I would be remiss as a music blogger if I didn’t comment on “Your Power,” the new single by pop singer Billie Eilish. It’s an enormous departure for the 19-year-old. Her debut studio album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, was dark and introspective: even the cover is extremely creepy.
So far, her new album, the forthcoming Happier Than Ever, is much brighter – literally. The album cover is soft gold and Eilish has traded her green-and-black hair for blonde. It even has an old Hollywood feel, what with Eilish’s vacant expression and the font choice. “Your Power,” the album’s third single, exemplifies the new direction she’s headed in. The song is backed by meandering acoustic guitar, rather than the tight electronic beats of her previous album. Elilish’s voice sounds much more mature, which is fitting for the song’s content. She describes how the nameless subject abuses their power, specifically when it comes to mistreating young women. It’s incredibly haunting. “Your Power” features the lyrics “how dare you/and how could you.” They hit all the more deeply because Eilish isn’t yelling. She’s speaking directly to the song’s subject, but she could also be speaking to us. How do people in positions of control behave – how should they behave – and do we hold them accountable when they take advantage?
This one is a different genre than I usually listen to, but it’s so, so good. Suzzy Roche and her daughter Lucy Wrainwright Roche have recorded a lovely folk song called “I Can Still Hear You.” It is such a soft and cozy number. Their voices blend together in a light, airy harmony that’s sustained by gently strumming guitar. The up-and-down rhythm of the guitar, as steady as the rocking of a boat, matches the lyrics perfectly. “I Can Still Hear You” describes how time carries us all forward and how we’re often surprised to find that it does. Yet the “you” of the title is still there, either as a figure of the past or a relationship from the present. They ask something interesting of that “you” early on: “remember me too.” Their connection to this “you” will always be a constant. Maybe they’re hoping it’s reciprocal.
I think it’s the perfect release for COVID times. Being stuck inside makes us naturally turn inward and think about the past. We wonder whatever happened to so-and-so; we think about when we were able to go and do things. The Roches sing about that: “remember…the parts that you saved” and “how the summer behaves.” Oh, the times when summer meant being, you know, in the sun.
Until then, you can listen to this daydreamy song and enjoy the self-reflection:
Terrible Records is an indie label with a deceptive name. One of their artists is Alaska Reid and her latest album Big Bunny has an excellent song that I’d like to focus on today: “Oblivion.”
First of all, Alaska has a beautiful voice. I don’t use that word lightly, especially since I know it gets thrown around a lot. It is so mature, somehow solid, even, and slots perfectly between the light crunch and snap of the song’s electronic beat. I love the way her voice stands its own ground during the chorus – “you and I, c-come on, somewhere in oblivion” – without getting lost in the rising waves of its synths. I do like how she allows herself to fall into a vocal fry occasionally because that makes her sound real and self-aware. She’s not straining herself unnecessarily. Her voice has echoes of King Princess, without the mumblecore. I also found comparisons between Alaska’s sound and Lorde’s, especially when it comes to the lyrics, specifically the lines about drinking PBR and talking about scars. “Hollow like the bottles that we drain,” anyone?
Speaking of those lyrics: they’re haunting when you give the song another listen. (I got lost in her voice so I had to reexamine the song a few times.) Alaska is talking about the ghosts of her past and wondering whether she really is better off without them, or if she hates herself for being unable to let them go. There is an excellent tension within the song between chasing after those ghosts and trying to leave them behind. I also loved Alaska’s description of meeting someone in the “pine trees and sweet grass.” It evokes a quiet, secret place where past and present mix.
Above all, this song is so incredibly catchy. Give it a listen and don’t be surprised if it ends up on repeat for you, too:
If you’re on Spotify and don’t follow your “Release Radar” picks, what are you doing with your life?
Jokes aside, it’s been a great discovery tool for me. A recent song that I found through there is “How to Move On” by THE WLDLFE and it’s been on repeat lately. So me being me, I wanted to talk about it!
It might be a little bit surprising that I like this song so much. It’s written from the perspective of a slouchy, jilted guy who from the get-go asks us why we’re questioning his masculinity. The appeal of the song is all in the contrasts. It opens up so bouncily despite the Nice Guy opening.
I also love the line, “It takes more than just a flex to be strong.” That seems like a winking self-awareness. The whole song oscillates between this confidence before the narrator drifts back into self-doubt: “I’m learning from the times that I’m wrong/One day you’re here, the next one you’re gone/And you leave me alone/Tell me how to move on.”
I think the title of the song captures this tension as well. It says “How to Move On” as if to echo a self-help guide or affirmation, yet the chorus repeats the narrator’s request for us to help him move on from this relationship.
Unfortunately the song is left open-ended so we’ll never know if he did.
God, I love this song. There’s a calling in the distance that pulls you in from the beginning. Brandon Flowers’s vocals are what really got me, though. They’re soft and settle into describing the song’s subject before scaling to the top: “Doesn’t like birthdays, they remind her of why/She can go straight from zero to the Fourth of July.”
Now this is what we call a jam. The 1975’s new single “The Sound,” from their upcoming mouthful of an album I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, is a real winner. Listen here.
This one is off their album Committed to the Crime. A dark and ambient album name that fits a dark and ambient song! “Do You Feel It” starts off with a slow piano that has an echoey, empty feel reminiscent of most European club songs. (Or most European music in general, really.)
The piano quickly cuts into a nice electronic beat that provides subtle backing for Asya Saavedra’s strong, even defiant, vocals. She tells her subject that they’re “always talking” but “not playing.”
This was a really fun discovery from Stereogum the other day! This group is an electronic foursome from Melbourne, Australia. Their music has an 80s feel, which is especially obvious on “Rabbit Run.” CCD’s lead singer has a surprisingly deep voice, which definitely lends a nice atmospheric weight to the song. His voice makes the band sound a little like Simple Minds: that same deep, disaffected voice paired with an atmospheric set of synths.
The video for “Rabbit Run” is pretty interesting, too. It’s set in an abandoned mall, which made me think of all those “abandoned places/malls” posts that were so popular awhile ago. The video’s setting seems to serve as a meta-commentary on themes that were raised in the book Bowling Alone or this recent article on the “death of the party.” As a society we’re retreating further and further into ourselves, our online worlds.
In terms of music video “plot,” you don’t get a clear idea of what’s going on until about halfway through. You notice that people are running through the mall, then you realize that the people are police and they’re chasing someone. The lyrics state, “Won’t you mind and turn the other way/Believe me I’m losing sense of it all/I won’t deny it/So rabbit run away.” At first you think that he’s talking about someone else. Then at the end of the video, the camera focuses on him running away. He becomes the rabbit: that same alienated soul that’s represented by the mall.