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.
It is an extremely grey, lightly rainy day here in New York. In other words, the cosmos aligned to welcome back Doves. The great, underrated post-Britpop band didn’t release any new music this week, but plenty of other excellent artists did. Check out the five best songs of the week below.
The only proper way to pay tribute to the dance floor is to make a song that would absolutely dominate it and that’s exactly what Georgia has done with her latest single, “About Work The Dancefloor.” The London producer says that she was attempting to capture “that emotion or sensation from a collective energy” that she felt in clubs, and the song conjures the image of sweaty, uninhibited bodies moving in unison. It treats that lit-up world as a great equalizer, a stage on which it’s possible to let go of individual tension and succumb to the collective throb of the beat. It’s impossible not to get swept up in it completely. –James
You don’t need to know Spanish to understand what Rosalía, J. Balvin, and El Guincho are saying in “Con Altura.” It’s about living large and fast, or “con altura,” which translates to “with height.” Even before translating the Spanish lyrics, you can hear the effortless flex behind the “Barcelonan-American-Latin pop vibe,” as she puts it. The quick, driving reggaeton beat manages to take its time and suspend on the edge of full dance floor eruption. There’s a powerful nonchalance behind Rosalía’s voice: “Vivo rápido y no tengo cura/ Iré joven para la sepultura.” The English translation reads, “I live fast and don’t have a cure/ I will go to the grave young.” The song catches the flamenco-pop artist in a moment, having fun and paying homage to the music she grew up with. –Julia
There’s nothing in this world quite as purely joyful as a great house track. Synthetic handclaps, pulsing hi-hats, pounding piano chords — Berlin DJ Peggy Gou’s “Starry Night” has it all. It’s a banger of the highest order, mixing house and disco with a splash of acid, swirling it around in a blender, and serving it up beachside. And Gou’s own vocals, gliding smoothly above the dancefloor in both Korean and English, are the cool summer breeze perfecting the evening. “Ocean! Night! Stars! Song! Moment!” she intones. “Ocean! Starlight! Moment! Now! Us!” –Peter
Control Top’s debut album is called Covert Contracts and the single by the same name is a mission statement. It’s fast and loud and designed to wake you up. On “Covert Contracts,” Ali Carter sings in staccato, her voice mirroring the monotony of a life lived online: “Paralyzed by endless information/ Too consumed to have imagination/ Non consensual infatuation/ Scrolling on and on until sedation.” Her voice falls out of the mix momentarily before she shouts: “COVERT CONTRACTS/ I CAN’T RELAX.”
It’s a boring cliché to critique smartphones and the internet for making us into automatons, and that’s not what Control Top are doing here. They’re talking about feeling manipulated by Twitter newsfeeds and Instagram influencers and Fugazi Capitalism. “Everything looks like a commercial/ It’s a brand to be controversial/ Everything looks like a commercial/ It’s a brand to be controversial,” Carter sings over and over on the chorus. Those lines are invigorating and defiant — like doing the #IceBucketChallenge and forgetting to upload it. –Gabriela
Six years is an eternity in pop music. In six years, subgenres rise and fall. Especially today, the industry might remake itself within those bookends. A band’s entire lifespan could unfold, from formation to breakup. But six years is how long it is going to take for Sky Ferreira to follow up her 2013 masterpiece of a debut, Night Time, My Time. What does an artist working in this kind of realm say when they come back after six years?
It seems, if you were to ask her, the first exchange after all that time would defy expectations. “Expectations” is a funny word when we’re talking about an artist who escaped the major label popstar-making machine way back during the height of EDM and subsequently released an album that crammed new wave and grunge together. But Ferreira seems to be aware of some kind of expectations. She recently warned fans the first song she wanted to release from Masochism was not a pop song, but rest assured there will be pop songs on it. The pressure must be immense, ever worsening, thinking about following an acclaimed album over half a decade old while fans harass you on your every social media post.
“Downhill Lullaby,” whatever expectations you did or did not have, is a transfixing reintroduction either way. Maybe Sky was afraid people were waiting for a pristine banger, a hook-filled track so bulletproof it necessitated all those years to perfect. But her instincts to lead with “Downhill Lullaby” make the whole situation that much more intriguing. Working with Jorge Elbrecht and Tamaryn — her boyfriend, Iceage’s Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, contributes guitar as well — Ferreira has emerged with a cinematic piece, “Downhill Lullaby” playing out like a particularly haunting theme for the opening credits on an enigmatic work.
As always, Ferreira is the star regardless of her collaborators. The track itself is alluring in an unsettling kind of way — strings that don’t slash so much as they slowly drag a blade across skin, a percussive backdrop that feels like a skeletal, wheezing death rattle. And Ferreira’s like a filmic shaman in the middle, conjuring a whole new world around herself. It doesn’t matter how long she’s been away. By the time her voice is layered over itself, ghostly and proclaiming “Downhill!” over and over, it’s decided we’ll still follow her in whatever direction she’s moving. –Ryan