This week on Tracking, a weekly series in which we discuss our favorite songs of the year, you can listen to additions from El-P, Lotus Plaza, When Saints Go Machine, Lemonade and Kindness.
El-P – “The Full Retard”
Thanks to his first Cancer for Cure single “The Full Retard,” we’re staging a parade for El-P’s return from his five-year hiatus. This song is as insanely good as it is insanely detailed, but even the word “detailed” is too 1. lame and 2. mild to really do justice to what El-P’s done here – verses that refuse to let up from start to finish (the last word is “post-haste,” which seems telling of both the whole thing’s unrelenting speed and El-P’s smart, snappy vocabulary of rhymes), an underlying drone that buzzes like a swarm of bees over a hilarious, amazingly edited array of vocal samples and pounding, bit-crushed percussion. The final product is a disorienting schizophrenic mélange of, thrillingly, everything at once, the ultimate internet-age hip-hop song.
LOTUS PLAZA – “Strangers”
Deerhunter’s ace guitarist, producer and songwriter, Lockett Pundt makes shoegaze-y, sleep-smeared dream-pop as Lotus Plaza. Pundt will follow-up his thoroughly solid first LP, The Floodlight Collection with Strange Action at a Distance (which happens to be the perfect description of his music). “Strangers,” the album’s first single, is staggering. Pundt has grown a lot as an artist since he released The Floodlight Collection, that much is obvious. A clear turning point was a song he wrote for his band’s 2010 album, Halcyon Digest; the mesmerizing and perfect “Desire Lines.” Though it was clearly modeled after it, “Strangers” is no “Desire Lines,” but it comfortably sits in the upper echelon of Pundt’s rich discography.
WHEN SAINTS GO MACHINE – “Hod Mig Igen” f/ Quadron’s Coco Malaika
Things that shouldn’t work: two Danish electronic acts collaborating on a sweeping, slow-burning cover of one of their countrymen’s adult contemporary R&B hit. Things that work – When Saints Go Machine and Quadron’s Coco Malaika covering Xander’s “Hos Mig Igen.” We love those spacey synth drones and WSGM’s own boys-choir vocals, but Coco makes this track, especially in those moments when she breaks into a Grimes-esque otherworldly falsetto – WSGM’s remixing of her chopped-and-screwed, distorted vocals toward the end is probably the song’s strongest moment, and one of the strongest moments we’ve heard in music this year. Start learning Danish so you can sing along.
LEMONADE – “Neptune”
Brooklyn’s Lemonade are putting out a new record, Diver, on True Panther later this Spring, and teaser track “Neptune” is a delirious slice of experimental R&B that’s absolutely spellbinding. It’s bittersweet, tropical film-noir that draws from shimmering chillwave-via-Ibiza synths, skittering, Nicolas Jaar-esque drum machine, and R&B’s confessional lyrical melancholia. But Lemonade blends all these disparate elements into something refreshing. We’re particularly in awe of the song’s latter half, those hallucinatory lyrics (“It’s you I see in everything…”) buried under barrages of synth drones. Diver is out May 29th.
KINDNESS – “Anyone Can Fall In Love”
The British producer Kindness’s first record World, You Need a Change of Mind is worth checking out even if you’re not into his nouveau-disco singles, because the record in its entirety sees him exploring a vast selection of electro tropes, from arthouse to funky tropicalia. Our favorite track might be a cover of an old 80s TV show theme song, “Anyone Can Fall In Love,” which takes the slow-burning, lighters-up groove of arty R&B, the liquid synth planes of Bear in Heaven’s recent material, some worldbeat-y edited guitar noodling, and way more choir vocals than we’re used to from anyone else we’d introduce as “British producer,” blending all these disparate elements into a thrillingly maximalist, endlessly re-listenable straight up jam. All we can do is applaud.