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.
Someday during this pandemic, maybe music releases will slow down and there will be quieter Fridays. Today is not that day. This week is stacked. What’re your favorites so far? In the meantime, the five best songs of the week are below.
There is so much noise surrounding the 1975, plenty of it of their own creation. That’s part of the fun with them, all the self-reflexivity and reckless swings for Big Ideas even while being achingly aware of the gauche tropes of the Big Idea swings throughout rock history. But it’d all be a stunt without the moments that ground and complicate their identity as a band — the giant hooks helped win some of us over, sure, but for the converted there are also these emotional throughlines that make the 1975, and Matty Healy in particular, human amidst all the winking rockstar posturing.
“Guys” has no pretense or high concept about it. This a song about the band, but what that really means is it’s Healy’s tribute to his closest friends, the guys who have always been there for him. Arriving at the end of Notes On A Conditional Form, following 21 other songs and god knows how many other ideas, you can already imagine it as the peaceful reflection epilogue to this sprawling album, and to the whirlwind stretch of years the 1975 have been through. It’s all sung over a flickering pop-rock track, Healy reminiscing and swooning, those little synth lines popping up like lights dancing in the backdrops of all those nights in all those different places with those friends. It’s soft focus, but with these gorgeous details shining through — like a blurred memory backlog dotted by the most important people. –Ryan
Amnesia Scanner make songs that sound like right now — confusing, chaotic, a little bit frightening. Although it was made before the world’s latest apocalypse, the Berlin-via-Finland duo’s upcoming LP Tearless was nonetheless written for the end of the world, a breakup album for the planet itself. And its title track is a perfectly imperfect encapsulation of their particular brand of weird, a freaky, freaked-out duet between Peruvian artist Lalita and a literal robot, the computerized voice that Amnesia Scanner refer to as Oracle. “AS Tearless” pulls an unnerving sing-song chant, a doomy riff, glitched-out synths, booming beats, and a Spanish-language verse into its orbit, somehow chewing it all up and spitting it out as a twisted new kind of pop music for the future. It’s the exact kiss-off to sanity that 2020 needs. –Peter
Maxo Kream does growling back-of-the-throat menace with absurd levels of control. He’s a vicious technical rapper, but he brings an ominous atmosphere to everything he does. On his own songs, he tells long and intricate stories. When he shows up on other people’s records, he usually just talks his shit. A lot of the time, the other rapper on the song just can’t hang. That’s not what happens on “Dropout.”
OMB Bloodbath, like Maxo, comes from Houston. She raps in a blasé mutter, like she’s bored with her own coolness. Like Maxo, she raps about drugs and guns and girls, and she brings a level of casual brutality that matches his. The eerie beat, from teenage Houston producer and rave-rap weirdo BBY Kodie, hums and twinkles and nags. And as the song ends, Bloodbath comes up, out of nowhere, with a soft, oddly beautiful singing voice. She’s singing about killing you, of course. –Tom
The Beths make music that could easily be described as excitable — wiry and nervy and sparkling rock music that’s built around impeccable hooks and riffs and a constant sense of forward momentum. “I’m Not Getting Excited” fits all of those qualifications, but it’s about not being able to channel those feelings they evoke so perfectly in their music in their real life. “I’m not getting excited” is how Elizabeth Stokes introduces every verse and then she spends them running through all of the things that are tempering her excitement: her passivity, her phone, her general sense of purposelessness. The band takes all of these reasons for getting down and turns them into a song that manages to get you up, that puts a smile on your face and a skip in your step that wouldn’t happen if they didn’t not get excited once in a while. –James
What if Car Seat Headrest’s recent electronic dalliances involved a deep Stereolab influence and a heaping helping of LCD Soundsystem? You’d probably end up with a song like “Muted Gold” from Dublin’s ascendent Silverbacks. A gnarly walking bassline, chic Euro-pop backing vocals, jittery guitars that intensify until they erupt, a pithy baritone narrator to guide us through the many moving pieces: None of this scans as particularly new, but it all adds up to a rejuvenating jolt. We’re at an advanced stage in indie rock history when a song this vivid and complex can be passed off as comfort food. –Chris