Good afternoon dear readers and welcome to another edition of Tracks, and this week there’s more new music knocking around than you can shake a stick at. Björk decided to give us a little Friday pick-me-up by dropping her new single ‘The Gate’ prematurely, while exciting newcomer Lao Ra took a huge leap forward with new single ‘Me Gusta’. All this via newies from Rae Morris and a gorgeous collaboration between Frightened Rabbit and Julien Baker.
For our verdicts on all of this week’s biggest and most exciting tracks, all you need to do is scroll down. And if you’re itching to check out everything else out this week, step this way for DIY’s Listening Hub, and our Essential Playlist.
Björk - The Gate
After the heartbreak that formed her last album ‘Vulnicura’, Björk has already described her upcoming, as-yet- untitled new record as her “Tinder album”. Perhaps that would lead you to believe that she’d be taking a more quick-fire approach to love and lust, but instead the first glimpse into
her new record – aptly titled ‘The Gate’ – doesn’t seem to concern itself with a superficial approach to romance.
Indeed, Björk herself claimed recently that ‘The Gate’ was a love song, but “in a more transcendent way”. It’s unsurprising then that ‘The Gate’ feels more like a spiritual rather than physical approach to the topic, taking its time to build from an opening coda whose deep melancholy is almost
reminiscent of ‘Vulnicura’ to weaving fluttering synths, almost woodwind like tones and hissing percussive elements.
It’s often delicate and minimalist, but towards the middle of its six minutes it swells with deep pulses, glacial, warped electronica, and Björk’s own chopped vocals as she repeatedly cries “I can care for you”. As she sings about not wanting to be so needy and having “proud self-sufficiency”, it’s
possible to think that, with its call for compassion in tow, ‘The Gate’ has formed something of a healing process; the first line even talks about “my healed chestwound”. With its deft traversal between moody and transcendent melodies though, Björk moves past loss and further into even
bolder new territory. (Eugenie Johnson)
Lao Ra - Me Gusta (ft. Afro B)
In the words of Lao Ra herself, ‘Me Gusta’ is about “a woman who’s in control of her sexuality, looking for a situation where she doesn’t need to ask questions, but can invite a guy to relax, drink some tequila and enjoy the moment while it lasts”. Agency, then, is at the heart of the Colombian-
born singer and producer’s latest single, unsurprising considering that she’s been determined to speak to the experiences of young women in the world.
She expresses this agency through forthright lyrics (“I’ll keep you warm/ Fuck until dawn”), but also manages to tie the themes into the music themselves, singing that the woman gets together with others “kind of like the rhythm of a reggaetón”. She crafts her words around a melting pot of music from her own Bogota roots and life in London, weaving together afrobeat and pop with the dancehall guest vocals of Afro B, a blackened synth pulse and beats that could get anyone on the dancefloor. There’s even a bit of accordion thrown into the mix.
It’s just another sign that nothing is off limits to Lao Ra in terms of sound and inspiration; anything could make a floor-filling pop jam as she becomes even more in control of her own musical destiny. (Eugenie Johnson)
Rae Morris - Do It
Rae Morris’ drastic reinvention on her appropriately-titled comeback single ‘Reborn’ was a change it took a little time to adjust to, swapping introspective, piano-led ballads with hushed vocals for neon-coloured pop. Second offering ‘Do It’ slots into its new home far more comfortably, straddling the line between the singer’s past and future, and exhibiting bucketloads of confidence along the way. “Take your guard down, I can see through it,” she asserts in the track’s bouncy chorus, before repeating the track’s title in a confident refrain. Finding the perfect balance of the chart-mingling she’s clearly going for and the songwriting craft of her past on ‘Do It’, Rae Morris’ return just got a whole lot more exciting. (Will Richards)
Frightened Rabbit - How It Gets In (ft. Julien Baker)
Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison and Julien Baker have two of the most recognisable voices in indie-folk today, so when they collide on ‘How It Gets In’, from Hutchison’s band’s surprise new EP ‘Recorded Songs’, it’s a sound that’s jarring and gorgeous all at once. Trading lines in the track’s verse, Hutchison’s vocal warmth contrasts perfectly with Baker’s icy tones for a track suitably bleak in subject matter, but with plucked acoustic guitars that feel like a blanket. Crafting their own, distinctive worlds and then coming together on ‘How It Gets In’, Hutchison and Baker prove a perfect match. (Will Richards)
Shigeto – Don’t Trip (ft. Silas Green)
With his upcoming new album ‘The New Monday’ – named partially after the weekly night that he’s taken up residence in - Michigan producer Shigeto is returning to his roots. After a stint in Brooklyn, he’s back in Detroit and is paying tribute to the musical heritage of the city he’s grown up in. With the first track he revealed from the record, ‘Detroit Part II’, he fused together hip hop and jazz in a semi-ambient fusion.
With ‘Don’t Trip’, he’s gone one step further. With a focus on the musical community, he’s recruited emcee Silas Green to provide some lines, which repeat across Shigeto’s ever-morphing, cascading beats. At first, the combination seems like it’ll remain as a pretty heavy hip hop opus. But the longer it goes through the six and a half minute tune, the more the lines start to get blurred between the rap vibes and the creeping onset of Shigeto’s more ambient synth swirls. Suddenly, the track has done a complete 180, bringing in classic techno percussion and warped electronics that are a million miles away from how it originally set out. In the space of just one track, Shigeto manages to celebrate two very different aspects of Detroit’s musical fabric. That’s no mean feat. (Eugenie Johnson)