Nope: Lana Del Rey, “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” - When Lana Del Rey isn’t putting her foot in her mouth, making stupid comments about the fall of our democracy, she’s a musician who releases new music and new music videos. Like “Chemtrails Over The Country Club”—where her look is part-chola cosplay, part-old school Americana—and where nothing really happens but women become wolves. I wonder if I’m just bored of her schtick, or if it’s tired out on its own. As she declares in the song, “I’m not unhinged or unhappy / I’m just wild.” I’m sure... she thinks that! —Maria Sherman
He was missed: ZAYN, “Vibez” - I’m a little late, but the return of daddy ZAYN it is new to me. I missed him! Even if his music often veers into R&B-pop, lethargic Weeknd cosplay! “Vibez” isn’t a remarkable song, but any means, but Zayn’s mumbled delivery works for its smokey, atmospheric, late-night feel. I’m not even sure the song is meant to be enjoyed directly; it floats around the room, pleasing to the ear when it’s not paying attention. And for a song that’s all about boning, it’s also really romantic? I wouldn’t mind hearing it in an Uber.
Oh, and does anyone else hear “donkey” when he says “don’t keep” at the beginning of each chorus? Just me? —MS
Yes: DJ Danny, “On a Mountain”: If the 20-year cycle of retroism is to be believed, ‘90s-style pop trance is well overdue for a resurgence. Could PC Music affiliate Danny Harle usher it back in? He’s sure trying with this sweet, tactile, and breaky riff on the style, the lead single from his upcoming Harlecore album. If you liked this stuff then, there’s no reason not to now. Harle also dropped another of the album’s tracks this week, a delirious gabber-gibberish (gabberish?) thing called “Boing Beat” that I find hilarious but for others seems to be something of an endurance test even at a minute and a half. Try it and see if you can last. —Rich Juzwiak
Good show, lads: Shame, Drunk Tank Pink - Sophomore albums are a bitch, especially when your debut was critically acclaimed and is poised to become a post-punk revival classic. You can either stick with what drew in fans in the first place and get called predictable, or you can try something new and, well, create a shitty, try-hard mess album. While Shame didn’t venture too far away from their high-octane brand of throat clenching vocals, frantic drum beats, and guitar riffs that make me want to get tossed around a mosh pit, there’s certainly a slight shift. Drunk Tank Pink lacks the more accessible, Brit-pop-esque tunes like “One Rizla” or “Angie” from their first album, Songs of Praise. Instead, we’ve got songs like “Nigel Hitter” and “Water in the Well” which admittedly made me think, “Someone’s been listening to Talking Heads and Parquet Courts”... but not in a snide way.
You can hear the various bands and genres making their way into Drunk Tank Pink—Gang of Four, New Wave, what have you—but it never feels like shameless (sorry) parroting. The lads have created an impressive album that feels mature without feeling alienating from the energy that brought me to Shame in the first place. While the one-two punch of “6/1" and “Harsh Degrees” might be my favorite stretch of the album, I can see Shame’s growth most upon listening to “Snow Day” and “Station Wagon,” songs in which lead singer Charlie Steen’s anxiety-laden, spoken word lyricism transcends into a soaring, cathartic cacophony of sound. It’s ambitious, and they pull it off. Shame of 2018 might not have been able to, but Shame of 2021—for lack of a better phrase—did that shit.—Ashley Reese
WTF, yes? Olivia Rodrigo, “drivers license” - Like many people over a certain age, I was unfamiliar with the 17-year-old Disney star Olivia Rodrigo before she absolutely blew my mind with her debut piano ballad, “drivers license.” It is so much better than it has any right to be—if Adele started her musical career with a debut album called 17 instead of 19, this is the kind of song she would dream to record. The subject matter is familiar: a first broken heart, newly emboldened by a driver’s license, passing their street—but it is delivered with such magnitude, it emotes like the deepest and most devastating loss. It is so good. —MS