Do you really think Dear Tommy is coming this year? Like, do you REALLY, REALLY think we are finally getting the album we put on our Most Anticipated lists of 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018? Is 2018 finally gonna show us out? IS THIS THE FIRST TIME WE’VE FELT HOPEFUL IN A MINUTE? Yes, yes it is. Even so, “Black Walls” didn’t make the cut on this week’s list. Check out what did below.
One pristine moment can make an otherwise good song great. Such is the case with Sorry’s “Showgirl,” a grimy indie rock song that booms and shrinks in equal measure. Singer Asha Lorenz delivers her lines like she’s been smoking weed for nine hours straight, and the result is kind of spectacular. She lets her words run together, her voice pitches upward and downward messily, and about 30 seconds in, it turns to sludge as she sings the opening lines of the chorus. “Come on to the club, to the club,” her words slur together like a run-on sentence, and in that instant “Showgirl” sounds fucking perfect. “Slacker” isn’t a descriptor anyone would consider a compliment, but Lorenz is the Slacker Boss on this song and should carry the title with pride. –Gabriela
Most of Lindsey Jordan’s generally astonishing debut album goes for pedal-mash vroom. It’s a version of ’90s-style dream-pop, music from before Jordan was born, but it comes out in a loud, furious rush. This song, though, goes a completely different direction. It’s warm and soft and insular, mostly built around intricate fingerpicking guitar. Jordan’s voice, often a perfectly bored drawl, sounds lost and sad: “Something that’s lost belongs to you / If someone should pay for it / Well, I don’t know who.” Jordan comes from Ellicott City, the same staid and manicured Baltimore suburb where I went to high school. (My high school was one over from hers, and I graduated the year that she was born.) And it’ll be a long time before I wrap my brain around the idea that something this expressive and soulful could’ve come from a place like that. –Tom
Sometimes the best song really isn’t the single. There’s a fervent devotion that only an album cut can provide, a genius that reveals itself in context, ideally when you’re listening to an album straight through for the first time. The immediate standout from Beach House’s magnificent 7 is “Drunk In LA,” a showstopper made stronger by everything else around it. The stuttering opening beat that opens the song blossoms into one of the duo’s most staggering songs yet.
Victoria Legrand is the star of the show here, her breathy top-notch vocal performance lending clarity to some of her best lyrics ever. The depressive glamor on “Drunk In LA” is a recurring theme that she explores on 7, and that seediness in the belly of the beast is rendered beautifully tragic here. “Skinny angels making eyes at cameras perched in every room,” goes one of her best flashbulb shots. “Down the hallways of a high school and the dances left behind” is another.
The song is about the curse and blessing of memory, the way a photograph can capture a fleeting moment forever even as it creates a rigidity around that moment, leaving something forgotten in the margins. “Drunk In LA” is the sort of song that gets close to bridging that gap, an appreciation for life’s every moment that still manages to be sad that it’s all gonna inevitably end. –James
Mitski has a cultish following. It’s understandable. Her voice commands a soft, yet captivating force. Intimate lyrics read like poems or diary entries, grappling with universal growing pains resultant of early adulthood and lost love. 2016’s Puberty 2, her last full-length album, saw Mitski welcoming discomfort. “Geyser,” the lead single from her forthcoming album, revels in it. An organ shrills, then loosens, giving way to a bed of synth beneath Mitski’s vocals. “You’re my number one / You’re the one I want,” she’s briefly interrupted by a screeching blip. “And I’ve turned down every hand that has beckoned me to come.” The music builds and booms along with her affirmation: “Hear the harmony / Only when it’s harming me.” One might call Mitski melodramatic, but subdued operatics are an effective tool for interpreting inner turmoil. On Be The Cowboy, she leans into these theatrics, and “Geyser” is just the opening scene. –Julia
Name one thing that Anderson .Paak isn’t good at. I’ll wait. On his 2016 breakthrough Malibu (and Yes Lawd!, his subsequent album with Knxwledge), the singer/rapper/drummer/producer had a tendency to slip from his raspy-voice soul croon to a quicksilver Kendrickian rap flow so effortlessly that it was hard to tell where one ended and the other began, or if the distinction even mattered. But it’s still become rare, at least in recent years (hi, Venice!), to hear him just go the fuck in on a beat and tear it up like he does on “Bubblin.” That beat, from Jahlil Beats and AntMan Wonder, is a beautiful thing, a kinetic, high-speed chase sequence of a hip-hop banger that fuses trap drums and bass with frenetic spy-movie horns and strings. And then there’s .Paak, breathlessly dropping bars, outrapping people who just rap for a living, and casually stunting and flexing all over it. He’s earned it. Oh, and by the way? I’m still waiting. –Peter