Listen to this: BENEE’s latest single dives into the struggles of anxiety
Read about the most notable singles this week by Conan Gray, Porcupine Tree and more.
November 4, 2021
This week, Gen Z stars BENEE and Conan Gray are back with new music. For you old souls, fret not, as we also review tracks by Porcupine Tree and John Mayer. The reviews speak for themselves, so we won’t say more — just read on.
“Doesn’t Matter” by BENEE
Yas Akdag, Music Editor
New Zealand singer-songwriter BENEE’s latest song is a laid-back exploration of mental health struggles. Over a lazy, swung groove and simple, fingerpicked guitar, BENEE lays herself bare. “Have to check that the oven is off / This happens every night / Sometimes you tell me off / Maybe I’m consumed by my mental,” she sings, resonating with anybody who has grappled with anxiety or overthinking. BENEE has always been a confessional lyricist — she is forthcoming about her loneliness in “Supalonely,” which went viral on TikTok. The downbeat tone of “Doesn’t Matter” is reflected in BENEE’s vocal processing. With her vocals drenched in reverb, and as refreshing, lemonade-sweet harmonies join in, BENEE sings the chorus, “I know it doesn’t matter / I know it doesn’t matter / None of this even matters.” The track’s light production highlights her vocals — reminiscent of Billie Eilish’s style — meaning there’s no doubt you hear and understand what BENEE is singing about. There’s a lot of music about mental health nowadays, but BENEE is still one of the most compelling artists addressing the subject.
“Telepath” by Conan Gray
Candace Patrick, Staff Writer
Conan Gray’s latest single “Telepath” is finally here after he teased it for weeks on TikTok. In this toe-tapping, ’80s-influenced track, Gray likens himself to a telepath for being able to anticipate his ex’s unstable emotions and behavior. “It’s just so you, you’re just so predictable / Won’t you try something original / Old news, reused, that’s why I don’t cry,” he sings, demonstrating his disapproval of habitual relationship failures. This sentiment is evocative of some of Gray’s prior music such as “Overdrive,” which was released earlier this year. The bridge features a series of harmonically stacked vocals that characterize “Telepath” as a quintessential breakup anthem, not a far cry from Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together” or Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next.” With his sophomore album in the works, we can look forward to many more catchy tunes from Gray.
“Harridan” by Porcupine Tree
Jack Solomon, Contributing Writer
I didn’t think we’d ever hear from Porcupine Tree again. Steven Wilson’s acclaimed prog-rock band has been defunct since 2010, with all their social media accounts only existing to promote deluxe-edition box sets that can cost upward of £100. Nevertheless, fans were still begging them for a reunion. Going into “Harridan,” I tried to keep my expectations low, but it won me over from my first listen. I’ve had it on repeat all week. The song weaves through shifting meters and styles across an incredibly engaging eight-minute runtime. You never quite know where it will take you, but every sonic element is intentional. Gavin Harrison’s tight and mechanical drumming drives the song firmly forward without letting it get too frantic, and Richard Barbieri’s keyboards give the song an ominous color that compliments Wilson’s singing and guitar playing. After a 12-year hiatus, it’s good to have Porcupine Tree back.
“Last Train Home (Ballad Version)” by John Mayer
Ethan Saffold, Contributing Writer
After mixed reactions to John Mayer’s latest album, “Sob Rock,” his newest song “Last Train Home (Ballad Version)” proves that the 44-year-old singer-songwriter can still produce quality music. With the musicians playing all together in one room, this version was recorded in one take, retaining all the little mistakes and victories that make live music so special. Coming in at nearly twice the length of the original “Last Train Home,” this version is slower, groovier and more honest. At this more relaxed tempo, every note and lyric has more time to simmer in the listener’s brain. As a result, everything hits harder. Rocking a bright pink version of his signature PRS guitar, Mayer makes good use of all this extra time for guitar solos throughout the song. Most importantly, though, this version highlights what made the world fall in love with John Mayer almost two decades ago — his songwriting, his voice and his guitar.
Contact the Music Desk at [email protected]