Welcome back to The Verge’s weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and I can hear winter’s chill starting to creep into this week’s selections. There’s a palpable coolness to picks from Bibio, Ellie Goulding, Floating Points, and Jamie Woon. Erykah Badu, Little Mix, and Missy Elliott are breaking out their space heaters and hair dryers. I hope they can spare one for me — it’s getting cold up here in Canada!
Remember to subscribe to our Spotify playlist if you haven’t already — it’s updated weekly! — and tune into our Periscope broadcast covering this week’s selections when it airs this afternoon. Let’s go:
British producer Stephen Wilkinson makes music that lives somewhere in the middle ground between folk and electronic music, singing over sleepy acoustic guitar melodies and processed beats. "Petals" is pretty standard fare for him — simple, pleasant, and natural — and it’s the first single from an album that’s supposed to be coming next year.
Ellie Goulding, "Codes":
My review of Ellie Goulding’s new album Delirium ran last weekend, and I picked out "Codes" as one of its highlights; I’m still giving it a few plays per day almost a week later. I like when pop songs are clear and emotionally direct, and it doesn’t get much more direct than this song’s plea. This is the right way to use Goulding’s voice, too: she gets to float, dance, and emote over a beat with strong bones.
Erykah Badu, "Phone Down":
This song earned a lot of attention because Badu premiered it with a Periscope broadcast, but it’s still worth hearing even after the novelty fades. This is a grounded, groovy show of force. I can’t think of a cooler way to assert dominance in 2015 than Badu calmly noting she’s compelling enough to make you put your phone down.
Floating Points, "Peroration Six":
I spoke to Sam Shepherd about Floating Points’ new album Elaenia a few weeks ago, and it was finally made available last Friday. It’s only grown in my estimation with time, mostly because it doesn’t sound quite like anything else in music right now. It’s an elegant, subtle, thoughtful album, and "Peroration Six" is its closer — it’s the moment when the tension that’s been building since the opening minutes finally gets released in a flurry of drums and guitar.
Future, "Last Breath":
"Last Breath" is Future’s contribution to the Creed soundtrack. If you read that and started crossing every crossable limb in the hopes you’d get to hear Future rapping over "Gonna Fly Now," you can go ahead and uncross them. Metro Boomin and Ludwig Göransson take Bill Conti’s iconic Rocky theme and chop it up into something you might’ve heard on DS2, and Future takes a break from harrowing street tales and depraved fantasies for something bordering on "inspirational."
The title track from Grimes’ new album Art Angels is a sunny expression of civic pride — it’s a song for Montreal, the city where Claire Boucher jump-started her musical career — and it’s crammed to bursting with little pieces of sound that bubble and zip just out of reach. No matter where you live, this is the kind of song you hear in your head when you’re walking down the street feeling confident and satisfied with your place in the world. It’s full of color and light.
Jamie Woon, "Message":
Jamie Woon’s new album Making Time is his first LP since 2011 debut Mirrorwriting, and it’s a refined, mature collection of pop-soul. "Message" opens the album, and I’m struck by how the amount of space in the arrangement changes the song’s feel — the parts are warm in isolation, but there’s just enough distance between everything to make the song feel ever-so cool. It’s a beguiling balance to strike.
Little Mix, "Weird People":
I’m a sucker for a piece of pitch-perfect Prince revivalism, and that’s what British girl group Little Mix is delivering with "Weird People." The drum pattern, the synth tones, the harmonies: if I didn’t know any better, I’d swore they snuck into Paisley Park and yanked this from the vault. Potential criminal investigation notwithstanding, this song is a total blast.
Missy Elliott ft. Pharrell Williams, "WTF (Where They From)":
One day later, I’m happy to report this song’s appeal has lasted well past the honeymoon phase that came with its video. Missy’s voice is just as bright and vital as it was a decade ago, the beat gets right down to business, and Pharrell supplies a verse that’s just as unhinged as his memorable "Move That Dope" appearance. Everyone knows Missy can still bring the heat — the next step is managing to put it together for a longer release.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, "Hell":
You can count on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart for at least one sterling piece of indie pop a year, and the release of "Hell" means they’ve covered 2015’s quota. It’s the title track of a new EP that’s out today, and the band fleshed it out after releasing a demo version cut from last year’s LP Days of Abandon back in August. I’m glad they decided to bring the song back to life.
Here’s the running This Is Your Next Jam playlist — have an awesome weekend!