In this weekly feature, I make a playlist of some of the best and most important new songs from the week before. Each track is supplemented with a short commentary, giving a reason to check them out.
Mutual Benefit – “Advanced Falconry”
The first true LP from Mutual Benefit is one of the most pleasurable listens of the year. It doesn’t cover much new ground, but the record’s warm atmosphere and sleek production creates easy listening to the nth degree. “Advanced Falconry” appears in the middle of the album’s cycle, and its lush strings, folky guitar and light vocals create a beautiful accompaniment to this fall season.
Arcade Fire – “Normal Person”
Arcade Fire’s uber-hyped Reflektor finally arrived, with a somewhat mixed response from fans and critics. It’s agreed that the band is as great as ever, but the album’s drudging length and sometimes unsuccessful experimentation left it from reaching the status that it was destined to be. Either way, it’s still a great record, and “Normal Person” is one of the most rockin’ songs the group has ever put out. It’s the closest Arcade Fire will probably ever get to heavy metal.
Swearin’ – “Watered Down”
The second album from this Philly-based indie punk-rock group continues where their album first left off, making a great ’90s sounding rock album. “Watered Down” is a fun track that evokes feelings from a previous generation. From the album cover to the vocalist’s lethargic voice, Swearin’ is a Gen-X group that just happens to have come around a decade or two later than expected.
Polica – “Trippin”
Electronic R&B group Polica’s second LP recently serves as an extension to their debut. There isn’t much new experimentation going on, but the formula that worked well the first time around is applied once again, by combining rhythmic electronics with Channy Leaneagh’s improved voice. “Trippin” is a classic Polica track, full of unintelligible lyrics and a dance club-ready beat.
Arcade Fire – “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)”
While the entirety of Reflektor might not have lived up to expectations, there’s no doubting that the record consists of some of the group’s best songwriting to date. A standout on the album is the second half’s “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice),” which fulfills their conceptual ideas while also creating an emotional powerhouse of a song. Its chorus is cosmic, heavenly and catchy as hell.
M.I.A. – “Bring The Noize”
Everyone’s favorite female rapper is not named Niki Minaj, she’s named M.I.A., and she had a new album drop recently. M.I.A. calls the album her most spiritual work yet. The tracks are focused on Hindu gods and beliefs, but that’s not the first thing to come to mind when her music starts playing. “Bring The Noize” is a fast party-thumping anthem, and is full of characteristic M.I.A.-isms.
Gesaffelstein – “Aleph”
Completing this playlist is a song from French-producer Gesaffelstein’s first LP. After gaining some cred after working on the incredible Yeezus, the producer put together a record full of sound-ripping electronic music. The Yeezus relations are easy to catch, with much of the music on this album sounding highly industrial and hard. The record’s excessive length isn’t easy to get through, but it’s an interesting listen in this post-Yeezus era of music.