‘Best Songs Ever’ features various contributors to The Spinoff Music assessing recent songs and singles.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Lorde – ‘Green Light’ (of course!)
(For nine actual reviews of ‘Green Light’ click here – and excuse the weird 15/16 timing of the above video, it’s the best we could do)
Arca – ‘Anoche’
Holy shit! Arca sings! The London-based producer who makes emotional, electronic noise/beat music has been a low-key major influence on contemporary pop music starting with his production work for FKA Twigs, which has since filtered into the charts through the ‘alt-R&B’ of Frank Ocean, ZAYN and Tinashe. But his solo work operates in a space between Berlin club nights that are probably very dark, very cool and very hard to get into, and headphone noise-fuckery. It’s mournful in a our-souls-are-now-all-intertwined-with-machines and our-lives-are-all-digitally-filtered way. And while much of his music has made use of other vocalists, often twisted beyond recognition, his own voice has remained a mystery. Now, on ‘Anoche’, the first single from his forthcoming self-titled debut, he sings a what sounds like a gothic Spanish opera in some European language I do not understand, written to scare the shit out of misbehaving children in the Middle Ages, over clipping and scattered keys and scattered, shuffling rhythms. It’s ghostly and beautiful. – Henry Oliver
Grayson Gilmour – ‘Hundred Waters’
While I’m not entirely sure I’m getting the most of the 360° Spatial Audio etc with my $2 headphones, ‘Hundred Waters’ has a lusher soundscape to lose yourself in than most local offerings. While not a radical departure from Gilmour’s earlier solo and soundtrack work – the watercolour bruised emo-tions and blood/veins/etc lyrical motifs, for example – the yearning, layered vocals and string quartet dovetail nicely with recent uncanny-choral strains in local music like Purple Pilgrims, Waterfalls, New Dawn and so forth (as well as the more-established Dudley Benson). Cory Champion’s metronomic drumming – while having more of a swish here than when I saw him with the Shocking Pinks – grounds the track and gives it a sense of urgency. Seems like his upcoming album Otherness might be well-named. – Stevie Kaye
Sylvan Esso – ‘Die Young’
‘Die Young’ is the desert dust swirling in the golden light of dusk, that feeling of windows-down invincibility. Vocalist Amelia Meath’s sultry voice is rooted in folk, but set against these buoyant synths it’s like dancing in slow motion. The lyrics recall Mitski’s ‘Last Words of a Shooting Star’: planning to die young but never quite getting around to it. In ‘Die Young’, falling in love disrupts Meath’s plans; “I was gonna die young, now I gotta wait for you, hun.” The video features Meath in cat-eye sunglasses and a burgundy lip, stealing a police car and speeding towards the desert. She lives out her Thelma and Louise dreams of running and leaping into a canyon, falling through the smoky sky. She may want to die young, but this song feels like wanting to live forever. – Amanda Robinson
The Juan Maclean – ‘Can You Ever Really Know Somebody’
While DFA diva Nancy Whang can do no wrong, I wish she had more to do than repeat the refrains “can you ever really love somebody”/”can you ever really know my body?” on the Juan Maclean’s first single in years. I mean, it works – this is a very tracky, twinkling Yamaha DX-7 workout with strong nods towards Manuel Göttsching’s ‘E2-E4’ (via Sueño Latino) and Inner City’s disco-fied techno, but they’ve had more, ah, sonic easter eggs on past tracks with similarly minimalist palettes – this’ll still sound great at 4am over a good soundsystem, mind. – SK
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.