Susan Behrends Valenzuela
Honestly, we don’t have much to add here. Beyoncé pretty much speaks for herself. This week, we also review new songs by British artist Nilüfer Yanya, indie duo Beach House and Canadian rock band PUP. All this to say, if you’re looking for a variety of genres, we have you covered. Read on for more.
“Be Alive” by Beyoncé
Paree Chopra, Staff Writer
After her iconic 2020 release “Black Parade,” Queen B has returned with new music. “Be Alive” is a soulful ballad that was first teased in the trailer for the movie “King Richard” and will be featured during its closing credits. The soaring harmonies and drum-heavy beats echo throughout the track, fitting perfectly with the narrative of “King Richard,” which follows the life of Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams. In tandem with the movie’s themes of family and hard work, Beyoncé sings “I got a million miles on me / They want to see how far I’ll go / The path was never paved with gold / We fought and built this on our own.” Combined with twinkling pianos and R&B electric guitar, Beyoncé’s voice is powerful and engaging as she sings the chorus, “It feels so good to be alive.” “Be Alive” is a celebration of feminism and Black pride. Accompanied by an emotive performance, Beyoncé remains true to her art and hints at what’s to come next.
“stabilise” by Nilüfer Yanya
Sabiq Shahidullah, Staff Writer
London artist Nilüfer Yanya explores the dynamic between a claustrophobic urban environment and her personal growth in her new single “stabilise.” The song is the first track on her forthcoming sophomore album, “Painless,” which is scheduled to release on March 4. In “stabilise,” punchy drums and Yanya’s rapid guitars create a blurry mix of anxiety and adrenaline. Her lyrics are abrupt and scattered, showing the chaotic nature of being young and yearning for freedom from the mundane. “She said she’s coming / But that don’t mean nothing / ‘Cuz I’m not waiting / For no one to save me,” Yanya sings. There is no escape from reality, so she must embrace life instead. The accompanying music video reflects the song’s themes. In an all-black outfit, Yanya rides around a gray, dreary London, before capping off the night by performing at a vibrant club.
“Once Twice Melody” by Beach House
Holden Lay, Staff Writer
“No matter where you go / There’ll always be your shadow.” In the song “Once Twice Melody,” Beach House’s Victoria Legrand conjures up more of a mysterious nightmare than a familiar dream. As the band’s first new song since 2018 — and the lead single off their upcoming four-part album of the same name — “Once Twice Melody” is a delicate mix of their beloved classic sound and their shoegaze-influenced instrumentation of their “7” era. The glittering and crafted synths we’ve come to expect from the duo are still strong, but the presence of a live string section is an unexpectedly welcome shake-up, bringing a new level of complexity and a cinematic quality to their sound. The bass-heavy and massive production they first experimented with on “7” still fits like a glove, even as they reintroduce some simpler elements of their sound, such as Alex Scally’s sparingly placed acoustic guitar work. “Once Twice Melody” is as good a retrospective of the band’s long sonic history as it is an exciting teaser for yet another new blend of sounds.
“Waiting” by PUP
Ethan Beck, Contributing Writer
As Canada’s premier pop punk princes, PUP’s members have always written songs with obvious crossover hit potential. From the saccharine nihilism of “Kids” to the macabre sweetness of “See You At Your Funeral,” 2019’s “Morbid Stuff” was an album filled to the brim with unforgettable choruses. On “Waiting,” their first song of 2021, PUP gets back to what they do best by pairing Stefan Babcock’s sneered vocals with an intense, cutthroat verse and anthemic charm. The production is a bit chalkier than it was on “Morbid Stuff,” but that’s this song’s secret weapon. Just when you think “Waiting” is going to be a look at the new, crunchier version of PUP, they switch things over to one of the best hooks of the year. “I’m still waiting / I should be taking a sabbatical from you,” Babcock sings on the chorus. This song is a perfect teaser for the next era of PUP.
“Alaska” by Pinegrove
Jack Peterson, Contributing Writer
The New Jersey-based genre-bending indie rock outfit Pinegrove has never been shy about their anticapitalist and climate-conscious perspectives. On the band’s forthcoming fifth album — “11:11,” out Jan. 28 — the politics of Pinegrove are more unabashed and urgent than ever. Their new single “Alaska” is upbeat and fast-paced, following the Pinegrove formula in a style akin to throwing their first four albums in a blender. The song’s runtime — two minutes and six seconds — flies by fast enough that to grasp the gravity of the bleak lyrics, it’s necessary to listen to it several times. Vocalist Evan Stephens Hall croons vivid descriptions of a prototypical American landscape from the view of a plane, but then presents the problem, singing, “The pilot had his eyes closed / Through that opalescent open road.” Hall said the lyric represents the so-called pilots of the United States, who are flying blind when it comes to climate change. In the song’s chorus, Hall sings, “The lines fanned out across the land,” describing California’s forest fires. Perhaps the rest of “11:11” will feature songs with more hopeful themes, or maybe each song will stand as a mirror to the world into which the album was born, one in which many of us continue to feel the same as the singer in “Alaska.”
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