Mitski – Puberty 2

Puberty 2

A few days after the plaudits started rolling in for “Your Best American Girl”, Mitski decided to post a little exposition of the song on Facebook. She’d noticed that a lot of reviews had “agreed on a narrative that “she wrote this song to stick it to ‘the white boy indie rock world’!” but I wasn’t thinking about any of that when I was writing it…” Of course she acknowledges the borrowed tropes, the nods to Orientalism, the male gaze, and so on. She understands that writers have to “decide on a theme” from which to hang their own ideas. She gets it. It’s just that “Your Best American Girl” is a love song, and every reference to gender and race and nationality is a single drop of rain beating a path to the ocean of that person will not ever love you the way that you love them. It comes from a place of unadulterated hurt, the kind that you start to couch in terms of a bereavement, because the lexicon of love is too pitifully inane to capture its spread. It is not a calculated sleight against cultural mores. This is a useful primer for Puberty 2.

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Samaris – Black Lights

Black Lights

You know the drill by now: minimalist future pop three piece, comprising the tried and tested set up of anxious knob-twiddler (Þórður Kári Steinþórsson, aka ‘Doddi’), vocalist who sounds like Bjork riding the mother of all comedowns (Jófríður Ákadóttir), and clarinet (Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir). Together, they set lyrics from 19th century Icelandic poems to skittery jungle beats and the kind of terse electronica that lesser hacks would probably describe as ‘glacial’. Now they’re releasing their first album in English, Black Lights, recorded between Reykjavik, Berlin, and somewhere in Ireland. Yeah, Samaris are pretty run of the mill. Did I mention one of them plays clarinet in the band?

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Esmé Patterson – We Were Wild

We Were Wild

The world could use a few more Esmé Pattersons. On her last outing, 2014’s Woman To Woman, the Denver songwriter built a record around one simple concept: the right-to-reply of some of pop’s most iconic (yet slandered) female characters, from Billie Jean to Jolene. It’s one of those ideas that’s so simple and radical at the same time, you immediately wonder how it hadn’t already been done to death. Supposedly, the whole thing was recorded in a day. For new record We Were Wild, Patterson’s own voice returns to centre stage, and the results carry an insidious charm of their own.

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The Kills – Ash & Ice

Ash Ice

At first glance, despite – or perhaps because of – their cosmopolitan glamour, The Kills appear to be a decidedly old fashioned proposition. Jamie Hince, he of the supermodel girlfriends and haircut reclaimed from the Cardiff Barfly’s 2005 heyday, still carries the same Lou Reid swagger, whittling the band’s blunt edges into something altogether more dangerous. Then there’s Alison Mosshart, her of the ink-black huskiness that made Jack White seem like the comic relief in The Dead Weather, a Nico in waiting. Fortunately for us, Ash & Ice continues to throw out all that lame, misogynist bathwater, while holding on to the rock’n’roll baby at the centre of their craft.

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Tegan and Sara – Love You To Death

Love You To Death

Against the odds, Tegan and Sara kind of rule the world now. Jack Antonoff, the guy from fun. and co-writer for the likes of Taylor Swift, recently described the phenomenon: “You would go into the studio with an artist and you’d be like, ‘What are you into lately?'” he says. “And they’d be like, Heartthrob. What kinda vibe do you wanna do? Heartthrob.” Now the Quins are reunited with pop genius Greg Kurstin (AdeleSia, countless others), are they about to go stratospheric with eighth album Love You To Death?

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Somewhere Tonight: a Beach House Retrospective in Six Dreams

“One thing Victoria and I can agree on is that our music is its own world. And, I think that’s very much what the ‘beach house’ feel is: going off to a different world. It’s not really a vacation; vacation for me is when you go away, but you’re still thinking about all the things you’ve left behind.”

– Alex Scally

Dream I: Auburn and Ivory

Victoria likes to sleep during the day, so that she dreams in warm colours; so that she wakes up at 4pm; so that the sweet sepia afterglow of the bonfires and apple orchards that scatter ashes and seeds through the scenery of her mind’s eye are briefly unanimous with the afternoon sun. Some days there are no pictures, just a particular warmth, or the scent of woodsmoke married with bourbon.

Today there is a ringing sound.

It calls out across the bonfire, and maybe it is the bonfire; every pitch slide and timbre feels like an auburn spark set to an starry night’s ivory flashes, flaring up as brightly as the echoes left behind it signal a darkness. It’s swirling round and round, there’s a fever to it now, and as the warm specks flicker up and fail, there’s another sound; a low, churning sound, like the mechanical waltz of a child’s music box. And suddenly it is a waltz, and suddenly the fire and the stars are flickering in unison, and they’re calling it a song.

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