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.
You might’ve noticed a new name around here this week. Rachel Brodsky has been contributing to Stereogum for years, but now she’s officially part of the crew. Welcome Rachel! The five best songs of the week are below.
PinkPantheress is a 20-year-old English singer and producer who flips the recognizable sounds of UK garage, jungle, and drum and bass into accessible, contemporary, and TikTok-ready bedroom-pop. Like many of her songs, “I Must Apologize” features a sample of actual ’90s dance music, in this case Crystal Waters’ oft-sampled 1991 house classic “Gyspy Woman.” But instead of merely cruising on pure nostalgia, PinkPantheress uses the watery keyboards and hurtling breakbeats to do her own thing, pairing the retro aesthetic with her vaguely robotic, PC Music-esque vocals to spin a tale of a repentant but incorrigible pathological liar. If she can keep churning out bite-sized bangers this appealing, PinkPantheress has nothing to apologize for. —Peter
It’s the central conceit of so many stories about immortality: “Would you live forever, never die/ While everything around passes?/ Would you smile forever, never cry/ While everything you know passes?” Adrianne Lenker remains skeptical of this proposition. Steady yet unhurried in a manner befitting the subject matter, Big Thief’s latest single frames death as one more natural aspect of life, “like a door to a place we’ve never been before.” The thought is poignant, both comforting and troubling in ways — even more so when the other shoe drops and Lenker lumps the death of a romance in with all the other change: “Could I feel happy for you/ When I hear you talk with her like we used to?/ Could I set everything free/ When I watch you holding her the way you once held me?” Simple yet profound, it may be the most poetic expression of this idea since “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” communicated in tender warbles that might’ve rendered Tennyson a weeping mess. —Chris
Alexandra Drewchin has been making sculptural, avant-garde music under her Eartheater name for the better half of a decade now, and with each new era she swerves in a different direction. “Scripture” is a far cry from the fire and chrome and brimstone of last year’s Phoenix, with a pounding chorus that feels like ascending back up to the heavens. Drewchin’s voice is airy but imposing, squiggles of synths accompanying her transcendent insistence that she’s “painting my own picture,” creating the sounds she wants to see out in the world. —James
Two years after she announced an indefinite break from performing, the grand return of Mitski is an event. Mitski knows this, and she doesn’t seem very happy about it. “Working For The Knife” is a song about the deep anxiety of living your life in public and of realizing that, intentionally or not, you have made your life’s work a part of the capitalist machine. Mitski sings in a crystalline deadpan about the trap that she’s set for herself: “I always thought the choice was mine/ And I was right, but I just chose wrong/ I start the day lying and end with the truth/ That I’m dying for the knife.” At the end of the song’s video, Mitski dances across a theater stage for an imagined audience, a manic and exhausted grin across her face.
But if Mitski is stressed about a future of singing expansively icy and discomfitingly real songs, she remains great at it. With its elegantly piled-up synths and guitars, “Working For The Knife” works as oblique glam-rock, and it gives cinematic grandeur to all of that anxiety. Once again, Mitski has captured a certain unsettling feeling in her music. This time, though, the unsettling feeling seems to be about capturing unsettling feelings in music. —Tom
The Extremely Online duo of Magdalena Bay — AKA Los Angeles indie-pop heads Matthew Lewin and Mica Tenenbaum — have been open in the past about how their “creative, insular universe” is the driving force behind their forthcoming debut, Mercurial World. With every new release, Lewin and Tenenbaum’s candy-colored cosmos just keeps expanding, and the delightfully paranoid single “Hysterical Us” is absolutely no exception. In keeping with Magdalena Bay’s endearing tendency to channel everyday foreboding into helium-bouncy pop ballads, “Hysterical Us” sounds joyful, with plinking keys and an elated beat.
Even the song’s music video is a psychedelic journey into the papier-mâché multiverse, as the band goes for a ride in a van that also looks like an animated ogre out of Aah! Real Monsters. Don’t let the Rainbow-Brite aesthetics and breezy melody fool you, though. “Hysterical Us” is ultimately about all of the things that go bump in our brains, usually at three AM on a Tuesday, with the lyrics aptly comparing anxiety to “a fog, a shadow, a smoking gun.” What do you do in the face of constant existential dread? Well, a dance break never hurt anybody. —Rachel