming? If the song wasn’t so unmistakably human I’d call it divine, both in terms of its boundless emotional power and the way it seems to exist in three simultaneous states — solid, liquid, and gas, this H2O-obsessed band’s own personal Holy Trinity. There’s seemingly infinite grace in “Deadwater” too, in Kelly Zutrau’s confidently shattered delivery and the way the sound around her shimmers. “Shaky, but I believe/ When you left, you left for a reason,” she sings, one kind of life flowing out of her while another trickles in. –Chris