5 brand-new releases we like: A pop advanced returns, an L.A. rap artist recuperates, and more

Illustration for article titled 5 new releases we love: A pop revolutionary returns, an L.A. rapper bounces back, and more

Image: Matthew Stone

There’s a lot of music out there. To assist you cut through all the noise, every week The A.V. Club is assembling A-Sides, 5 recent releases we think deserve your time. You can listen to these and more on Spotify


FKA Twigs, ” Cellophane”

[Young Turks, April 24]

FKA Branches’ 2014 debut album, LP1, reshaped pop music. It showcased a fully-formed artistic polymath unafraid to diverge from common-time percussive patterns, who crafted songs equally very little and overpowering. She followed it with the impressive, trunk-rattling EP M3LL155 X in 2015 and the carefully joyous 2016 ballad “Great To Love.” Today’s “Cellophane,” Twigs’ first tune because, mournfully reignites the sparsity of “Great To Love.” This is Twigs at her most terrible, where chiffon whispers, yearning falsettos, and awful vocal fragments meet slowly dissipating pianos and tense bass drums. The tune’s video, too, is another breakthrough from the recognized visual mastermind. As Branches pole-dances, battles demons, and spends more than a complete minute drastically falling under a primitive clay pit, she emerges from romantic disaster (” All covered in cellophane/ The sensations we had”) a stronger figure, an artist teasing a 2nd album possibly as revolutionary as her very first. [Max Freedman]


Nick Murphy, Run Fast Sleep Naked

[Downtown/Future Classic/Opulent, April 26]

Nick Murphy is king of the bleeding heart. He lets us know in plain speech just seconds into his brand-new album, Run Quick Sleep Naked, as a prologue; almost a caution label on the outside of a box covered in scarlet red text: “Fragile: Handle with Care.” This inflammation and vulnerability permeate Murphy’s latest release, his very first full-length given that 2014’s Constructed On Glass under his previous just-add-water pop-star moniker, Chet Faker. While the new album declares Murphy’s intrinsic knack for extraordinary songwriting with tightly built alt-folk hits like “Peace of mind” and “Dangerous,” it also displays a man forcibly captured in between both worlds and personas. On “Some Individuals,” Murphy’s mild crooning devolves into a thumping, glitchy soundscape which feels strongly dissonant for the sake of it. “Believe (Me)” appears to obtain from Bon Iver’s 22, A Million where yearning by means of vocoder increases emotional pitch, however in some cases at the cost of rhythm itself. Eventually, Run Quick Sleep Naked is Murphy’s unchecked catharsis, dithering between starry-eyed surprise and surprising heartache. It’s a rough trip, however still one worth taking. [Adam Isaac Itkoff]


Aldous Harding, Designer

[4AD, April 26]

Aldous Harding’s 2017 album, Party, was an extremely spare affair that mostly subverted its title, feeling more like a party of one staying in with the curtains drawn. At the same time, it validated Harding as one of folk’s most fascinating performers, with a particular singing command and a flair for surreally stirring lyrics. With manufacturer John Parish (PJ Harvey) back behind the boards, third LP Designer throws the shades open with fuller, bolder arrangements that cast Harding’s off-kilter beauty and skill in complete, glorious daytime. From the outset, Designer feels more ambitious: Harding’s tender lead vocal on opener “Fixture Image” is complimented by panoramic CSNY harmonies and twisting string parts, while her spirited subversions of type on “Designer” are backed by a warm blend of hand drums, wind instruments (or Mellotron?), and xylophone. More than just record the entertainer this time, Designer reflects her surplus of character. It’s thrilling to witness an artist this at-home in their craft. [Kelsey J. Waite]


We’re gathering our A-Sides suggestions over on a Spotify playlist updated every Friday. Tune in and subscribe here


Schoolboy Q, Crash Talk

[Top Dawg Entertainment, April 26]

It’s been three years considering that School child Q released his precious, sprawling Blank Face LP— so what’s he depended on? To hear him tell it, coming down into an abyss of downers and weed, recording and discarding some 3 albums in a Calabasas myopia. But Crash Talk‘s not about the fall; it has to do with the bounce-back. Q’s still an oddball MC, his shipment rounding into phlegmatic leers and unanticipated yips, but here it’s transported into sober ruminations (” Black Folk”) and moving, night-on-the-town largesse (” Lies”) as much as, you know, songs about fucking (” Chopstix”). Aside from Pusha T, no other rap artist has actually benefited as much from hip-hop’s newfound obsession with concision; at under 40 minutes, this is Q’s shortest effort by a mile. Some will miss his conventional late-album, acid-fried wanderlust, however its lack signifies a trimmer, more concentrated MC: both hands on the wheel and barreling down the highway. [Clayton Purdom]


Mountain Goats, In League With Dragons

[Merge, April 26]

The Mountain Goats earned some geek cred when they announced In League With Dragons at a Wizards Of The Coast event, the D&D makers’ headquarters working as the best setting for an album that began as “a rock opera about a besieged seaside neighborhood called Riversend ruled by a humane wizard.” That story, though, only threads through about half of the completed item, and a few of In League With Dragons‘ best songs are either totally separated from the fantasy components or just tangentially associated–” Passaic 1975,” for example, is a beautiful, heart-swelling ode to a young Ozzy Osborne, while baroque 7 For Australia sequel “Going Undetectable 2” finds transcendence in fire that might effectively have spilled from a dragon’s mouth. In League With Dragons remains a lively listen, though, with the screeching saxophone of ” Younger” and the gnarly riffage of “Cadaver Sniffing Dog” offering a serrated edge to the album’s majestic base of piano and percussion. And, as he’s proven in songs about Beowulf‘s Grendel and, think it or not, Super Mario‘s Toad, songwriter John Darnielle knows how to mine authentic resonance from even the most ridiculous characters, his distressed wizard exuding pastel tones of hope at the “huge wings blotting out the sun” of the melancholic title track. [Randall Colburn]

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Angie Ronson

Angie Ronson is Editor-in-Chief at THRS. She covers the transformative impact of new technology on all sectors.