Listen to This: Phoebe Bridgers expands her sonic palette on “Sidelines”

Read about this week’s most notable singles by Jamie xx and Shin Hae Gyeong.

Phoebe Bridgers, a veteran of the indie scene, has been riding a big high since releasing her 2020 Grammy-nominated album, “Punisher.” Now, she’s also proven her business savvy by helming her own record label, Saddest Factory Records — a pun on satisfactory — onto which she’s signed the likes of Claud and MUNA. This week, Bridgers returns with a new single, as do Jamie xx, Shin Hae Gyeong and Faye Webster. Read on for more.

“Sidelines” by Phoebe Bridgers

Yas Akdag, Music Editor

With “Sidelines,” Phoebe Bridgers has returned with new music. Her first release since her 2020 Grammy-nominated album, “Punisher,” the single contains all of Bridgers’ signature tropes  — incisive, narrative lyrics and a haunting arrangement — while also showcasing an emotional and musical side to her that we haven’t seen before. She begins: “I’m not afraid of anything at all / Not dying in a fire, not being broke again,” as a scratchy violin swoops down. Once you get to the chorus, you realize the magnificence of Bridgers’ songwriting and storytelling. Over a laid-back, lo-fi breakbeat — a fresh sound for Bridgers — she sings: “Had nothing to prove / ’Til you came into my life / Gave me something to lose,” alluding to her boyfriend, “Normal People” actor Paul Mescal. Featuring a warm, relentless Rhodes keyboard, vocoders and harmonies from Marshall Vore, “Sidelines” is a heartwrenching sonic delight. It wouldn’t be Phoebe Bridgers if it weren’t.

“LET’S DO IT AGAIN” by Jamie xx

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Arts Editor

The most entertaining and least morose-looking member of The xx, electronic producer Jamie xx continues his crusade to revive the electronic zeal of the United Kingdom in the 1990s on “LET’S DO IT AGAIN”. His latest single is an energetic track that recycles lyrics to create a looping sensation of bliss, which slowly crescendos as Jamie xx cleverly integrates a variety of sounds to keep the song from feeling monotonous. With its pop-driven sensibilities, “LET’S DO IT AGAIN” tragically confirms that the exhilarating experimental qualities of 2020’s “Idontknow” were a detour for the artist. That being said, Jamie xx’s latest single signals that, despite the track’s more commercial composition, the producer’s work aims to capture exactly the type of fun in which clubgoers lose their sense of time. With its metronomic precision and sustained sense of magic, Jamie xx’s “LET’S DO IT AGAIN” is an ebullient dance track that’s perfect for your next rave. 

“White Lily” by Shin Hae Gyeong featuring Chung Ha

Annie Williams, Contributing Writer

One might have expected K-pop star Chung Ha to remain solidly in the corner of pop music she’s been dominating since her 2017 debut, but after her genre-mixing first album released this year, she seems to be breaking away. Nowhere is this better seen than in Shin Hae Gyeong’s new single “White Lily,” which Chung Ha features on prominently. Shin’s songs are typically marked by a slow, sprawling dream-pop sound, much at odds with the danciness Chung Ha is famous for. But the combination works. “White Lily” is sedated and sorrowful, an aural depiction of love and regret. Chung Ha’s experience with ballads works in her favor — her voice hazy and emotional while accompanied by distant, dampened drums. Shin is the master of melancholy here, stretching out his falsetto to deliver a misty rendition of a relationship gone wrong and the painful devotion that outlives heartbreak — “I know the end,” he sings, “but I can’t help but draw you.” During Chung Ha’s section of the song, the array of instruments in the background is whittled down to only guitar and strings, plucked to match her soft tone. Then the two singers’ voices join together for the final segment of the track, a minute-long repetition of only the word “love,” rising and falling over each other. “White Lily” reaches further into the emotional depths Shin is clearly capable of and promises a bright future for the Korean dream-pop scene.

“Car Therapy” by Faye Webster

Isabella Armus, Deputy Arts Editor

Armed with a full orchestra and her signature gloom, Faye Webster has returned with “Car Therapy,” her first new single since her 2021 album, “I Know I’m Funny haha.” Throughout the three-and-a-half minute melody, Webster softly paints tableaus of her forlorn inner psyche. Her shaky croon cascades down a swell of romantic bassoons and pittering keys on refrains like “Every Tuesday / I’ll be in the driveway / Talking to a stranger for some help.” This theme of self-help extends to other simple yet poignant bouts of confessional lyricism: “Hold my body / And I’ll forget I hate me / You hate when I say that but I did.” “Car Therapy” is a track that adds a slight theatrical flair to the lethal storytelling that Webster employs throughout her discography. This particular arrangement proves Webster’s breathy artistry is one that can work in sonic contexts other than acoustic indie-folk, making even woeful tales of cobbled-together therapy sessions sound like heaven.

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