Welcome back to The Verge’s weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and I’m having trouble believing we’re only halfway through the year. The first six months of 2016 were crammed with blockbuster releases, surprise album hijinx, tragic deaths, and quality musical memes. We watched Lemonade and imagined Jay Z sweating his way through the first half-hour. We made Drake sit on things. We renewed, canceled, renewed, canceled, and renewed our Tidal subscriptions depending on the exclusives they happened to nab. We found out who does and doesn’t have the range. Just looking back on all of it is making me exhausted.
I think this week’s picks represent the past, present, and future of 2016 music. Rihanna’s already released a fine new LP; Blood Orange and Bat for Lashes are celebrating new work this week; Angel Olsen and Sampha still have to make good on the promise of their recent singles. It’s been a great year — let’s hope the music world’s hot streak carries us right in 2017 and beyond.
Remember to subscribe to our Spotify playlist if you haven’t already — it’s updated weekly! Let’s go:
Angel Olsen, "Shut Up Kiss Me"
After showing off her softer side with "Intern," Angel Olsen’s back to sounding rowdy and gritty with "Shut Up Kiss Me," the latest single cut from her forthcoming LP My Woman. What do both songs have in common? They’re stained by desperation. When Olsen barks, "Shut up, kiss me, hold me tight," it’s not the kind of command you’d shrug off without a second thought.
Bat for Lashes, "Sunday Love"
"Sunday Love" is one of the few songs on Bat for Lashes’ new album The Bride that thrives outside of the album’s narrative confines. (The chugging rhythm reminds me a little of Radiohead’s "Weird Fishes / Arpeggi.") It’s a welcome blast of melody on an album that mostly values storytelling over pure sonic potency.
Blood Orange, "Augustine"
Dev Hynes dropped Freetown Sound, his new album as Blood Orange, a few days ahead of schedule this week alongside a video for "Augustine." It’s a tender, impossibly rich ballad, and it lays the groundwork for the rest of the album by weaving race, queerness, family, and religion into a fascinating tapestry.
Demi Lovato, "Body Say"
This is the second straight year Demi Lovato’s released a spicy single on July 1st, a nascent tradition I’d like to chalk up to her deep, abiding love of the Canadian people. (There’s no evidence suggesting this love actually exists, but it’s fun to pretend, right?) "Body Say" isn’t as aggressive or glittering as last year’s "Cool for the Summer," but it’s just as thirsty: "You can touch me with slow hands / speed it up, baby, make me sweat / Dream land / take me there, ‘cause I want your sex." If you’re going to put this on repeat, crank the AC.
Elysia Crampton & Rabit, "The Demon City"
Elysia Crampton and Rabit are producers working at electronic music’s bleeding edge, and "The Demon City" is a collaboration cut from Crampton’s forthcoming album of the same name. (It’s coming out on July 22nd.) It’s stormy, mechanical, and pockmarked with evil-sounding moans and cackles. I'll admit that doesn't make it sound like standard long weekend BBQ fare, but maybe you can throw it on while you're scrubbing charcoal off the grill.
Fergie, "M.I.L.F. $"
The Dutchess — an album that’s somehow almost a decade old — was good enough to earn Fergie a lifetime pass in my neck of the woods, but "M.I.L.F. $" (it stands for "moms I’d like to follow", naturally) is almost too much to forgive. It feels like the song only exists to support its video, a clip that features Kim Kardashian West, Chrissy Teigen, Ciara, and enough milk to send the lactose-intolerant running for the hills. It’s grating, wild-eyed trap, and it’s just catchy enough to ensure it’ll be rattling around your head for the remainder of the weekend. Click and listen with caution.
Hoops, "Cool 2"
Hoops — what a delightfully silly band name — are releasing a self-titled EP at the end of August, and "Cool 2" is the opening track. It’s breezy, sticky guitar-pop — if you dig Real Estate and Mac DeMarco, you’ll probably get a lot of mileage out of this one. This is ideal summer music in my neck of the woods.
Metronomy ft. Robyn, "Hang Me Out to Dry"
UK electro-pop mavens Metronomy just released their fifth LP Summer 08, and Robyn duet "Hang Me Out to Dry" is an obvious highlight — it’s squelchy, chugging, and a little nostalgic. (I guess it’s hard to be more than a little nostalgic when you’re looking back at a summer that’s less than a decade old.)
"Sledgehammer" is more dramatic and explosive than anything on ANTI, and it’s easy to understand why once you peep the credits: it was co-written by Sia, the woman you call when you need an interstellar-scale ballad. The song’s IMAX-shot video ended up being a lot more interesting than the song, which ends up a little stale despite its size: Rihanna is an alien goddess! Rihanna can control swarms of menacing space robots! Rihanna is a galaxy unto herself! I can only hope Star Trek Beyond is half as fun.
Sampha, "Plastic 100°C"
Sampha appeared on the cover of The Fader this week and debuted "Plastic 100°C" with a stunning, spare live performance. The piano line that anchors the song is delicate and serpentine, and it gives Sampha’s voice plenty of room to shine: "Usually I’d run home and tuck the issue under / living with my worries, I didn’t really know what that lump was." (That’s a reference to a real physical worry that’s haunted him for the last half-decade.) I’m sure a more robust version of this song will show up on his next album, but I’d be happy if it stayed this stark forever.
Here’s the running This Is Your Next Jam playlist — have a great weekend!