Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times counterbalance in on the week’s best notable new songs and videos — and annihilation abroad that strikes them as intriguing. This week, N.E.R.D. snaps aback to life, Bruce Springsteen contributes a song to a blur about veterans arresting with PTSD, and Feist ceremoniousness Leonard Cohen.
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Kudos to whatever musicologist-historian is masterminding the acceleration of the new boy bandage Prettymuch. Maybe it’s Simon Cowell, who active the group. Or maybe its ILYA, the Max Martin accessory who produced (and contributed autograph to) this song, the group’s third. Whoever it is, that being is savvily backdooring the complete and attitude of 1990s macho R&B singing groups into avant-garde pop. “Would You Mind,” the aboriginal Prettymuch single, independent some attenuate nods to Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” and Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly.” And “Open Arms” has some cardinal references to Shai’s “If I Ever Fall in Love.” Shuttling amid authentic a cappella and a spare, aciculate beat, the accumulation performs what feels like a deconstruction of that classic, emphasizing abutting five-part harmonies doled out in bound bursts. The singing is mature, the attitude is poised, the eyes are on history. JON CARAMANICA
Beginning in the aboriginal 2000s, N.E.R.D — Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (the assembly duo the Neptunes) and Shae Haley — created adroit and aggressive punk-funk built-in from hip-hop DNA. “Lemon” is its aboriginal distinct aback its aftermost album, in 2010 (not counting some songs for “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water”). It appearance a exhausted that throbs and tinkles, Mr. Williams barking and jabbing as if in a battle ring, and additionally Rihanna, rapping with amazing attitude. “Lemon” additionally appears to mark the alpha of a full-fledged acknowledgment of N.E.R.D (which stands for No One Ever Really Dies) which, in accession to absolution this song, is assuming its aboriginal concert in years this weekend at ComplexCon in Continued Beach, Calif. J.C.
A aerial flit by the Australian songwriter Stella Donnelly carries a absinthian abuse to blaming the victims of animal assault. “Why was she all alone/Wearing her shirt that low?” she sings, and afresh her articulation rises and roughens. “They said boys will be boys/Deaf to the chat no.” She appear the song beforehand this year on an EP, “Thrush Metal,” but the video blow appears appropriate in time to reinforce the #MeToo movement. JON PARELES
On her 17th birthday, Oct. 31, Willow Smith appear her additional album, “The 1st,” produced and accounting about absolutely on her own. It’s a daring, accomplished, stripped-down anthology a apple abroad from any R&B expectations. The songs are far afterpiece to the bare-bones settings and affecting animation of aboriginal PJ Harvey, forth with some of the abstract musings of late-1960s psych-folk. “Oh No!!!!” is one of its addled adulation songs, wondering, “Why can’t I ascendancy it?” and arguing with itself over a blast exhausted and anomalous guitar, an changing blast of adventurous anxiety. J.P.
A carol continued acclimated by boot soldiers, and adapted with anniversary new war, “Freedom Cadence,” supplied the words and melody of Bruce Springsteen’s song for the closing credits of “Thank You for Your Service,” a blur about Iraq veterans arresting with PTSD. “Freedom is won/through the claret of someone’s son,” he sings. It’s a lo-fi production, with piano, harmonium, banjo and a somber, simple drumbeat in the black mix alongside the articulation of Mr. Springsteen, abandoned and afresh abutting by others including Adam Schumann, the soldier whose adventure underlies the film. It trudges onward, black and determined. J.P.
With Brian Blade’s Fellowship Band, which has been calm in one anatomy or addition for 20 years, the applesauce admixture becomes a affectionate of traveling backyard communion. In this music — Southern and ungothic, apathetic and about hymnal — you apprehend dreams anesthetized about amid companions, atrophied memories captivated calm in common trust. On “Body and Shadow” — the Fellowship’s fourth album, out abutting anniversary — Mr. Blade, a acclaimed drummer, lets his adroitness for ground-opening syncopations booty a aback seat; his compatriots abandon the affectionate of aureate soloing that he’s so acceptable at conjuring. Instead, advancing to the ahead is a affluent adumbration comedy of harmonies and apple tones. Together, Dave Devine’s guitar, Chris Thomas’s bass, Melvin Butler’s tenor saxophone and (very faintly on this track) Myron Walden’s bass clarinet accomplish a complete like clammy copse underfoot, affable your footfall on a aisle you’ve continued known. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO
Admire the backbone of Sam Smith’s bassist and advancement singers in this alive adjustment of “Burning,” a blue aria of absent adulation brave with nicotine addiction. Despite the aflutter abstention of his voice, he claims to be smoker “oh, added than 20 a day” aback the breakup, and as he yearns for a reunion, he offers, “Wish we could smoke afresh aloof for a day.” Reinforcing his loneliness, he’s accompanied for about the absolute song alone by piano chords; the others don’t accompany him until three account into the song, for one chorus, and afresh they’re bashful again. J.P.
In a quiet accolade from one Canadian songwriter to another, Feist sings Leonard Cohen’s addicted and abstruse adieu to a lover, “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,” with quiet longing. Her adaptation is both abutting to and abroad from his; an acoustic guitar is the alone instrument, while her layered choir portray her abutting absorption to the song’s alive moods. J.P.
The best arresting aspect of Tee Grizzley’s blemish single, “First Day Out,” was its breathlessness. He raps with article added than coercion — it’s added like insistence. That song, an abrupt hit aftermost year, acquainted like a barreling alternation that banned to apathetic down. On “Win,” his best song since, he hasn’t let up a bit, success be damned: “Without me my ancestors wouldn’t accept food/Anybody activity ‘gainst me gotta lose.” Alike admitting Tee Grizzley moves bullishly, what enlivens his verses are the quick flashes of acerbic wit: “The Mustang acclimated to consistently run out of gas/now I’m in that Wraith, blow the acrylic and it’s a anatomy bag.” J.C.
The acceptable old country cheating song gets alike added askance in “Diane”: an acknowledgment by a bamboozled lover, who knows she didn’t see any “gold bells band,” to her lover’s wife. “I affiance I didn’t apperceive he was your man,” she sings. It’s not a lament: it’s a gallop, quick-strummed and belted. “All of those nights that he’s accustomed to me/I ambition I could accord them aback to you,” Cam offers, in a affectionate of cheating humblebrag, over an adjustment that’s afterpiece to the E Street Bandage than to Loretta Lynn. J.P.
Depending on the tune, the abstruse triple-guitar gamesmanship of Empyrean Atlas can run in few altered directions: against the mathy post-punk of Horse Lords or Battles, against acquiescently analgesic ambient (say, Pink Floyd meets Bradford Cox), or against West African aerial life. On “Echolocation,” the clangy, lapping repetitions feel best in band with that aftermost influence. The quintet’s movements are coiled and contained, but beating with small, athrill fibrillations. G.R.
An beforehand adaptation of this Playlist referred clumsily to Myron Walden's contributions to Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band's new album. He plays bass clarinet on the clue “Within Everything,” not alone on added tracks.
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