We are eagerly awaiting our invites to Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson’s wedding! While we wait, here are the five best songs of the week.
Ariana Grande is on her own trip right now. There have been two singles ahead of her forthcoming album Sweetener, and they don’t quite sound like each other — or anything else going on right now, for that matter. “No Tears Left To Cry” was an expert, paradoxical single: propulsive, sneakily infectious, yet possessing a series of feints on the first listen. There was already an out-of-time quality to that one, and then she follows it with “The Light Is Coming,” a song that initially registered as a collection of sheer What the shit? decisions.
It’s not quite the same level as pop perfection as its predecessor; the Nicki verse is a perfunctory intro, the sample is maybe a little too ever-present. But, man, it’s really something to sit back, take this in for the first time, and realize just how fucking weird it is. Ariana’s nearly-rapped cadence when she first enters? The fact that the sample is, of all things, a clip of deceased Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter? The super-fast bridge where it almost sounds like she’s singing in Japanese?
“The Light Is Coming” is a bizarre mess of ideas that should definitely not cohere, yet it seeps into your consciousness, proving itself to be just as surreptitiously addicting as “No Tears Left To Cry.” That hyperactive, wiry beat is off-kilter but strong enough to hold all this together, to work its way into your bloodstream. At first, it was easy to greet “The Light Is Coming” by wondering where this came from exactly, where it belongs. Now, it’s easy to picture a club’s walls shaken by this beat rattling around its confines, and to wonder what other glorious surprises Grande might have in store after this one-two. –Ryan
Mothers’ new song “Blame Kit” doesn’t really sound like anything off of their 2016 debut When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired. More than anything, actually, it sounds like their 2015 single “No Crying In Baseball.” This makes sense. Although it was released first, “No Crying In Baseball” was recorded after the album, and it found the Athens indie-folk quartet diving into a more jagged, dissonant side of their sound. “Blame Kit” continues that evolution, dipping into math-rock and post-punk with its twitchy guitar rhythms and dazed vocal delivery. “Not the first time I’ve watched her body expand/ A hundred times its size to/ Contain everything,” Kristine Leschper sings, and she might as well be talking about the unpredictable, shapeshifting structure of the song itself. I look forward to seeing whatever form Mothers take next. –Peter
Saintseneca songs tend to blend the fantastical with the achingly true to life. As a writer, Zac Little creates his own little worlds with their own vocabularies whose meanings are purposefully ambiguous. On the band’s latest, “Frostbiter,” it’s that titular phrase that rings through new band member Caeleigh Featherstone’s lilting voice. The verses are a mix of Little’s own memories and composites of stories he’s heard, and they provide a real-world anchor. They’re about dead relatives and war-torn old friends and former band members struggling with addiction. They’re the sort of small-town narratives that one might craft an entire song around, but here they serve as only pit stops on a longer road. The bigger picture is a lot more mysterious; as the band’s instruments shapeshift and swell, you’re left with only fleeting impressions about the long process of enduring. –James
Rapping over legendary production from a beloved song can be advantageous in that you benefit from years’ worth of positive association. But it could also backfire big time, with listeners deciding your song is trash is opting to revisit the original instead. So credit Rico Nasty for going ’07 Weezy on the “Superthug” beat, attacking its jittery Neptunes bounce with such commanding power that N.O.R.E. ought to grant her joint custody. She brings casual ferocity to every bar, spitting with the confidence of someone who truly believes she’s the best alive: “Who you frontin’ on? Come on girl, I know you a rookie/ You got some followers, so what? Do you want you a cookie?/ I got promoters throwin’ shows so they can say that they booked me.” Post-Nasty, that’s looking like a wise investment. –Chris
There were a lot of moments that impressed me when I saw SOPHIE perform new material in Brooklyn a few months ago, but the second “Immaterial” hit toward the end of the set I was truly down. The already enthusiastic audience started practically moshing, singing along to a song none of them had heard before thanks to the fact that SOPHIE projected the (very simple) chorus onto the screen behind her.
“Immaterial” is the inverse of Madonna’s “Material Girl.” This is a song about how inaccurately our outsides reflect our insides, how our corporeal forms don’t always match our spirit. “Without my legs or my hair/ Without my genes or my blood/ With no name and with no type of story/ Where do I live?/ Where do I exist?” Of course, these lofty questions are drop-kicked across the dancefloor with a snare that snaps and shakes, along with a chorus sung by a bunch of cyborg cheerleaders. And as much as “Immaterial” sounds-off to Madonna, the cheeky way this song interrogates binaries reminds me a lot more of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl. SOPHIE is always asking us to rearrange our reality — there’s a deep humanity simmering under this song’s hooky plastic casing. –Gabriela