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 a blockbuster new release Friday. New LDR! New Justin Bieber! Sting’s Duets! So much to dig into this weekend, but in the meantime the five best songs of the week are below.
Since the members of Squid are young and in a hyped-up band, presumably they might not ever have to adjust to the drudgery of office jobs and more traditional careers — or, at least, not for a long time. But we still live in a big capitalistic system, so “Paddling” could be about Squid’s friends exiting school and getting jobs, and it could be about the things we’re all wired to place value on. “Paddling” gets at a certain kind of dehumanizing drift, its steady and slowly intensifying beat mirroring the feeling of getting caught up in the requirements of adulthood — that disorientation and blur that hits when you’re a few years removed from the constant upward movement of a school system.
“Patient and in control,” “Just do what you’re told,” “You comb your hair and you tense the muscle,” the very word “paddling” — Squid use all kinds of little images of what’s expected of people, how they lose themselves in routine. This stuff all exists within the post-punk history Squid are playing with. A disassociation from the society around us, competing voices across “Paddling” play as a sort of cerebral analysis of how easily we all become little unthinking creatures in a giant ecosystem. But Squid don’t let “Paddling” settle there. The arty detachment of its verses eventually boils over, that beat pushing the band into a catchy chorus that serves as a release before the song’s conclusion. That’s when Ollie Judge enters, screaming his way through an effort to ward off the numbness of more quotidian life: “Don’t push me in!” —Ryan
Sofia Verbilla is quietly threatening on “Easy,” a standout from Harmony Woods’ new album Graceful Rage. Its chorus goes like this: “I should be mad at you for what you did/ I’m mostly sad for you instead/ But if you ever lay a finger on another girl again/ You’ll be dead to me, you make it so easy.”
Verbilla balances anger with empathy, expressing disappointment but not surprise that someone she once trusted turned out to be abusive. “Easy” distills messy and complicated feelings about trauma and accountability into a surging rock song, one whose seething chorus is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the graceful rage Verbilla exhibits on it and the rest of her remarkable new album. —James
The ’80s pop thing has been done, and done, and done. Do we really need any more throwbacks to that era? We do if they are going to be this ecstatic.
With “Church Girl,” Laura Mvula is bringing some E•MO•TION-grade sparkle to the table. Musically, it’s the kind of canvas she’s never used before: a brightly beaming synth-pop jam flecked with the kind of jittery rhythmic action that gave Whitney Houston’s finest ’80s bangers their momentum. Mvula makes the most of it, embodying the sort of euphoric freedom she’s singing about, yet always sounding in complete control of her powers. Every time she circles back to that hook — “How can you dance with the devil on your back?” — you can imagine a weight lifting, a smile cracking, and a tingle sweeping across her body. Or maybe you don’t have to imagine it because you’re living it. —Chris
Sorry’s debut album 925 was one of last year’s greatest unexpected pleasures, and their first-ever US show was the last live concert I attended before everything went to shit just over a year ago. The world has become a much weirder and more insular place since then, and it seems that Sorry’s music has followed suit. “Cigarette Packet” — one of their first new songs since 925 is all nervous energy — its blinking synth and drum machine pulse quickened by ping-ponging metallic percussion as Asha Lorenz’s rapid-fire internal monologue repeats and circles back in on itself: “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.” It’s the sound of an anxious mind put to music, pacing and chain-smoking in search of answers that never come. —Peter
“What’s love if not a war for peace that never ends?” That’s Patrick Flynn, one of this century’s greatest hardcore bellowers, asking for absolution. “Million Times” is grown-up shit. It’s a song about trying to keep a flame burning when you’re always fucking up and putting it out. That’s a personal sentiment, but Flynn howls it like he’s riding a galloping steed into battle. Behind Flynn, his Fiddlehead bandmates build a towering groove out of fuzzed-out angularity and melodic bash. It’s pretty and loud and urgent and contemplative all at once. It sounds like a war for peace. —Tom