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Saturday, 25 June 2016
The 15 Best New Songs of the Week: Mitski’s Entire New Album, Christina Aguilera’s ‘Change,’ and More
Looking for new tunes? We’ve got you covered.
So much new music is released each week that it’s impossible to hear it all. Not that you’d want to; a lot of it isn’t so hot. But let us help simplify your search for new sounds with a roundup of the week’s seven best new songs. Trust us. We have good taste.
MITSKI – ALL 11 SONGS FROM PUBERTY 2
Almost exactly one year ago, via, of all places, a comment left on a Stereogum listicle, I discovered Susanne Sundfør’s Ten Love Songs. That album would not only go on to become my favorite album released in 2015, it would become a rare, out-of-nowhere focal point of musical obsession for me and for many of my friends. So began a running joke: who among us would find the album that would help us get beyond Ten Love Songs? Who among our favorite artists, old or new, would put out a work to divert our obsession? What would, ultimately, become The Album? It took a full year, but that album is finally out, and it is Mitski’s Puberty 2. Since hearing it for the first time about a month ago, I have become entranced in a way I have not been in a year.
Puberty 2 is short, a lean 30 minutes, but there is so much to unpack in its 11 meticulously-constructed songs. It’s an album with themes that will resonate with anyone who’s ever experienced anxiety or depression, who’s questioned what happiness is and should feel like, and anyone who has ever been a human being in his or her 20s. The lyrics range from painfully earnest (“If you would let me give you pinky-promise kisses / then I wouldn’t have to scream your name atop of every roof in the city of my heart” in “Once More to See You”) to biting and clever (“I was in the bathroom, I didn’t hear him leave / I locked the door behind him, and I turned around to see / all the cookie wrappers and the empty cups of tea / well I sighed and mumbled to myself, ‘again I have to clean,'” about a “man” named Happy in “Happy”). There is pain and there is humor, there is self-doubt and there is empowerment.
The diversity of the writing is also reflected in the musical composition and arrangements. From the slow torch song sway of “Once More to See You” to the atomic blast of “My Body Is Made of Crushed Little Stars” to the arena-ready guitar riffs and choruses of “Your Best American Girl” and “Fireworks” to the stuttering drum machines in “Happy” and “Thursday Girl,” a lot of familiar indie rock tropes are covered and subverted in the course of 30 minutes. In moments Puberty 2 is quiet and introspective, in others it is deafening, crushing. That the album lives so comfortably in and between extremes, both lyrical and musical, is remarkable. And yet it is more than just a a technical achievement (though it is) or a collection of songs about general angst, confusion, love, and the swelling and withering of emotion (though it is). The album is deeply personal in a way that makes it potently universal. Some artists have the ability to make you feel something powerfully with nothing more than the turn of a phrase or by hitting a note with such clarity it feels religious. Mitski is one of those artists, and Puberty 2, her fourth album, is a depiction of the artist hitting her stride.
Again, and despite the depth of its themes and musicality, Puberty 2 is a short listen, so I don’t feel like recommending you listen to the whole thing is a too much to ask. If you must pick and choose, though, here are my recommendations of the moment: gigantic first single “Your Best American Girl,” the bittersweet “Fireworks,” the burning-desire-incarnate “Once More to See You,” the searching, soulful “Thursday Girl,” and the blistering “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars.” But really, just listen to the whole thing. Again and again and again. – Matt
TWENTY ONE PILOTS – “HEATHENS”
Last week, Twenty One Pilots shared their new song “Heathens,” the lead single from the Suicide Squad soundtrack, and now they’ve dropped the music video for it as well. In the video, we get a little sneak peak into the movie (hey, Harley Quinn!) which is sure to be this summer’s blockbuster movie when it hits theaters August 5. I love the song, and I am also anticipating the star-studded soundtrack which includes Eminem, Grimes, Panic! at the Disco covering “Bohemian Rhapsody, and more.
CHRISTINA AGUILERA – “CHANGE”
In response to the tragedy that occurred in Orlando, Christina Aguilera released the song “Change,” a charity single that raises money for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. The empowering song focuses on what is going on in this country in light of the tragedy, and how we should unite for a better world. The ballad packs the usual Aguilera emotional wallop, while being contemplative and subdued. – Michael
TIËSTO AND JOHN LEGEND – “SUMMER NIGHTS”
I will forever associate this song with baby Luna Simone’s trip to Las Vegas, where John Legend performed his return post-fatherhood EDM(?) single with Tiësto at EDC Music Fesitval. Cool dad alert, kids. – Mia
ALICIA KEYS – “HALLELUJAH”
Alicia Keys is back with a gorgeous new song, “Hallelujah.” Earlier this week, she released a moving short video featuring the song entitled “Let Me In,” a tribute to the refugee crisis in honor of World Refugee Day. There is a historical high of 65 million refugees in the world, and Keys’ film heartbreakingly explores the plight of refugees worldwide, while set in modern-day L.A. Director of the video Jonathan Olinger commented, “I hope the film leaves people asking the simple question: What if it was us? And that it ultimately blurs the lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’—as we are all human.” – Kaitlyn