The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
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’s starting to feel just a bit autumnal in New York, which is well-timed for a couple week stretch in which we got new Bat For Lashes, Lower Dens, and Jenny Hval. One can only imagine the synergy when All Mirrors finally arrives. You will find some songs from those albums, and the rest of the week’s best new music, below.
In a statement, Water From Your Eyes called their latest single a “celebration of bad dreams.” The New York duo’s six-minute electronic composition “Bad In The Sun” sounds like the space in between asleep and awake, a hallucinatory groove, simultaneously dozing off and shaking into focus. Synths and guitars bounce around a buzzing bass. “When I wake up, I am running,” Rachel Brown’s voice glows, piercing through the noise before being swallowed by it. –Julia
We’re used to Jenny Hval taking on dense, complicated material in her work. One topic she’s already grappled with in the past is femininity, and “Accident” is at least one place on The Practice Of Love where she returns to it. “Accident” switches perspectives and directions a couple times; “I was an accident” to “she was an accident” to musing on never conceiving. It twists around the relationships between mothers and their children and the way people’s lives get rewritten; it twists around womanhood and not becoming a mother.
What we haven’t heard from Hval in quite the same way is the sonic backdrop she’s putting all of this against on “Accident” and The Practice Of Love as a whole. There is a shimmering, celestial quality to the album’s layers of synths — or the ghostly sax keens on “Accident” — and a feeling of slight ascension even when attempting to parse questions of identity as weighty as those in this song. Without ever blatantly intensifying, “Accident” subtly crests upward, inching up to seek a break in the clouds. Hval may still wrestle with questions of our humanity, but on songs like “Accident,” she gets that much closer to leaving them behind. By the end, it sounds as if she’s up in the air, looking down and turning over pieces of people’s lives — the kind of artist who’s able to step outside of the rest of us and, from that vantage point, maybe find some answers. –Ryan
Great Grandpa’s new album, Four Of Arrows, locks together like a puzzle. “Digger” is just one of those pieces, but it’s definitely a key component. The song was written after Pat Goodwin pulled the Four Of Arrows from a tarot card deck and starting thinking about the name (Digger) he gave his old dog, who would endlessly dig up pits in his backyard, and how that then turned into a component of his relationship with his own mind, as he puts it, “to describe ourselves when our mental health was spiraling or/and we were diving into the dangerous game of obsessive existential inquiry/patterns.”
All of those layers add a kind of self-mythological context to their music, but honestly all of that falls away when you hit on a moment like “that’s why I hate you” in their latest song. Delivered by Alex Menne in a towering howl, it’s the sticking point of the track and what the entire chaotic, itchy song revolves around: a moment of self-loathing, constantly trying to find your way out of anger and oblivion like a rat in a maze. –James
“I’m a fire to release you/ A fire in a pretty red.” That’s Joey La Neve DeFrancesco on “A Pretty Red,” her monstrous new banger. It’s the kind of sentiment we’d never hear from Downtown Boys, the gut-ripping Providence punk band of which DeFrancesco is a member. But on her own, DeFrancesco does things differently. “A Pretty Red,” the new single from her solo side project, is a six-minute dance odyssey. The track draws on disco, house, dance-pop, and the euphoric genre-manglings that came out of New York clubland in the early ’90s. And with “A Pretty Red,” she’s made something vast and searching.
“A Pretty Red” has a lot of the same homespun intimacy of Downtown Boys and of the DIY underground that DeFrancesco comes out of. But the ambitions are different. DeFrancesco uses conga ripples and drum-machine thumps and Peter Hook basslines and house pianos and train-whistle toot-toots, all in service of a hard-strutting glamor anthem. In a press release, DeFrancesco says that the song “is about fully understanding and embracing our historical purpose.” So it has the same sense of urgency as the music that she makes with Downtown Boys. But if you want it to just be a party song, it can be that, too. And it can be great in either context. –Tom
Angel Olsen has made intimate, haunting singer-songwriter music, and she has made in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll. Now, with the early singles from new album All Mirrors, she is giving us epics. “Lark,” the album’s opening track, is a self-consciously cinematic song Olsen wrote with vivid onscreen drama in mind. It arrived with a video worthy of those ambitions, but no visuals were necessary to convey the song’s splendor.
“It’s easy to promise the world to those we love, but what about when our dreams change and values split?” Olsen wrote in a statement accompanying the song. “Lark” explores that question in a series of gradually intensifying movements enlivened by one of the most powerful string arrangements ever set to pop music. Like any good storyteller, she patiently lays the groundwork for her grand finale, her voice easing into the quiet and soaring atop climactic squalls of noise, building tension and an intoxicating sense of wonder along the way. So it’s all the more thrilling when the song jolts into its climax and she lets her emotional turmoil boil over in kind: “You say you love every single part/ What about my dreams?” –Chris