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. You can hear this week’s picks below and on Stereogum’s Favorite New Music Spotify playlist, which is updated weekly. (An expanded playlist of our new music picks is available to members on Spotify and Apple Music, updated throughout the week.)
Slim - "Let's Talk Money" (Feat. Headie One)
It’s so pretty. UK rap can work that way sometimes. The drum pattern on “Let’s Talk Money” is pure UK drill, with its tourettic hi-hats and its hesitating bass-hits. Beyond those drums, though, “Let’s Talk Money” is built around a gorgeous smear of sound — digital windchimes, new-age keyboard gurgles, Fennesz-style time-warping ambient sighs. The sheer beauty doesn’t seem to affect London emcees Slim and Headie One, whose laconic street-life talk is specific enough that Americans might find it near-impenetrable. But tracks like “Let’s Get Money” work, in part, because nobody ever comments on the contrast between stunning washes of sound and the stuttering dead-eyed snarls. That contrast is simply a part of life. —Tom
Yumi Zouma - "be okay"
It takes a couple minutes for “be okay” to pay off, but pay off it does. After some wistful, yearning breakup remembrances, Yumi Zouma kick it into high gear as they approach the song’s biting chorus, Christie Simpson snarling through the fuzz: “You crush me/ Tell me that you wanna get to know me/ To introduce me to your fucking family/ And you still treated me so fucking badly.” From there, they pound into that central refrain, with shouted-out background exclamations and swirling ooh-oohs, luxuriating in the melodramatically epic sadness of a love lost and, maybe, some independence gained. —James
Hotline TNT - "Out Of Town"
In a world of a lot of boring shoegaze, Hotline TNT are a riot. The Cartwheel singles have been evocative, from the hypnotic “Protocol” to the more upbeat “I Thought You’d Change.” “Out Of Town,” though, is rowdy and ebullient, guitars swirling with urgency and abandon. The song has the restless energy of a circle pit. Will Anderson is leading the movement, making big (and endearing) proclamations to a lover: “Sweetheart don’t leave me in the lost and found.” Hotline TNT are one of few bands that can get away with starting a song off with the words “baby girl”; Anderson said he “wanted to channel my Minnesotan roots and try it out, Paul Westerberg style,” and it works. —Danielle
Full Of Hell & Nothing - "Spend The Grace"
The pairing of Full Of Hell and Nothing makes so much sense that I’ve surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. They’re both ambitious bands that have pushed back against whatever genre designations they’ve been saddled with, and they both make music that is glowering, portentous, beautiful, and occasionally pulverizing. They do all that and more on “Spend The Grace,” the lead single from their upcoming collaborative album. Blood-curdling screams bump up against scraping guitars and the energy only gets more fractured, more chaotic as the track goes on — eventually collapsing in on the weight of itself in a bleary blaze of glory. —James
Sufjan Stevens - "Shit Talk"
Even before we knew what we know now, Javelin was a heartrending listen, and “Shit Talk” stood out as its triumphantly downcast climax. With the revelation that Sufjan Stevens’ longtime partner Evans Richardson died this year, and that the album was dedicated to him, all those ostensible breakup songs took on devastating new layers of meaning.
Essentially concluding the tracklist before a Neil Young cover that plays more like an epilogue, “Shit Talk” is a towering work within the Sufjan canon, a convergence of his rawest personal disclosures and his prettiest, most grandiose musical impulses. The song is like a reflective pool that ripples outward to infinity, expanding from hushed fingerpicked guitar into one of his signature post-rock symphonies. The sound of it is lush and expansive, painfully gorgeous and gorgeously painful.
The lyrics are simple, direct, and sharp enough to cut to the core — especially when “I will always love you, but I cannot live with you” gives way to “I will always love you, but I cannot look at you.” By the time Sufjan and his chorale are singing “I don’t want to fight at all” and “I will always love you” back and forth at each other, it has become the epic finale we all imagine for our failed relationships. Then, the falling action: one last extended ambient swoon that feels like a downcast, relieved exhale. When it’s all over, you too might find yourself exhausted and unraveled, in disbelief about what you just experienced. —Chris