Welcome back to The Verge's roundup of the most important music from the week that was. I'm Jamieson, I'm still your host, and I'm happy to be taking you into the long weekend with a few new and worthwhile jams. America! Let's do this!
(I celebrated Canada Day earlier this week.)
There's a Spotify playlist at the end for your listening convenience, and feel free to share your favourite cuts from this week in the comments. (I'm reading them and listening, promise.) Let's go:
Beach House, "Sparks": Like Liam Neeson in Taken, the members of Beach House have a very particular set of skills; they just happen to be musical rather than murderous. In their case, they churn out a new collection of gauzy, day-drunk dream-pop every few years like clockwork. The scale changes, the tones change, but the core is the same: simple, sticky guitar melodies from Alex Scally and robust vocal performances from Victoria LeGrand. "Sparks" is the first single from their upcoming Depression Cherry, and though it starts out a little noisier than you might expect, it only takes a few minutes for Beach House to come home. There's joy in doing one thing really, really well.
Bilal, "Open Up the Door": Bilal was swept up in the neo-soul wave that crested as the '90s turned into the '00s, working alongside luminaries like Erykah Badu and D'Angelo on warm, diverse R&B. In Another Life is his third album in five years, and it's more of the same: organic soul and funk that's well sung and a little unfocused. "Open Up the Door" is a little shaggy and wide-eyed, like some Stevie Wonder C-side salvaged from the '70s.
Demi Lovato, "Cool for the Summer": There are so many reasons not to like this song. That mercenary EDM piano line that cracks it open! The bicurious tourism for the sake of shock value! (Demi is a great LGBT ally, but I wanna see the receipts.) Those cheesy synth-rock riffs in the chorus! And yet it all comes together like one of those mystery Slurpees you'd make as a kid, six flavors thrown together into some unholy mixture in a single XL cup. Blame pop savant Max Martin and a surprising, salacious Demi vocal take. This one's ready for the radio.
The Internet, "Under Control": And now for something completely different: a subtle, moody bit of languid soul from a woman who isn't just toying with same-sex attraction. Odd Future alum Syd tha Kyd is plain-spoken and sensual on "Under Control," a highlight from her group The Internet's new album Ego Death. I want my summer to sound like this: nights so warm you feel their weight on you, shabby joints on quiet rooftops, time in a space between sleep and dreaming.
LA Priest, "Lady's in Trouble with the Law": This is a weird one, pop pitched halfway between Prince's alien, mechanical funk and Ariel Pink's outsider melodies. The song is catchy, but it comes at you from an angle you don't expect. I'm not very familiar with Sam Dust's work — he's the creative force behind LA Priest — but this is the kind of song that makes me want to hear more.
Meek Mill ft. Drake, "R.I.C.O.": Sometimes it's nice to just have a seat and listen to some experts stunt, you know? "R.I.C.O." is about making so much money and living so lavishly that you have to dial it back just to evade federal investigation. Drake leans back with Toronto slang, token pettiness, and throwbacks to Shaq throwing up bricks at the free throw line; Meek raps through a wire tap and makes a show of counting his money for the benefit of teachers who didn't believe in him. This is braggadocio at its simplest and most satisfying.
Miguel, "what's normal anyway": I reviewed Miguel's new album Wildheart earlier this week. I didn't like it as much as many other critics out there, but I love this song without reservation. It's a vulnerable, tender beacon in the middle of an album that gets a little lost in its own psychedelic sex appeal.
Mocky, "Upbeat Thing": Mocky is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist and composer who's worked with everyone from Feist to Kelela. He released Key Change this week, his first solo album in over a half-decade. "Upbeat Thing" is its opener, and a good introduction to his unique brand of whimsy. It's summery and romantic, the kind of thing you want to hear leaking from a park bandstand when you happen to pass by.
Vince Staples ft. Snoh Aalegra, "Jump Off the Roof": If I was writing "this week's most important albums," you can be damn sure Vince Staples' Summertime 06 would be included. It's lean, mean, and uncompromising, a double album with impressive economy anchored by a personality you can't ignore. The first thing that hits you on "Jump Off the Roof" is the beat, which you can feel in your bones. It's like someone's drumming on pots and pans they just stole from your kitchen. And then you hear Vince: fucked up on love and weed and coke, lonely and scared, trying to outrun his demons. The intensity is staggering. There's a whole album full of songs like this.
Wavves x Cloud Nothings, "No Life for Me": Let's end on a lighter note, relatively speaking: a straightforward thrasher from Wavves and Cloud Nothings, who slapped their collaborative full-length on Bandcamp and iTunes early this week. They've been working on it for a while, and this is the title track: no frills, just instruments played hard, fast, and well. It works for me.
That's it for me — here's this week's playlist. I hope your weekend is filled with soaring bald eagles, colorful fireworks, and juicy hot dogs — even if you're not American. I'll see you next week!