As we head into the big holiday weekend, I had my mind on upbeat new tunes this week. But besides Vic Mensa’s “Down On My Luck” still being in my personal rotation weeks after its release, I ended up gravitating more towards moody music than hedonistic bangers. Even the Royksopp and Robyn track I highlight here is a sensual downer.
Strand of Oaks — “Shut In”
We’ve all been there: “I lose my faith in people/ Why even take the time?” So to hear Timothy Showalter, aka Philly’s Strand of Oaks, turn the desolate corners of the mind into a new loner folk-rock anthem is a welcome relief. Warm, crescendoing consolation that boils down to, “you’re not alone in wanting to be alone.” Strand of Oaks’ excellent new album, HEAL, is out June 24 on Dead Oceans.
Royksopp & Robyn — “Monument”
The 10-minute opening track on Scandinavian pop dream-team Royksopp & Robyn’s mini-LP, Do It Again, is dance-floor odyssey. Sullen sax, tribal drum, and cryptic bass combine to create a sensual palette for Robyn’s demands. “Make a cast of my body,” she sings, looking for a memento of her personal growth. A song like “Monument” is proof enough that Robyn has turned a corner — no physical trinkets necessary. Listen to it via the NPR First Listen of Do It Again (out May 26).
Banks — “Drowning”
Banks’ forthcoming album, Goddess (due out September 9), is shaping up to be the major label debut to beat this year. Her latest sees the R&B-pop singer digging her claws in a little deeper over a sensual trap beat: “From the girl who made you soup and tied your shoes when you were hurting/ You were not deserving.” When she puts it that way, it’s hard not to be on Banks’ side.
Peach Kelli Pop — “Mindreader”
I mean this is the most complimentary way possible: the latest from Porchcore’s Allie Hanlon, aka Peach Kelli Pop, sounds like a Josie and the Pussycats song. The production is on the scratchy side of lo-fi, but with a power-pop song as catchy as “Mindreader,” it doesn’t even matter — the hooks shine through.
Hopscotch — “Satisfaction”
The ghost of hits past haunt “Satisfaction,” a new track from Hopscotch, aka L.A. producer Angela LaBaw. But lyrical nods to The Stones classic and Andrea True’s disco hit “More, More, More” are just one aspect of what makes “Satisfaction” stick. The sinister undercurrent is a big part of it, too.