Welcome to the Weekly Fiver, where I’ll pick five recently released songs of varying degrees of quality and thoroughly break them down for you. No two songs will be on the same tier, and they’ll be listed from best to worst. The top song will be an excellent must-hear tune, while the bottom song will be one you ought to stay away from or else you will make your ears sad. It’s all very scientific.
Most contemporary love songs are just a series of generic platitudes and vague declarations of devotion. There’s a bank of about 50 words that artists dip into and make their lyrics with. To add to the interchangeable nature, the perspective is always the same as well- that of someone in a relationship that is either going really well or not so well.
“Adore” is the heart wrenching sound of Amy Shark pining away for an unrequited love, a late night ballad thrown over a woozy guitar hook and a leisurely hip hop beat. Shark speaks directly from the heart, but it’s never accusatory or bitter. She simply celebrates tiny moments with her object of affection, relaying the entirely relatable experience of magnifying every interaction when in the throes of love. The simplest brush of your arm against theirs becomes the stuff of legend; you’ve got a permanent set of rose-coloured glasses on. The sincerity dripping from Shark’s voice when she delivers these and other sentiments is very evidently genuine, especially when she sings the words “I adore you”. It’s a pure expression of emotion that makes every other pop song sound like it was written by a Hallmark card committee.
Pretty Decent Song of the Week
One of the most common adjectives used in conjunction with Ryan Adams is “prolific”. The man is well-regarded as a songwriting machine, constantly putting out material either under his own name, with his band the Cardinals, or vicariously through other artists. Though the flow of his output has slowed slightly in recent years, it’s obvious now that he has a vault of thousands of songs.
“Juli” comes from a collection of B-Sides not released off this year’s Prisoner– 17 songs that didn’t make the cut to join the 12 that were ultimately picked. That means Adams recorded a staggering 29 songs; who knows how many ideas weren’t put to tape?
The song itself is a classic Adams wanderer, bathed in summery reverb and your standard songwriter imagery. A train ride at sunset thinking about wistful things…it’s par for the course. It would have made more sense to release at the tail end of summer, but nobody’s complaining about more Ryan Adams music sooner than later.
Meh Song of the Week
Ok well the album Visuals out and it’s pretty disappointing. It’s the first Mew record without a single standout track, although there are a few average tracks and one slightly above-average track which we’ll take a listen to in a future recap. For now let’s stick with this song, which would actually be really great if it weren’t for one section in the chorus. Not only are the two chords an ill fit, but the lyrics over them are supremely silly. Mew’s always had bizarre lyrics but it’s hard to get into the dark feel of the song when Jonas Bjerre is singing “Your parents are legal/Your parents are lethal”, especially since it also sounds like he’s saying “Your parrot’s an eagle”. If that one small two-chord section was excised from the song, it would be an instant hit. But no, it has to be self-sabotaged.
Below Average Song of the Week
Seven years after their last record, the Toronto roots-reggae crew are back sounding…like everyone else. A falsetto pop hook, jazzy brass, hand claps- it’s all pretty run-of-the-mill indie radio fare and will probably do well commercially. It’s listenable, but it totally erases everything the band did well and should have kept doing. Leave this sort of genre-gentrifying stuff to the Arkells of the world.
Disappointing Song of the Week
Ah, shoot. No “going back to his origins” here. The one time chillwave champion and italo-disco sampler goes full 90s house with this song and it sounds ultra cheesy. You know what it sounds like? It’s as if band mastermind Ernest Greene was forced to play at a fashion runway gala and his performance was recorded live with all the din of the audience caught on tape. There’s strange bursts of a crowd cheering and even vapid socialites laughing in the background. His trademark vaseline smeared vocals are still there, but they’re laid over a completely disparate beat. It’s garish and only gets more embarrassing as the track continues. Sad!