Welcome back to The Verge’s weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and I’m writing this week’s column from the site’s spacious New York HQ instead of my usual Canadian living room. (Of course, this is the week I include a song called "Work from Home.") I’ve had a blast hanging out with all of my coworkers in the flesh, and we’re going to cap this visit off by covering the Oscars on Sunday night. You should join us!
Remember to subscribe to our Spotify playlist if you haven’t already — it’s updated weekly! Let’s go:
Animal Collective, "Golden Gal":
This highlight from Animal Collective’s new LP Painting With opens with a sample of an actual "golden gal": that’s Bea Arthur’s Dorothy Zbornak saying, "No, Blanche, she’s upset because they keep changing the taste of Coke." It quickly dissolves, giving way to an earnest, clunky meditation on gender equality. What are you supposed to do with a line like, "You’d think the gals should feel so comfortable these days / but sexy genders bring some trouble to the fray?" If there’s anything truly golden here, it’s Panda Bear and Avey Tare’s sticky harmony.
Baauer ft. Pusha T & Future, "Kung Fu":
Three years after "Harlem Shake" climbed to the top of the Billboard charts on the back of a viral dance video craze, producer Baauer is getting ready to release his debut album Aa on March 18th. "Kung Fu" isn’t as aggressive or dynamic as that song, but it’s solid enough to help him escape the meme-assisted one-hit wonder dungeon. It also gives Pusha T a space to use the line, "We was buying Macklemore / cooked it in the Klitschko," the funniest possible phrase you could use to describe purchasing cocaine.
Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla $ign, "Work from Home":
American girl group Fifth Harmony are releasing their new album 7/27 on May 20th, and "Work from Home" is its first single. (The titular date references the day the group came together on The X-Factor in 2012.) It’s brighter and more buoyant than this year’s other big song about labor, and it finds Ty Dolla $ign continuing his recent hot streak with a verse that somehow makes the word "timesheet" sound sexy. I really enjoyed the group’s 2015 LP Reflection, so my hopes are high for the remainder of 7/27.
Gold Panda, "Time Eater":
Derwin Schlecker (aka Gold Panda) is following up 2013’s Half of Where You Live with Good Luck and Do Your Best, a new album due out on May 27th. "Time Eater" is an exquisite piece of music, one that’s grainy and reflective, and it’s paired with a gorgeous video shot around the world by Israeli director Ronni Shendar. The camera moves from sunlit cityscapes and open skies to deserted offices and subway platforms, the song tugging it through a quiet night. This album should make for perfect Sunday morning listening once it’s available.
Icona Pop, "Someone Who Can Dance":
Swedish party queens Icona Pop are still working on a followup to 2013’s debut full-length This Is… Icona Pop. "Someone Who Can Dance" isn’t as chant-ready as "I Don’t Care" — then again, what is? — but it’s rubbery, assertive, and references The Pirate Bay. It’s a capable piece of post-Robyn pop.
Miguel, "Waves (Tame Impala Remix)":
It doesn’t take much for Kevin Parker to turn this laid-back highlight from Miguel’s Wildheart into something that can easily pass as a Currents B-side: a few reverb-soaked drum fills, a liquid bass line, guitar melodies that sound like they’re drifting out of a dream. This is my favorite remix on Rogue Waves, the EP that collects five spins on the original waves, but the whole collection is worth your time if you’re fond of the source material.
NAO, "Fool to Love":
NAO came into 2016 with plenty of momentum thanks to fine future-soul singles like "Bad Blood" and Disclosure collaboration "Superego," and "Fool to Love" is good enough to maintain said momentum until she manages to put together enough music for a debut LP. The arrangement wobbles and throbs before snapping back into place every bar, and she sounds steely despite suffering some kind of romantic misfortune.
White Lung, "Hungry":
Vancouver’s White Lung is one of the most ferocious punk bands working, and they’re releasing their new album Paradise on May 6th. The band’s committed to taking a step forward with its songwriting, and you can hear it in "Hunger." It’s the catchiest song the band’s ever released, a three-minute rocket that reminds a little of Sonic Youth at their most concise. Paradise could be monstrous.
Wild Nothing, "Reichpop":
Jack Tatum made a conscious effort to broaden his sound on Life of Pause, the album he released last week as Wild Nothing, and there’s no better example than opener "Reichpop." If the song’s debt to minimalist pioneer Steve Reich wasn’t immediately clear from its title, you can hear it in the cycling marimbas that heat up its first 90 seconds. Tatum’s music has never been this complicated, and I’m willing to argue it’s never been this engrossing either.
ZAYN, "It’s You":
Now this is more like it! I wasn’t sold on "Pillowtalk," Zayn Malik’s first post-One Direction solo single, but "It’s You" is captivating. It’s a spare, heart-broken breakup ballad, one sitting somewhere on a spectrum between Thom Yorke and Tame Impala, and it does the right thing in making Zayn’s voice its core. The guy can really sing, and I’m feeling a little more optimistic about Mind of Mine every time I press play on this.
Here’s the running This Is Your Next Jam playlist — have a great weekend!