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.
We’ve reached the point where 2021 is rumbling to life in earnest: New artists are staking their claim with intriguing debuts, familiar names are leveling up with the best work of their career, and big name artists are releasing… less-than-the-best work of their career, but they’re still new albums from big name artists, OK? And some of this week’s best music hinted at some exciting announcements on the horizons. This week’s 5 Best represents a bit of that, and you can check them out below.
ULTRAPOP is an extremely silly thing for anyone to use as an album title, and that goes double when the group using that title is a hardcore-adjacent prankster project from Detroit. But “ALL FUTURES” shows that the Armed are serious about their silliness. The ULTRAPOP lead single affixes bright, zippy melodies to heaving drum thunder and so much layered riffage that the track sounds like a 747 taking off. In its giddy sugar-high abrasiveness, “ALL FUTURES” sounds like Lightning Bolt attempting to become Charli XCX. It’s a trip. —Tom
For the last year or so, Thyla have been digging deeper into the pop side of their sound. Following the grunginess of their debut EP What’s On Your Mind, they returned to an aesthetic more in tune with their earliest singles, toying with a muscular, shimmering dream-pop for its followup Everything At Once. Little modulations keep leading them somewhere new, and that brings us to “Breathe” now. “Breathe” is still dreamy, and it’s still poppy, but it’s doing both in a different way. There’s no big build-up, no airstrike chorus. Instead, “Breathe” shows us that Thyla can craft some of their catchiest material by holding back just a bit. “Breathe” floats, then pulses, but never erupts: It’s the band creating an evocative mood and a song that will get stuck in your head over and over. —Ryan
Spirit Of The Beehive songs are often structured less like actual songs and more like a bunch of intriguing moments collapsing into each other. Their last album, 2018’s Hypnic Jerks, was conceived of as a mixtape, and the sense that anything could happen carries over to their latest album. It’s the way the Philadelphia band has always operated, but they’ve never sounded crisper or more determined to capture your attention than on “There’s Nothing You Can’t Do.” Even the title feels more aspirational than previous releases. Sounds bleed into one another and out into the ether — syrupy samples and sweaty synths and hushed reveries swirl around in a muck until they coalesce into Zack Schwartz’s demonic growl breaking into a shout-along declaration: “I’ll be your friend!” It’s sweltering and seductive and somehow a little comforting, a band this willfully obscure opening up into such a steadfast declaration of companionship. —James
As far as I’m concerned, Sound Ancestors is all one big incredible song. But if I had to narrow it down to one track, “The New Normal” is as good as any of them — by which I mean it’s just ridiculously good. Four Tet stitched Madlib’s beats into a mesmerizing, addictive mosaic of sound. These tracks, most of which could feasibly serve as the backdrop for a very good rap song, are arguably even better in the foreground. The blend of textures and rhythms and melodies is intoxicating, like the Avalanches x DJ Shadow collab I never knew to dream about. Speaking of Shadow, “The New Normal” strikes me as a COVID-era “Organ Donor,” one in which the hypnotic central keyboard riff hits like a tsunami. It’s dreamy and scuzzy and hard as hell, and I never seem to tire of playing it on loop along with the rest of this transportive masterpiece. —Chris
Elias Bender Rønnenfelt sings over a slow, doomy march, full of portentous piano chords and ominous wind chimes, his tortured drawl stretching the syllables out into a slurred haze: “There is no shape, there is no form/ But a smoky rolling mass/ So it billows like the sea/ Surges overcome to pass/ Some power exceeds muscle/ Even the weightless can outweigh.” That’s as good a logline as any for Iceage’s new single “The Holding Hand,” a mounting apocalyptic slow-burn that continues the Danish punk greats’ quest to embody the platonic ideal of dark Byronic romanticism in music. From its hauntingly minimal beginnings to string-assisted rock grandiosity to a thunderously climactic crescendo, the song unfolds like a highlights reel of the band’s strengths and makes one thing abundantly clear: Ten years on from their iconic debut New Brigade, Iceage have lost none of their power or their bite. —Peter