Here’s Artsweek’s selection of the best tracks to come out of February 2020!
“Automatic Driver” by La Roux
Accompanying the recent release of the album “Supervision” by Elly Jackson, better known as La Roux, is “Automatic Driver”: a perfectly simple yet incredibly endearing track with a catchy sound reminiscent of ‘80s pop. With lyrics like, “Too many times we’ve been high/Then we’ve landed/Oh, that smile that you hide/Leaves me stranded,” La Roux tragically captures what it is like to be in a relationship where there is a lack of commitment or reciprocated effort. What makes this single so successful is that despite its simplicity, “Automatic Driver” maintains a complex, strong contrast between heartbreaking lyrics and upbeat music as La Roux documents her struggles in dealing with an uninterested lover.
“At The Door” by The Strokes
After four years of complete silence and seven years since their last album release, The Strokes have finally returned with new music in anticipation of their upcoming album, “The New Abnormal,” which will be released on April 10. Their first single, “At The Door,” is an invigorating change from their classic hazy ‘70s rock sound; but don’t fret — even with the change to more modern pop in this song, Julian Casablancas’s dreamy voice keeps the music intact and similar to their classics. The lyrics themselves aren’t cries for help, but instead, in a distressed tone, they convey messages of hopelessness. One of the most captivating melodies of the song is around the 3:40 mark, giving off both church choir and “Midsommar” vibes. The verse ends with a melancholy yet optimistic persistence to exist: “I’ll be waiting from the other side/Waiting for the tide to rise.”
“Dragon Ball Durag” by Thundercat
In anticipation of the release of his new album “It Is What It Is” in April, Thundercat recently dropped a new single, “Dragon Ball Durag,” on Feb. 17. The track features groovy melodies, soulful vocals and jazz music set to lyrics like, “I may be covered in cat hair/But I still smell good.” Building off of the signature funkadelic sound of his previous album, “Drunk,” Thundercat proves once again that he can make you move and groove to just about anything.
“Let’s Be Friends” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Singer and dance-pop powerhouse Carly Rae Jepsen excels when creating music that reflects the blooming and subsequent withering of her relationships; her latest release, “Let’s Be Friends,” marks another high in her flowering discography. The track is a sassy, antithetical response to the overplayed sentiment of Valentine’s Day, in which Jepsen cuts straight to the chase after a breakup, confidently responding, “Let’s be friends, then never speak again.” Backed by flamenco-inspired guitar progressions, an instrument uncommon in her catalog, the singer unabashedly celebrates the end of a relationship, expressing an annoyed exhaustion at the fizzling-out phase following heartbreak. The best part about this song is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and successfully fulfills its one and only purpose: to be an unapologetic Anti-Valentine’s Day pop banger.
“Blueberry Faygo” by Lil Mosey
Although not officially released until earlier this month, Seattle-based rapper Lil Mosey’s latest release has already been widely circulated among fans thanks to both SoundCloud leaks and TikTok. Commonly alluded to in hip-hop records, “Blueberry Faygo” references a soft drink company based in Michigan. The breezy, melodic track samples “My, My, My” by Johnny Gill and has an extra verse not featured in the leaked recording. This viral track has definitely built momentum for Lil Mosey ahead of the release of his next album.
“Tập thể dục nè (Do Exercise)” by Kiên
Many people view exercise as a dreadful process — and let’s face it, staying home and watching Netflix sounds much more appealing than sweating your butt off on the treadmill. However, Kiên, an underground Vietnamese rapper, has recently reminded us that exercise doesn’t have to be stressful if you keep an open mind. The song has a soft, dreamy and cheerful melody, combined with Kiên’s energetic rap and inspirational lyrics encouraging young people to wake up, go outside and enjoy the world. Besides promoting physical exercise, Kiên also challenges us to exercise our minds and to acknowledge that good things take time and effort and that if you really commit to change, “Heaven and Earth couldn’t even stop you.” Overall, the song is a great reminder to celebrate your youth to the fullest with great physical and mental health by standing up and venturing out into the exciting world.
“Texas Sun” by Khruangbin and Leon Bridges
The collaboration between soul singer Leon Bridges and instrumental rock group Khruangbin is entirely unexpected and yet whole-heartedly fulfilling. With “Texas Sun,” Khruangbin offers a beautiful landscape of dreamy guitars and smooth percussion for Bridges to coast through and lend his powerfully nostalgic voice. The track is a must-hear for alternative rock fans this month, as well as the four-track EP it opens of the same name.
Kristina Valencia, Liliana Linan, Aubrey Valerio, Justin Carrasco, Sunidhi Sridhar, Phoenix Pham and Karl-Erik Mills contributed to this article.