Welcome back to Essential Listening, an article in which we compile all the best new music of the week into the definitive tome of modern music; The Far Out Playlist.
On the album front, Beach House managed to beat out the rest for our Album of the Week thanks to the sprawling and transfixing new 18-song LP Once Twice Melody. It’s the second week in a row where a massively ambitious LP clocking in at well over an hour reigns as our favourite album, following Big Thief’s Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You.
Elsewhere, Alice Glass got dark and aggressive on her solo debut PREY//IV while Metronomy continued to do their thing on Small World. It wasn’t exactly a week for major course-altering music, but most of the full lengths dropped in the past seven days have been solid, enjoyable works from some talented artists.
There was a solid slate of singles over the past few days as well. Killing Joke made a solid return, as did Rex Orange County with his recent single ‘Amazing’. Tame Impala gifted us with another B-side from The Slow Rush, while newcomers like Romero and The Matchbox made solid entries into the crowded world of indie rock.
But only eight songs can make this list, so here are the best new songs from the week, compiled into The Far Out Playlist.
The best new songs of the week, February 12th – February 18th:
Snail Mail – ‘Adore You’
Whether your Valentine’s Day was spent with your forever love or you were slumming it in the single life for another year, one thing’s for sure: we could all use a little bit of a musical pick me up this year. That’s why Snail Mail‘s Lindsey Jordan has stepped in to release a new demo version of the track ‘Adore You’, which was later featured as the title track on her phenomenal sophomore LP Valentine last year.
Like all of Valentine, this particular song is miles away from the typical love song or devastating breakup track. Jordan works best in the grey areas, where the future is completely uncertain and current feelings are so confusing that you can never tell if you’re having the time of your life or at the end of your rope. ‘Adore You’, and the subsequent version of ‘Valentine’, balances the best and worst of life into a complex and complicated ode to living life for all it’s worth.
Kurt Vile – ‘Like Exploding Stones’
American indie rocker Kurt Vile has returned with his first brand new music in two years with the epic seven-minute single, ‘Like Exploding Stones’. Featuring goofy and loopy lyrics that reference pinball and guitar feedback that happens in real-time, ‘Like Exploding Stones’ never strains or even sweats itself very much at all.
Vile seems happy to just let the languid track sprawl and slink along for as long as he wants, unfurling new insights and wonky guitar lines whenever they seem to suit him. It’s stoner heaven, just like a lot of Vile’s work, and for fans, it will surely be a welcome return.
TV Priest – ‘One Easy Thing’
Following the success of their debut album, Uppers, last year, TV Priest are preparing to release their much-anticipated follow up later in 2022. ‘One Easy Thing’ is the first indication of things to come. In the last couple of years, the London-based quartet has garnered a reputation as one of the most intelligent and unflinching bands on the scene.
Here, we see them peel their songwriting back to craft something that is at once deeply confessional and gloriously scathing. ‘One Easy Thing’ opens with a loose net of acoustic guitar, allowing the frontman to point out that, while he might be known for spitting his words onto the concrete, he can hold a tune just as well. If you haven’t listened to TV Priest already, you better remedy that right now.
Future Islands – ‘King of Sweden’
American electronic rockers Future Islands have returned with a brand new single, the driving and highly danceable ‘King of Sweden’. For anyone not familiar with Future Islands and their unique blend of rock, dance, disco, and electronica, ‘King of Sweden’ will be the perfect introduction.
That’s because everything that makes the Baltimore band great is here: pounding rhythms, explosive choruses, obscure lyrics, endless washes of keyboards and pulsating synths, and some wild vocals melodies floating over the top as well. They’ve got it all figured it out, and as long as they keep dropping jams as potent and catchy as ‘King of Sweden’, they can’t lose.
Bodega – ‘Statuette on the Console’
New York punks Bodega have released their new single, ‘Statuette On the Console’, in nine different languages. The catchy punk cut arrives in English, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Ukrainian. Fusing the pop-inflected melodies of groups like Ramones with The Vaselines, ‘Statuette On the Console’ is one of those earworms of a track that you’ll instantly have a repeat.
There’s nothing particularly mind-blowing about it, but sometimes that’s a good thing, and in this case, it is. The track makes you want to start pogoing all over the place, singing in unison with frontwoman Nikki Belfiglio about being the titular statuette on the console. Bodega’s latest effort is a great advert for the fact that bands don’t always have to take themselves so seriously.
Fontaines D.C. – ‘I Love You’
Irish indie punks Fontaines D.C. have shared their latest single, ‘I Love You’, taken from their upcoming album Skinty Fia. At first glance, with a title like ‘I Love You’, one might be forgiven for thinking that the aggressive post-punkers have gone a bit soft. While there might not be any ear-splitting feedback or overwhelming dissonance in the new track, ‘I Love You’ is still right within the bands expertly gloomy wheelhouse.
‘I Love You’ does represent a more accessible angle than most of the group’s material, lifting the darkness for long enough to incorporate some chiming guitar lines and some swirling effect pedal sounds. Chatten is as uncompromising as ever, refusing to even flirt with vocal melody, but his turn to genuine heartfelt affection for his home country is a surprising and effective change for a band who usually favour more doom-laden imagery.
Nilüfer Yanya – ‘anotherlife’
Nilüfer Yanya has just dropped another taster of her upcoming second album. Landing alongside an opulent music video, ‘anotherlife’ sees Yanya offer up an effervescent slice of finely-honed pop-songwriting underpinned by sensuous R&B grooves. Following the release of last month’s ‘Midnight Sun’ and 2021’s lead single ‘Stabilise’, ‘anotherlife’ is the third single plucked from Yanya’s upcoming second album, Painless.
Yanya’s lyrics are suffused with an endearing honesty that’s hard to resist. At once self-deprecating and confessional, Yanya’s rich tones are backed by cyclical guitar lines and analogue drum pulses, adding up to a track that we are undoubtedly going to be hearing a lot more of this summer.
Chubby and the Gang – ‘Who Loves Ya (Coup d’état)’
UK punk rockers Chubby and the Gang have returned to drop a surprise brand new EP for Valentine’s Day, Labour of Love. According to frontman Charlie Manning Walker, the idea for the EP was originally just going to be single for the song ‘Who Loves Ya (Coup d’état)’. Eventually, the project sprawled into a video and an additional two songs, ‘Twice Shy’ and ‘Ain’t There No One?’, filling out the rest of the EP.
‘Who Loves Ya’ certainly has a catchy chorus at its core, but the prickly nature of infatuation come out as the group careens and crashes its way through one of their most blatant pop songs yet. Chubby and the Gang are experts at contrasting their aggressively ugly punk roots with a surprising eagerness to incorporate melodies, harmonies, and other softer elements without compromising the loud, fast, and snotty sounds at their centre.