V’s New Music Round-Up
Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week
Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week
Text: Ahad Sanwari
Hello and welcome! Sound the bells, folks, because this is our one year anniversary! Yes, it’s been a year of V’s New Music Round-Up, giving you choice *thoughts* on some of the week’s biggest and best releases. This has been a pretty stacked week, so sit back as you digest these reflections on some of the most popular of the week’s drops, and some that are just too bloody good to pass up.
Here are this week’s top picks:
Voyage by ABBA
ABBA’s new album sounds like one they made in 1976, and I could not be more grateful. It’s almost like stepping right back into their heyday, from the joyous symphonies and the vocals you honestly can’t touch, just four happy people sounding very happy. They’re not reinventing their own wheel by any means, except for maybe a couple of modern touches that are hit-or-miss. But it’s a solid and pleasing album to listen to. And ending with the grandeur of a track like “Ode to Freedom?” I will not get over it.
KIDS (Against the Machine) by Noga Erez
KIDS (Against the Machine) is a reworking and reimagining of Noga Erez’s acclaimed second LP, KIDS, with each track given the brass treatment, stripped of the electronic production of the former. And I have to say, it makes each and every song goddamn catchy. Like catchy to the extent that even skimming through them will have them populating your brain for the rest of the day. It’s a testament to what taking music back to basics can do, and paired with the already precise lyricism, it’s a goddamn catchy treat.
Still Over It by Summer Walker
Listening to this record is like entering Summer Walker’s universe, through all the highs, lows, joys, pains, every single emotion. Lyrically and musically, it’s an encapsulating journey of high and low melodies, incredible harmonies, and smart moments where she lets the mood remain instead of trying to turn a track into something people will enjoy. This album is for her, she made it for herself and for her own venting, at least that’s what it sounds like. And it’s all the better for it.
Mind Games by JORDY
There aren’t as many male artists out there embracing pure pop sensibilities as much, not without bringing in quirkier or fusion-driven elements. JORDY maintains a sense of that crystal clean pop, driven by hooks and emphatic melodies, seamless switches in tempo and key, a diversity of subject matter all soundtracked by one aesthetic and mood. His full length presents something we’ve missed in the landscape for a bit and he embraces it fully.
“Smokin Out the Window” by Silk Sonic
The third preview track from the duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s upcoming album presents a happy medium between their introductory “Leave the Door Open” and the upbeat “Skate,” more of a mid-tempo soul and funk track that embraces the carefree feeling of a euphoric romance. The strings, the percussion, the fully committed backing vocals, it all lends to a truly immaculate vibe that’s so evocative of Motown it’s like a time machine.
“Helen of Troy/Hold No Grudge” by Lorde
I wasn’t fully convinced by Solar Power when it first came out, and I’m still on the fence about it ever so slightly. “Helen of Troy” is honestly quite the unexpected delight. It has the more mellow sounds of the rest of the album, but the more pointedly narrative and far-reaching aspects of Lorde’s best lyricism from the days of yore. “Hold No Grudge” is the more musically interesting of the two, almost upbeat and happy with a tinge of drama holding it back. It’s a pity these two didn’t make the main cut, they’re quite good.
“One Right Now” by Post Malone with The Weeknd
Boy, the Weeknd is really everywhere, isn’t he? He’s the Nicki Minaj of 2021, at this point. And he’s clearly bringing with him what he knows best, a penchant for the vibey disco era that gets a little draining when all used in such quick succession. Although this time, he and Post Malone go for a more futuristic bent with the synths to produce a track that’s, to be very honest, perfectly competent but nothing exciting. For the Weeknd at least, not for Post Malone, who embraces the sound and takes it on as his own, showing off some nice versatility.
“New Shapes” by Charli XCX ft. Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek
Comparison is often frowned upon in the music industry, but it’s fitting that this track comes after “One Right Now.” The reason that frustrated me is seeing the same thing from an artist yet again, as good as it may be. Charlie, Christine, and Caroline are all known for being outre and pushing the boundaries of mainstream, so when they go for the classic 80s sound and feel with this track, it’s welcome and refreshing. It’s the most pop we’ve heard any of them be in a while, or maybe even ever, and it’s just so…exuberant.
“The Motto” by Tiësto and Ava Max
Ava Max may be an expert in making us fall in love with her incredible hooks and intricate dark pop anthems, but she’s quite the capable force on the dancefloor. Tiësto and Max’s collaboration blends a lot of their signature styles, an understated yet constantly pulsing beat with a darker, grimier aesthetic to create an undeniably catchy and club-ready track. It’s good to usher any party on to the dancefloor in the near future, for sure.
“ESCAPE PLAN/MAFIA” by Travis Scott
Travis Scott drops two tracks on us, his first solo releases of the year, and I definitely have a pick. I’d opt for “Mafia” of the two, it just seems richer, wealthier, more lavish, more thought out, with its instrumentation, the use of the piano, J. Cole’s additional vocals. “Escape Plan” is fine but seems more like a teaser really for what comes next, just a bit of a flex for Scott’s skills as a rapper, nothing more, nothing less.
“Aubade” by Hana Vu
Hana Vu encapsulates this weird, unexplainable feeling about relationships, perception of the self, really anything in this track that’s as melancholic as it is oddly joyful? There’s always something to be said about music that embraces contrasts and contradictions, almost sounding dystopian while using higher key instruments and melodies, that make absolutely no sense on paper and just sound somewhat perfect to the ear? It might sound like I’m making no sense either, but…y’know what, just listen to it, okay? I recommend.