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.
Yeezy Season approaches once more. God knows what that even means anymore, hope you’re ready. The five best songs of the week are below.
Normani Kordei Hamilton got her start in reality TV and in pop music, but now, years beyond The X Factor and Fifth Harmony, she’s emerged as a sharp, instinctive R&B star. “Wild Side” sounds like Aaliyah warped a couple of decades forward, or like Kelela-style avant-garde club-sigh music upscaled for mass consumption. It’s a sex song, but it’s more about the anxiety and anticipation of trying to connect than about the act of connection itself — at least until Cardi B comes bulldozing in on her “WAP” wave. The song was complete before Cardi jumped on it, and she’s not fully necessary for “Wild Side” to work the way it does, though it’s still plenty fun to hear her braying about sucking a watermelon through a straw. Still, the man show is Normani herself, her voice darting haltingly through these clouds of immaculately constructed bass and telling you to stop messing around and shoot your shot. Good advice. —Tom
“Hold U” starts out so simply, with just a tinny drumbeat and some basic keyboard chords. Indigo De Souza takes it somewhere special from there, steering it directly toward the joyous sensation of love among friends. As De Souza expresses her affection and an impeccably noodly guitar takes control of the arrangement, a misty pop ballad on the Cyndi Lauper-Shura continuum blooms into warm, florid R&B and then a euphoric indie rock climax. The vocal melodies are resplendent and intuitive, the lyrics tender and empathetic: “You are a good thing, I’ve noticed, I’ve seen it/ And I want the best things for you.” It feels like a bear hug, and by the time she’s cutting loose with those wordless howls near the end, a dance party like the one in the music video might have broken out wherever you’re listening. —Chris
This second track on Clairo’s new record Sling is when the listener really gets pulled in. The piano is lively, her voice is airy and glowing, and the rhythm is buoyant and catchy. The song is still minimal, though, with mostly empty space highlighting every element as significant. Though Clairo’s words are charmingly mumbled, the ideas are interesting and her tone is vivid in its annoyance: “Aren’t you glad that you reside in a Hell and in disguise?/ Nobody yet everything, a pool to shed your memory.” As it goes on, the track gets even groovier, and the way it pours into the next track, “Partridge,” is hypnotic. —Danielle
“Disappearing” plays out like Low’s entire career in gorgeously framed time-lapse photography. Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker sing together in close harmony, their voices stark and awestruck, until digital decay comes along and swallows them up. It’s like the bare and hymnlike slowcore of Secret Name giving way ecstatically to the decaying drones of Double Negative — a file gorgeously corrupted. Even as the waves of fuzz and glitch overtake them, Sparhawk and Parker offer up a prayer to mystery itself: “That disappearing horizon, it brings cold comfort to my soul/ An ever-present reminder/ The constant face of the unknown.” On “Disappearing,” as on so many other things that they’ve done together over the years, Low rush out to greet that unknown. They revel in it. —Tom
We’ve all heard bits and pieces of the new War On Drugs album. Last year, Adam Granduciel took to Instagram and previewed a handful of tracks. Based on those, we know the album has some big, lush, synth-drenched tracks in store for us. But that’s not what “Living Proof” is. “Living Proof” is a curious lead single and opening track for the Drugs, unlike most songs they’ve used in either capacity and, in some ways, unlike many of their past songs in general. In the context of I Don’t Live Here Anymore, it’s not quite a feint — but it is a curtain rise that is deeply patient and restrained.
There have been stripped-back War On Drugs songs, but maybe none so quiet and comparatively sparse as “Living Proof.” Unlike most Drugs songs, it came about with Granduciel and the band playing together, coaxing a little reflection into being. There’s no great waves of mind-warping textures, no big build-up. It stays in its lane, a dusty road song of displacement. What is like other Drugs song is how perfectly Granduciel calibrates little details — the way he muses on walking his old block and seeing it built up, the slight uptick in drama when he sings “I’m in Chicago,” the lonesome cry of the guitar solo at the end.
Granduciel couldn’t take the sound of A Deeper Understanding any further. It was already so sonically dense, so huge. As the first new Drugs song of a new era, that makes “Living Proof” even more poignant and plaintive. A worn, weathered, but still standing reintroduction — before whatever tricks Granduciel has in store for us next. —Ryan