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    Drake and 21 Savage’s ‘Her Loss’ Review: A Frisky Experiment

    The rappers’ collaborative album is loose and untethered, a frisky experiment that’s intermittently successful.One of the grim inevitabilities of new pop star albums is how they are parsed, chewed through and cracked into gossipy bites the moment they arrive. Within minutes of the release of “Her Loss,” the new collaborative album by Drake and 21 Savage, Twitter and hip-hop news and gossip sites were aflame: a stray reference to Serena Williams’s husband, nods to old rap industry quarrels, an ambiguous multiple entendre referencing Megan Thee Stallion.Drake knows this will be chum, of course. It’s not fan service like Taylor Swift’s Easter eggs, but it reflects an understanding that for many listeners, and perhaps especially for those who may not bother to listen at all, the metanarrative matters.And yes, this is one way to measure an album’s success: how much chatter it engenders. Even the marketing strategy for “Her Loss” — which featured elaborate imitations of Vogue magazine and mock appearances on NPR’s Tiny Desk series and “The Howard Stern Show” — suggested an awareness of the utility of, and disdain for, the way information flows online these days.But somewhere underneath all of that lies the music itself, which, nowadays, ends up serving as a distraction from the chatter as much as the other way around.“Her Loss” is frisky and centerless, a mood more than a mode. Drake has done a full-length collaborative project before; “What a Time to Be Alive,” with Future, released in 2015, was an assertion of grimy gloss, adding fresh texture to Drake’s already formidable arsenal.But he and 21 Savage have a different sort of chemistry. Drake is endlessly malleable, a Zelig figure forever testing prevailing winds, while 21 Savage is a classic stoic, set in his thoughts. Often on this album — “More M’s,” “Privileged Rappers” — it feels as if they are ceding space to each other, side by side but not interwoven. Sometimes, like on “Spin Bout U,” they successfully melt into something greater than their parts.This is the lesser of Drake’s two projects this year, lacking the cohesion and unexpected ambition of “Honestly, Nevermind,” the dance floor-focused album he released in June. (The one outlier on that album was “Jimmy Cooks,” a collaboration with 21 Savage that went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.)But the fact that these two albums live side by side reflects something about how one of the most potent pop stars of the decade intends to navigate a far less stable era: embracing quick-burn place holders in lieu of big transitional ideas.And so “Her Loss” is, in many ways, a playground for Drake. The exuberant “Circo Loco” riffs on Daft Punk’s “One More Time” in a concession to pop glimmer. There’s flow pattern and melodic experimentation on “Backoutsideboyz.” “Hours in Silence” is a master class in Drake’s self-eviscerations and recriminations: “There’s three sides to the story, girl/The one you subtweet, the one your group chat gets to read, the one you come and tell to me.” On “Rich Flex,” there’s a particularly cheeky run of acronym rhymes: CMB, CMG, B&B, PND, PTSD, TMZ, GMC, B&E, DMC, BRB.Because this album arrives with slightly lower stakes than a stand-alone Drake release, it also permits him to lean in to his deeply bawdy impulses. Part of Drake’s ongoing appeal is that there is still a bit of frisson in hearing him at his rawest, proof that the most dexterous artist of the last decade still wants to play in the mud. That tendency recurs through the album, especially on “On BS,” where he raps about the strip club with winking toxicity: “I’m a gentleman I’m generous/I’m blowing half a million on you hoes, I’m a feminist.”But “Her Loss” also features the other side of Drake, the one whose true subject is his own ascendance. “Middle of the Ocean,” a six-minute rumination late in the album, is a classic of that approach. The rapping is a little slow, as if he’s accessing the memories in real time: “For your birthday, your man got a table at hibachi/Last time I ate there, Wayne was doing numbers off the cup like Yahtzee/And Paris Hilton was steady ducking the paparazzi.”These are the most vivid lyrics on the album, and also the ones that ground it in Drake’s most familiar gestures without conceding to what it’s taken to make Drake as crucial a figure as he is. And perhaps as he moves through the middle section of his career, he’ll feel less tethered than ever.“Thought I was a pop star,” he raps on “More M’s.” “I baited ’em.”Drake and 21 Savage“Her Loss”(OVO/Republic/Slaughter Gang/Epic) More

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    Selena Gomez’s Boldly Revealing Ballad, and 9 More New Songs

    Hear tracks by Yves Tumor, Yo La Tengo, Sipho 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.Selena Gomez, ‘My Mind & Me’Selena Gomez has spoken openly of her mental-health struggles — bipolar disorder, depression, psychosis — in recent years. Her new song, “My Mind & Me,” arrives as the title track of a documentary that reveals some of her low points. The music moves from fragility to determination, from lone, echoey piano notes to a supportive march and a mission statement, as she sings, “All of the crashing and burning and breaking I know now/If somebody sees me like this then they won’t feel alone.” It’s self-exposure in service of empathy, and it tapers back to the hesitant solitude of those piano notes. But the video squanders some of its good will by ending with a product endorsement. JON PARELESLucius, ‘Muse’“Muse,” a one-off single from the indie-pop group Lucius, pairs a cool, clarion arrangement with Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig’s impassioned vocals — a tension of opposites that gives the song its spark. “I’m calling out your name, a desert that needs the rain,” they sing together on the chorus, a kind of prayer for divine inspiration and, as they put it, “the wild and holy window to the truth.” LINDSAY ZOLADZTiësto featuring Tate McRae, ‘10:35’On the sleek “10:35,” the rising Canadian pop star Tate McRae teams up with longtime EDM mainstay Tiësto (the D.J. whose remix of Calum Scott’s “Dancing on My Own” cover has turned into the Philadelphia Phillies’ victory anthem). McRae’s crystalline vocals are a fitting match for Tiësto’s gleaming, synthesized production, and the song is propelled by an effective push and pull between the anxieties of daily life and the blissful comforts of love. “The TV make you think the whole world’s about to end,” McRae sighs, before a lover’s embrace causes time to stop: “All I know, it’s 10:35 and I can feel your arms around me.” ZOLADZIbrahim Maalouf featuring De La Soul: ‘Quiet Culture’Ibrahim Maalouf, a Lebanese-French trumpeter, composer and producer, surrounds himself with guests — the Cuban musician Cimafunk, the New Orleans band Tank and the Bangas, the jazz singer Gregory Porter — on his new album, “Capacity to Love.” De La Soul makes its latest reappearance on “Quiet Culture,” counseling perseverance and relief from noise: “The quieter we become, the more that we can hear.” Maalouf’s track eases between a jazz ballad and unhurried funk, framing and counterpointing the rhymes with his Arab-inflected melodies. PARELESYves Tumor, ‘God Is a Circle’“Sometimes it feels like there’s places in my mind that I can’t go,” Sean Bowie, who records as the gothic glam-rocker Yves Tumor, begins on the haunting single “God Is a Circle.” Rhythmic, shallow breathing provides the percussive backbone of the track and adds a visceral chill to its nightmarish atmospherics. The song suddenly turns revealing, though, when it dredges up memories of a repressive past: “My mama said that God sees everything/My daddy always taught me to say ‘thank you,’ ‘yes ma’am,’ ’no, sir,’ ‘yes, please.’” The whole thing sounds like an exorcism, or maybe the antic, demonic moment just before one is deemed necessary. ZOLADZAlgiers featuring Zack de la Rocha, ‘Irreversible Damage’Irreversible Damage” is an exercise in seething, sputtering tension from the Atlanta-based rock-hip-hop-electro group Algiers. With a nagging electric guitar loop, a pullulating electronic bass, ominous synthesizer chords and programmed drums that keep disrupting their own beat, the song is an onslaught of abstract lyrics — “No rehab for my jihad/A rapture in a grief storm,” Zack de la Rocha (from Rage Against the Machine) raps — hurtling toward some dire but unknown outcome. When the words are done, the song shifts into a six-beat furor that feels both tribal and apocalyptic. PARELESYo La Tengo, ‘Fallout’In February, the New Jersey indie-rock legends Yo La Tengo will release their 16th album, “This Stupid World,” a place from which the calming, immersive first single “Fallout” offers a brief escape. “I wanna fall out of time,” Ira Kaplan sings on the chorus. “Reach back, unwind.” The band self-produced “This Stupid World” and recorded much of it while jamming together live; as a result, “Fallout” sounds as sumptuously shaggy and comfortingly loose as a favorite autumn sweater. This is the sort of timeless Yo La Tengo song that could have reasonably appeared on any of their albums across the last three decades, but something about its combination of prickly frustration and hard-won serenity feels especially appropriate right now. ZOLADZSipho, ‘Arms’The English songwriter and producer Sipho Ndhlovu revels in drama and desperation, with a voice that regularly leaps between grainy declamation and a tearful falsetto. “Arms” is one long crescendo of regrets overwhelmed by desire. He admits to being “led astray” and implores, “Can’t we share the blame?,” but by the end he’s unconditionally enthralled, brought to his knees by lust. Nearly the entire song uses just two chords but brings in massive reinforcements: strings, drums, voices, electronics and an arena-rock lead guitar, all pushing him closer to the brink. PARELESquinnie, ‘Itch’The 21-year-old songwriter Quinn Barnitt, who records as quinnie, has picked up the mixture of tentativeness and bold declaration, bedroom-pop intimacy and multitrack craftsmanship, that has paid off for Clairo and Olivia Rodrigo. In “Itch,” she juggles desire and fidelity, wondering, “What if I never scratched another itch for the rest of my life?/Would I die satisfied, knowing it can always get better than this?” The production often harks back to Simon and Garfunkel’s pristine guitars and the Beatles’ string ensembles, but her frank self-questioning is new. PARELESOld Fire featuring Bill Callahan, ‘Corpus’John Mark Lapham, a composer from Texas who records as Old Fire, called his 2016 album “Songs From the Haunted South,” a succinct self-description for his suspended-time blends of electronics and roots-rock instruments; his new album is “Voids.” On “Corpus.” he has the songwriter Bill Callahan, whose own extensive catalog is generally much folkier, intoning a few enigmatic lines — “I’ve got a child in Corpus/Hey Mac, can you bring that boat back” — in his somber baritone. Instruments and electronic tones gather around him like darkening storm clouds, and there’s no deliverance. PARELES More