A wave of lovely strangeness prevails in this week’s edition of Weekly Radio Roundup. From The Weeknd’s latest late-night atmospheric melody to the airy sounds of The 1975’s most recent meditation on friendship, strangeness whizzed through the musical azure. The tide of uncomfortably warm weather offered joy and anxiety; thus, as you stroll about a sunny February in New York City, you might want to check out these equally mystifying singles and their own brand of conflicting ideas about modernity.
“After Hours” by The Weeknd
Ashley Wu, Deputy Arts Editor
“After Hours” fits the overarching theme of The Weeknd’s discography exceptionally well. He sings about the dichotomy between a hedonistic lifestyle and authentic emotion or love. With lyrics like “This time, I won’t break your heart,” The Weeknd acknowledges the struggle of maintaining a romantic relationship when temptation is always around the corner. The melody itself doesn’t depart from his typical sultry, bedroom pop-inspired sound, but the background differs from his bass-heavy earlier work. Instead, it relies on airy, tantric noise to set the atmosphere for this regretful ballad. The song is unexceptional because it is indistinguishable from his body of work, a quality that is furthered by the simplistic tune. The Weeknd is renowned for his ability to create stellar baby-making music, but this song in particular falls flat.
“We Will Always Love You” by The Avalanches & Blood Orange
Ian Reid, Staff Writer
The Avalanches are back. “We Will Always Love You” is the first offering from the legendary plunderphonics group’s upcoming third album, and it proves to be an exciting (if familiar) spin through the hazy, warm, romantic nostalgia that’s been their specialty for 20 years. Glittery, astral synths float above a crisp, steady drum loop and warm bassline, while British singer/producer extraordinaire Blood Orange makes a brief appearance to deliver a lethargic, monotone, spoken-word verse. By the time the children’s choir comes in, it sounds like the best Disney song you’ve never heard.
“Your Love (Déjà Vu)” by Glass Animals
Alexandra Bentzien, Staff Writer
It seems Glass Animals is leaving behind its signature trip hop jungle sound in favor of mainstream pop structure and beats. The band’s latest release, “Your Love (Déjà Vu),” is a repetitive track of simple, pulsating rhythms lacking the depth and experimentation of earlier popular tracks like “Pools” and “Youth.” The searching, nostalgic softness that added mystery to the electronic-psychedelic sensibility of their vocals is gone, replaced by a terse, predictable soprano upswing at the end of each condensed line. It’s difficult to get behind the lyrics, especially the centerpiece, “You dyed your hair blue / Oh, so much deja vu.” On the edge of becoming wholly uninteresting, it’s as though the band’s trying to hold onto their last laurel of creativity by becoming quirky.
“Gospel for a New Century” by Yves Tumor
Ian Reid, Staff Writer
Yves Tumor is an unknown quantity. In 2018, the experimental singer/producer turned heads with genre-bending singles like “Noid” and “Lifetime” that mixed catchiness and eccentricity in equal measure. Now, as soon as it feels like we’ve got a read on him, Tumor drops “Gospel For A New Century,” a bold, bombastic piece of neo-psychedelia that sees the enigmatic artist embracing his poppier side. “This ain’t by design, girl,” he sneers, dancing through a dusty, sample-heavy instrumental rich with thunderous brass, weighty drums and the grooviest bass line of 2020 so far. While “Gospel” doesn’t surpass the experimental highs of Tumor’s past work — after a couple minutes, the song begins to feel a tad repetitive — it’s hard to deny the joy in hearing Yves Tumor go glam.
“ringtone (Remix) [feat. Charli XCX, Rico Nasty, Kero Kero Bonito]” by 100 gecs
Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Music Editor
Ring ring, there’s a new 100 gecs song, and it’s obviously great. Hosting fabulous interplay between the bravado of Rico Nasty, the digital wonder of Sarah Bonito and the gorgeous anarchy of Charli XCX, Laura Les and Dylan Brady’s latest banger is the crystallization of what modern pop should sound like. Senselessly fun, easily digestible and experimentally progressive, “ringtone (Remix)” was built to override the airwaves and parasitically take over the minds of the world with its sonic ingenuity and unrelenting catchiness. “My boy’s got his own ringtone (Oh, oh) / It’s the only one I know, it’s the only one I know (Oh, oh)” are the words that have been bouncing about my headspace for entirety of the week and they’re a testament to 100 gecs’ supreme ability to take the most random concepts and wield them into musical contagions.
“BALD!” by JPEGMAFIA
Ashley Wu, Deputy Arts Editor
JPEGMAFIA is at it again. We start with elevator music realness layered over with glitchy digital sounds that add a futuristic ambience to the beat. JPEGMAFIA has always defied genre convention; “BALD!” is no exception. He samples a racing game soundtrack for the background audio that contributes a feeling of speed and excitement to the rapping itself, which is fraught with frenetic energy. “BALD!’ is indubitably more melodic than some of his previous work, but this increased rhythm does not detract from his iconoclastic style; instead, it’s bolstered. The song conjures images of yakuza drag racing with its subtle engine revving sounds and raw lyricism. JPEGMAFIA has proved yet again that he is one of the most dynamic rappers in the scene; he changes his style with ease while still retaining the eccentricity that sets him apart in the first place. Have a listen, you will not be disappointed.
“The Birthday Party” by The 1975
Destine Manson, Contributing Writer
The “Birthday Party” is a walk through a typical shindig infused with Adderall and temptation where you are likely to run into members of a chart-topping rock band. The latest single by the chocolate-loving English rock band paints the scene through conversations with partygoers as Matt Healy is peer pressured to indulge in drugs to elevate his good time. The guitar on the song sounds like something you would hear playing in an indie coming-of-age film, with lyrics insinuating a more jam-packed scene. Healy seems over the cliches of hard drug use and long regretful nights you can’t remember. As someone who has been vocal over the years about his struggle with drug addiction, the song ends with Matt Healy accepting his sobriety with the help of his bandmates, no matter how awkward it makes him feel at the eponymous birthday party.
Email Music Desk at [email protected]