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 looking forward to a relaxing Labor Day weekend before Apple hysteria reaches a fever pitch next week. Let’s all dream of one last weekend spent lounging in the sun, our heads free of iPhones and Watches!
As per usual, there's a Spotify playlist at the end for your listening convenience, and you're also welcome to share your own favorite cuts and complaints in the comments. Let's go:
Alessia Cara, "Seventeen":
This is the first song on Alessia Cara’s debut EP Four Pink Walls, which was released last week. If you’re familiar with Cara, it’s probably because of her single "Here," the piece of anxious pop-soul that lifted her from a world of acoustic covers on YouTube into a record deal with Def Jam. "Seventeen" doesn’t have the same crackle or preternatural wisdom — it sounds like a decent Lorde song, I guess — but it captures something specific and true about being young, when all it takes is a year or two to feel like a completely different person. It’s a precious, natural phase, and Cara brings it to life here.
All Dogs, "How Long":
If you liked this year’s records by Waxahatchee and Hop Along, I’m positive you’ll have a great time with Kicking Every Day, the debut full-length by All Dogs. In terms of intensity, it’s pitched somewhere between the former’s low-stakes shamble and the latter’s white-knuckle howling; it helps that lead singer Maryn Jones sounds a lot like Katie Crutchfield. If you can pick apart the words Jones is singing underneath coarse waves of guitar, you’ll find a piercing song about trying to balance vulnerability and guardedness. The rest of the album’s worth your time too.
Battles, "FF Bada":
Mathy experimentalists Battles are almost ready to release La Di Da Di, their third album and first in four years. (It’s out on September 18th.) "FF Bada" is a great reintroduction to the band’s unique skill set, one I prefer to other recent single "The Yabba." It’s intricate, brawny, and dynamic, and it crams a ton of action and movement into under five minutes.
Beach House, "PPP":
This is my favorite song on Depression Cherry, the excellent new Beach House record I reviewed last week. "PPP" has the same impeccable pace and structure you’d expect from a good short story or film, and it earns the oft-used (re: this band) descriptor "cinematic": there are spoken word segments, furtive glances, leaps of faith, and a soaring, extended wordless climax. The song takes everything Beach House does well and blows it up to the largest possible size. Find some time this weekend to put this on your headphones and go out someplace where you can see the stars.
"Bangkok" is Dan Bejar at his most blasé on his recently released Poison Season; the lyrics fall out of his mouth like he’s lying in bed on a humid day and can’t be bothered to stand: "Like you, I’ve been around the world, seen a million girls… I’ve seen Bangkok." He’s brought to life by greasy horns and strange news about someone named Sunny. This song makes me want to take a shower, and that’s somehow a compliment.
Fake Palms, "Melatonin":
Toronto’s Fake Palms released their debut album last week, and it’s full of scuffed-up noise-pop sparklers like the one above. It all sounds a little like Deerhunter c. the second half of Cryptograms, or maybe like a mud-splattered version of The Strokes. "Melatonin" rides a fantastic set of guitar melodies into a dreamy, chugging outro; the subject matter’s just what you’d expect for a song named after a hormone that helps prepare us for darkness and sleep.
Florence + the Machine, "Queen of Peace (Hot Chip Remix)":
Hearing a song you’ve come to love remixed can feel like running into a friend who’s undergone an impressive makeover since you’ve last seen them. Their hair’s been cut, their clothes are nicer, there’s an extra spring in their step — it’s still them, but they’ve changed! Here Hot Chip transform Florence + the Machine’s gusty, sweeping "Queen of Peace" into a kinetic, funky house cut. If you’re like me — a "Sweet Nothing" fan who’s always happy to hear someone embracing Florence’s inner club diva, that is — you’ll want to press play.
Kelela established herself as a force working on the fringes of R&B with a fine 2013 mixtape, Cut 4 Me, and she’s following it up with an EP called Hallucinogen this October. She’s a flexible and skilled collaborator, and on "Rewind" her work with producers Kingdom and Nugget yields a slice of dewy, nocturnal club music. When a crush has you feeling completely frazzled like Kelela is here, the least you can do is try to dance away the cobwebs — this’ll make for an able soundtrack.
Maddie & Tae, "Sierra":
Maddie & Tae made a splash last year with their debut single "Girl in a Country Song," a fiery rebuke for all of the ball-capped bro-country upstarts that have dominated the genre’s charts in recent years. (A stinging sample: "We used to get a little respect / now we’re lucky if we even get / to climb up in your truck, keep our mouth shut, ride along / and be the girl in a country song.") "Sierra" is a highlight from their new full-length Start Here, and it reveals them to be equal-opportunity lyrical assassins. A snooty, salty Regina George-type is the target here, and they cut her to ribbons. It’s a hilarious, hearty listen.
The Weeknd, "In the Night":
If you kept up with our extensive VMA coverage earlier this week, then you know that Abel Tesfaye emerged one of the night’s winners. His explosive performance of "Can’t Feel My Face" was an obvious highlight from the festivities, and his new album Beauty Behind the Madness is set to achieve one of this year’s highest first-week sales totals. "In the Night" is poised to become its next big hit once "Can’t Feel My Face" starts to slide down the charts: it’s Tesfaye’s most focused single, a slab of dark disco with obvious pop ambition and Max Martin’s Midas touch. I’m positive you’ll be sick of this in a few months, but it’ll sound intoxicating on your first dozen plays.
Here’s this week’s playlist — have a lovely Labor Day weekend!