It’s Friday again! Not only does that mean that the pub is inevitably calling, but it also means it’s time for us to round up the biggest and best new tracks released across the past seven days.
This week has brought some much-needed returns. After collaborating with Kurt Vile on last year’s ‘Lotta Sea Lice’, Courtney Barnett is back on her own with ‘Nameless, Faceless’ from new album ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’, while Beach House are teasing a new album, out later this year, with comeback single ‘Lemon Glow’.
Elsewhere, Kero Kero Bonito are back with a grungey left turn, Soccer Mommy continues to gear up for the release of new LP ‘Clean’, Eleanor Freidberger returns with ‘In Between Stars’ and BOOTS teams up again with Run The Jewels.
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.
Courtney Barnett - Nameless, Faceless
Returning with ‘Nameless, Faceless,’ - the first slice of forthcoming second album ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ - the first thing that strikes you about Courtney Barnett is the scope she’s gained since her debut. While ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I just Sit’ turned out and perfectly articulated the many sides of personal introversion and anxiety, along with artfully rendered, minuscule details from everyday life; peeling paint, Vegemite crumbs, and Swanson commuters, Barnett’s latest seems to see her taking on the anxieties of the world at large instead.
Paraphrasing a quote from The Handmaids’ Tale author Margaret Atwood in the chorus - “Men are scared that women will laugh at them… women are scared that men will kill them” - mock-pitying keyboard warriors (“I wish that someone could hug you,” she jokes) and parodying the image of somebody mansplaining using a bowl of alphabet soup, she’s still armed with the wit of her first record, but takes a different approach. The surprise success of her debut has clearly emboldened the Melbourne musician no end; as she told GQ in an interview this week, “Now I feel like I’m allowed to say what I want.”
Many people listening to ‘Nameless, Faceless’ will identify with the absurd and saddening reality of walking through quiet patches of town with keys poised between your knuckles - just in case - just as sending a customary “home safe” text after a night out with mates will be a second nature reflex. Hearing Courtney Barnett take on the patently political, then - with the gigantic riffs and untamed anger to match - feels like a vital move forward. (El Hunt)
Beach House - Lemon Glow
Although they released a collection of ‘B-Sides and Rarities’ just last year, it’s been three years since Beach House released their last pair of albums, ‘Depression Cherry’ and ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’. From nowhere though, Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand returned to deliver a late-night Valentine’s Day message on Instagram: “Wishing everyone out there love tonight”. That love came in the form of a new track, taken from a forthcoming album.
‘Lemon Glow’ retains Scally and Legrand’s hazy motifs and swooning vocals, yet there’s a darker undercurrent also present here, one that’s not just signalled by the track’s almost constantly reverberating, urgent arpeggiated melody. Bleak, bass-ridden pulses sometimes stab through the mix, guitar squalls pierce across the vocals, with a couple more discordant elements slicing through those languid harmonies. It feels maximalist yet haunting, strangely familiar but still eerie. It’s a zingy, tantalising return, one that returns the listener to Beach House’s unique soundscapes while well and truly whetting the appetite for that new Beach House record. (Eugenie Johnson)
Kero Kero Bonito - Only Acting
‘Bonito Generation’, the debut album from London trio Kero Kero Bonito that was released back in 2016, was characterised by the spirit of pure joy. There were nods to video game soundtracks and J-Pop and they crammed in more than a few hooks along the way. It was a collection packed to the brim with mega hooks and more than a good dollop of glucose.
After debuting the track live a few months back, their comeback single ‘Only Acting’ sees them swapping the bubblegum electronics of their debut in favour of slightly scuzzier guitar, bass and drums. Is the result any less effervescent? Heck no. It’s still a full-on rush of aural serotonin, with just a touch of weirdness thrown in. The halfway mark and outro are characterised by blasts of more discordant noise that hints at something slightly darker going on, which is only reflected in Sarah’s lyrics: “I sure didn’t know it hurt so, but then no rehearsal could show you how to feel inside”. They’re keeping you on your toes in more ways than one, and doing it in true, spellbinding KKB style. (Eugenie Johnson)
Boots - Delete Delete (ft. Run the Jewels and Cristin Milioti)
Boots, who first cropped up in 2013 after he contributed to Beyoncé’s self-titled album, is something of a hyper-talented musical chameleon. Working magic with everyone from Run the Jewels to fka Twigs, his solo work - an intriguing mix of diverse sonics, scatter-shot genres and religious iconography - hasn’t yet picked up traction in quite the same way. ‘Delete Delete’, from his newest release ‘#DARKDAZE’, plumes swamp-submerged trap bass and rhythmic minimalism to saturated lengths; it’s certainly an interesting prospect. But veering between swigging Jay-Z’s D’usse-branded Cognac and describing a figure named Little Foot at a disorientating pace, it’s also a confusing one that doesn’t tie up any of its own loose ends.
As you’d expect from featured guests Run the Jewels, they bring some much-needed coherency to a track that otherwise seems to career off on a different tangent every second. El’s verse deftly references the ACME Corporation - from Warner Bros.’ Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons - and its constant output of nonsensical consumer products, before moving on to an uprising against capitalist greed as a whole. “Fuck your elite, delete, delete, indeed when da meek’ll seize the street,” El-P spits, referencing Matthew 5:5 (“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” reads the original Biblical line in question) And Killer Mike, a verse later, takes a different tact and paints his own rapper narrative in a mythological light.
Elsewhere, there’s catchy enough but slightly empty-centred refrain from How I Met Your Mother actress Cristin Milioti; a lyric that pivots on a pun (“what’s the dark matter with you”), but falls short of unearthing any deeper hidden meaning. That’s emblematic of ‘Delete Delete’ as a hole; a track which starts to prove Boots full capabilities before erasing the evidence. (El Hunt)
Soccer Mommy - Still Clean
“‘Still Clean’ discusses the hopelessness of waiting for someone who’s abandoned you,” Sophie Allison says of the opening track from her upcoming debut LP as Soccer Mommy, ‘Clean’.
“It uses this idea of being ‘clean’ to explain the feeling of being stuck waiting for someone, hoping that they haven’t moved on from you,” she continues, and there’s a gorgeous patience to the track.
‘Clean”s first preview, ‘Your Dog’ saw Allison with teeth bared, stamping down that she doesn’t “wanna be your fuckin’ dog”. ‘Still Clean’ is the flipside, with the singer standing motionless, and absorbing events around her while having no control over their outcome. It’s transmitted via gorgeous, plucked electric guitar and a soft, affecting voice. While her promise has always been evident, Soccer Mommy is beginning to look closer to the full package in the run up to ‘Clean’. (Will Richards)
Eleanor Freidberger - In Between Stars
Eleanor Friedberger’s upcoming new album is called ‘Rebound’. Now, perhaps that title might initially signal that she’ll be taking a look at romance and moving on from past relationship but there’s a bit of a different reason why her new collection has gained its moniker. After spending most of 2016 on the road in support of her last full-length ‘New View’, she travelled to Greece to visit family, immersing herself in the culture. It was there that she was encouraged to visit an Athens nightclub that was, yes, called Rebound.
After the acoustic pop that characterised much of ‘New View’, it’s somewhat unsurprising that this backstory signals a new direction for Friedberger, one where she trades her live band for working with producer Clemens Knieper. ‘In Between Stars’ heralds a shift further towards electronic drums and synthesisers. Guitars are still present here, with jagged riffs piercing through the mix, but there’s also huge piano melodies and waves of ambient electronica, coming together as a slice of buoyant pop with some more idiosyncratic moments. Though it concludes on a more sombre, almost mysterious note (with Eleanor contemplating “I don’t know how I’ve come to see the world exclusively through your eyes/ Everything I buy and eat and do with you in mind”), this is a strident, confident return that pulls you once again into Eleanor’s orbit. (Eugenie Johnson)
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