Susan Behrends Valenzuela
Folks, here we are … the final edition of “Listen to This” of the semester. We’ve enjoyed writing up our favorite — and sometimes least favorite — singles of the week and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them. To wrap up this semester, this week we have music ranging from 2000s rock to country-pop. We also have our cherished Arts Editor, Nicolas, completely roasting Flume. Read on for more.
“See you Soon” by beabadoobee
Isabella Armus, Deputy Arts Editor
Clinging to her heady 2000s rock aesthetic, beabadoobee has released another wistful single for her forthcoming sophomore album “Beatopia” that finds clarity within a heavy dose of introspection. Guided by reverb-laden guitar lines and Bea’s vocal sincerity, “See you Soon” is a teary tribute to growing pains and relinquishing the things you can’t control. Though situated within a shoegaze haze, lines like “Had some time away, didn’t wanna go insane from this / I wanted you to know I need time to grow and to exist” find ways to strike a resonant emotional chord while listening. The sonic nostalgia feels appropriate to be blasted anywhere, from a winding highway to a shuttered-in evening at home, because here, Bea nails into the strange comfort and universal emptiness of transitioning from one phase to the next. For three-and-a-half minutes, the artist holds the listener in this liminal feeling, and, within the anxiety, manages to provide a sense of thoughtful reassurance — an effect that’s bound to linger on your playlist for a while.
“Kind Of Girl” by MUNA
Yas Akdag, Music Editor
On “Kind Of Girl,” MUNA opts for country sonics and cowboy aesthetics. Though the trio tones down the grandeur and hugeness of their usual music, drifting away from their typical electro-pop sound, the single is still signature MUNA. As always, there’s a stellar guitar arrangement, this time featuring slide guitars, courtesy of Josette Maskin. However, it’s Katie Gavin’s subtle but incisive songwriting that knocks “Kind Of Girl” out of the park. Simultaneously reflective and hopeful, Gavin sings lines like, “I’m a girl who’s learning everything I say isn’t / Definitive” and “Yeah, I like telling stories / But I don’t have to write them in ink.” Accompanied by a music video that band member Naomi McPherson described in a tweet as “genderfuckery,” the song maintains that it’s okay to change your mind in life. In the same tweet, McPherson added that “muna is for everybody and especially this song.” Even if you’re not a girl, “Kind Of Girl” shows you that you can write whatever story you want — and rewrite it whenever you want.
“ESCAPE” by Flume, featuring QUIET BISON & KUČKA
Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Arts Editor
The title of Flume’s latest single is quite funny, given the artist never managed to escape 2014. Regurgitating the same electronic squabbles teenagers worldwide once swarmed and swooned over at Lollapalooza, Governors Ball Music Festival and just about every major festival that needed a DJ to fill their 9:00 p.m. main-stage slot on a Sunday, Flume’s latest release is as original as his last — that is to say, not at all. Although the famous electronic producer arguably pushed the genre forward with his perfectly calibrated electronic drops and riotous rhythms, “ESCAPE” declaratively registers as a tired work from an artist who does not know where to take his sound next, filing through the same soundboard loops he’s been playing with for almost a decade. I guess that’s the price of starting young — you’ll always sound old.
“Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)” by Arcade Fire
Holden Lay, Staff Writer
If occasionally cringeworthy earnestness is a deal-breaker for you, you should know Arcade Fire well enough by now to skip this one. But if you’re still around, what sets their latest single “Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)” apart from 2017’s critically thrashed “Everything Now” — a truly, deeply mid, but somehow still underrated, record — is that the group has given up on over-intellectualizing themselves. Gone are the sarcastic holier-than-thou attempts at superficial political statements and sleek nihilism. But, here to stay are some remnants of the disco-twinged sounds that they plunged into on that album. When frontman Win Butler, over a bed of shimmering acoustic guitar and crashing waves of glittery synths, opens the track singing “Lookout kid, trust your heart / You don’t have to play the part they wrote for you / Just be true,” it’s clear that Arcade Fire are back to writing the rousing, refreshingly naive pop-folk anthems that brought them one of the greatest hot streaks in recent music memory.
The roaring instrumental build on this track is classic Arcade Fire, and the production, by Nigel Godrich — most known for his sound-shifting work with Radiohead and Pavement — blissfully filters everything through an in-your-face sheen that threatens to melt the hearts of even the band’s sternest critics. Having now began, lived through and outlasted a whole generation of appallingly hollow second-rate indie-folk-pop imitators, Arcade Fire are now cautiously drawing from their roots. After all this time, nobody else can pull off lyrics like “Some people want the rock without the roll / But we all know, there’s no God without soul.”
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