New Music Weekly is your one stop shop for new releases in the world of music every week. From the best of the best, to some of the rest, Mark Conroy is here to give you the lowdown on what you might have missed. This week: Taylor Swift, Father John Misty, MGMT and more…
Father John Misty ‘Pure Country’
Father John Misty’s self-aware commentary arguably reaches Its zenith with the release of ‘Pure Country’, a—you guessed it—country reworking of the satirical title track off his mammoth 2017 album Pure Comedy. Releasing a version that’s sung in exaggerated southern twang with some delta riffs speaks to the illusive idea of true ‘ownership’ of the song. In the description of the YouTube video, Tillman writes “now libs and chuds each have their own version to weaponize”, so the context changes, the scathing lines become anti-government, paranoid sentiments when sung within the confines of a traditionally conservative leaning genre. Of course, the true point is that nothing should change. Instead what should be just a nice genre flip for a great track becomes something else entirely in an increasingly polarised, political environment. If you get past the stunt, the track still works on its terms and there’s no doubt that FJM has genuine (true? – Ed) affection for the Nashville sound.
Screaming Females ‘Glass House’
The New Jersey punk trio will be returning with a new album entitled All at Once, set for release later this year. ‘Glass House’, the record’s second single, is hard-hitting classic rocker that evokes Sleater Kinney at their most furiously fist-pumping. It’s not exactly a progressive powerhouse, but the straightforward hardened rock edge, searing scratchy riff work and climatic final stretch get the blood flowing in all the right ways.
Taylor Swift ‘Gorgeous’
Taylor Swift’s schtick at the moment is supposed to be this take no prisoners, badass reinvention but the inert joylessness of her first two singles have felt like she’s been pointing the crosshairs at herself more than at anyone else. The brooding grim-pop didn’t suit someone whose bread and butter is pristine production and a calculated image of the non-existent everywoman. But based on her latest, Reputation’s direction change might not be as major as we first assumed. For better or for worse, ‘Gorgeous’ is vintage Taylor and it’s the strongest of the singles she’s released this year. A mid-tempo, sleekly summery jaunt that’s built off of a dainty arcade game beat, ‘Gorgeous’ can’t be faulted sonically that much. Singing about a boy she can’t have, the lyrics are laughably tween and diary entry however, with “You make me so happy it turns back to sad” starting off what maybe the most forced rhyming scheme In her career. She may not sound older, but at least she sounds better.
BADBADNOTGOOD ‘I Don’t Know’ (Feat. Samuel T. Herring)
Samuel T.Herring is an intelligent and maybe even underrated vocalist. While his chord scorching euphoria is perfect for Future Island’s stimulating synth-pop, here he can tone himself down to suitably coarse croon to match the lounge act vibes of BADBADNOTGOOD’s ‘I Don’t Know’. Herring sings of a dead siblings and parents, of a loss he can’t yet quite understand but is all too aware that one day that will change. The instrumentation is smooth as silk but the melancholy of the lonely keys of the keyboard, low registering bass plucks transport us to A dive bar in 70’s New York, where smoke might fill air almost as much as regret.
Charlotte Gainsbourg ‘Ring-A-Ring O’Roses’
Charlotte Gainsbourg’s upcoming album Rest will drop next month, and the singles continue to be stellar. Latest ‘Ring-A-Ring O’Roses’ is cinematic and sumptuous, a track that may burn slow but burns brightly. The French songstress marries her own fathers lush but surreal orchestration with a glowing profusion of synth pop dynamism. Her vocals, breathy and impossibly sultry, float over the charming, chiming production but don’t mask the sinister pain that lies just beneath the surface.
MGMT ‘Little Dark Age’
MGMT might just finally be comfortable with not being an ‘It’ band anymore. It’s 10 years since the chart topping Oracular Spectacular and they may have just released their best single since. Dropping just in time for Halloween, ‘Little Dark Age’ is like ‘Thriller’ for those who fear the dance floor. The groove of the modified bass-line is like a sonic time capsule of early 80’s pop while the spindly electronics evoke the best horror soundtracks of the era, or of today for that matter (Stranger Things). It’s the chorus, which arises with little fanfare and it’s deceptively propulsive, that provides an engine that may not move fast but do so with hooky purpose.
Fever Ray ‘To The Moon and Back’
The Knife’s Karin Dreijer returns to her solo project Fever Ray after a long, 8-year wait. Comeback single ‘To The Moon And Back’ is a worthy re-entry into her canon. A seemingly straightforward synth-pop number, it’s conventional but in that deeply uncanny kind of way. The dynamic beat sounds uplifting but its hyperactivity is almost unsettling, especially when words of devotion for someone special devolve into words of obsession. “Your lips, warm and fuzzy / I want to run my fingers up your pussy” she sneers in matter of fact confidence that suggests she’s going to get what she wants.