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Mac DeMarco’s “One More Love Song” Is a ...

It’s not likely many of Mac DeMarco’s songs have spurned a shed tear. Early in his career, he wrote goofball guitar pop about chain-smoking cigarettes and his girlfriend, never dipping too deep into his psyche. But lately, he’s flashed a streak of introspection, tackling his difficult relationship with his father and reckoning with the difficulty of success. “One More Love Song,” the latest dispatch from This Old Dog, is the closest he’s come to a true tearjerker. “One More Love Song” is a somber synth ballad, complete with the bluest chord progression DeMarco’s ever...
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Shabazz Palaces’ “Shine a Light” Is a Sc...

Listening to Shabazz Palaces—the duo of jazz-rap dynamo Ishmael Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire—forces conventional rap consumers to realign their thinking. Their new album, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star, continues their quest to explore the fringes. “Shine Light,” its first offering, is an introduction to the album’s titular character Quazarz, a “sentient being from somewhere else” stranded on our planet, surrounded by the “ethers of the Migosphere here on Drake world.” Told through wisps of soliloquy and waves of distorted vocoder, the song finds this...
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Phoenix’s “J-Boy” Is a Euphoric Return...

As Phoenix grew more popular, their music felt more populated, frantic and frenzied, like a time-lapse video of a busy downtown intersection. You could feel their blood pressure increase on the singles they released over the years—the causal Strokes-y strut of 2006’s “Consolation Prizes” gave way to the clock-ticking synth-pop of 2009’s “1901,” which begat the white-light synapse overload of 2013’s “Entertainment.” Indeed, the entirety of their last album Bankrupt! felt like the band was hitting a breaking point where exhilaration turned to agitation. So it’s nice to hear...
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The War on Drugs’ New Song Is an 11-Minu...

“Thinking of a Place” marks a subtle, focused return from the War on Drugs. Stretching out across 11 minutes, it is less a reintroduction than a reimmersion into Adam Granduciel’s spectral Americana. Nearly every aspect of the song is tenuous, either disappearing or located just beyond our grasp. Granduciel sings, “Love is like a ghost in the distance out of reach.” He warns us, “There’s a darkness over there/But we ain’t going.” He laments a lover who “vanished in the night” while he gazes at the Missouri River. The music shifts between ambient passages of synth and...
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Playboi Carti‘s “Magnolia” Will Be a Sum...

For someone with only a loose connection to A$AP Mob and, until recently, a small fistful of singles, the Atlanta-born rapper Playboi Carti might be gunning for the song of the summer. His self-titled debut mixtape dropped last Friday, and “Magnolia” is its easy standout. The song is titled after the infamous housing project and neighborhood in New Orleans where Southern rap royalty like Juvenile, Birdman, and Soulja Slim all once called home. In line with its geographical inspiration, “Magnolia” boasts a giddy New Orleans bounce beat, filled with booming grooves and...
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On “DNA.,” Kendrick Lamar Battles Fox Ne...

Throughout DAMN., Kendrick Lamar explores the constantly shifting relationships between pride and humility, love and lust, fear and faith. “DNA.” considers an even more delicate balance: how an impartial world views Kendrick’s blackness versus how he views his own. Produced by Mike WiLL Made-It, the song dissects the ways he has been shaped by these competing perceptions. “I know murder, conviction/Burners, boosters, burglars, ballers, dead, redemption/Scholars, fathers dead with kids,” he rattles off. “I wish I was fed forgiveness.” More than an unflinching personal...