Drake is back with a vengeance on Scorpion, the Toronto rapper’s first output since last year’s blockbuster More Life. Florence + the Machine once again bestows on listeners a gift of an album, full of ethereal sentiments and her mesmerizing voice. Bayli busts out with a debut single that’s as confident and unapologetic as it is catchy. Liz Huett, a former Taylor Swift backing singer, has plenty of things to say for herself — and in perfect pop style, tinged with humor. And indie favorite Mitski finds a disco groove on new single “Nobody” off of her upcoming album, making a beautifully exasperated case for being alone.
Mitski, an indie rock singer-songwriter who opened for Lorde on her most recent tour, routinely switches gears from delicate to emotionally savage. On “Nobody,” the second single off her upcoming album Be the Cowboy, she finds a new mode: buoyant resignation to a dark reality. The disco-pop track is about as close as Mitski has come to mainstream radio fare, with its bubbly beat, toe-tap-ready high hat and her sweet croon recalling another era. But listen closely, and the lyrics are devastating. “I don’t want your pity, I just want you near me,” she admits, morose even as she sings with tender uplift. “And I know no one will save me, I’m just asking for a kiss / Give me one good movie kiss and I’ll be alright.” Like all the best dance songs, Mitski’s smartly catchy melody hides a story of loneliness despite it all, flecked with strains of both jubilant independence and despair.
“MYOB: Or Whatever,” Bayli
Bayli, a Brooklyn-born-and-bred singer-songwriter, is no stranger to the music world; she started performing as a student at the famed La Guardia High School before getting signed with her band The Skins. But now as a solo artist on her debut single “MYOB: Or Whatever” (that stands for “mind your own business,” by the way), Bayli lets loose with her own defiantly independent new sound. Co-written with pop music mastermind Justin Tranter, “MYOB: Or Whatever” defies categorization as Bayli swings between sing-rapping and a bombastic chorus over groovy guitar. As a summer jam, its carefree swagger is hard to beat. “Maybe when I sober up you won’t be so quick to judge,” she winks: “We can get back to falling in love.”
“Responsible,” Liz Huett
“Responsible” starts with a deep, exasperated sigh. Then it launches into the story: “There’s bourbon in the bathtub / eyelashes in the sink / I’m trying not to throw up on my thrift store mink.” You can imagine what follows. Liz Huett, a Nashville-trained artist best known up until now as a background singer for Taylor Swift, has Swift’s talent for narrative specificity when it comes to song. But her sound is all her own, a breathy rock ‘n’ roll take on pop that is as immediately catchy as it is deeply honest. If you’ve ever had a messy night out or found yourself making excuses for getting behind on the minutiae of adult life, Huett provides a relatable singalong — with a sense of humor over it all. “It could be worse,” she says, tongue in cheek: “I could be responsible.”
“8 Out of 10,” Drake
“As luck would have it, I’ve settled into my role as the good guy,” Drake raps on “8 Out of 10” off of his new double-side album Scorpion. “I guess luck is on your side.” The Toronto rapper changes his mind a few lines later, but this might be the ultimate Drake line: an admission that he is, indeed, a breed of hip-hop star willing to lean into the softer image that he’s courted over the course of his blockbuster musical career. “8 Out of 10” certainly is Drake in good guy mode, at least musically: it’s a gentle, lush beat and Drake is in no rush to get his lines out. After all, as he reflects in the track, he’s still on top of the game. The outro, a spoken clip from another artist, doubles down: “I don’t get paid to argue with you.” True, Drake, true.
“No Choir,” Florence + the Machine
On the closing track of her new album High as Hope, Florence Welch leans into the banality of sentimentality in stirring fashion. “And it’s hard to write about being happy / cause the older I get / I find that happiness is an extremely uneventful subject,” she reflects, a cappella. All you get is Welch’s pure voice, trilling a little as it trails away: “And there will be no grand choirs to sing / no chorus could come in about two people sitting doing nothing.” But the song, which comes in under three minutes, still builds to a satisfying orchestral peak. Just like everyday love, it’s a good reminder that so often happiness is in the little, lovely things.
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