songs of the week

5 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.

the xx, “Brave for You”
It’s always been hard to choose between the xx songs led by Romy Madley Croft and those led by Oliver Sim. There’s no real need to be torn, but we all have our preferences. Inevitably, I’m always drawn to Romy. “Brave for You” is her standout moment on an album full of similar emotionally heavy moments, but this one’s special. It’s personal, and so only she could sing it. Romy wrote the song for and about her deceased parents as both tribute and self-therapy, yet another outlet for healing. Romy has said she’s never fully dealt with the weight of losing both her mom and her dad before she was even 21 until this album. The wear and tear of internalized grief shows, as does the courage it took to push past the immediate impulse to want to retreat to the safety of silence when opening up about such immense loss. (The lyric “I will be brave for you, stand on a stage for you” is especially heartbreaking when you remember that Romy’s father died while she was touring with the xx.) The xx get knocked a lot for being too minimal and restricting, but there’s nothing bigger than giving your bandmate the space to sing and write through her fears. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

Aimee Mann, “Goose Snow Cone”
The last time we heard from Aimee Man it was 2012 when she released her album Charmer. Now it’s a different time and a different world, and Mann’s latest takes an appropriately more jarring title: Mental Illness. Our first taste of the singer-songwriter’s forthcoming work is in the form of “Goose Snow Cone,” a smooth, down-tempo number that tips off the thoroughly acoustic approach of Illness discussed by producer Paul Bryan. There’s plenty of gentle string accompaniment and fingerpicking to get lost in as you look into the face of Mann’s “goose snow cone.” —Jordan Crucchiola (@JorCru)

SZA, “Drew Barrymore”
Last year, SZA wanted us to believe her quick career had already come to its end. She reached her breaking point in a label standoff and warned that she would quit music for good. Good thing that was an empty threat. Her next album, CTRL, still doesn’t have a release date, but it at least has the impression of now being closer because she’s also got a new song named after Drew Barrymore. She’s talked about the song being an ode to Drew’s high-school romances like Never Been Kissed, but what she failed to mention is how much the mid-tempo ballad leans into her hidden country sensibilities. On first listen, it sounds like she’s singing “tell me I am woman enough for you,” which feels like a page torn out of Miranda Lambert’s songbook. The actual lyric is “tell me I am warm enough for you,” but there’s plenty of confessional writing dedicated to bullshit gendered expectations. (“I’m sorry I’m not more attractive / I’m sorry I’m not more ladylike / I’m sorry I don’t shave my legs at night / I’m sorry I’m not your baby mama” — she need never apologize.) SZA wears her spite like armor to keep intruders from piercing through to her crippling insecurities underneath. It all makes for an unconventional slow dance at prom, but find me a teen that wouldn’t relate. —DL

Sampha, “No One Knows Me (Like the Piano)”
When you lose someone, bit by bit all memories attached to them fade. Sampha lost his mother in 2015 to cancer, but her piano from his childhood home remains the literal lasting key to keeping her close by. He tells us in his new song dedicated to her that she got the piano for the house when he was 3 years old and how it’s always been a part of his artistic journey. “You would show me I have something, some people call a soul,” he sings of both his mother’s ear and the way that piano acted a vessel for his talents. But as Sampha’s profile grew, the further he drifted away from that piano. He’s probably sat at dozens since, though none will ever compare to the original. To this day, as you can hear on this goosebumps-inducing (and obviously piano-driven) song, it unlocks the very soul his mom saw so early on within him. It was never just the piano that’s always known Sampha so well, but more so the woman who bought it for him in the first place. —DL

Black Coast feat. Remmi, “Feel Something”
If “Feel Something” wasn’t so wonderfully breezy, the lyrics would run the risk of pushing Black Coast’s new track into overly saccharine territory. But as it is, this track about shaking off the dust that comes from being emotionally sedentary with inspirational lyrics like, “Take the good and hold it near to you, and let go of all that burdens you” is actually just really sweet and pleasing. It manages to sonically evoke the feeling of acceptance, of moving forward because you know there’s something better out there then just relying on the safety of the present. Black Coast says it’s okay to choose you, so why not listen to some pretty music and give it a try? —JC

This Week’s Best New Music