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.
The impeachment hearings are a shitshow, a football player socked his opponent upside the head with a helmet, and the nation briefly acknowledged another school shooting before filing it away with all the other school shootings. Here are the week’s best songs.
Wye Oak have proven remarkably adaptive over the course of the decade, changing up their sound with each release beginning with the gorgeous synth-pop of 2014’s Shriek. But on their recent singles “Evergreen” and now “Fortune,” with its spidery electric guitar riff and explosive chorus, they’re finally returning to the dense guitar theatrics of their early breakout Civilian. Informed by years of experimentation and expanded production techniques, though, it feels less like a retread and more like another left turn — a glorious synthesis of Wye Oaks past and present, pointing to a new way forward. –Peter
When they first emerged, Thyla already had a sense of their strengths — namely, dramatic chiming guitars and weaponizing Millie Duthie’s voice into huge, cresting choruses. But at the same time, they were still working out their exact sound, following earlier dream-pop singles with material that was more aggressive and distorted, suggesting a grungier Thyla on the horizon. Then, with “Two Sense” and now “Lenox Hill,” it looks like Thyla have reconciled tendencies that could’ve been divergent in another band’s hands.
“Lenox Hill” has all the muscularity of a proper rock song, a poppy dexterity, earworm verses, and one of the biggest vocal catharses Duthie’s given us yet. It’s everything they do well dialed way up, and it’s one of the best singles they’ve released so far. Thyla were always promising, but songs like “Lenox Hill” hint that they could deliver on that promise in even bigger, unforeseen ways. –Ryan
The more I listen to “Alien With A Sleep Mask On,” the more convinced I become that it is a flawlessly constructed pop song. Ratboys play a form of aggressively catchy rock music that marks them as peers with Charly Bliss, and this song can hang with that band’s best. It almost doesn’t matter what Julia Steiner is singing about; the dynamics, the vocal melodies, the surging power chords, the squealing high-end riffs — all of it is assembled so immaculately, with such urgency and charm, that she could be blathering about how more people should domesticate raccoons and I’d rage just as hard to her song. It doesn’t hurt that Steiner’s story about feeling out of place in your native environment is almost as evocative as the music. –Chris
“Fox” is a song about feeling angry and betrayed and uncertain, and nobody ever made those extremely unfun feelings sound more fun. Dogleg come from Michigan and make high-octane emo-punk, and “Fox” shows just how cathartic their sound can be when it’s done with the right levels of speed and ferocity. They play the song dizzily fast, fleshing it out with gang chants and martial drum-rolls and buzzing swarms of guitar and throat-lacerating howls.
For those of us who screamed along with songs like this in the ’90s, it’s satisfying in a purely nostalgic way. But it’s more than that, too. It’s exciting. When the heart-stomped breakdown gives way to the furious return of the hook, it’s a genuine adrenaline-rush moment. We could always use more of those. –Tom
Moses Sumney’s debut album, Aromanticism, was full of slow-moving glaciers centered around his voice, silky smooth and always expressive. That voice is still there on “Virile,” the lead single from his upcoming double album græ, but it’s surrounded by an abundance of noise this time, the sort of cacophony that only the ambitions of a double album can contain. “Virile” is explosive, baroque — its strings and flutes and pounding drums coalesce into chaotically brilliant fireworks. The interloping harmonies remind me a bit of Dirty Projectors, but the playful darkness and tension is all Sumney’s own.
He’s questioning what it means to be “virile,” a clinically static word that he defines as “to stake dominion over all that one surveys.” He categorically rejects that masculine construction, that desire to dominate, and through that he stakes out a ground for himself. “Desperate for passing grades/ The virility fades/ You’ve got the wrong guy,” he intones in the chorus. He insists that machismo falters at the doors of death, that to base your life around false bravado is a losing game. “You wanna fit right in/ Amp up the masculine,” he sings. “You’ve got the wrong ‘I’/ Too much is not enough.” –James