• Fri. Sep 24th, 2021

Lorde’s Sunburst, and 10 More New Songs

Jun 11, 2021

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at [email protected] and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.

Lorde, ‘Solar Power’

About the last thing to be expected from a songwriter as moody and intense as Lorde was a carefree ditty about fun in the summer sun. “Solar Power,” the title song from an impending album, is just that, riding three chords and brisk acoustic rhythm guitar (and glancing back at George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90”) to celebrate hitting the beach, getting sun-tanned cheeks and tossing away her “cellular device”: “Can you reach me? No! You can’t,” she sings, and giggles. She has an offhand but attention-getting boast — “I’m kind of like a prettier Jesus” — and an invitation completely free of ambivalence: “Come on and let the bliss begin.” JON PARELES

Ava Max, ‘EveryTime I Cry’

Just to be certain, I have Googled and confirmed that no one has yet referred to Ava Max as Una Lipa. There’s still time. (This is a compliment.) JON CARAMANICA

Saint Jhn and SZA, ‘Just for Me’

A beat ticks along behind slow-pulsing synthesizer chords as Saint Jhn appears, claiming lovelorn angst but safely distancing it with Auto-Tune. But when SZA arrives, a minute and a half in, her voice leaps out. Like him, she proclaims a desperate, dangerous infatuation. Unlike him, she sounds like she means it. PARELES

PmBata, ‘Favorite Song’

Endlessly cheerful lite-pop-soul, “Favorite Song” is a bopping strut from PmBata, toggling between singing and rapping, though less hip-hop-influenced than his earlier singles like “Down for Real.” The come-ons are a little frisky, but the attitude is never less than sweet. CARAMANICA

Jomoro featuring Sharon Van Etten, ‘Nest’

Jomoro is the alliance of two percussionists turned songwriters: Joey Waronker, Beck’s longtime drummer, and Mauro Refosco, a David Byrne mainstay. Of course they need singers, and they have assorted guests on Jomoro’s album, “Blue Marble Sky.” Sharon Van Etten provides sustain and suspense on “Nest,” singing about “the darkest corner, the back of the mind” over a steadfast march of synthesizer tones textured with bells, shakers and hand drums: physical percussion to orchestrate a mental journey inward. PARELES

Clairo, ‘Blouse’

It was inevitable that current bedroom-pop songwriters would discover the hushed intricacies of predecessors like Elliott Smith and Nick Drake. Clairo embraces both, recalling Smith’s whispery vocal harmonies immediately and Drake’s elegant string arrangements soon afterward. She’s singing about a kitchen-table lovers’ quarrel and a situation neither man would think to portray: “Why do I tell you how I feel/When you’re just looking down my blouse?” PARELES

Esperanza Spalding featuring Corey King, ‘Formwela 4’

Over an eddying sequence of arpeggios plucked by Corey King on acoustic guitar, surrounded by the sounds of springtime, Esperanza Spalding sings in patient and gentle tones about long-term trauma, and about reaching out for support. “Wanna be grown and let it go/really didn’t let it go though,” she begins. When Spalding gets to the chorus, it mostly consists of one repeated line: “Dare to say it.” This track, released Friday, comes as part of Spalding’s Songwrights Apothecary Lab, an evolving project that imagines musical collaboration as a pathway toward healing. (It already yielded a suite of three powerful tracks, created with other prominent musicians and released earlier this year.) She and King wrote “Formwela 4” in response to a simple challenge: “Say what is most difficult to say between loved ones.” GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble featuring Perfume Genius: ‘A Fullness of Light in Your Soul’

The Minimalism-loving Hypnotic Brass Ensemble has rediscovered “Sapphie,” an EP that was released in 1998 by the prolific English musician Richard Youngs and rereleased in 2006 by the Jagjaguar label, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary with left-field, interdisciplinary collaborations. Youngs’s original version was a stark acoustic meditation, just quiet fingerpicking behind Youngs’s high, breaking voice, with musings like “Sometimes it’s better never than late/and there’s a spareness of days” and “Happiness leaves everything as it is/and the future isn’t anything.” Hypnotic Brass Ensemble adds inner harmonies and orchestrates them with Philip Glass-like motifs for brass and woodwinds and surreal reverberations as Perfume Genius sings in a rapt falsetto, trading Youngs’s solitude for immersive depths. The video — perhaps taking a hint from the song’s first line, “working around museums,” shows the visual artist Lonnie Holley creating images with spray paint, twigs and wire. PARELES

Julian Lage, ‘Squint’

The gangly, big-boned drum style on this track might be recognizable — particularly to fans of the Bad Plus — as the sound of Dave King when he’s having fun. The drummer is heard here in a newish trio, led by the virtuoso guitarist Julian Lage, and featuring Jorge Roeder on bass. “Squint,” the title track from Lage’s Blue Note debut, begins with the guitarist alone, causally demonstrating why he’s one of the most dazzling improvisers around; then King comes in and things cohere into that lumbering swing feel, held together by Roeder’s steady gait on the bass. RUSSONELLO

Poo Bear, ‘The Day You Left’

Poo Bear (Jason Boyd), a songwriter and producer with Justin Bieber, Usher, Jill Scott and many others, shows his own achingly mournful voice in “The Day You Left.” He’s a desperately long-suffering lover who knows he’s been betrayed for years, but still wants his partner back. The production, by a team that includes Skrillex, keeps opening new electronic spaces around him, with celestial keyboards in some, shadowy whispers in others. PARELES

NoCap, ‘Time Speed’

More glorious yelps from the Alabama sing-rapper NoCap, who, over light blues-country guitar, is enduring some push and pull with a partner. “I might be gone for a while, just write,” he urges, but confesses he’s not in the driver’s seat. If she feels compelled to stray, he says, “just don’t hold him tight.” CARAMANICA

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