The year-end content is coming in strong right now. We published our 50 Best Albums Of 2017 list on Tuesday, an essay about the Year Of Exposing Abusers and a list of 25 Great EPs on Wednesday, and Vince Staples, Perfume Genius, and Japanese Breakfast reviewed the year for us. Check out the five best songs of the week below.
Long Neck’s “Mine/Yours” is a song of longing written by someone who’s too self-possessed to ever really admit to any feelings of yearning. The chorus is a rapid-fire bit of folky pop-punk that repeats the following lines over and over again: “I want to say this simply/ I want to make it pure/ I wanna be mine and I wanna be yours.” Lily Mastrodimos’ vibrating voice reminds me of Broadway in the very best way. Her words are all carefully intoned for emphasis, as if each one carries a burdensome weight she’s ready to unload. —Gabriela
It’s amazing how much stuff you can fit in a great hardcore song. “Gift Shop,” the first thing we’ve heard from the new New York band Closer, has rushing, expressionistic black metal grandeur. It has twinkly, evocative Explosions In The Sky-esque guitar-chimes. It has enough time-signature switch-ups to leave your brain reeling. It has at least one moment where the rhythm section clicks into warlike lockstep and just conquers. And it has a feverish, committed performance from singer Ryann Slauson, who puts her entire soul into her brooding, raging, larynx-destroying wail. “Gift Shop” is two and a half minutes long, but it feels like an epic. And it also feels like the beginning of something. –Tom
The holidays are, at least in theory, all about togetherness, about taking a break from your workaday life to spend some time with family and friends. The dark side of that, of course, is that if you don’t have a family or friends to spend some time with, the holidays just end up making you feel more sad and alone than ever. On “Christmas On Earth,” Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, who’s mastered two very different types of musical darkness with Iceage and Marching Church, takes that familiar sense of holiday alienation and spins it way out into territory that’s probably a little less familiar to most of us: kidnapping your own children. Backed by luxurious horns and strings, “Lost custody to the bitch/ I deserve to see my kids” becomes a demented Christmas carol. “She’s worried sick, of course she is,” Rønnenfelt sings in his signature boozy moan, sounding both terrifying and weirdly seductive. “But I had to see them on Christmas day.” Merry Christmas, everyone! –Peter
In which an erstwhile Geto Boy delivers his State Of The Union Address. “Black Still” bangs so hard that you might lose yourself in the bouncing, thumping bass-drums-piano loop and neglect to closely examine to all the cold, hard truth Scarface is spouting about systemic racism in America. Given his incisive points about about the slanted justice system, the generational effects of slavery, and the whitewashed version of history taught in American schools, who can dispute when he submits, “Here’s a land that never gave a damn/ About a brother like me from the jump/ They’d rather see me slumped/ Face down, shot five or six times/ With my kid and her mama in the cop car crying, and I’m dying.” And who can blame him for concluding, “Ain’t no sense in niggas being diplomatic/ Televise the revolution, let these motherfuckers have it.” –Chris
Sufjan Stevens has been on a roll this year with releases that feel small but significant, and his latest is “Tonya Harding,” offered up in two equally gorgeous renditions in D major and Eb major. It can’t be a coincidence that it comes just as the biopic I, Tonya hits theaters, in which Margot Robbie playing the notorious figure skater through a sympathetic lens. But Harding became an antihero long before that. In an essay that Stevens wrote to accompany the song, he called Harding “a reality TV star before such a thing even existed,” and that description feels apt. The tortured dissonance at the heart of Harding’s story is what makes her so compelling. “Tonya Harding,” the song, is a lovingly gentle portrait and biography of a hardworking person who espouses true “American” values, those both ruthless and endearing. “Has the world had its fun? Yeah, they’ll make such a hassle and they’ll build you a castle, then destroy it when they’re done,” Stevens sings, and put in those terms, it’s hard not to identify with her: a misunderstood misfit, driven and willing to do whatever it takes to remain beloved. But, of course, the end result is as beautifully tragic as this song is, a dark contemporary parable. –James