Welcome back to Essential Listening, a place where we compile all the best new music of the week into the definitive tome of modern music: The Far Out Playlist.
With plenty of new albums comes plenty of responsibility to choose one for our album of the week, but when it came down to brass tax, there was a pretty obvious winner: Toro y Moi, who served up an intoxicating swirl of originality with his seventh studio album Mahal.
There were plenty of other solid LPs to kick around as well: Melody’s Echo Chamber signalled a fresh start with some familiar hypnotic sounds on Emotional Eternal, while Girlpool took all the covers off on the raw and powerful Forgiveness. Blossoms stayed in their lane and produced the catchy and upbeat Ribbon Around the Bomb while Bloc Party went straight to satisfaction on Alpha Games.
There were also some fantastic singles kicking around, but only eight can find their way onto this list Here are the best new songs from the week, compiled into The Far Out Playlist.
The best new songs of the week, April 23rd – April 29th:
Sorry – ‘There’s So Many People Who Want to Be Loved’
North London duo Sorry are back with their brand new single ‘There’s So Many People That Want To Be Loved’, which serves as yet another indicator of London’s angsty guitar scene beginning to recognise that dulcet tones don’t necessarily mitigate authenticity or originality.
A genuinely novel lovesong is a rare thing indeed. Sorry’s ‘There’s So Many People’ that want to be loved manages to breathe life into the much-shunned song form by broadening its scope, painting a picture of romance tinged by the isolation of the modern metropolis. Far from basking in melancholy, Sorry bring a certain lightheartedness to this new single, allowing them to avoid cliche while offering a self-deprecating analysis of post-breakup blues.
Cass McCombs – ‘Belong to Heaven’
Californian indie sensation Cass McCombs has shared his new single, ‘Belong to Heaven’. The collaborative track marks the musician’s first solo release since 2020. Working alongside Wit’s End and Humor Risk producer Ariel Rechtshaid, McCombs assembled his backing band which comprised Danielle Haim on drums and vocals; The Chapin Sisters on vocals; Shahzad Ismaily on bass, keys, and piano; Frank LoCastro on keys; and Buddy Ross on the Hammond organ.
The new song begins with an intense synth line that is abruptly cut with the introduction of an upbeat twanging guitar line that meets the sentimentality of McComb’s lyrics that come as a heartfelt tribute to a lost friend. The track is bolstered by the well placed vocal pairing of Haim, and The Chapin Sisters which gives it an earnest edge while remaining upbeat musically.
Angel Olsen – ‘Big Time
American singer-songwriter extraordinaire Angel Olsen has returned with a brand new single, the title track to her upcoming sixth studio album Big Time. Not unlike her previous single ‘All The Good Times’, ‘Big Time’ comes complete with strident organ lines and whispy pedal steel guitar that place it firmly in the old school Bakersfield Sound of classic country music.
‘Big Time’ is right in the standard love song structure that country and western is ideally suited for, but since this is Angel Olsen, there are some wah-wah guitars and resplendent harmonies to keep things from getting too schmaltzy. The idea of having a big gay country song isn’t actually all that out of place as it might have been 10 or 20 years ago. Olsen always had a bit of twang to go along with her heavier rock and punk roots, but it usually came out as smokey odes to the past. With ‘Big Time’, Olsen steps firmly into the present.
Arcade Fire – ‘Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)’
Canadian rockers Arcade Fire have dropped the second single from their upcoming sixth studio album WE, the heartfelt and upbeat ‘Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)’. Whereas Arcade Fire has been exploring highly-danceable tones and sounds for most of the 2010s, ‘Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)’ is filled out with acoustic guitars and bass drum thumps that feel far more in line with the band’s earliest material.
Sure, ‘Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)’ is kind of cheesy, but it’s effective cheese. Also, who doesn’t love cheese? Sweeping strings and an ear-catching melody all serve to make the new single a winning cut from WE. After spending a decade trying to be cooler and slicker than their original sound made them seem, Arcade Fire are finally leaning back into the earnestness and anthemic nature of their first decade.
The Black Keys – ‘It Ain’t Over’
American blues-rockers The Black Keys have dropped the latest single from their upcoming 11th studio album Dropout Boogie, the smooth and funktastic ‘It Ain’t Over’. Taking a break from the souped-up and fuzzed-out riff-rock that makes up most of their catalogue, ‘It Ain’t Over’ dives deeper into the southern soul influences that are just as important to The Black Keys as musicians as blues is.
This is still a Black Keys song though: Auerbach’s guitar makes some scattered appearances, including on a laid back solo that plays right into the easy groove of the track. Some falsetto harmonies help elevate the chorus, paired with doubling from both guitar and a high synth that sounds like it comes straight out of a Dr. Dre Chronic-era album cut.
The Big Pink – ‘No Angels’
The Big Pink have returned after a decade with their new single ‘No Angels’ claiming that the song is “true to what we stand for” which had many starved fans wondering whether it was an anthem to honour lengthy sabbaticals. A lay-off as long as ten years is always a worry. After all, that’s not quite a hiatus, that’s a career for some people.
With all of this in the background, you might worry that the song would lose its way and try to cram too much into the comeback like an old boxer who comes out swinging wildly. However, ‘No Angels’ refreshingly takes a more minimalist approach. This turn offers up their old raw, fuzzed-out energy and atmosphere without overloading it.
Superorganism – ‘crushed.zip’
London-based wonky pop masters, Superorganism, have dropped yet another stellar single, ‘crushed.zip’. The new track is the latest offering from the band’s upcoming second album, World Wide Pop, and follows their two previous singles ‘It’s Raining’ and ‘Teenager’.
The track is an incredibly glitchy and dynamic piece, that features some of the band’s trademark surreal production. It’s augmented by the use of a vocoder and an earworm of a chorus, imbuing the song with the twisting heady delight that we love about their music. There’s also the beautiful use of some strings towards the end, and they give the song an anthemic and uplifting climax, providing a foil to the more challenging elements of the song.
Kelly Lee Owens – ‘One’
Kelly Lee Owens has shared a brand new preview ahead of her forthcoming album LP.8. The Welsh producer and multi-instrumentalist will release the follow-up to August 2020’s Inner Songdigitally this Friday (April 29th) before its physical release which follows on June 10th via Smalltown Supersound.
Owens announced the new album last month alongside the release of two new singles, ‘Sonic 8’ and ‘Olga’. The latest preview for LP.8, ‘One’, comes in the form of a dark and atmospheric single where the synthesised beat and disjointed textures are met with the refrain: “You are the one.”