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.
As of this week, the Stereogum staff is fully vaxxed up. See you in a few months for the big fall 2021 festival season. In the meantime, the five best songs of the week are below.
It’s been a while since the Berlin-based artist Anika has released any music — about eight years. Her self-titled debut in 2010 was a masterpiece of dark, synthy songs with her vocals quiet and full of longing. This new single, “Finger Pies,” is more upbeat and experimental than her previous stuff. Over a mid-tempo rhythm and seductive bassline, she repeats: “Some may say that you are/ Only interested in one thing/ That’s to get your own way.” It’s atmospheric, and the backing vocals are subtle but beautiful. So are the little bits of spoken-word interspersed throughout the four minutes. And given that “Finger Pies” was released with an announcement that Anika has signed to Sacred Bones, more hypnotic songs like this one may be on the horizon. —Danielle
Although Squid’s debut Bright Green Field isn’t a direct commentary on current events, so much of it clearly emerged from a tumultuous couple of years. The same as in the US, Squid’s native UK has weathered the fallout and repercussions from years of incompetent and/or craven right-wing leadership. On “Pamphlets,” Ollie Judge sings of information overload in the same way that he’s referenced on other Squid tracks, but this time it’s a particular image — misinformation overload, right-wing propaganda pamphlets piling up outside his door, and an image of staying inside with a barrier up against the warped world waiting on his front stoop.
“Pamphlets” isn’t as densely conceptual as a lot of other Bright Green Field material; Judge found his way to some of these lyrics while playing the song onstage. His angst is visceral and immediate, and “Pamphlets” is a seething, roiling, propulsive song that allows all that anxiety and anger to spill over time and time again. In the context of Bright Green Field, “Pamphlets” is the towering closer. It’s one of those epic eight-minute Squid jams that rises and falls but keeps building until, finally, it releases in a maelstrom of noise. The band are all thrashing away together, Judge pushes his voice into the red. At the same time, “Pamphlets” is a deeply infectious song. In the past several weeks, I haven’t been able to stop listening to it, and now it feels like this may be the best song to Squid’s name yet. This is the band at the height of their powers — brainy, weird, and knotted, but also cathartic and catchy, burning away bleak times and maddening headlines with furious, overflowing colors. —Ryan
Define “perfect.” What it means to you or me or Marisa Dabice might be completely different — and for any of us, it might change depending on the day or the hour or the minute, and whatever you’re feeling, the ever versatile Mannequin Pussy probably have a song to match. On the title track from their new EP, a band capable of appealing to many different moods unleashes a barrage of bludgeoning power chords at several speeds. Their onslaught is topped off by a series of furious unhinged commands: “Look in my eyes! Tell me I’m it! Tell me I’m beauty! Tell me I’m fit!” Maybe you laugh anxiously when it takes a turn toward “Laugh in my face! Spit on my tits!” Maybe you cackle maniacally along with Missy on the breakdown. Maybe you’re not even in the mood for a song as intense as this one right now. But when it catches you in the right 83-second stretch, it can feel like hardcore punk rock’s flawless platonic ideal. —Chris
Between last year’s The Price Of Tea In China, Alfredo, and LULU and last month’s Armand Hammer collab Haram, the Alchemist is on an insane hot streak right now. And if his new solo EP This Thing Of Ours, officially out today, is any indication, he’s not planning on slowing down anytime soon. Opening track “Nobles,” one of two songs on the EP to feature his longtime collaborator Earl Sweatshirt, showcases the Alchemist’s slightly warped old-school hip-hop production at its finest. Bookended by samples from The Neverending Story and Sun Ra’s Space Is The Place, “Nobles” is just two solid minutes of Earl and his associate Navy Blue trading confidently interlocking bars over an appropriately sumptuous string loop. It sounds like a million bucks. —Peter
On last year’s What’s Your Pleasure?, Jessie Ware, the great London singer who had been moving inexorably toward tasteful ballardy for years, pulled a sudden left turn and dove euphorically back in the dance music where she’d first started her career. What’s Your Pleasure? crackled with energy, with life. It was an artist reconnecting with sounds that had inspired her long ago and finding, to her delight, that those same sounds still fit her perfectly. Now, with the first bonus track from that album’s deluxe edition, Ware has outdone herself, gifting the world with an ecstatic squiggle that might be her best song since “Say You Love Me,” or even since “Wildest Moments.”
Everything about “Please” hits just right. Ware’s producer and longtime collaborator James Ford throws skittering guitars, gospel-style backup vocals, and beautifully arranged ping-bloops all over a big, juicy disco-house beat. Ware herself sounds muscular and flirty and self-possessed. She spends the song fantasizing about a stranger in the club, hoping that person doesn’t turn out to be an asshole: “So please! Show me you know how to be sweet! Don’t you be too good to believe! I could be the girl of your dreams!” The whole thing hits like a dopamine rush. Just imagine how this one will feel in a dark and crowded room. —Tom