It’s… August?! We’re honestly not sure how we got here, but nevertheless, we will crack on. Yet another week has passed and this one was quite jam-packed with new songs that are extremely best tracks of the week-worthy tunes. We’ve been very occupied with Travis Scott’s Astroworld finally arriving on planet Earth and the serious splash of Mac Miller’s Swimming, but there’s also been a steady stream of incredible singles pulsating through our eardrums.
Aside from some brilliant albums, two of our absolute favorite DIY pop musicians Cuco and Clairo linked up for “Drown,” giving us hope for Gen Z. Mura Masa linked up with NAO, producer Pi’erre Bourné steps outside of the booth to show off his rap chops, and both Neneh Cherry and Robyn drop comeback tracks.
All those and more make this round of Best Tracks of the Week.
Cuco & Clairo- “Drown”
Two of the sweetest sweeties in pop music have finally united and we couldn’t be more stoked. Opening things up with layers of sugary synths, Cuco laments being left on read in the intro, his autotuned screams fading to make way for Clairo’s signature croon. Just when you think the song can’t get any better, Cuco raps in Spanish. All in all, this is a DIY pop collab for the books, and we’re gonna be bumpin’ this breezy jam until we get sick of it (probably never). – B
Ella Mai – “Trip”
Don’t get me wrong, “Boo’d Up” is a bop (and deserves all of the success that it has gained thus far), but it’s been out for a whole year and it has definitely run its course after getting the full remix treatment from the likes of T-Pain, Nicki Minaj, and Quavo. At long last, Ella Mai has finally dropped a fresh ballad that maintains that same lusty energy of losing control of your feelings in the game of love. But this time, it seems like she’s singing from the perspective of someone who is being treated the way that they deserve. Get it, girl. – S
HIRA – “Red Light Drive”
I don’t quite understand what Jai Paul is playing at, but at this point, I’m not entirely sure I want to. The infamously elusive producer has unveiled two tracks from his protégés for the second week running, and HIRA’s “Red Light Drive” may be the best of the bunch. It paints a picture of dangerous, neon-lit highways at night, a seductive vision that is bolstered with enough claps and hi-hats to be a percussionist’s wet dream. And don’t even get me started on that drunken keyboard line, whisking in from no where to add a distinctly loopy, yet still cool, flavor. At this rate we may never need him to not-release another album. – J
Mac Miller – “Hurt Feelings”
Mac Miller has been through some stuff this year, but on “Hurt Feelings” he’s willing to open up about it and let his vulnerability show. Over a supremely chill beat produced by J. Cole, with contributions from Pharrell and Dev Hynes, Miller shines bright, floating above the bullshit. If Swimming is anything to go by, he’s successfully keeping his head above the water, “listenin’ to Whitney and whippin’ it through the city.” – B
Moses Sumney – “Rank & File”
There is no way to describe Moses Sumney’s latest other than downright spooky. Unless there’s another adjective that better suits the feeling he evokes by combining military cadences, chanting, and a didgeridoo-like bass line to soundtrack musings on conformity. It’s a testament to Sumney’s incredible artistry; a rare marriage of raw vocal talent with complex, intellectual subject matter. He’s one of the brightest songwriters we have, and next week’s EP is a true late summer blessing. – J
Mura Masa & NAO – “Complicated”
Once upon a time, Avril Lavigne had us all whining about complicated boys and how confusing they are to understand. Fast-forward 16 years and British R&B singer NAO is returning the favor, but in a more fun and playful manner that doesn’t leave you feeling hopelessly hung up. This single reminds me of the early AlunaGeorge days when electro-R&B was infectious and the slightest exposure would send you straight to the dance floor. Mura Masa and Skrillex co-produced the bumping track which only means that the beats are next level and of the highest quality. Summertime sadness doesn’t have to be a drag all season long! – S
Neneh Cherry – “Kong”
Now here’s one that literally no one could have seen coming. It would be one thing if Neneh Cherry returned out of the blue with a great new track, but it’s something else entirely that Neneh Cherry has returned out of the blue with a great new track produced by Four Tet and Massive Attack’s 3D. The union is a match made in trip-hop heaven; feather-light piano glides over a rich ambient landscape while Neneh’s voice cuts through the fog like a diamond, rich with a wisdom that is light years away from the woman who taught us how to pose in a buffalo stance. Please say a full album is coming. – J
Pi’erre Bourne – “Marie Curie”
In Pi’erre Bourne’s bonkers approach to beats, there’s absolutely no telling what his next source of inspiration will be. For the wunderkind producer’s latest solo outing, he has seemingly been influenced by the titular chemist and first woman to win the Nobel Prize, but of course, that means little in Bourne’s world, where the human voice doesn’t so much speak words as it does morph into an amorphous electronic instrument. With such a clearly distinct, impossible-to-replicate sound that has, in some ways, paved the way for MC’s like Playboi Carti, it’s delightful to hear Pi’erre himself step in front of the mic. “Marie Curie” points to a need for him to do this more often. – J
Robyn – “Missing U”
There was a lot riding on Robyn to deliver with “Missing U.” None of us have even come close to us the sort of pressure she must have felt this week; when you craft one of the most iconic, world-conquering dance-pop albums in the history of time then avoid releasing any solo material for eight whole years, you’ve put yourself in a corner of either dropping a masterpiece equal to your legacy or obliterating said legacy if it’s anything less than stellar. “Missing U” is, of course, stellar, and equal to said legacy. And thank the Goddess for that. – J
Travis Scott – “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD”
While much of Astroworld is elaborate Kanye West cosplay, we’ll give Travis Scott props for recruiting Stevie Wonder, James Blake, and Kid Cudi on “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD.” A psychedelic trip punctuated by Cudi’s heavenly hums, we respect La Flame’s preaching of staying true to your roots. There’s even some weird, echoey harmonica-type sounds and church-type organs, and James Blake comes in on the bridge, bringing his choir boy realness, while Stevie Wonder rounds out the song in the outro. Well played, all around. – B
Be sure to check out last week’s round up of Best New Tracks right here.
- Words: Jake Boyer, Bianca Giulione, Sydney Gore