This week on Tracking––a weekly series in which we discuss our favorite songs of the year (you can check out the official list as the year progresses)––you can listen to additions from El-P, Florence + The Machine, Japandroids, How To Dress Well and MS MR. (Click on the arrows to navigate through the songs.)
El-P: $4Vic/FLT (1 of 5)
El-P raps like he is in a Cormac McCarthy novel. His impossibly dense verses are steeped in paranoia and menace, conjuring up a post-apocalyptic world where no one is to be trusted. On paper, it is unclear why such an agreeable man chooses to make music behind a uniquely fierce artistic guise. However, when listening to “$4 Vic/FTL” – or any of the the tracks on his exceptional Cancer For Cure – those questions become irrelevant. It is an El-P track and it is exactly what he wants it to be.
“$4 Vic/FTL” is the most ambitious track on the album and the most complete picture of Jaime Meline’s craft. Like much of El-P’s production, the track takes on a number of different shapes throughout. The opening segment builds a heavy cloud of tension. Synths sputter and snarl alongside a driving bassline and, before the drums drop, El-P’s lyrics set the stage: “there are ghosts here/ there’s a presence there’s a power/ for the tightrope over tank with the piranhas/ for the frazzled it’s a moment it’s a promise/ to be broke down to be lowdown to be honest/ another showdown with the woozy and the conscious.”
The main body of the track comes two minutes in and it showcases El-Producto’s ability to effectively blend elements of rock and hip-hop. The melodies soar and the verse, which almost reads like a suicide note, is made all the more epic. After this climax, however, the strangely touching outro starts to unfold. El-P, ostensibly speaking to the person that the song is dedicated to, says that “they can torture and interrogate/ and shackle to my boot/ I will gnaw off my own leg/ and the hop the fuck right back to you.” “$4 Vic/FTL” is an El-P love song, meaning that it is as terrifying as it is breathtaking. –– Drew Malmuth