The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
The Week In Headlines: Eminem Is Mad 🙁, Lil Xan Says Columbia Records Arranged His Relationship With Noah Cyrus How Weird Is That, We Talked To Spiritualized, Michael Moore Says Gwen Stefani Inspired Trump To Run For President, Richard Thompson And Flasher Performed In Our Office, and We Really Wish That Every Band Who Played Minneapolis Would Stop Fucking Trying To Cover Prince. Here are the five best songs of the week.
5. Guerilla Toss – “Come Up With Me”
One of the best things about late-period Guerilla Toss is that you never know what you’re going to get when they release a new song. The Boston-via-NYC art-kid collective has morphed a lot over the years, but sometime recently their sound started going more radically sideways, spiraling into all manner of funhouse stylings. In the case of “Come Up With Me,” they go full Trevor Horn cartoon new wave. You can practically see primitive computerized graphics spreading out over a black outer-space background, or neon-clad weirdos with geometric haircuts doing robot contortions in time with the playful lurching bass. Every instrument shines like it’s the best money could buy in 1982 and bounces like it’s being played by the animatronic band from Chuck E. Cheese. The collective enthusiasm is overwhelming. There was a time when Guerilla Toss seemed too much like serious artistes to attempt a song this goofy, but I am glad they have grown up into such exuberant children. –Chris
4. Strange Ranger – “New Hair”
On their first two albums, Portland-based Strange Ranger dealt in melodic gloom and Pacific Northwestern influence. But they haven’t let these tenets stop them from experimenting. Each track on last year’s excellent Daymoon plays with a different idea or sound. Their new song, “New Hair,” sees them continuing to transform. It’s surprisingly upbeat for a band that counts Elliott Smith and early Death Cab For Cutie as prime influences. Their new energy is partially owed to their new drummer, whose force you can hear crashing though the simple beat. Lyrics are captured with a whine and a sigh, reflecting light off of catchy guitar riffs. Something bright is on its way. –Julia
3. Julia Holter – “I Shall Love 2″
“I shall love” — that’s a declaration, but it isn’t where Julia Holter’s new single “I Shall Love 2” begins.”I am in love/ What can I do?” Holter sings shortly after the track opens. In that moment, she’s almost murmuring over subdued electronics, opposite the swooping melody that repeatedly punctuates the song out of nowhere. Collectively, those elements capture a particular moment in the arc of romance, Holter’s delivery sounding very much like an internal monologue trying to remain measured in the face of emotions forcing their way to the surface in the same firework path taken by that wordless, unpredictable melody.
The story “I Shall Love 2” tells is one of a person trying to keep things at bay, trying to make sense of their relationships without giving themselves over entirely. That’s where a lot of the song happens. But as it slowly simmers, “I Shall Love 2” also opens up. By the end, Holter’s voice is layered over itself, calling out in a refrain of the track’s title over and over. There’s still a sort of personal battle to be navigated there, daring to choose those words and that decision, then experiencing the torrent of emotions that come with it. But the song’s dramatic build leaves little doubt of its intention: An overflow of euphoric chaos, it moves beyond the doubts and anxieties that once held it back and bursts through the threshold into whatever awaits on the other side. –Ryan
2. Dilly Dally – “Doom”
Dilly Dally almost didn’t make it. After months and months of touring in support of their great 2015 debut Sore, the Toronto band nearly reached its breaking point. Friendships were tested; mental health declined. But fortunately, following a six-month period that frontwoman Katie Monks spent writing songs in isolation, they did make it — and they made “Doom,” a fiery testament to the very act of making it. “Riding home on this dark energy/ First you take the light then hold it/ Remember who you are/ Don’t let it cut through,” Monks sings in her scorched-earth rasp as a searing guitar comes to life behind her. “What’s inside you is sacred.” Her voice breaks off into a death rattle and then returns, cutting through the sludgy riffs and ominously plodding drums with an uncertain mantra: “If I make it.” Will she make it? By the time the song’s explosive climax rolls around, the answer to that question is abundantly clear. –Peter
1. Thom Yorke – “Suspirium”
The big question about Thom Yorke’s Suspiria score was always going to be this one: How does he get around the Goblin problem? Dario Argento’s surreal, gothic 1978 tone-poem horror classic had the advantage of one of the all-time great horror-movie scores. Italian prog-funk mind-warpers Goblin somehow found a tone that was mythic and soothing and apocalyptic and disquieting all at once. It’s what makes Argento’s Suspiria a deeply scary experience before the opening credits are even over. So how could Thom Yorke deal with a monolithic monster like that? How could he even hope to compete? (David Gordon Green’s Halloween, the fall’s other big horror remake, punted on the same question, bringing OG auteur John Carpenter back to write a whole new score.)
With the release of “Suspirium,” we now know how Yorke’s dealing with the Goblin problem: He isn’t. He’s gone in the complete opposite direction, not quoting that original score or even acknowledging it. It’s the right move. Rather than the dreamworld gut-churn of Goblin’s score, Yorke has hit, once again, on that old familiar Radiohead feeling, that sense of “everything is beautiful, but everything is somehow also wrong.” For a movie about a ballet school run by witches, that lines up. “There is a waltz thinking about our bodies, what they mean for our salvation,” Yorke keens in that craggy and haunted falsetto. Underneath him, an Erik Satie-style piano figure slowly revolves. Eventually, a Wicker Man folk flute weaves its way in. It’s all gorgeous, and it’s all ominous, and I can’t wait to see it soundtrack a gorgeously composed disembowling. –Tom