songs of the week

8 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.

Jack White, “Battle Cry”
The latest development in Jack White’s somewhat bizarre relationship with baseball (exhibits A, B, and C) comes in the form of a surprise single that seems tailor-made to join “We Will Rock You” as the next ballpark song you tenuously clap along to while trying not to spill your beer. Raconteurs bass player Jack Lawrence and frequent White drummer Daru Jones provide a rigid backbone while the track wails and whines, periodically returning to a beat that sounds like the younger, dirtier sibling of Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho theme. The chaos is accented by enough handclaps to fill a minor league park, and bookended by chants performed by Native American performer and activist Anthony “Thosh” Collins. The last time White released an instrumental track, it was to announce a new album — but don’t hold your breath. All evidence points to this being a one-off promo. —Gabe Cohn (@gabescohn)

Harry Styles, “Sign of the Times”
Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much of a 13 Reasons Why and Riverdale cocktail, but lately my mind’s become fixated on high-school milestones like prom. There’s a scene in the first show where a young man aches to remember the name of the song he slow-danced to with his crush at their formal. His friend, who also DJ’d the soiree, pretends not to know. (Spoiler: He does.) It’s slow and brimming with the magic of romance, just what your prom slow dance should be. But if the show had waited just a few more weeks to premiere, I’d have replaced it with “Sign of the Times,” the debut solo single from Harry Styles. The urge to want to dismiss this song as ex-boy-bander schmaltz will be strong. Not that there isn’t plenty of vague emoting to at least chuckle at. But this song is too big to fail — it’s a mini pop-rock opera searching for peace amid a personal war that could be fought on the battlefields of high school. The desperation booming from Harry’s (still very good) voice is almost palpable. Prepare to hear this song at every prom, graduation, and teenager’s bedroom — where it belongs — for the foreseeable future. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)

Kevin Gates, “What If”
Much of Kevin Gates’s appeal has to do with his unflinching honesty. He has transcended vanity, and is a better artist for it. Gates is the kind of guy who has no problem using Twilight as the basis for an incredibly melodramatic song about forbidden love, so it’d be a stretch to say that “What If,” a new track that riffs on Joan Osborne’s 1995 coffee-shop staple “One of Us” was a complete surprise. With Gates’s honesty comes a sort of flattening of cultural touchstones — he’ll take whatever from wherever as long as it works in service of conveying his existential weariness. —Sam Hockley-Smith (@shockleysmith)

Exhibition ft. Julian Casablancas, “No One There”
Julian Casablancas could feasibly release a spoken-word track of him reading New York’s various yellow pages and I would still blare it on repeat. He lends his brooding vocal abilities to the chorus here, having recently signed the band Exhibition to Cult Records. It’s very good. And, thankfully, he’s not doing a falsetto. Baritone for life, baby! —Devon Ivie (@devonsaysrelax)

Palehound, “Flowing Over”
Ellen Kempner’s debut LP, 2015’s Dry Food, was a short yet sonically diverse first foray into the singer, songwriter, and guitarist’s witty, personal writing. Her songs tend to pack the punch of dark personal experience and observations while still sounding bubbly; they often go down like jello shots. On “Flowing Over,” the first track from Palehound’s upcoming second album, A Place I’ll Always Go, the production is bigger, and the band feistier than ever before, but a certain proud quaintness is still present. You can hear it in the “oh, oh, oh, oh’s” — the sound of a group that’s made it. —GC

Girlpool, “It Gets More Blue”
The lyrics “I faked global warming just to get close to you” is at once an honest, fresh admission of love, pretty funny, and a great idea for a zany sci-fi romantic comedy that Aubrey Plaza would probably star in. It’s also a standout moment from “It Gets More Blue,” the latest single from Girlpool, a duo that excels at writing small moments as huge world-changers. Though they’re a quintessential lyrics band, “It Gets More Blue” is built on a slacker-jangle guitar riff that sounds like the kind of ’90s indie record that never actually existed. —SH-S

Danger Doom ft. Black Thought, “Mad Nice”
Over a decade ago, Dangermouse and MF Doom made a collaborative album, a project that’s still almost too good to be true. Next month they’re reissuing it and, holy crap, there’s more from those sessions we hadn’t heard. They made a song with the Roots’ Black Thought and it finally exists for the rest of us. I could be corny and say it’s mad nice like the title says, but nice is an understatement. It’s signature rags-to-riches storytelling from Black Thought and bananas wordplay from Doom. Watch for the moment where he rhymes “hibachi” with “mirage” and just behold the master at work. —DL

Big Thief, “Mythological Beauty”
It feels weird to recommend quietly brutal songs like this, but here we are. If you’re not paying attention, “Mythological Beauty” passes by easily, but upon closer look: “I have an older brother I don’t know/he could be anywhere” and “If you wanna leave/you just have to say/you’re all caught up inside.” The track is full of small moments rendered vividly. The more you listen, the more you find. —SH-S

8 Best New Songs of the Week