The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

It’s been a long week, but it closes on a high note: Coachella Weekend 1! Stereogum’s own James Rettig is there, on the scene. Look how much fun he’s having!

Sounds awesome! Meanwhile the rest of us suckers are stuck at our desks not filling our lungs with giant gusts of sand as if it were oxygen. FOMO, man. At least we have some music to keep us company.

5. Pinkwash – “Metastatic”

As someone who has had multiple family members go through cancer treatment, some successfully and some not, I feel like it’s the most unfair disease imaginable. Not that any disease is fair, obviously, and I probably just feel that way because of my own experiences, but still, there’s something particularly terrifying about cancer — the mysteriousness and suddenness of its onset, the way everything can be fine for decades until one day it’s really, really not, the horrible sense of your own body betraying you at a cellular level, the way treatment too often feels like an agonizing game of whack-a-mole. So much about it just feels so cosmically frustrating, so karmically out-of-whack, it’s surprising there aren’t more punk bands out there raging against lymphoma and leukemia and sarcoma. But there is Pinkwash, and on “Metastatic,” as with most of their songs, the mathy Philadelphia duo — named for the pink ribbons used to falsely market everything from KFC to fracking drill bits — confront the death of singer/guitarist Joey Doubek’s mother. It’s both intensely personal and intensely political, but it isn’t joyless — the stomping riff coursing under Doubek’s oft-unintelligible howls is an all-time classic, and Ashley Arnwine’s crashing drums feel more liberating than threatening. “Metastatic” is a reminder of the sheer exhilaration of living that loud guitars can offer in the face of tragedy, and it’s catchy as fuck. –Peter

4. William Tyler – “Gone Clear”

Whenever I listen to William Tyler’s music, I like to play free-association. The second part of “Gone Clear” sounds like the exact moment you roll down a window while barreling down a highway in Anywhere, USA. Opening a window on the highway can feel almost dangerous; as a kid I used to think that I would slip out of my seat belt and fly out of the car along with the loose receipts, discarded paper cups, and other bullshit cluttering the seat. Now, when I open a passenger seat window, I stick my arm out like I need some immediate, tactile reminder that I’m in motion, going somewhere. “Gone Clear” is a transient song; it unfolds in three separate movements, each of which vaguely resemble one another — like vast stretches of sky that gradually transform as they pass from dawn into dusk — and they’re filled with tiny intricacies that craft a larger picture. Tyler’s music is physical, mostly because it’s entirely instrumental. Without words cluttering your interpretation, his guitar work paints three separate landscapes to admire or submerge yourself in. It’s freeing to listen to a song that isn’t necessarily about anything, so much as it is an exploration of a boundless feeling. –Gabriela

3. The Julie Ruin – “I Decide”

There is a push-and-pull going on throughout “I Decide” — Kathleen Hanna’s decades-long hunger for agency versus a world that wants her to put up with all manner of personal and universal bullshit. (In Hanna’s own words, the list includes “illness, abuse, sexism and how hard it is for me to walk away from people even when they are toxic Tasmanian Devils.”) As ever, the punk icon holds her ground here, spouting evocative poetry like “I belong to the wolves that drug me in their mouths just like a baby” in her classically abrasive tone against music that refuses to cater to our craving for resolution. Rather than explode into a climax, “I Decide” pounds along in a state of tension, unwilling to give the world what it wants. That’s the Julie Ruin’s prerogative, and in a song about valuing self-determination above all else, the effect is powerful. –Chris

2. A$AP Ferg – “Strive” (Feat. Missy Elliott)

If you told me the same dude that made the bangers “Shabba” and “Hood Pope” would turn around and do a dance track, I’d hit you with an FOH with the quickness, but A$AP Ferg and Missy Elliott did their thing on this joint. “Strive” could easily come off as some soft-ass, club-ready radio pander in the vein of Flo Rida and Pitbull, but instead of Apple Bottom jeans and furry boots or Spanish twerk directions, Ferg is bringing some inward revelations. It’s much easier to think you can actually strive for and accomplish something if you have someone to relate to that has really struggled and triumphed encouraging you. That’s exactly what Fergivicious and Misdemeanor do. I had the opportunity to talk to Ferg in person, so I know there’s more to the man than the grills, jewelry, tough talk, and fly fits. But his depth comes through on this song, and it’s almost too easy to relate to. Most of us have our versions of wasting away at Ben & Jerry’s and crazy uncle Terry, and that’s what lifts “Strive” above just another dance-inducing, ’80s-tinged jaunt. Plus Missy has had the Midas Touch for years, so that doesn’t hurt. –Collin

1. Tegan And Sara – “U-turn”

So you’re in a relationship, and you’re fucking it up. You’re fighting, which is fine, but you’re staying rigid in those fights. You’re cold and analytical, unwilling to ever entertain the possibility that you’re wrong. But then your significant other offers you an ultimatum, and all of a sudden your whole world looks different. You have to stop, pause, breathe, look around, realize how badly you’re fucking up a good thing. You turn that analytical mind on yourself. You realize that you’re wrong, and then you admit it, begging your significant other to forgive you, to take you back. This is, point blank, an adult situation, and it’s what “U-Turn” is about. But Tegan And Sara take these big, scary, real-talk feelings and turn them into a grand, bold incandescent summer banger. “U-Turn” isn’t synthpop the way any number of indie bands are synthpop. It’s glossier, sharper, higher-impact. It’s a neon hammer, one that hits hard enough to break through on pop radio, which is clearly the intent. And that’s the magic of circa-now Tegan And Sara: They’re capable of making catchy-as-fuck anthems like this one, and they’re capable of doing it in ways that never compromise the emotional maturity they’ve built up over the past 15-or-so years. They make pop music that’s smart in every way pop music can be smart. They are miracles, and a song like “U-Turn” is all the evidence you need. Pay homage. –Tom

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