songs of the week

6 Best New Songs of the Week

Every week, Vulture highlights the best new music. If the song is worthy of your ears and attention, you will find it here. Read our picks below, share yours in the comments, and subscribe to the Vulture Playlist for a comprehensive guide to the year’s best music.

Young Thug, “Harambe”
I hate the stupid dead-gorilla meme as any thinking person should, and I believe its proliferation among confirmed internet dark lords like Breit-brat Milo Yiannopoulos and fashion creep Ian Connor is proof I’m on the right side of history. But “Harambe” from Young Thug’s new mixtape No, My Name Is Jeffery is a damned tour de force. (Is his name actually “Jeffery” and not “Jeffrey”? Who knew?) Thug corrodes and dements the spoken word with surgical precision here, exploiting the break in his voice like a blues singer with pneumonia and filling the hollows of this sullen, subdued Billboard Hitmakers production with pained depth. Bigger rappers get more credit for their ability to modulate between singing and rapping, but Thug’s liquid versatility makes their approach look rote and binary in comparison. —Craig Jenkins (@CraigSJ)

Vince Staples, “Loco”
If Vince Staples’s debut album Summertime ’06 was a revisitation of the Long Beach rapper’s former life of love, gangs, and loss, his follow-up to that project, the seven-track EP Prima Donna, drives the listener straight into the artist’s present frame of mind as it trembles under the pressures of fame. Sitting squarely at the center of the project is “Loco,” a DJ Dahi–produced banger that pairs Staples’s electrified, virtuoso delivery (“I write the James Joyce / Don’t need the Rolls Royce”) with a jittery digital backbeat. It also aligns the often-suicidal anxiety (“Housekeeping keep knocking on my door though / Don’t she know I’m staring in the mirror with a .44”) evident in his verses with keenly calibrated sonic breakdowns where Kilo Kish portrays a friend who tries to raise his spirits with childhood memories and an uncredited Spanish-speaking female voice (similar to the girlfriend’s voice on Summertime’s “Loca”) berates the artist mercilessly. Like other songs on the EP, the track terminates with Staples singing a cappella lyrics in which despair (“We all waste away”) outwrestles hope. Elaborate, wiry, and unnervingly tense, it’s a fierce reintroduction to Staples as an artist and a realist. To him, what’s good for one’s career isn’t good for one’s nerves: The latter may break down even as the former breaks through. —Frank Guan (@frankophilia)

American Football, “I’ve Been So Lost for So Long”
Emo legends American Football only lasted for an EP and an album the first time around, but those 12 songs are stone-cold gospel to a certain fellowship of dejected, disheveled indie-rock bro of which I am a part-time member. Cousins Mike and Nate Kinsella have stayed plenty busy in a wealth of math and acoustic-rock projects in the convening years between 1999’s confessional emo landmark American Football and their return to touring as American Football. But the release of the new song “I’ve Been So Lost for So Long” (from a forthcoming new full-length titled — you guessed it! — American Football) still feels like a shock to the system. The band’s tender, angular grooves are unblemished by the passage of time, and Mike’s lyrics still cut to the depressive quick: “Can you please remind me why I woke up today?” “I can’t believe life is happening to me.” I still can’t believe this new album is happening to me. —CJ

Britney Spears, “If I’m Dancing”
There’s a bonus track on the deluxe edition of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion, “I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance,” that pushes Carly over the edge into some realm where ‘80s freestyle and Europop are still voguing in paradise. Britney, too, has spent some time there over the last few years, but Glory, her most complete album since 2007’s Blackout, reorients that sound to reside solely in a Parisian discotheque. She sings the deluxe edition’s striptease of a final track, “Coupure Électrique,” entirely in French (!); its lead-in, “If I’m Dancing,” though, mimics the same head rush Carly served. It’s already birthed dozens of memes for how shamelessly the song caters to Brit’s storied gay fandom. The song’s lyrics are total gibberish about Brit’s “chakra” (sure) being open, but meaningful prose is not why she’s been an earworm for nearly 20 years. The woman is a hit-making machine, and with “If I’m Dancing,” she’s just showing off. “If I’m dancing, I know the music’s good”? Accuracy of that big talk be damned, she’s not exactly wrong. I know this song feels good, at least. A few songs earlier, she ends “What You Need” with an offhand remark while the audio’s still recording: “That was fun.” Unapologetic fun and an appreciation for a type of music that never fully got the love it deserved here in the States, makes this song better than good. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

Bon Iver, “33 ‘GOD’”
I’ve been waiting for the Kanye influence to wash back into Bon Iver’s music, and next month’s cracked, astounding 22, A Million is looking like that moment. The new track “33 ‘GOD’” opens as a sea of sad robot voices and explodes into a surprisingly guitar-deficient rock stomp in the same way Radiohead exacted bombast and menace on Kid A’s “The National Anthem” by piling a cacophony of synths and horns over frenetic drums and distorted bass. “33 ‘GOD’” isn’t a pulsating build like “National Anthem,” though. The low end repeatedly drops out to dramatic effect, leaving Justin Vernon’s high, lonesome vocals shipwrecked and floating. It was high time Bon Iver Got Weird; 22, A Million continues to bring it. —CJ

Angel Olsen, “Sister”
Angel Olsen’s unique and expressive voice makes pretty much any song she sings affecting. But “Sister,” the sprawling track from her upcoming third studio album My Woman, uses more than just Olsen’s pipes to move you. The song’s wistful reflections unfurl unhurriedly over its nearly eight-minute run time, until a euphoric guitar outburst takes over where words fail. Thankfully, Olsen’s still there after the reverb settles for a final whisper of the song’s refrain to ease you slowly out of blissful sonic catharsis. —Samantha Rollins (@SamanthaRollins)

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