1. Gorillaz ft. Vince Staples – Ascension
Out of the four Gorillaz songs that dropped on Thursday night, this is my favourite. Vince Staples’ harsh, aggressive style combines with some hyperactive production to form one of the most unique tracks of the year. The final verse is especially powerful, with Staples spitting “Where you can live your dreams ‘long as you don’t look like me / Be a puppet on a string hanging from a f**king tree” over a dirty industrial buzz.
2. Perfume Genius – Slip Away
Mike Hadreas, who performs under the moniker Perfume Genius, has always excelled in producing some of the most beautiful ballads around. His most recent album, Too Bright, saw him broadening his sound significantly, taking his soft, piano-driven songs to new heights, sometimes rocky, sometimes electronic. His new single is every bit as anthemic as his previous hit Queen, hinging on a lovely melody, explosive guitars, and tribal drums.
3. The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions
This is four minutes of synth-pop perfection. The New Pornographers keep it simple, sticking to only a few chords throughout, but this is not a complaint. The production is wonderful, shimmering synths cutting through the relentless drums, building to a soaring crescendo, and the vocal melodies are infectious and inventive; the harmonies on the chorus are life-affirming.
4. Kendrick Lamar – The Heat Part 4
A new Kendrick Lamar track is now one of the biggest events in music. The opening verse of this teaser for his upcoming LP starts on a fairly similar note to To Pimp A Butterfly, with a heavy jazz influence, although the production here is notably murkier. However, the second, epic verse seems to forecast Kendrick’s new direction. It’s sparse and uncompromising, Kendrick venting his anger over little more than some incredibly deep bass. A promising look at what will inevitably be one of 2017’s biggest albums.
5. Mount Eerie – Forest Fire
After Phil Elverum’s wife died of cancer, he coped the only way he could: through his music. His new album, A Crow Looked At Me, is one of the most devastating you will ever hear. Sometimes tuneless, sometimes repetitive, it can be hard to digest, and most definitely seems hard to evaluate critically; it’s too personal. Forest Fire is one of the hardest hitting tracks of them all. The lyrics are simply incredible, Elverum grasping with the passing of time, the inevitability of death, the cruelty of nature. This isn’t an album to put on in the background. It demands your full attention, and isn’t even “enjoyable” as such, but it’s a must listen.
Listen to the PearShaped Listening Post #21 Playlist below.