Happy Friday, dear readers! The heatwave is over, and we’re back to good old British rain. It’s a good job, then, that this week’s Tracks includes a whole bunch of new tunes to bed in with while not leaving the house ‘til Monday morning (at least that’s our plan).
Mitski leads our round-up with the gorgeous, delicate ‘Two Slow Dancers’, the final preview of new album ‘Be The Cowboy’ - out a week today. She’s joined by Aphex Twin’s predictably convention-swerving return on ‘T69 Collapse’, a third preview of Slaves’ upcoming LP in ‘Photo Opportunity’, and new ones from Anteros and Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker. It’s absolutely packed, basically.
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.
Mitski - Two Slow Dancers
In ‘Two Slow Dancers’, the closing track of her upcoming fifth album ‘Be The Cowboy’, Mitski takes us back to the scene of a school dance, remarking how “it’s funny how they’re all the same”. It’s a song heaped in an arresting sense of nostalgia, telling the story of two old lovers who have reunited and are reflecting in the adolescent setting of a school gymnasium, trying to relive a moment they can’t get back.
“It would be a hundred times easier, if we were young again,” Mitski sings on the song’s chorus, and you can’t help but think that such a scene is metaphorical. ‘Two Slow Dancers’ conjures up that strange sense of distance you feel when being faced with a memory of a past self that seems so innocent and alien to the way you feel now, you can’t help but think you’re thinking of a stranger. “To think that we could stay the same…” she says repeatedly as the song ends, without finishing the sentence, almost like a sigh. Change is inevitable, for better or worse, and Mitski’s new track encapsulates that feeling in all its bittersweet wonder. (Rachel Finn)
Aphex Twin - T69 Collapse
The rollout for the announcement of Aphex Twin’s new EP ‘Collapse’, and its first single - if you can use such a word for his music - ’T69 Collapse’, was a suitably mysterious revealing, with posters appearing slowly worldwide before the EP was finally announced via a trippy, partly unreadable press release from his label Warp. The song that follows, then, is predictably also far from simple to unravel.
Complete with its astonishing, otherworldly video - which, upon viewing, it’s easy to see why it failed the standard photosensitive epilepsy test - ‘T69 Collapse’ is a wonderfully subversive return from Richard D. James that sees him remain as aloof and non-commital as ever, but still managing to find untrodden ground.
Glitchy bass and delicate synths glide the track into life gracefully, and though there’s a thousand different elements going on in the track at once, they never seem in competition with other. Instead, they slide together to make something remarkably smooth.
That’s until the beat drops away just before the two-minute mark, and a dark, glitchy cloud descends over the track. The next two minutes are otherworldly, immersive and - to be honest - largely incomprehensible.
Aphex brings it back, though. After a premature ending, the track worms its way back into life, helmed until its close by a syrupy synth line which percussive beats worm their way around like moths to a flame. It’s not a predictable return from Aphex Twin, then. Of course it’s not. But the fact that it’s still as evasive, still as surprising and still just as mind-bending as ever, twenty years into his career, is an achievement in itself. (Will Richards)
Anteros - Call Your Mother
Anteros are no strangers to the dizzying heights of alt-pop glory, but with their latest offering, they seem to have climbed even further. Dosed in sugary sweetness, ‘Call Your Mother’ is a more dreamy, charismatic affair in comparison to the likes of ‘Drunk’ and ‘Bonnie’, and comes complete with the sort of sparkling chorus that Blondie would be proud of.
Frontwoman Laura Hayden’s entirely up for playing that part too, with her soaring vocals harking back to Debbie Harry’s playful tones, making her the perfect narrator to this seductive tale. (Sarah Jamieson)
Slaves - Photo Opportunity
“Hello, what are you trying to do to me?” asks Isaac Holman plainly, as the opening of ‘Photo Opportunity’ creeps quietly into the fore, “This is not a photo opportunity.” After the driven taunting of first track ‘Cut and Run’, and the 90s charm of ‘Chokehold’, it’s clear that Slaves’ newest full-length isn’t exactly what’s come to be expected of the pummelling duo. With their latest track, they prove they’re still more than happy to mess with people’s perceptions.
Beginning in a relatively hushed fashion - just one guitar line and Isaac’s aforementioned vocals - this track is a lesson in vulnerability and restraint, with each of his grippingly honest verses building into a storm off Weezer-esque riffs and ferocity, before slinking back away, like the final dissipation of rage. It may be another taste of the unexpected from the duo, but it shows them in perhaps their finest hour yet. (Sarah Jamieson)
Adrianne Lenker - cradle
With her music as Big Thief, Adrianne Lenker’s stories are fleshed out by subtle but influential flecks of electric guitars and panned percussion, taking her out of the traditional singer-songwriter mould and producing something more fleshed-out.
What ‘cradle’ - the first song shared from upcoming solo LP ‘abysskiss’ - it seems that while these additions are welcoming and warming, they’re not vital in order for the singer’s message to hit hard.
‘cradle’ is based around hushed whispers of backing vocals and simple, comforting acoustic guitars, which she sings gorgeously atop of. As the track’s sort-of chorus glides its way in, you’re floored with a simply stunning vocal turn, one that can define a song even when so subtly executed. It’s not even massively important what exactly it is that Adrianne is singing; the execution and perfect tone make it emotional enough on its own. (Will Richards)