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 happens ever year: There’s a brief, quiet post-holiday lull, and then the music world starts to rumble back to life. There were a lot of songs released this week. The five best of them are below.
“Can we get some more sub so he can feel it?” We can! We did! “End Of The Road” thumps with a rare forceful swagger, and not just because they turned the bass up. Noga Erez has spent the past few years establishing herself as a cataclysmic force within left-of-center pop music, a performer with an artful touch and abundant crossover appeal. She can sing; she can rap; her music is both inventive and legitimately fun. Here, she stares down her mortality without flinching, set against a minimal yet noisy beat that proves to be an excellent canvas for cutting loose.
“I don’t know what really happens at the end of the road!” Erez declares repeatedly, with increasing dismissiveness, as if completely unbothered by that big looming question mark. She’s a dynamo throughout, toggling from jazzy schoolyard singsong to that brash half-spoken chorus to rapid-fire bars like these: “Did it knowing there’s a D’animal pack in the back of the fridge/ I go pack it up might triple attack/ And battery-acid my stacks in the cab/ Menagerie cracked and my doggies run packs I just tell ’em to back it up, back it up, back it up.” When Erez proclaims, “I think I’m up for the challenge,” who could dispute her? —Chris
Impostor syndrome is a common affliction, no matter your specific calling — it’s all too easy to feel like you’re not supposed to be there, that everyone around you has it figured out more than they do. It’s on Margaret Sohn’s mind enough that she named her whole EP after it, but each song we’ve heard from this latest collection of Miss Grit material blows away the idea of her being a pretender.
“They’re clapping awfully loud/ For no tribulations or trials/ Your reward’s/ Faking worth/ You’re no star/ Impostor,” she sings, rendering a self-deprecating internal monologue as a ghostly chorus. That’s a neat trick: Take a nagging, destabilizing thought pattern and refuse to render it in the kind of quiet, hushed confessional where its words might still stand on their own, might be able to take on weight. Instead, “Impostor” places this sentiment in a big, sweeping rock song, Sohn’s words hardly distinguishable amongst the track’s airiness and lacerating guitar lines. “Impostor” brushes away fears and insecurities with an arrangement that’s vibrant, simmering; the song sounds like a floaty daydream, turned jagged and fragmented. There’s nothing fake about it. —Ryan
In the past, Julien Baker has made her own crescendos. Baker’s songs were vast and cinematic, but when they hit their pulse-pounding climaxes, they did it purely on the strength of her tingly pianos, her ringing guitar, or her wide-open howl. These days, Baker is doing things different. “Hardline” is a full-band song, and when it soars upwards, she’s got drums and guitars and keyboards pushing her towards the heavens. That’s a risky proposition, but Baker loses nothing. “Hardline” is one more intimate gutpunch in a catalog full of them, and Baker’s rendition of self-destruction remains granular and evocative: “Start asking for forgiveness in advance for all the future things I will destroy.” It doesn’t feel better or worse to hear Baker putting the force of a whole band behind a song like that. It just feels different. —Tom
Fortuitous circumstance led to the creation of “Sundial.” As Bicep’s Roland Jupiter-6 synthesizer malfunctioned, it spit out an odd sound that the electronic duo thought they could work with, and that forms the backbone of the track. The blip expanded to a heady four-minute odyssey that also incorporates a Bollywood sample. The London electric duo put two opposed forces against each other: a carefully-orchestrated vocal performance paired with what amounts to mistake, or rather a chance of fate, that leaves you to wonder what beautiful things we might be throwing away in the process of creation. —James
On his seminal TV program Cosmos, Carl Sagan famously said that we are all made of star stuff. “Starstuff,” an excerpt from one of the two longform tracks that make up the entirety of Blanck Mass’ new album In Ferneaux, recalls the celestial grandeur of Vangelis’ iconic Cosmos theme music. But there’s an intensity to it, too, an uneasiness, that culminates with the kind of thunderously pounding rhythm and bright melody that marked 2019’s Animated Violence Mild. As one half of Fuck Buttons and then as Blanck Mass, Benjamin John Power has made a career out of that duality, smashing wonder and beauty and darkness and noise together into perfectly combustible anthems. We are star stuff because the atoms in our bodies literally come from stars that exploded long ago; “Starstuff” is the sound of those supernovae. —Peter