This week in headlines: Kanye West Meets With Right-Wing Pundit Candace Owens, Kanye West Shares Video Of Heated, Uncomfortable Behind-The-Scenes Discussion Between Himself And T.I., Kanye West Shares Insufferably Long Charlamagne Tha God Interview, Kanye West Suggests Slavery Was A “Choice” In TMZ Visit, Kanye Tells TMZ He Got Addicted To Opioids After Liposuction. Can you feel yourself getting older? Thankfully, we have five great non-Kanye related songs below.
Devotion is a powerful pull. “cherubim,” the latest single from serpentwithfeet’s debut album, is filled with the sort of no-holds-barred consecration you might expect to hear in a church, but here it’s directed at something more worldly and corporeal. “Making love to you in my job/ Anything else is a weak curse,” Josiah Wise sings. “I get to keep my mouth filled with you/ Oh, I love the taste of you.” “cherubim” is a document of obsessed, maddening devotion. Wise’s words are pure in intent, but the production from Katie Gately and mmph adds more of a frenzied, demonic edge. It’s an unspoken suggestion that maybe this devotion is misplaced, should be applied instead to the self. But that darker subtext is offset by Wise’s infectious ecclesiastical glee, his voice running up and down the song proclaiming his love for this man, this love that he’ll give his everything to, no matter what. –James
Projected onto the screens that surround us, we are both the subjects and spectators of the spectacle. The spectacle in this instance being a flashy stream of content, our quick source of adrenaline built on clickable gratification and simulated connection. Braids’ recent releases describe the physical effects of our digital reality, the hyper-awareness and exacerbated insecurities. Beautiful people with picture-perfect home decor and tiny handbags live normal lives, Instagram insists. They drink coffee and post selfies. They also frequent the gym, travel to Dubai, and have abnormally shiny hair. They’re just like you, but better.
“See the screen light my face in this darkened place, do you think that it makes me look pretty? When I soften all my lines away, when I make myself look as far away from real,” Raphaelle Standell sings on “Collarbones.” Stripped-down R&B explodes into frenetic electronics as her voice intensifies, “What the hell is going on? We’re here to feel something more, but we’re just hurtling towards seeing and feeling nothing. Nothing more than an impulse to move onto the next thing.” It slows again into a state of despair, mourning a perspective untouched by social media.
It’s easy to feel ugly and alone scrolling through curated colors and hot bodies on Instagram. Braids shared a message dedicating their new songs to those who feel trapped by these images. But Standell’s narrative is as personal as it is universal. She analyzes how her body might be received, “Breasts pushed up, I’m trying to show you I have collar bones and cleavage you can rest in…Will you still want me when you catch the frowning of my brow and see how my breasts move around?” The Canadian trio have long grappled with womanhood within a world that honors the male gaze. Now, two years after their last album, the landscape has darkened and Braids have followed suit. –Julia
Here’s a song that will put a skip in your step and fresh air in your lungs. “MJ” feels miraculous for many reasons, not least of which because it sells its premise that a heart-to-heart with the late Michael Jackson would not be creepy. Also because it’s as contagious and invigorating as the pop icon’s best songs. It directly calls some of them to mind, actually: Besides name-checking “Billie Jean” and “Smooth Criminal” on the chorus, its groove resembles “The Way You Make Me Feel,” though Now, Now run that rhythm through phantasmagorical filters and spike it with sounds like Carly Rae Jepsen’s sparkling ’80s revivalism and Haim living out their most reverent Fleetwood Mac worship. A song this wonderful is frankly degraded by such spot-the-influence games, but I’m only trotting out those reference points to convey the sense of pure pleasure you’ll miss out on if you refuse to engage, even on a reasonable basis like “Another poptimist anthem from an ‘indie’ band?” or “Is she really singing about chitchatting with Michael Jackson?” Don’t do that to yourself; fall headfirst into Now, Now now. –Chris
When “Quiz” first came out, CupcakKe tweeted that it was her first-ever PC Music track. A little while later, the Chicago rapper tweeted a bashful correction: “Um don’t laugh at me but I thought pc music was a sound not a person lmao but I just found out.” So PC Music, the collective, didn’t have anything to do with “Quiz,” though that beat, from producer Turreekk, is a good-enough facsimile. Their loss. PC Music has always seemed like a theoretical exercise — pop’s excesses turned up way past 10, transformed into a jackhammer of tinny melodies and chirpy energy. But that’s sort of based on a fundamental misunderstanding of pop music. Pop music thrives on personality, and CupcakKe has personality to spare, attacking the berserk sproingy synth-beat with absolute relish: “A hundred on the eWay/ Shotgun in the briefcase/ Spill a bitch brains, look like raspberry cheesecake.” Put CupcakKe on any sound, and that sound will bow to her overwhelming charisma. –Tom
Over the course of the past 10 years, Beach House have become one of the most consistent bands around. They evolve in slow-motion, each album tuned a mere half-step away from the last. Their upcoming full-length, 7, may be another half-step and not an all-out reinvention. But as early tracks “Lemon Glow,” “Dive,” “Dark Spring,” and now “Black Car” have all proven, it is a particular fruitful half-step, marking their most sonically adventurous work to date.
“Black Car,” for instance, is the moment that Beach House’s carefully considered dream-pop crosses over into straight-up nightmare-fuel. (Nightmare-pop?) The opening xylophone loop is like the evil twin of the synth line on Bloom standout “Lazuli,” snaking its way though the song as Victoria Legrand intones ominous poetry: “We want to go inside the cold/ It’s like a tomb, but it’s something to hold.” Although the sinister synthetic organ may suggest a funeral dirge, Beach House have never sounded more alive. –Peter