Tame Impala’s Disco-Prog Shrug, and 9 More New Songs

Hear tracks by Alice Glass, Jean Dawson and Mac DeMarco, Girlpool and others.

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.

“No Choice” sums up the stasis of the pandemic: limited mobility, boredom, yearning, questioning, resignation. To be released as part of the expanded version of Tame Impala’s 2020 album, “The Slow Rush,” it’s one of Kevin Parker’s era-straddling solo productions: disco drums and percussion, prog-rock phasing on his voice, a guitar solo that sounds like Ernie Isley in the 1970s and lyrics that wonder, “What are we living for?” JON PARELES

A listener doesn’t have to be aware of Alice Glass’s own story to recognize the crescendo of psychological manipulation — humiliation disguised as sympathy — in “Fair Game.” “I’m just trying to help you,” Glass deadpans in a little-girl coo alongside assessments like “You screw up everything” and “I’m so embarrassed for us.” A deep industrial thump, Gothic choir harmonies and a screamed backup refrain — “Where would you be without me?” — make clear that it’s actually a hellscape. PARELES

The pop-punk revival of 2021 is alive in the melodic, middle-finger yelps of Jean Dawson, the genre crusher behind “Menthol” who was raised on the border between the United States and Mexico. This is gritted-teeth pop-punk, music for cheap cigs and driving with too many friends in the car. There is angsty precocity here, sure, but signs of versatility, too: Halfway through the track, Dawson takes a pause from screaming into the mic and melds his voice into a lonely R&B melody. The sun-dappled guitar tones of Mac DeMarco arrive, curling out of the track’s heavier, chugging riffs. And before it’s over, the sagacious DeMarco drops off a fatherly piece of advice for his host: “You should take it easy on yourself. Enjoy what you’re doing. And if you stop enjoying it at some point, no problem. Don’t do it anymore.” ISABELIA HERRERA

Understatement of the year: “Growing up is weird.” The Australian songwriter Ruel admits but doesn’t quite take blame for his relationship misdeeds in this song, thumping along as he hops between tenor and falsetto, trying to justify himself. Even though he knows he failed, he tries to assign himself, “No regrets, no mistakes.” PARELES

How much did U2 change the landscape of rock? Mitski’s “Heat Lightning” is the kind of echoey and allegorical march that U2 forged decades ago, underpinned by a Velvet Underground drone. As its guitars and strings swell, the song surges forward steadfastly: “I’ve held on to feel the storm approaching,” Mitski sings, and then, “I give it up to you — I surrender.” PARELES

“Drifting Out” has Yuri Nagano singing about precisely that feeling — “Deep sleep, crashing waves, heavy tide/Mmm, ooh love carry me down” — on an EP with three versions of the song: one with piano, one with cellos, one mixing all the sources with electronics. The cello version is the keeper; brawny arpeggios and rhythmic chords delivered by a pair of cellists including none other than Yo-Yo Ma. PARELES

Some relationship send-offs surrender to despair; others are tokens of personal fortitude, reminders that there will always be a way forward. Flores’s “Fools Gold” is about an estrangement from a partner, but the Texas singer-songwriter is the one who comes out sure of herself. With the smokiness of a ’90s R&B icon, she oozes coldhearted pity for her ex over a funky bass line and operatic strings. “I got all your things to the left of me/You won’t be the death of me,” she sings. “Let me get one good look at you/Ain’t that a shame.” Ouch. HERRERA

A country guitar twang, Harmony Tividad’s breathy coos and a sense of impressionistic abandon conjure a cinematic intensity on “Faultline.” But Girlpool doesn’t stop there — instead, it returns with the same propensity for piercing, bleeding-heart lyricism that has defined its work since “Before the World Was Big” in 2015. When Tividad sings, “I loved you so traumatically that I/Can barely lift the world you left for me,” there is little left to do than pull the covers over your head, turn off your alarm and let yourself decay under the sheets. HERRERA

There’s an almost alluring feeling of remove, of darkened vision but not necessarily a darkened attitude, in the sound of Jeff Parker’s guitar playing. When he’s unaccompanied, that feeling doubles. A collaborator with Meshell Ndegeocello and Makaya McCraven, among plenty others, he’s an expert at shooting friction into the groove of a group, one jagged single-note line at a time. But in solo-guitar moments, there’s nothing to disrupt but himself. Parker gets halfway into covering Thelonious Monk’s “Ugly Beauty,” from his new solo-guitar LP “Forfolks,” before he starts toying around with a sustain effect, giving his rich chords an electrified, ghostly power. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

This meditative but constantly changing instrumental begins with the assembly of a steady-state percussion pattern on bells and hand drums. It’s joined by the trumpeter Arve Henriken, improvising a solo that’s backed by loops and washes of his harmonized, electronically warped trumpet. It’s a clear homage to the continuing influence of the trumpeter and “fourth world music” innovator Jon Hassell, who died in June. PARELES

Source: Music -


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