What We’re Listening To This Week 04/13/17

“Slip Away” by Perfume Genius:


It’s tempting to read “Slip Away,” the first single from Mike Hadreas’ next album as Perfume Genius, as a sequel to his 2014 breakout track “Queen.” Lyrics like “Oh love/They’ll never break the shape we take/oh baby/let all them voices slip away” could easily be construed as “love who you want” rally cries reminiscent of his earlier single’s defiant homosexuality. But, then again, those same lyrics could seamlessly slide into the frattiest slice of EDM without turning any heads. In fact, there’s little in the way of lyricism to set this song apart from most mainstream pop music; by the time Hadreas sings the overused “If we only got a moment/Give it to me now,” his words could almost be a parody. And yet, they’re not; they’re dead serious. The real accomplishment of “Slip Away” lies in Hadreas’ ability to rescue his pop proclamations from banality by placing them atop shuddering behemoths of sound. The pummeling drums, metallic guitar tones, and industrial basslines that comprise much of the song’s sonic pallette transform his sugary power-pop into something physical, something visceral, something powerful. As a result, lines like “Take my hand, take my everything/If we only got a moment/Give it to me now” feel less like the hackneyed cliches they are, and more like urgent imperatives. As the song explodes into all of its noisy grandeur after the first chorus, everything suddenly makes sense. The song isn’t cliche; it’s reinvention. -Steven Norwalk


“Black Friday” by Kendrick Lamar/”Black Friday” by J. Cole:


Kendrick Lamar’s new album is slated to be released this Friday, April 14. We already got a preview of the new project with “HUMBLE.,” but the rest of the album remains a mystery. In anticipation of the album, I started to dig around Kendrick’s older music, where I rediscovered “Black Friday.” Kendrick released the song alongside a track of the same name by J.Cole on Black Friday, 2015. Both rappers freestyled over a remix of the other’s song, with Kendrick choosing “A Tale of 2 Citiez” off of 2014 Forest Hills Drive and Cole choosing “Alright” off To Pimp a Butterfly. Kendrick fiercely spits bars with a mad flow for almost 4 minutes that makes me almost prefer Kendrick’s verse on this beat over the original. Aside from, Kendrick killing it on J.Cole’s beat, J. Cole also delivers. Cole’s remix sounds a bit similar to “No Role Modelz”, and was also a hint at a collab that never dropped. In the final lines, J.Cole raps “When you and K.Dot shit drop?/…/But this February, bet shit get scary when I fuck around a drop-”. The track cuts off, teasing the listener with the idea of a collab. Sadly, one never came in February 2016. However, we can still bask in the glory of two grade A rappers exchanging beats and going to town, and I don’t even want to decide which version of “Black Friday” I like better. Go look this thing up on Youtube (not on Apple Music or Spotify), and get ready for this Friday. It’s gonna be awesome. -Kevin Chan


“Molasses” by Hiatus Kaiyote:


If this voice sounds familiar, it might be because Drake taps this band to kick off More Life with a little intro on “Free Smoke.” If this specific groove sounds familiar, it might be because Anderson .Paak samples this song on his Rhapsody-featuring “Without You” off of Malibu last year. But funnel your attention to the main event: Hiatus Kaiyote, an Australian, future-soul quartet, and also your favorite new band that you’ve been sleeping on for a few years now. On their website, they tag themselves as “multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic gangster shit.” Spot on. This track was first the closer to a 2014 EP, and then showed up again as the penultimate track on their album Choose Your Weapon the next year. “Molasses” coils the lead singer, Nai Palm’s voice and jazz instrumentation into a deft tagteam. Nai Palm calls this a breakup song, but says “I didn’t want to wallow in my suffering, because the thing is, when you document that, and then you overcome it, and then you have to perform it over and over again, you’re basically opening up a wound.” So she wrote it from the perspective of having already grown from the breakup. Fittingly, then, the intro vamps the mantra “might not get any better,” which feels untriumphant until it feeds into a verse of proud poetry, reflecting from a point of triumph. About three-quarters of the way through the song, it energizes towards a gut-punching climax of percussive shouts, which then surges into a final, splintered chorus stuffed with drum fills and vocal riffs. Nai Palm sometimes glides and sometimes pierces, and — with the rest of the band — is wild and tight at the same time. It’s truly some nasty funk. -Noah Franklin