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 should be just about impossible for any song to stick in your memory during the week when Lana Del Rey finally released Norman Fucking Rockwell!, and yet some artists did manage to pull it off. The week’s best (non-LDR) songs are below.
The songs that Brittney Parks records under the name Sudan Archives flow like water. Her violin ripples and drips and crashes, seamlessly blending African fiddle tradition with experimental electronic touches and modern R&B. While “Confessions” — the first track from her upcoming full-length debut — is reportedly about a “crisis of conscience,” it’s also her most straightforwardly pretty song to date, its ebullient string motif and glitchy handclaps light and airy and free. “There is a place that I call home/ But it’s not where I am welcome,” she sings. “And if I saw all the angels/ Why is my presence so painful?” If only all pain sounded this sweet. –Peter
“Water Me Down” is about misfire and miscommunication, a litany of “never meant”s that add up to an impasse. “Never meant to be you, me, us/ Never meant for all of this, for you to love, for you to trust,” Laetitia Tamko lists off, driven by frustration. She feels diluted, like a plant withering from over-attention. She places all of this over a quivering dance shuffle, malleability where there should be rigidity, an effort to learn from past mistakes rather than resort to stubbornness. “So I’ll take my time next time/ And I’ll do it right,” she sings, determined to succeed, if not this time then surely the next. –James
On their recent single “The Cleaner,” Squid proved they could navigate shifting moods with a certain kind of grace — caustic, mad-eyed passages giving away to subtly catchy, even pretty, ones with ease. With “Match Bet,” the next track from their forthcoming Town Centre EP, the band pull off a similar trick. The central character of the song is manic, and accordingly “Match Bet” speeds through a handful of ideas at a frantic pace, never really losing its initial momentum.
One moment, Ollie Judge is wailing “Red wire! Blue wire!” Another, the band has drifted off into a spacey cornet-driven reverie. Squid have already signaled themselves as one of the more exciting names in this young generation of guitar bands based in the UK and Ireland, partially because of these factors, that you never quite know where their songs will go next. Which, of course, makes it all the intriguing to wonder where Squid will wind up going from here. –Ryan
Guerilla Toss’ new EP What Would The Odd Do? is billed as the band’s most personal work yet, dealing with trauma, alienation, and getting clean. It was written after lead singer Kassie Carlson’s opiate addiction required her to undergo open heart surgery. In a statement, she said she hopes this collection can help other people who are struggling, “and anything else that is a result of a corroded society that has left so many people in the dust — especially women.”
Its lead single “Plants” rumbles like a basement anthem for the forgotten, spinning and sparkling on a steady pulse. “Flowers speak to me,” Carlson wails. “No one hears me.” Guitars tangle and reverb closes in on her as she fights to stand her ground. Her voice shifts from echoing above the noise to squeezing to fit into the open spaces: “When I am walking, do you know it’s me?” –Julia
For nearly two decades, Pusha T has been playing the cold, calculating drug kingpin on record. But times change, and crimes change. And on “Sociopath,” Pusha offers up an ode to a queen scammer, a woman who’s an expert at charming rich idiots out of their money. And in an era when we’re all more and more aware of what rich people are doing with that money, the woman in “Sociopath” sounds more and more like a folk hero.
“Sociopath” is an outtake form last year’s masterful Pusha album DAYTONA, and it’s got that same icy Kanye West minimalism. (The mid-song break where Pusha explains the meaning of “charcuteries” to Kanye is fun.) Pusha’s writing is dense and reference-heavy — “I got a bitch that’ll master your card / Nice with the Visas, passports is art” — and he keeps a chilly disgust in his voice for anyone who isn’t himself or his ladyfriend. But when even Pusha starts to worry about whether she’s got a future in scamming — “I tried to tell her, ‘Go to real estate school'” — Detroit head-knocker Kash Doll suddenly bursts onto the track, throwing weaponized attitude around for a few crucial seconds. Kash Doll isn’t a star (yet), but that is how you do a star cameo. –Tom