From Sufjan Stevens to Carly Rae Jepsen, this week’s slew of singles mostly consisted of soft-spoken reflections on living in modernity. Whether it’s King Krule shrieking about loneliness or Sharon Van Etten voicing her heart’s woes, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone. Without further ado, here are this week’s most interesting singles.
“The Unlimited” by Sufjan Stevens
Angela Cai, Contributing Writer
Gradually-building synths and echoing drums craft the eerie and somewhat-dissonant introduction to Stevens’s upcoming album with collaborator and stepfather Lowell Brams. Stevens’s trademark gentle acoustics and vocals are noticeably absent, surrendering the song to a distinctively New Age-esque electronic pulse. A steady buildup to brighter notes intriguingly builds anticipation before quickly fading back into a wavering beat. While unexpected and at times ominous, the synth remains reminiscent of the religious and natural themes that Stevens often employs in his songs, bringing a sense of awe or inferiority to mind as the song rises and falls. “Aporia,” set to release on March 27, is sure to be as otherworldly and strange as this first release.
“Intentions” by Justin Bieber (feat. Quavo)
Abby Hofstetter, Managing Editor
I will not write about this song’s production value, nor will I write about the quality of Bieber’s vocals. Neither of these matter — at least, neither of them matter nearly as much as the lyrics do. There is a specific way that Justin Bieber talks about his wife that makes me recoil. First came “Yummy,” and honestly, I thought it might have been a gaffe. But now we have “Intentions,” and I’ve begun to accept that Bieber will continue to refer to his wife as a vague entity, a sexy #GirlBoss who’s not only kindhearted but — surprise! — can cook, too. I don’t know much about Hailey Bieber, but I do know that she deserves better than “Heart full of equity, you’re an asset,” because most people do. Especially from their husbands.
“Alone, Omen 3” by King Krule
Alexandra Bentzien, Staff Writer
“Alone, Omen 3” is a concoction of the artist’s two signature worlds: a lyrical verse of tender affection colliding with the hardened realism of rock. Garage, experimental, alternative — they’re all fitting adjectives. A darkness is at work here: King Krule sings of an ambiguous, seemingly-endless train ride “deep into the metropole” as he plays with the reverberating noises of his amped-up, blown-out electric guitar and bass. It’s a harsh soundscape reminiscent of a Sonic Youth backdrop, whose potential to pour into the punk that colored King Krule’s 2017 sophomore effort “The OOZ” gives the resonating echoes a certain fragility. “Every minute, every second / You’re not alone,” Krule croons in poetic whisper-song with a surprisingly light and almost boyishly innocent tone, conjuring an alluring image of paradise with an ominous undercurrent. For whom he sings and about what is caught in a haze, but it’s a compelling vision he crafts, intriguing enough to beguile another listen if only in the pursuit of deciphering the meaning behind the music.
“Let’s Be Friends” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Angela Cai, Contributing Writer
“Let’s Be Friends” is the new song for bitter singles this Valentine’s Day. A sly, strumming guitar provides the upbeat background to Jepsen’s playful and ironic new single. Her sugary vocals beckon listeners through a mixture of mocking murmurs and sharp declarations against love. But the standard, repetitive push-and-pull of the song fails to reach the emotional or sonic heights of her previous albums. “Let’s Be Friends” is nothing remarkable, but remains infused with enough of Jepsen’s infectious pop spirit that freshly broken-up listeners can nod along to it.
“Know Your Worth” by Khalid & Disclosure
Ana Cubas, Contributing Writer
Following the success of their first collaboration, “Talk”, the second go-around by Khalid and DJ-production duo Disclosure is precisely what I expected — a bouncy, flirtatious beat with subpar lyricism. It’s another forgettable song the Top 40 stations will play for a month, maybe two. The lyrics, optimistically promoting self-acceptance, are merely skin-deep. Hearing “gotta keep, gotta keep, gotta keep your head up” does not make me want to keep my head up, especially after its third repetition in the song. Despite this disappointing attempt at a weighty topic, Disclosure’s catchy, bold bass lines and layered vocal samples with Khalid’s warm, silky voice distracts the listener enough from the lyrics to conjure the nostalgic image of a summer day spent in the car, when there is absolutely nothing else on the radio.
“Moment” by Victoria Monét
Destine Manson, Staff Writer
Victoria Monét’s new single, “Moment,” is a feel-good song to have on repeat throughout the year. The singer-songwriter effortlessly flexes her pen to her own music after a successful year of songwriting for Ariana Grande’s award-winning album “thank u, next.” Her deep, rich tone makes the song feel warm from beginning to end. The vibe of “Moment” is slow and sultry, much like the iconic female voices that dominated the 90s R&B era. It’s raw, familiar and reassuring. From manifestation to achieving your dreams with someone special, the chorus — “It’s your f-cking moment” — is a healthy reminder to keep on keeping on.
“Beaten Down” by Sharon Van Etten
Ashley Wu, Deputy Arts Editor
“Beaten Down” is really sexy. In it, Sharon Van Etten croons over a tantric bassline and whirling notes. The song’s atmosphere evokes imagery of a girl in a lesbian period drama stumbling dramatically over dark moors. Although it may not be as lyrically complex as some of her other work, the song’s layered vocals are saturated with mystic energy. Be careful putting this song on your Valentine’s Day playlists; I found myself heavily pregnant after just one listen.
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