The 10 Best New Songs

The early-2022 outpouring of new music kept going strong over the past week, with the likes of Jack White, Animal Collective, Beach House, Big Thief and Black Country, New Road all sharing new previews of much-anticipated releases. As it happens, picking out the cream of such an abundant crop is the kind of challenge we get up in the morning for. This week, that meant shining our spotlight on new songs from not only a few of the artists above, but also lesser-known acts like Fly Anakin and Junk Drawer. Get familiar with this week’s foremost must-hears below.

Animal Collective: “Strung with Everything”

The wait for Animal Collective’s first new album in the better part of a decade got easier this week—or more difficult, depending on how you look at it. “Strung with Everything,” released Wednesday along with a music video, is our third preview of the much-anticipated Time Skiffs, coming Feb. 4 on Domino. Directed by Abby Portner, sister of David Portner (aka Avey Tare), the cutout animated video for “Strung with Everything” follows the psychedelic existential epic’s rise and fall, pairing images such as a raindrop-speckled lake with its peaceful moments, and a wizard battling a dragon with its more tumultuous. Its abundant flow of colors and symbols is interrupted only by the occasional lyric throughout the track’s melodic sprawl. The song, like seemingly so much modern music, seeks connection amid calamity: “Let’s say tonight you and me / We’ll watch the sky fall into pieces […] And even though all hearts are strange / We’re all Strung with Everything.” —Scott Russell

Bambara: “Birds”

In press materials for Bambara’s latest mini-LP Love on My Mind, Reid Bateh recalls being influenced by famed New York club photographer Nan Goldin, whose candid photographs of the city’s colorful underground has remained an aesthetic landmark decades on. “Birds” is their version of a quick, washed-out snapshot of big city sensuality. Bateh’s throaty vocals and swanky guitars echo dimly lit clubs as he sketches out a hazy, hyper-stylized memory of fleeting intimacy birthed from the loneliness of isolation. It’s cinematic and sensual with a hint of despair, as Bambara crafts an exciting brand of noir-punk in a world desperate for a good show. —Jade Gomez

Big Thief: “Simulation Swarm”

The eighth (!) single released from Big Thief’s highly anticipated double album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You, “Simulation Swarm” might have felt like overkill if it weren’t so mesmerizing. A previously unreleased track that has been a live staple for the band, the song is driven by a positively hypnotic tangle of acoustic guitar and bass, with James Krivchenia’s percussion doing just enough to reinforce its insistent groove. A verse-heavy arrangement gives Adrianne Lenker plenty of room to unspool evocative lyrics like, “Once again, w? must bleed new / Even as the hours shak? / Crystal blood like a dream true / A ripple in the wound and wake.” Her meaning is elusive throughout, but feels informed by a lifetime of experiences, and the song’s refrain of “I wanna drop my arms and take your arms / And walk you to the shore,” which rubs elbows with a thrilling Buck Meek lead guitar line, is as beautiful and mysterious as anything Big Thief have released. —Scott Russell

Black Country, New Road: “Snow Globes”

Few 2022 releases are as highly anticipated as Black Country, New Road’s sophomore album Ants From Up There, coming out Feb. 4 via Ninja Tune. Only adding to the excitement, the band shared another preview of what’s to come with the album’s fourth single, “Snow Globes.” After receiving near-universal acclaim for their debut full-length For the first time, these singles make it clear that the seven-piece London band have no interest in resting on their laurels or repeating themselves. Each song thus far has revealed a new facet of what’s sure to be a complex, sonically diverse album, with each track standing on its own two legs as a bold statement from the group. “Snow Globes” is no exception. Clocking in at an extensive nine minutes, the track’s momentum builds and wavers, beginning as an exercise in steady repetition before swelling to its emotional peak and collapsing in on itself, allowing the gentle guitar march featured at the start to crawl the rest of the way to the end, worming back to where it began post-explosion. The sheer catharsis of the song resonates beyond its runtime. —Elise Soutar

caroline: “Good morning (red)”

London-based eight piece caroline are a little over a month shy of releasing their eponymous debut album (Feb. 25, Rough Trade), which made Paste’s most anticipated 2022 releases list. Following some excellent singles such as “Skydiving onto the library roof” and “IWR,” the band is offering up “Good morning (red)” as their latest. Taking upon more of their Midwestern emo influences, caroline’s “Good morning (red)” is a folky slow burn with growing violins and warm guitars at the forefront. With seemingly no proper climax, the song switches between moments of silence punctuated by light percussion before easing back into a groove. —Jade Gomez

Fly Anakin: “No Dough”

At 27 years old, Richmond, Virginia’s own Fly Anakin has become one of the most exciting new rappers alongside his friends and peers such as Pink Siifu, Big Kahuna OG, Nickelus F and more. On Tuesday, Anakin announced his debut album Frank, which arrives March 11 via Lex Records, with the release of “No Dough,” produced by none other than Madlib. “No Dough” is a perfect display of Anakin’s captivating lyricism and delivery, weaving in and out of Madlib’s eclectic and chaotic collage of sound that he has become known for. Clocking in at just under two minutes long, the track flexes the New York-tinged ruggedness in Anakin’s breakneck raps as he reflects on his past, present and future. —Jade Gomez

Ibibio Sound Machine: “All That You Want”

As past Best of What’s Next picks Ibibio Sound Machine gear up to release their Hot Chip-produced fourth full-length album Electricity, they’ve shared a first taste of what we can expect with its lead single “All That You Want.” Pulling elements of disco, Afro-funk and electronic to create a groove that’s endlessly relistenable (and danceable), the glimmering track sees the group only expand upon their already-identifiable sound. The forthcoming release marks the first time Ibibio Sound Machine have worked with any collaborators outside the band; if the sheer scope of this single’s sound is any indicator of what to expect from the rest of the project, we can prepare for it to be the band’s most progressive, boundary-pushing release to date. —Elise Soutar

Junk Drawer: “Tears in Costa”

Junk Drawer describe themselves as “kitchen sink psych post-punk krautrock-worshipping indie rock” on their Bandcamp page, and the Belfast quartet are right on the nose. Their latest single “Tears In Costa” does not hold back on theatrics, and vocalist Stevie Lennox shines as he encompasses the effortless grandeur of everyone from David Bowie to The Waterboys’ Mike Scott. Their warm, fuzzy indie-rock edge makes for a familiarity that does not sound stale. Junk Drawer is an apt name for their hodgepodge of influences, but is not an indicator of their quality in the slightest. —Jade Gomez

Nilufer Yanya: “midnight sun”

On Wednesday, English rock singer/songwriter Nilüfer Yanya shared “midnight sun,” the second single from her forthcoming follow-up to 2019’s Miss Universe. One of Paste’s most-anticipated albums of 2022, PAINLESS is set for a March 4 release on ATO Records. Like “stabilise” before it, “midnight sun” is atmospheric, yet propulsive, with arpeggiated guitars and a busy kick drum as the pistons powering its engine. Yanya sings like the xx’s dual vocalists were merged into one person, her voice no less emotive for its hushed delicacy. As the song progresses, her piercing voice becomes wreathed in buzzing guitar distortion, but is never overwhelmed by it. —Scott Russell

PUP: “Robot Writes a Love Song”

Toronto punk quartet PUP are back with word of their forthcoming fourth album, the theatrically titled THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND, coming April 1 on Little Dipper / Rise Records, and described in a press release as “not just the next PUP record, but the *most* PUP record.” Stefan Babcock, Nestor Chumak, Zack Mykula and Steve Sladkowski recorded and mixed their ambitious new album in the summer of 2021, during five weeks at Grammy-winning producer Peter Katis’ (Interpol, Kurt Vile, The National) “bat-filled” Connecticut mansion. The result of these isolated, in-depth sessions features instruments entirely new to the PUP palette (“piano, synths, horns and more”), plus remote contributions from Sarah Tudzin (Illuminati Hotties), Kathryn McCauhey (NOBRO), Mel St-Pierre (Casper Skulls) and Erik Paulson (Remo Drive). PUP’s newly expanded sound reveals itself gradually on “Robot Writes A Love Song,” which begins in melodic guitar-rock mode before downshifting into a synth- and drum machine-forward shuffle, which they seamlessly integrate into their typically anthemic, emotionally nuanced songwriting. The closely linked single and video tell the tale of a robot who attains human consciousness and promptly falls in love, only to find it’s too much for his system to handle (“Why is love this dangerous? / It’s so dangerous / Now my wires have all been exposed / And my systems menu won’t even load”). —Scott Russell