The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
This week in headlines: Arcade Fire Clap Back, Tom Thinks The New Fleet Foxes Album Is Meh, Diplo Is Gross, Katy Perry Wants Your Attention So Damn Bad, Lorde Fuckin’ Loves The F Train, and The Chainsmokers Pop-Up Shop Was Actually Pretty Chill. Here are the five best songs to soundtrack your weekend.
“Betty Dreams Of Green Men,” the opening track from Guerilla Toss’ upcoming album GT Ultra, takes the term “alienation” in a very literal direction. As usual, Kassie Carlson plays the part of paranoid carnival barker, yelping over a frantic drumbeat and an infectious Donkey Kong-funk bassline, spinning a sense of modern displacement into a tale of alien abduction inspired by the real-life Betty and Barney Hill. But instead of something to fear, the idea of being taken away to another world by little green men becomes a source of comfort, a respite from the frightening realities of our own world. Over the past few years, G-Toss themselves have pulled a similar trick, streamlining their sonic anarchy into honest-to-god grooves and finding the welcoming pop center at the heart of all their dissonant weirdness. And with GT Ultra, they’ve turned that approach outward, funneling all of the fucked-up chaos around us into music to get your feet moving. So, as the late David Bowie once said, let’s dance. –Peter
You know Julia Michaels even if you think you don’t know Julia Michaels. She’s the songwriter behind Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar” and Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” and she’s just starting to step out on her own. After releasing her debut single “Issues” a little while back, this week Michaels brought us “Uh Huh,” which is quite possibly the simplest, sloppiest pop song I’ve heard in a long time, and I mean that in a good way. Michaels pouts and squawks over an acoustic strum, a few piano chords, and an extra-crunchy bassline. The way her voice transforms throughout makes it sound like she’s just trying on a bunch of different vocal personas in the studio and the producer decided that every single one is a perfect fit. The result is a bafflingly catchy pop song about wanting to fuck someone so bad that really doesn’t have to do much to convince you it’s great. Just wait for that chorus to hit. –Gabriela
In 1982, Det Gylne Triangel, a Norwegian artist with exactly one other single to his credit, released “Maskindans,” a stark and intense synth-punk track. In its icy minimalism, it recalled Soft Cell or the Normal, two groups from a country where “icy minimalism” is not necessarily people’s natural inclination. Now, 35 years later, the Norwegian producer and DJ Todd Terje, a guy known for jokey lounge-disco pastiche, has hijacked “Maskindans,” speeding it up while stretching it out to 10 minutes. In Terje’s hands, “Maskindans” is loose, giddy, fun. It’s a dancefloor odyssey with a sense of play to it, a limber-limbed silliness that, even at its length, still feels like a party as it reaches its end. But the new “Maskindans” still has some of the cold intensity of the original, and that’s because Terje has somehow unearthed Triangel, a man who has not recorded anything in the past 35 years, and gotten him to darkly intone his words once again. If anything, he sounds even more strident than he did back when he made the song in the first place. –Tom
Bands get famous for all kinds of reasons — a look, a message, a gimmick, a soundtrack placement, an exceedingly dank Instagram presence — but it’s always remarkable when it happens just because they write great songs. With Alvvays, that’s what you get: one exquisite indie-pop tune after the next, an aesthetic executed with expertise, another dip from a bottomless fountain of youth. Or since this new single is called “In Undertow,” maybe that’s an ocean, endlessly returning to the shores with versions of the same satisfying phenomenon? Actually, forget the metaphor, but remember the music, as graceful, dreamy, and monumentally catchy as ever. It’s easy to read lyrics like “What’s next for you and me?” and “You find a wave and try to hold on for as long as you can” as comments on the band’s predicament after the grassroots groundswell that built up around around their self-titled debut, but no; Molly Rankin is just delivering a meaningful snapshot of interpersonal drama, the messiness of modern romance tidied into another gorgeously straightforward little nugget. Thankfully, we’re about to get a whole new album of this stuff. –Chris
Ain’t no breakup song like a Crutchfield breakup song. Allison gave us a lot of great ones on Tourist In This Town earlier this year, and Katie’s about to dish out a bunch more. “Never Been Wrong” is the roaring opening track on Waxahatchee’s Out In The Storm, and it does a great job at establishing the power dynamics that weave themselves through the rest of the album. Crutchfield paints her former partner in pointed detail, and it turns out he’s just a cliché that we all know well: that dude everyone seems to find charming at first but reveals himself to be a condescending, hard-headed asshole with time. “You’re smoking and laughing, untethered and carefree/ I will unravel when no one sees what I see,” she sings as she starts to come to this revelation. But Crutchfield also reflects on all the ways that she played into and was comforted by his outward persona because it felt good or right or was easier than not: “All your tragic fiction, I always take the bait/ But the margin’s gigantic: Am I happy or manic?” And towering above all of these thorny relationship stakes is that “Never Been Wrong” is just a damn fine song. It’s astounding to listen to something like an early P.S. Eliot track, which were already great, and see how far Crutchfield has come and get excited about where the fuck she could go next because, honestly, songs like this make me think the possibilities are limitless. –James