V’s New Music Round-Up
Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week
Hello and welcome! In the midst of anxiety, negativity, and general chaos, let’s turn to greener pastures and more cheerful endeavors to feel better about ourselves, no? I don’t have a conflated idea of the importance of V’s New Music Round-Up (where we tune you into some of the week’s biggest and best releases, singles or albums), but there is something to be said about the importance of music and the ability it has to transport you to a different place and time, somewhere you’d rather be.
And on that note, here are this week’s top picks:
Multitude by Stromae
Now I don’t speak French, so I’m never going to understand this record the way those who can will. But Stromae transcends the language barrier with a diverse array of sounds inspired and borrowed from landscapes around the world to address heavy topics on his comeback record. From gender roles to depression, he creates characters that tell the stories for him and pairs them with sounds that range from electronic highs to dark hip-hop, an emotional smorgasboard just through rhythm alone. Multitude is a display of the power of music to not be limited simply to lyrics and language but to appeal to a general human fascination with it.
“I’m Tired” by Labrinth and Zendaya
Isn’t everyone still trying to get over “Euphoria” at this point? Well, welcome back to the intensity, the dramatics, the emotional heft with this Labrinth-Zendaya collab, operatic and deeply mystifying. The ominous organs and pulsating mid-song percussions make it seem all the more grand yet also depressing. Zendaya comes in after the bridge breakdown to deliver a truly haunting second verse that sounds like a woman on the edge of extinction, and that final crescendo to close? OOOH, gave me goosebumps!
“Bam Bam” by Camila Cabello ft. Ed Sheeran
“Bam Bam” continues an era for Camila Cabello that promises to be her most entertaining yet. The Cumbia-infused track blends the best of her latin-pop exploration with recent albums with a sense of fun and ease that’s very reminiscent of Jennifer Lopez, a master of the field. Ed Sheeran’s involvement, the second time they’ve worked together since 2019, is a little more hit-or-miss for me, since his verse pairs back on the salsa-bop flair that makes the track so infectious. I feel like the song as a whole would be a little more sonically coherent and enjoyable as simply a Cabello solo outing, and might be one of my favorite releases from her yet.
“Lost Track” by HAIM
Inspired by the lyric “I’ll never get back what I lost track of,” this HAIM single might be one of their cheeriest on the surface, punctuated by major keys all over, music box symphonies, light beats. But it’s really all about doing something so drastic and big to get out of a mess of a situation, inspired by the book Appointment in Samarra (see? I did my research). It just goes to show that the best of HAIM is in the unexpected bits, where nothing seems the way it is. Or, in this case, nothing sounds the way it seems.
“Baby” by Charli XCX
Charli XCX’s new era has been all about embracing the candy-coated glam and glitz of the 70s and 80s, especially with their synths and strings. What I really appreciate most about “Baby,” which I’ll call one of the quickies of her discography (fleeting but can be a lot of fun), is that just when I think I know where it’s about to go, it turns on me and finds a style of its own. It can get repetitive, sure, and doesn’t go for any sharp pivots, but there are always subtle touches and nuances that make each change, each verse and eight-bar different from the rest, and that’s not a bad thing to have. It’s no “New Shapes,” but it’ll do.
“At the End of the Day” by Wallows
I’ve always known that I’ve held a soft corner for music reminiscent of older time periods, especially when done well. And Wallows have become quite the experts at that, balancing the best of different musical eras so seamlessly, like they do with some peak 90s sounds on “At the End of the Day.” From lo-fi beats to some true era-appropriate psychedelic beats, from keys and strings that stretch from one scale to another in the best possible way, this is a good song simply because of the fact that it accomplishes the relatively tough job of modernizing an older, classic vibe, but not too much. And does so to perfection.
“Last Call” by Khalid
While it presents itself on the surface as a romantic song, “Last Call” is really a reflection on Khalid’s career, marking the five year anniversary of debut record American Teen in 2017. Like “I’m Tired,” this track utilizes organs to great effect as well. Unlike “Last Call,” here we see it being used to create a happier and more introspective effect, one that feels more intimate than all-encompassing, a singular thought in the mind of this artist, wondering where to go now that he’s come this far.
“COMPLETE MESS” by 5 Seconds of Summer
The first single to be completely written and produced by the band is a good showcase of their varied talents. It not only gives each of their individual voices some flair and time to shine (which can be hard to distinguish sometimes, given their similar tonalities), it also proves to be quite an epic listen, filled with blaring guitars and anthemic pumps. It’s one of those tracks that gets you very, very hyped to scream from the rooftops, but unlike many other arena-pop songs, it’s so immaculately modern and slick in the way it’s been made. Every single note is intentional, and you can tell.
“Trampoline” by David Guetta and Afrojack ft. Missy Elliott, BIA, and DOECHII
“Trampoline” is pretty nonsensical, to be honest, but it would be a disservice to it to expect much else. It’s quite reminiscent of some of Nicki Minaj’s zaniest, basically featuring the three female rappers bouncing off each other over a zingy and…well, bouncy bass line, essentially just like passing the baton to each other on a constant trampoline. There’s not really much to it beyond being a flex for the talents of BIA and DOECHII (Missy doesn’t really have much to offer beyond the chorus, which is pretty sparse, sadly) but it’s a cute track to bounce around to (say “bounce” one more time).
“There is a Place” by Saleka
Saleka has a voice quite in a lane of its own, hypnotic, mysterious, sultry, able to transport you to different eras in time. She uses it here to full effect to take you to what sounds like a lounge or a nightclub in the 60s, with a woman lit by a single dim spotlight, wearing a feather boa that shimmies with her as she croons into her mic. One of the many tracks she has contributed to her father M. Night Shyamalan’s series “Servant,” Saleka continues to make her mark as an R&B performer to watch for a style that’s so intrinsically her own and intimate.