V’s New Music Round-Up
Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week
Hello and welcome back to our regularly scheduled programming! We’re in 2022, we’re in the new year, and hopefully, it’s just not as messed up as the year before was (all signs point to a “good lord, who knows”). But welcome to V’s New Music Round-Up , where we tune you into some of the week’s biggest and best releases, whether they be singles or albums. ‘Cause if anything has gotten us through these tough times, it’s some good bops.
Here are this week’s top picks:
CAPRISONGS by FKA twigs
I truly don’t know what I’m listening to with CAPRISONGS, and I mean that in the best way possible. If you close your eyes, at times, it could be a Karol G record. Or a Melanie Martinez one. Or a Tinashe one. But that’s the whole beauty of FKA twigs and the fact that you can’t define her artistry, you have absolutely no idea what’s going to come next on this album. Each song is its own story, its own emotion, its own musical interlude, and you’re more than likely to come out of it with at least one that you’ll like.
From a Birds Eye View by Cordae
Cordae doesn’t skip over a single beat or word on his sophomore effort, understanding that if he doesn’t tell the stories he’s grown up with and the thoughts in his head now, he never will. The album listens like it’s been meticulously thought out, each word penned with forethought. But it’s the sounds that elevate it, reminiscent of some of the greats of 80s and 90s hip-hop and R&B. Beyond tracks like “Gifted” and “Chronicles” (which lean too mainstream for my taste), there’s a tinge of greatness bursting through Cordae’s record which guarantees it’ll find its way to many a hip-hop aficionado’s playlist.
“Love It When You Hate Me” by Avril Lavigne ft. blackbear
As one of Lavigne’s biggest fans, I get to say her second single from her upcoming album is a disappointment. As an objective critic, I can piece together why. What “Bite Me” helped rediscover is a unique and distinct quality and vibe to an Avril Lavigne song that you can’t find anywhere else. That pop-punk aesthetic just comes naturally to her. This feels a lot more manufactured, like a lot of 2020s songs can feel, and doesn’t sound as organic as she usually does. It’s a good song, but it’s nothing much to write home about.
“Love Me More” by Mitski
In this sort of time-traveling musical journey Mitski has been embarking on with her last few releases, we’ve now entered the 60s and 70s. With its disco and synth-pop influences, including some wholly unexpected and wholly welcome piano riffs, the singer-songwriter is embracing finally asking for that love instead of wallowing in the darkness of it all. A central theme of that era of music was self-love and control, all of which Mitski exhibits on “Love Me More.” It could be completely unintentional, but that’s what’s so great about musical linkages and coincidences.
“L’enfer” by Stromae
Stromae takes the somber approach with his new release, opening up about depression and suicidal thoughts. It goes from a more stripped back piano-driven ballad to a much more production-heavy, danceable track. But it’s like panic dancing, when you’re writhing in agony as the voices inside your head threaten to take over. The beauty of music is in its ability to transcend language barriers, and even as a non-French speaker, I understand the very specific anguish and pain that’s peppered throughout this song, and it’s a testament to his talent as a creator.
“Fuck Your Labels” by Carlie Hanson
There’s a hard-edged annoyance and frustration that makes “Fuck Your Labels” feel more authentic, which I think really helps it be more appealing. It’s easy to just go “we don’t need labels, we can be who we want to be” and just sound like you’re spouting empty platitudes. But with her trap and handclap rock-inspired track, Hanson blends personal experience with a grander, more meaningful message. It’s one of those times when having an intimate connection to your material really, really matters. Plus, it’s just a fun track to spaz out to, I’d say, I’d think.
“LAst dAy oN EaRTh” by Tai Verdes
I don’t think any of us enjoy thinking about death (maybe someone more macabre? I don’t judge). So when Verdes attempts to dissect his last day of existence, his thoughts are pretty simplistic and don’t veer on the grandiose or the philosophical. It’s like one of those lists you make as a kid for things you want to achieve when you’re 40, like having one million dollars or an ice cream cone. It’s about appreciating the simple pleasures of life and cherishing the important stuff that make this simple jazzy song such a charming listen.
“Won’t Stand Down” by Muse
Muse has never been afraid to go heavier than usual, but this might just be the heaviest they’ve ever gone. They veer away from their usual hard-hitting guitar rock to a more metal-influenced sound for this track about standing your ground and standing up to those who try to put you down. Essentially an anti-bullying anthem you can furiously headbang to, maybe it’s the adrenaline rush you need to find some strength of your own, even if that breakdown before the last chorus is one of the most confusing things I’ve heard this week.
“Shut Off the Lights” by Bastille
From the hard lows of Muse to the euphoric highs of Bastille, “Shut Off the Lights” might just be the highest they’ve ever gone. It’s not even about the contrast, it’s about the fact that what makes each of these groups so good is they’re able to match sound to material so well. Bastille find joy in the intimacy and elation of just living in the moment and enjoying something as small and fleeting as physical connection. It’s a nice rollercoaster to be on, listening to one right after the other, and that’s, maniacally, exactly how I’d recommend it.
“Want That Back” by Brett Eldredge
I often shirk away from country music that encourages embracing the beer-chugging, truck-riding life, mainly because it just seems so heteronormative and unrealistic for so many people. But with the poignant “Want That Back,” you understand the appeal of it when placed in the context of a world divided by hate and strife, a life that’s just full of disappointing news. Sure, I don’t want to go around with a cheap six pack or talking to my hometown preacher, but I get why the simple pleasures of life appeal to him and so many others, especially because they’re so magical compared to what we’re living in right now.