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.
It’s been another busy week for new tracks and album announcements — 2022 is going to be a crowded year. Here are the five best songs of the week.
At some point in its development, “Lights Out” was a song that Romy Madley Croft intended for her band the xx. It’s not too difficult to imagine how the xx’s version would sound — a sinuous bassline, a few splintered shards of guitar, a melancholic murmur of a vocal. It probably would’ve been great, but the version that we got is probably even better. Working with Fred again.., a versatile producer currently getting money with Ed Sheeran, and with the London DJ HAAi, Romy has made a contribution to the great tradition of dance anthems about dancing.
Like so many of those past floor-fillers, “Lights Out” posits dancing as a cure for heartbreak, a way to embrace a pleasant oblivion when real life feels too bleak. Romy’s not exactly a classic house diva, and her lead vocal here brings out the sadness of the song itself. But the track itself layers on the architecturally precise club-music touches — the basslines and synth-pings and explosive crescendoes — that shift the song’s entire tone. In its current form, “Lights Out” isn’t a meditation on despair. Instead, it’s a means to cure that despair. —Tom
I really could have picked any of the songs from the third chapter of Once Twice Melody for this list — they’re all that good — but I’m opting for “Sunset,” perhaps the most low-key of the bunch. Beach House songs are typically layered and dense but this one is mystically, perfectly simple. Grounded by an acoustic guitar, a rare instrument choice for the duo, Victoria Legrand sings of flowers and a descending palace and “golden fans across the land now,” her voice echoing against itself on the band’s sparse backdrop. “Sunset” is unbelievably pretty and restrained but toward the end, when that little wriggling synth sneaks in at the two-thirds mark suggesting even more epic views on the horizon? It feels like a whole other universe has been unlocked. “Just one key ties everything,” as Legrand sings. —James
It would be a huge understatement to say that Big Thief are on a roll right now, as they drop new cuts from their upcoming double album, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You. The latest puzzle piece is the impeccably produced “Simulation Swarm,” which comes across as both sharp and soft, icy and warm. Drummer James Krivchenia kicks off with an even, mid-tempo snare beat, while minor-key acoustic strums loop, creating an ominous, and yet oddly comforting, tension. Adrianne Lenker, meanwhile, merges animal, astrological, and pastoral imagery to spin a yarn that could be about any number of things, and as such, remains open to interpretation in the most intriguing way. —Rachel
A couple proposed at a Jenny Hval show, and because Jenny Hval is Jenny Hval, she turned it into a song about her own complicated relationship with the “normcore institution” of marriage. The Norwegian artist has always leavened her most experimental work with a weirdly undeniable pop sensibility, and the upcoming Classic Objects is being billed as Hval’s version of a pop album, but “Year Of Love” doesn’t necessarily sound what you’d expect a Jenny Hval pop album to sound like. It’s a deep psychedelic groove that has more to do with dub than synth-pop, and somehow, it really works. A couple proposed at a Jenny Hval Show, and because Jenny Hval is Jenny Hval, she turned it into something magical. —Peter
According to J.I.D, the phrase “surround sound” refers to the environmental noises he focused on as a child to drown out the chaos of his home life, ranging from the quaint (ice cream trucks) to the chilling (gunshots). With the new single “Surround Sound,” he and his collaborators have created an environment every bit as vivid and ferocious as that neighborhood block. I’ve often wondered whether J.I.D, despite his obvious talent, is simply doing an impressive Kendrick Lamar impersonation, a notion supported by this track’s interpolation of “ELEMENT.” and its structural resemblance to “DNA.” But “Surround Sound” is too good, and J.I.D’s performance too commanding, to keep writing him off as somebody else’s understudy.
There’s so much to love about this song. Producers Nurі, Christo, and DJ Scheme lace J.I.D with a pair of incredible beats: first a smooth, tightly wound loop built from Aretha Franklin’s “One Step Ahead,” then a woozy, bass-bombed wobble that artfully weaves in elements from the song’s first half. Baby Tate makes the most of her brief spotlight moment, cascading up and down the scale in captivating fashion and leaving us wanting more. 21 Savage once again shows off his mastery of this kind of soul loop — previously heard on “A Lot” alongside J.I.D’s label boss J. Cole — flexing all over the Aretha sample with the kind of casually menacing gun talk he made his name on.
As for the track’s leading man, he’s switching up flows like it’s nothing and toying with the English language on a level most rappers can’t approach. Sometimes it’s a marvelous flurry of syllables, like the way his voice goes skipping across the beat here: “We can fuck around/ Hit the music, baby, cut it down/ Hit a doobie while you do me indubitably, I feel like I’ma bust now.” Sometimes he sketches out a whole mural’s worth of imagery in a single sentence fragment, like when he boasts about having the “same posse since OshKosh B’gosh.” The complete package is just astounding — the kind of song that leaves you muttering damn. —Chris