Absolutely: Olivia Rodrigo, Sour - There’s nothing worse than a massive build-up that just doesn’t live up to the hype. Olivia Rodrigo can sleep soundly knowing that that doesn’t describe her debut album, Sour. The Zoomer’s earnest lyricism about love lost, crippling beauty standards, social media hell holes, and hearty fuck yous has already prompted a stream of memes, with Millennials gushing over how her music brings them back to their teen years. But not all of Rodrigo’s tracks feel regressive: Anyone who has gone through a bitter breakup, who has scrolled Instagram and felt like shit afterward, who has felt like a piece of meat, can find something that resonates in Sour.
Rodrigo has a beautiful singing voice, and I love her gentle vulnerability in tracks like “favorite crime” and “hope ur okay.” And, yes, her breakout single “driver’s license” is a lovely pop song. But to me, Rodrigo is most compelling when she’s the ugliest, most blunt version of herself. Like when she cries “You got a pretty face, pretty boyfriend too/I wanna be you so bad, and I don’t even know you” in “jealousy jealousy” or when she sneers “I’m so sick of seventeen/Where’s my fuckin’ teenage dream?/If someone tells me one more time/’Enjoy your youth,’ I’m gonna cry” in the killer opening track, “brutal.”
And, of course, there’s “good 4 u,” when Rodrigo sings, “And good for you, I guess that you’ve been workin’ on yourself/I guess that therapist I found for you, she really helped/Now you can be a better man for your brand new girl.” Whew.
Admittedly, I wish more of the album sounded like the Elastica-flavored “brutal.” But what Rodrigo ended up with is nothing to sniff at. It’s a solid debut for a talented young singer and songwriter, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she gives us next. —Ashley Reese
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Oui: Cancan, “Golden Shower” - This sleazy, throbbingly arpeggiated disco joint has electroclash revival written all over it, not in the least because its frosty French female vocal is ripped from Miss Kittin’s book of emotionless emoting. But there’s something even more detached here than the kind of tongue-in-cheek flat affect that Kittin tends to provide. This one right here has a real numbness during its “Golden shower...golden shower...” refrain that is maybe blasé (your kink is our Tuesday), maybe utilitarian, maybe pathological. So many possibilities in a flatly delivered song about erotic pissing! —Rich Juzwiak
YES, THANK YOU: City Girls, “Twerkulator” - Rumor has it that this song was leaked sometime in April and found its way to TikTok. That is why I pressed play and asked myself if this was some old shit dressed as new. Joke’s on me, it is both new and old—this is the full version, the studio version, the version that isn’t TikTokked to death. It’s great. It needs a real video. It also needs a swimming pool full of hot people gyrating and drinking hand grenades, not a care in the world. That’s roughly the vibe of this summer, anyway, and this anthem, which I expect to hear from the cars that pass my open windows, is the soundtrack. —Megan Reynolds
No: Lana Del Ray, “Textbook” - Mrs. Sad Singer has released three songs from her forthcoming LP, “Blue Banisters.” For the sake of objectivity and truth in journalism, I listened to all three. They are indistinguishable from each other, but if I had to chose one to listen to more than once, I would select “Textbook.” I don’t quite understand the hate or the hype around this woman, but I can say that if this came on shuffle when I was feeling sad and it was hot outside, I’d do everything in my power to find a store selling a Hill House nap dress knock-off, buy said garment, and then find a patch of grass full of dandelions and lay down for a spell. That’s not quite an endorsement, but it’s not an indictment either. Take it for what you will. —MR
I’m so happy I could die in this $1 billion bunker: Japanese Breakfast, “Savage Good Boy” - Sung from the perspective of a “savage good boy,” this song of the same name tells the story of literally working through to the end of the world, and then after, in a bunker of one’s own design. The music video shows as much, with Michelle Zauner finishing off her older man by taking a nice swift bite of his neck—seems fine to me!
In truth, though, I don’t think I’ve ever spun a record just as many times as Brekkie’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet, one of the most excellent rock albums not just of the 2010s, but the century as whole. Zauner’s continued talent in matching her sharp vocalization with totally frenetic orchestration remains unmatched by her peers, even those she is often compared too most: Mitski, Girlpool, Phoebe Bridgers. “Savage Good Boy,” against the rest of her discography, also manages to be both “Road Head” and “In Heaven,” which delights me. It’s good fucking song! I recommend everyone go listen to it, and the rest of Brekkie’s recent singles, immediately. -Joan Summers