I took last week off, but I am (as they say) back with the week's best new songs.
Princess Nokia – “Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T.)”
Destiny Nicole Frasqueri isn’t the “Tomboy” she presented herself as on 1992 Deluxe a few years back. The newly glammed rapper squares off against her female foes, as is the fashion these days, while, as is no less the custom, insisting she’s above such petty squabbles. But while she may have slightly homogenized her persona, the clickety track’s brass and choirs offer enough idiosyncrasy to compensate, and Nokia not only calls out domestic abusers but remains proud of the time she doused a racist loudmouth on the L train with hot soup.
Soccer Mommy – “lucy”
When it comes to conveying the drearier emotions, craft is underrated. Sophie Allison is just leagues ahead of her sullen peers at reconfiguring ’90s alt/indie sounds to express sadness rather than just signify it. A pleasantly chiming guitar sets you up, then a second webs out discordantly like a Wowee Zowee coda as Allison shirks from a mean girl whose terrors are of mythological proportions. And refusing to uppercase the name of her nemesis is a beautifully passive-aggressive move.
Bali Baby – “Miss CEO”
The Atlanta-based rapper mmmmwahs her way underneath your girl’s top then leaves her texts on read, boasting about everyone who’s “all up on my weiner” as though she’s exhilarated rather than exasperated by the hating and the drama. Which is always the trick, right?
Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage – “In Certain Orders”
Lines like “We don’t know how to hear it but we think it’s what we don’t know how to say” have always made prolific LES lifer Lewis seem like a words-first (or at least words-most) guy. But the oddball ad hoc bands he’s worked with are proof that he’s in it for the music too. Here, the guitars establish A Flock of Seagulls as forgotten shoegaze grandfathers.
Slowthai & Denzel Curry – “Psycho”
The two artists (one from the U.K., one from the U.S.) behind two of the most distinctive rap records of the year team up over a Kwes Darko beat that chops up string arrangements Bernard Herrmann would’ve nixed as too melodramatic. Crazy man, crazy.
Fantasia – “Enough”
Ms. Barrino released a fervent new song this week called “Holy Ghost,” which I liked enough to send me back to this May single. The clincher for me? The warm, buzzy harmonics of the backing vocals, which are more sensual than sexual. In fact—and I do mean this as a compliment—they mostly remind me of the electrified blanket that my chiropractor straps on my neck and back to loosen my muscles before he readjusts my spine.
Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2019 playlist.