Listen to this: 8 years since his last album, Stromae returns with new music

Read about the most notable singles this week by Snail Mail, Julia Michaels and more.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

(Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

If you like danceable pop or brooding rock, this week you’re in for a treat. Snail Mail and Kito delight once again, Julia Michaels surprises and Stromae steps out of the shadows. Read on for more.

“Ben Franklin” by Snail Mail

Jack Solomon, Contributing Writer

“Ben Franklin” is the second single off of Snail Mail’s long-awaited sophomore album, “Valentine.” Here, she grapples with the struggle of getting over a past relationship and drug abuse. On a passing listen, the song’s grooviness and catchiness makes it easy to miss its dark themes. The jangly guitars that defined her excellent debut album, “Lush,” take a back seat to bright, buzzing synths and a melodic bassline laid over a tight and steady drum groove. As the track progresses, guitars and pianos fill out the sound, but the real focus is on Snail Mail’s vocals. Her voice is as captivating as ever. At times sarcastic, she sells emotional and raw lines like “Post-rehab, I’ve been feeling so small / I miss your attention, I wish I could call.” Between this song and the title track released last month, “Valentine” is shaping up to be well worth the wait.

“Skin & Bones” by Kito featuring Winona Oak

Yas Akdag, Music Editor

“Skin & Bones” is yet another high-energy track from Kito. The dance-pop producer is responsible for hits like “Bitter” by FLETCHER and “Steal My Clothes,” which features rising pop artist Bea Miller. On “Skin & Bones,” Kito gets the party going right away with a four-on-the-floor kick, ensuring the song never loses momentum. An infectious, funk-inspired bassline quickly sears itself into your brain, as the producer overlays a rhythmic synth pattern. Kito reflects her Los Angeles residency in the synth — its staccato chords and warm tone remind me of summer and driving by the beach. As Winona Oak sings sultry and sexy lines like “You held me from the bottom / Slow hands on my skin” and “Everywhere I go, my skin and bones, I want you close,” the steaminess and passion of a summer romance is palpable. Make your own decisions about the track, but I know I’ll be blasting this all the way till next summer. 

“Just One Look” by Julia Michaels

Elizabeth Moshkevich, Contributing Writer

Julia Michaels’ latest release is a cover of the Doris Troy song, “Just One Look,” and features in a new Campbell’s soup campaign. Michaels is known for her effortless soprano vocals and laid-back pop songs, such as “Issues” and “If the World Was Ending,” her duet with JP Saxe. Originally a ’60s R&B song, her cover of “Just One Look” sees Michaels go rock, demonstrating her musical versatility. Michael’s voice takes on a new character, reaching lower ranges and is louder, unabashed and free. The song employs a typical rock arrangement, emphasized by the presence of punchy drums. The artist delivers an emotional vocal performance as she belts “Just one look and I fell so hard, oh, oh / In love with you, oh-oh, oh-oh,” flipping into her higher register at the end of each line. Julia Michaels is often recognized for her songwriting skills, but “Just One Look” is a reminder that the artist is a stunning vocalist too.

“Santé” by Stromae

Sabrina Choudhary, Culture Editor

The Belgian singer-songwriter Stromae returned with his new single, “Santé,” on Oct. 15. For those who haven’t been obsessed with him since middle school French class, Stromae put out his last album in 2013 before dropping off the face of the earth. He’s resurfaced sporadically since then, but his latest release is his most definitive. “Santé” — French for “health” but also “cheers” — is typical Stromae. The song’s thoughtful message is delivered through upbeat, danceable, electronic pop, with a funky, fresh tempo that pushes and pulls. The lyrics are an ode to service workers: waiters, cleaners, nurses and even fishermen. Stromae asks listeners to “celebrate those who don’t celebrate” and to “raise a glass to those who don’t have any.” He names the workers (Rosa, Albert and Céline) and gives them the individual attention they deserve, but often don’t receive. The music video shows these characters partying in their workplaces. Praising service workers and mocking Karens might feel stale after the pandemic, but it continues Stromae’s past commentary on work, celebration and purpose.

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