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 writing this roundup from the comfort of my parents' house, where I've been subsisting on a diet of Pizza Pockets and televised golf. I can't promise you'll like this week's playlist better than President Obama's collections of summer jams, but we certainly manage to cover a lot of ground between the two of us. Stick with Barry if you like the oldies, and come hang with me if you want something fresh.
There's a Spotify playlist at the end for your listening convenience, and feel free to share your own favorite cuts / compliments / complaints from this week in the comments. Let's go:
Carly Rae Jepsen, "Your Type":
I wrote about "Warm Blood" in this space a few weeks ago, and I try to spread the wealth when it comes to featuring artists here, but "Your Type" is too good to deny. The juxtaposition of those thudding, midnight highway synths and Carly's vocals — heavy with emotion and genuinely heartbroken, like something out of a John Hughes movie — is irresistible. A sign this song is truly great: it's hard to imagine it in the hands of any other pop star working without being diminished. Emotion is going to be a monster.
Chvrches, "Never Ending Circles":
Can I interest you in a second straight piece of gleaming synth-pop? Chvrches don't have an immense discography — their second full-length, Every Open Eye, is due out in September — but they've managed to put their stamp on a specific sound. Sharp synths that rise and shine like balloons dipped in glitter, precise digital rhythms, Lauren Mayberry's unassuming confidence: they're the building blocks of every song the band makes, and the combination isn't getting old anytime soon. This isn't the sound usually associated with musical comfort food, but Chvrches' consistency and competence are reassuring to me. (Shout out to our dearly departed Nathan Ingraham, who is surely listening to this on repeat and refusing to speak to anyone and preparing pins for my voodoo doll should I fail to include this song this week.)
Destroyer, "Times Square":
This song is poking and prodding all of my rock music hot spots: a horn line out of David Bowie's Young Americans, the swoon and sweep of Bruce Springsteen at his most love-drunk, piano chords that are heftier than beef stew. Let's acknowledge the tremendous feat Dan Bejar accomplishes here: he makes Times Square — to him, "Tahhms Skwehhhh" — sound like the pinnacle of romance and mystery. I don't live in New York, but I know enough to state with confidence that Times Square is breathtaking for five seconds and terrible forever. This is the sound of those first five seconds set to saxophone and put on loop.
HEALTH, "FLESH WORLD (UK)":
Here's one of my favorite things about the vague and possibly useless art of music criticism: if you're feeling up to it, you could describe three of the first four songs in this roundup as "synth-pop," which is a bit like taking a pine tree, a tulip, and a carrot and lumping them all together under "plants." HEALTH's probably the pine tree in that analogy: dense, thorny, open to beauty but not preoccupied with it. Liz Lopatto wrote a lot about the aggressive, intense sensuality of HEALTH's music in her review last week, and you can hear that loud and clear on "FLESH WORLD." It turns the inevitability of death into an enabling, freeing force.
Joanna Newsom, "Sapokanikan":
It's been a half-decade since Newsom's last album, the mammoth Have One on Me, but she hasn't lost a step. "Sapokanikam" is jaunty and curious, and it would've slotted in nicely alongside songs like "Good Intentions Paving Company" and "In California." Maybe that's why it feels so surprising: all of Newsom's other albums have represented major shifts from their predecessors. Ys swallowed the quirky, precocious charm of The Milk-Eyed Mender in a swirl of obtuse lyricism and Van Dyke Parks arrangement, and Have One on Me stripped out that album's frippery and dense narrative for plainspoken, piercing writing. Change is a constant for Newsom, but Have One on Me remains one of the best albums of this decade — if she wants to hang out here a while, I won't begrudge her that.
Lana Del Rey, "High by the Beach":
I feel like I've spent my whole week thinking about Lana: her impending album, her friendship with Elon Musk, her beef with helicopters, her worrying lack of furniture. Honeymoon is coming out on September 18th, and I'm sure it'll be stuffed with songs like this: languid, smoky, the slightest bit strange.
Mac DeMarco, "Another One":
Mac DeMarco is one of the most charming artists working, a Canadian vagabond with an easy, toothy grin and a knack for simple, sweet songwriting. Another One is his new mini-LP, arriving a little more than a year after his sterling Salad Days, and this is the title track. It's one of his most elegant, poignant songs yet, flipping the LP's joke of a title into a piece of despondent counsel. This one might just be a little too sad for Animal Crossing.
Majical Cloudz, "Silver Car Crash":
Listening to Montreal duo Majical Cloudz means steeling yourself for uncomfortable intimacy, whether in the face of transcendent joy or soul-splitting sadness. "Silver Car Crash," the first single from their upcoming Are You Alone?, offers a little bit of both. It's a song about loving someone so much you're content to face death alongside them. That's a beautiful sentiment, but it's also bleak enough to send you staring into space at your keyboard — and it's that exact balance that makes this band so unique and compelling.
Neon Indian, "Slumlord":
I wrote about this one in brief this morning, and I haven't stopped listening to it since. I love its slow acceleration, its careful construction, its seedy familiarity. It sounds like places I haven't had a chance to visit yet, and some I'll never get to visit: a Tokyo arcade; a crowded, neon-lit 1982 dancefloor; the inside of a complicated and dusty keyboard. If this is the sound of Alan Palomo's night school, I'll be spending my weekend composing a series of desperate pleas re: my enrollment status. I have so much to learn!
Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique, "Got to Work It Out":
Let's roll into the weekend with something frothy, funky, and fun. This is my favorite song on Robyn's new EP with La Bagatelle Magique, Love Is Free, which I wrote about last week; no one on Earth sounds better issuing simple commands over simple beats. And if you can manage to get through this song without "shaking it like a baby bottle," you have more will power than your humble correspondent.
Here's this week's playlist — enjoy! I'll see you next week.