Every week the Stereogum staff chooses the five best new songs of the week (the eligibility period begins and ends Thursdays right before midnight). This week’s countdown is below, and you can listen to a playlist of all our 5 Best Songs on Spotify.
Do you need some new music for the long weekend? Several of these songs are very melancholic and one is a retro-pop track with a video in which everyone gets brutally murdered! At least Jessie Ware has got you covered. Check out the 5 best songs of the week below.
The songs that Alyse Vellturo makes as pronoun are huge and immediate. They’re like standing in the middle of a road as an eighteen-wheeler washes over you. That’s how she describes how a break-up feels in her latest song “stay,” but it could just as easily apply to the soaring choruses and breakneck speed she maintains in her songs. “stay” rolls like a boulder down a hill. It takes place in the stolen breaths and dismantling revelations that come with a conversation that ends a relationship, when you realize the person you saw yourself no longer sees themselves with you. She takes that frustration and confusion and turns it into a weaponized pop song, words and thoughts crowding together into an undeniable force that’ll pummel you down. –James
During a recent show, Sasami Ashworth said that she wanted to record an alternate version of “Free” as a country song. She might have been joking, but it kind of makes sense. Although it opens with a blast of feedback, “Free” is as stripped-down and intimate as SASAMI’s upcoming self-titled debut gets, jettisoning much of her usual layered arrangements of guitar and synth tones in favor of direct storytelling, naked emotion, and melody. And you know what? It’d probably sound pretty kickass with a little pedal steel.
“Free,” like many of the best country songs, is about heartbreak, set in the aching twilight of a doomed relationship. Ashworth sings over plaintive guitar strums and unobtrusive percussion, Devendra Banhart lending her voice a ghostly echo: “I don’t care what tomorrow brings/ You’re dreaming up some awful things/ Cause our time is running out/ And you don’t know/ What you mean to me.” But by the conclusion of the song, when the refrain rolls around again, it ends differently, reframing that heartbreak into a narrative of liberation and transcendence: “And you don’t know/ What it means to be free.” Now you know. –Peter
Ever since they broke through with 2011’s Civilian, Wye Oak have been racing away from the autumnal, moody rock sound that first brought them acclaim. They overhauled everything for the gorgeous, dreamlike Shriek in 2014, glanced over their shoulder to bring a few rock elements back in on 2016’s Tween, and continued on into glossier and more celestial places for last year’s The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs. Throughout, the message has been clear: This band will continue evolving, continue mutating into whatever forms they desire.
Considering it’s a one-off, “Evergreen” is probably not indicative of any permanent change in Wye Oak’s disposition. But it’s still striking — the first time they’ve really offered up a song that returns to that classic The Knot/Civilian aesthetic. The song almost sounds like it could’ve slotted right in on one of those albums, between Jenn Wasner’s characteristically elusive-yet-expressive vocal, the guitar tones, those spectral horns. And while Wye Oak’s departure from their original template has been something to celebrate, something that has kept them exciting, it’s also comforting to hear them back in this mode, even if briefly. Part of those early albums’ appeal was the sound of the duo digging back through the ether, trying to find something that had been lost. “Evergreen” plays like a reflection of a ghost, then — and it’s all the more evocative for it. –Ryan
Weyes Blood’s ‘70s-indebted indie psych-folk has grown more feverish since her last album, 2016’s Front Row Seat To Earth. It’s not a blatant shift in intensity, but you can feel it in the force behind Natalie Mering’s words. On her new single, “Everyday,” it echoes in deep piano chords and an almost-sarcastically bright chorus of “buh-da-pahs.” Mering is consumed by love, caught in a spiral. “I need a love everyday,” she insists. “True love is making a comeback.” –Julia
“I adore you.” Has anyone ever told you that? It’s the best. There is a rote and mechanical and unthinking way to say “I love you.” There is no rote or mechanical or unthinking way to say “I adore you.” It’s a ridiculous thing to say, silly and flowery, and that’s why you only say it when you really mean it. So when someone tells you that, it’s like they’re filling up your whole soul, replenishing it.
Jessie Ware sings the words “I adore you” 12 times on “I Adore You,” her new single. She repeats them over and over, like a mantra. The song is all about the moment that you’re with someone and starting to realize that it’s real, that you want to become exclusive and start introducing each other around as a real couple: “I wanna tell the world, want everyone to see.”
Ware co-wrote the song with Metronomy’s Joseph Mount, and it takes full advantage of the warm intimacy of her voice, the way she always sounds like she’s whispering right to you. It also takes full advantage of her rhythmic poise. Ware has been singing straight-up soul lately, but she got her start guesting on dance producers’ singles, and she knows how to float over a beat. That’s what she does here. The track, which Mount produced, is a sparse and spacious piece of architecture, full of beautiful little synth-glimmers. Ware breezes along over it, the exhilaration of the moment lifting her up. It’s the sound of someone who adores, someone just learning what it means to be adored. –Tom