Each week we break down our favorite song, highlight our honorable mentions, and wrap them all up with other staff recommendations into a playlist just for you.
“You took my sadness out of context,” Lana Del Rey murmurs in the beginning of “Mariners Apartment Complex”, the first single off her upcoming 2019 album. Indeed, when it comes to Del Rey, sometimes it seems interpreting her sadness is all we do. It’s been a key part of her image since the start, with haunting, melodramatic tunes like “Video Games” and “Summertime Sadness” remaining among her best-known hits.
It’s easy to think only of this melancholy when we think of her music, but to do so simplifies many of the interrogations Del Rey makes of the idea of sadness and of herself. She pushes these interrogations deeper than ever before in “Mariners Apartment Complex”, wielding the same sharp self-awareness and lyrical intrigue that distinguish her as an artist, but from a new angle. She assures us that she “ain’t no candle in the wind”; the Lana we’re seeing here is strong, unwavering. This is significant for an artist whose music is so intertwined with her image, a cultivated persona of beauty and mystique.
Del Rey has a talent for inviting her audience into her songs, into her world: The line “Who I’ve been is with you on these beaches/ Your Venice bitch,” skirts around her identity before showing us our own reflection. This is what the entire song does so magically; she offers herself up variously as an anchor, a savior, and a darker and deeper version of the real her. She’s an adept scene-setter in every sense, and her music lulls and hypnotizes as always, a sweet, dreamy backdrop. “Mariners Apartment Complex” is Del Rey simultaneously at her strongest and at her most vulnerable. The bar is high for her next single, “Venice Bitch”, but if history is any indication, Del Rey is more than up for the task.
Kelela – “LMK (What’s Really Good Remix)” ft. Princess Nokia, Junglepussy, cupcakKe, and Ms. Boogie
The What’s Really Good Remix of Kelela’s “LMK” is a chill mix of rhythmic pop and the smooth flows of each featured artist that you can both dance and relax to. –Clara Scott
Kurt Vile – “Bassackwards”
Kurt Vile knows what he’s good at and continues to grow in that niche, something that’s evident in his latest single off of upcoming LP Bottle It In, a collection of warped riffs and Vile’s stream-of-consciousness twang weaving together to create a calm yet nostalgic atmosphere. –Clara Scott
Marc Ribot – “Bella Ciao (Goodbye Beautiful)” ft. Tom Waits
There are few things as recognizable as Tom Waits’ voice, and this shred of familiarity colors his latest release and the first in years, a featured spot on Marc Ribot’s “Bella Ciao”, one of many skillfully arranged and forlorn ballads on the album Songs of Resistance 1942 – 2018. –Clara Scott
Knox Brown – “FLEX”
London rapper and producer Knox Brown returns with his second single in two weeks, “FLEX”, a poolside anthem that recalls those sunny days of mid-’90s hip-hop, back when the sun was balmy and the mood was anything but post-apocalyptic. –Michael Roffman
Other Songs We’re Spinning
AlunaGeorge – “Superior Emotion” ft. Cautious Clay
AlunaGeorge have returned with one of their most indelible, hypnotic tracks in recent years — one that’s built on rightly timed, ballooning synths, a hunger for a love-induced high, and a secret weapon in rising producer/songwriter/expert crooner Cautious Clay, who nearly steals the spotlight. –Lake Schatz
Hozier – “Nina Cried Power” ft. Mavis Staples
Hozier is back with a new EP, Nina Cried Power, and the title song is a rapturous combination of his classic folk styling and the gospel roots of featured artist and legend Mavis Staples. –Clara Scott
Kevin Gates – “Money Long”
Despite the namesake of his fall tour and upcoming mixtape, Lucas Brasi 3, new singles like “Money Long” and “Great Man” suggest that hard-flowing Louisiana rapper Kevin Gates ain’t planning on sleeping with the fishes anytime soon. –Matt Melis
Logic – “Everybody Dies”
Existentialism jostles with self-assurance and hope in this catchy, restless new single from Logic, which sees the rapper shifting between several disparate but complementary rhythms. –Laura Dzubay
Spiritualized – “Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go”
Part of the appeal of Jason Pierce’s songwriting on his phenomenal new Spiritualized album, And Nothing Hurt, is his ability to take something as simple as making plans to see a lover later that night and imbue the act with such instrumental, emotional, and celebratory grandeur. –Matt Melis