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.
Gotta say, this is probably the first time we published an anniversary piece and it conjured a long-awaited, seemingly-impossible reunion into reality — maybe we should give it a shot for Talking Heads and R.E.M. But, seriously, holy shit — it looks like we have a chance to see Rage Against The Machine again next year. That pretty much overshadows everything from this week, but as always there was new music to dig through. The five best songs of the week are below.
Did Deerhunter really release Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? only just this year? Is their new standalone single really just short of 13 minutes long? Did they really record it in just one night? Has it really been more than a decade since Cryptograms and Microcastle? Are we sure this wasn’t secretly recorded in between those albums, or that it wasn’t beamed back to us from some distant analog future, or that a past-life Bradford Cox didn’t record it in the late ’60s, or that its concrète psychedelic slipstream doesn’t actually go on forever? Time really does bend. –Chris
“Get My Mind Right” is presented as a dialogue with a friend. Pat Flynn’s words are his own, but they’re not coming from him. Instead, they’re coming from a character named Tess, who Flynn addresses in its final lines, an avatar for anyone that’s been discouraged by the small town they come from, trampled by the claustrophobia that comes from being surrounded by the same people and the same shit day in and day out. “‘You said you’d help me get my mind right,'” Flynn howls over Fiddlehead’s furious froth. “You got a lot, Tess, of life left/ You’re not hopeless/ Make up the mind to find your motion,” he sings, framing the whole song as a guiding light, like he’s been in those lows once before and he’s trying to help you get out too. –James
“Under Duress” is inspired by loss, and the inherent unknowability of other people. And you can hear that in every bit of its arrangement. The lonely or foreboding piano notes like cold pinpricks throughout the song, a thrumming and anxious drum machine, icily hissing synths and snarled vocals — it sounds like an eerie fog descending over you after too much suffering, too much confusion, has walled you off from the people around you. There is no real answer, no release, by the end of the track — just a compelling depiction of how our experiences can start to paralyze us. –Ryan
There’s something about that tense, staccato one-chord guitar vamp. It pushes a song forward and gives it a stressed-out, insistent urgency. Stevie Nicks used a vamp like that on “Edge Of Seventeen” in 1981, conveying mournful desperation. Destiny’s Child sampled that same guitar 20 years later on “Bootylicious,” changing its context into one of defiant pride. And now HAIM have taken a sound a whole lot like that and built a hymn to depression out of it.
“Now I’m In It” sounds at first like a breakup song, but Danielle Haim has clarified that it’s all about catching yourself in a spiral: “Looking in the mirror again and again/ Wishing the reflection would tell me something.” HAIM don’t usually write songs like this; their persona is one of breezy joy. But the remarkable thing about “Now I’m In It” is the way HAIM keep their pop sensibilities intact, honoring that depression by fleshing it out with swirling harmonies and icy keyboard ripples and big-release chorus catharsis. That guitar vamp, after all, can mean whatever you want it to mean. HAIM make sure it means something. –Tom
As her career continues, Dua Lipa keeps delving further and further into pop music history. Her big breakout hit “New Rules” was an infectious dance-pop banger built around extremely of-the-moment tropical house sounds. The Calvin Harris/Silk City collabs “One Kiss” and “Electricity” took things back to classic ’90s diva house. And now, with new single “Don’t Start Now,” she’s rewinding all the way to the origins of the house genre: straight-up disco, baby, dirty bassline and sumptuous strings and all.
Like “New Rules” before it, “Don’t Start Now” is a breakup song. But where the former found Dua Lipa in the immediate aftermath of that conscious uncoupling, struggling to remind herself not to get back together with her ex, the latter is a sequel of sorts, proof that those new rules really do work. “I’m all good already/ So moved on, it’s scary/ I’m not where you left me at all,” she sings before delivering the coup de grâce in an explosive chorus: “Don’t start caring about me now.” With songs this good, it’s hard not to care. –Peter