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.
Have a great weekend, everybody!
For years, Chrystia Cabral has been using hazy, atmospheric DIY synthpop to communicate big ideas. On “Little Deer,” she’s expanded her reach, using big sounds to get to those big ideas. Cabral says that “Little Deer” is a “thesis track,” a musical statement of intent. Recording for the first time with a vast ensemble of musicians, she packs “Little Deer” to the point of bursting, layering on Bacharach-style trumpets and itchy-throb trip-hop percussion and dream-sequence harps and something that sounds like the wordless choral vocals from the original Star Trek theme. She also sings in a bigger, more expressive voice than she’s ever used, somehow channeling both Britney Spears and Kate Bush at the same time.
All this glorious frippery is there to support a song about endless life-cycles and about the fragility of nature. Cabral sings the entire song to the titular little deer, and she takes it to some strange places. She consoles a dying animal, shot by a hunter. She tells the animal to run away from her. She proposes marriage. She embraces the inevitability of death: “Tender lovers of the earth, turn us back into the dirt.” The result is euphoric orchestral pop music, and it’s also something much more oblique and personal. If this song is the thesis, I can’t wait to read the rest of the paper. —Tom
Tirzah takes it slow and steady. Her songs hang together like they’re barely there. The mode the English singer has been operating in with her frequent collaborators Mica Levi and Coby Sey since her 2018 debut full-length has been one of hushed minimalism. “Send Me,” her latest single, opens up the more you listen to it, its dry drum beat and watery guitars a contemplative backdrop for Tirzah’s determined plea. “Send me, sun at dawn/ Gonna let it heal some more,” she coos. “Let me heal and now I’m sure.” Much like her songs, the healing Tirzah sings about takes time to settle in. But you can hear her resolve build throughout, she gets stronger and stronger until the very end, when the track breaks out into a rash of scraping, discordant guitar. And just like that: a revelation. —James
The first thing you hear on London punk-rock outfit Chubby And The Gang’s new single “Lightning Don’t Strike Twice” is bluesy slide guitar noodling. The second thing you’ll hear, about 30 seconds later, is explosively furious drum hits, and from there, we’re off to the races. “Lightning Don’t Strike Twice” is a breakneck sprint of a song, all searing guitar licks and indignant bellows and anthemic pub-rock gang-shouts about the rigged game of life. “Maybe baby, I was born to lose,” Charlie Manning-Walker growls. “They say lightning don’t strike twice/ But these feel like they’re loaded dice.” Every new song that Chubby And The Gang’s release is proof that lightning does, in fact, strike more than once, and “Lightning Don’t Strike Twice” is one beautifully pissed-off bolt. —Peter
“Inversion” is not exactly innovative. Quicksand’s new single trafficks in the same kind of grunge- and shoegaze-adjacent post-hardcore they’ve specialized in for decades. The subject matter as summed up by Walter Schreifels addresses trends that are more recent but hardly new: “the push and pull of being very connected through technology while at the same time being the most emotionally isolated group of humans to ever walk the planet and fun stuff like that.” Yet Schreifels wailing away about “invisible people in a sacred expanse” over churning power chords and a pounding midtempo rhythm section, finding some intense equilibrium between a Black Flag basement show and a Jane’s Addiction arena date — it may not be some paradigm-shifting event, but it sure feels revolutionary when it’s blasting at full volume. —Chris
Probably the most palpably painful moment of this song is during the bridge, when Lucy Dacus sighs, “I wish I was over it, over it, over it, over it.” The Richmond singer-songwriter is known for ballads dealing with heartache — she is a member of boygenius — and “Hot & Heavy” is no less evocative than the rest, even with its more upbeat tempo.
Despite that sense of forward propulsion, this is a song weighed down by the passage of time. Dacus, in her romantic coos, nervously remembers the past, when things were different. Her words are brief but revealing, especially the all-telling line: “You let me in your world until you had enough.” This fragmented story swells with that feeling of visiting your ex’s town and having all of the memories flood back to you — everything looks the same, but the lens and the context are permanently changed, so it’s all saturated with a vague, distorted familiarity. “Hot & Heavy” really portrays this confusing mix of regret, longing, and acceptance. When she sings the last line, “It’s bittersweet to see you again,” and the weightless, swirling instrumentals take over the song, she’s embracing whatever comes next. —Danielle