The 10 Best New Songs

While I recuperated from learning that Kanye West’s Donda came out five months ago, at least there were some new songs to ground me in reality. Then I remember it’s 2022 and I freak out again. Fortunately, it has been a great start to the year. Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama collaborated and even sampled a beloved early-00s pop tune! Denzel Curry channeled a badass Western movie star in the visuals for “Walkin’.” MJ Lenderman even gave us the lowdown on a classic basketball conspiracy theory. Point is, sometimes it helps to live in the present. Time is an illusion, so why not take some time to check out some new tunes.

Charli XCX feat. Rina Sawayama: “Beg For You”

With everyone trying their hand at hyperpop and PC music, it’s only fair that two of the most prolific innovators in the genres collaborate. A few months after the announcement of Charli XCX’s highly anticipated CRASH (March 18, Atlantic), the English singer-songwriter unleashed “Beg For You” with multi-genre extraordinaire Rina Sawayama. The two frolic through a drum and bass-influenced romp with acoustic accents, ultimately leading up to a repurposing of the ‘00s classic “Cry For You” by September. As Charli expands the manufactured pop-star persona that she channels on CRASH, “Beg For You” adds a melancholy facet to the tragic tale, echoing the heartfelt songs of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera’s youth. —Jade Gomez

Circa Survive: “Electric Moose”

Philadelphia post-hardcore titans Circa Survive released the EP A Dream About Love in 2021, and the band explored dreamier, airier sounds as frontman Anthony Green laments a crumbling world. This week, the band announced the follow-up, A Dream About Death, out Feb. 4 via Rise Records. The announcement arrived with the EP’s opening track “Electric Moose,” which finds Circa Survive testing their own limits with electronic elements and vocal manipulation. The trip-hop-inspired production is a drastic change from the guitar-driven rock that the band is tied to. Green’s soaring vocals channel the song’s tragic story of domestic violence as he commands, “Don’t lay your hands on me.” —Jade Gomez

Denzel Curry: “Walkin’”

Denzel Curry recently announced his forthcoming album Melt My Eyez See Your Future (TBA, Loma Vista). Lead single “Walkin’” does a lot without all the bells and whistles. The soul sample and folky guitars morph into a lush, minimalist beat as Curry reminisces on how far he’s come. Then, everything cuts out, leaving the vocal sample to hop onto new territories, with Curry switching up his flow effortlessly, slowly rising into the spitfire flow he’s become known for. It’s Curry at some of his best, as he ushers in a new era with Melt My Eyez.—Jade Gomez

Ducks Ltd.: “Sheets of Grey”

Ducks Ltd.’s stellar debut Modern Fiction was accompanied by some great singles, including “18 Cigarettes,” which made our Best Songs of 2021 list. Ducks Ltd. treated fans to the release of “Sheets of Grey,” which didn’t make Modern Fiction but nonetheless deserved its own release. The warmth of the jangly guitars and vocalist Tom McGreevy’s effortless croon give “Sheets of Grey” a familiarity. The Canadian duo channel their love for ‘80s pop with the subtlety of ‘70s folk rock in a delicate balance of flashy guitar melodies and pounding drums with honest storytelling. —Jade Gomez

Hater: “Something”

The first single and opening track from Sincere, Swedish four-piece Hater’s forthcoming follow-up to 2018’s Siesta, “Something” is a hypnotic blur of shoegaze guitars and Caroline Landahl’s mercurial vocals. Its drum hits barely penetrate the haze, lagging just behind the beat, as if to deliberately keep listeners off-balance; Landahl’s voice shifts in much the same way, moving from an icy falsetto in verses to layered waves of melody in choruses, her clipped lyrics lingering at the edge of one’s understanding. “Something” peaks in its instrumental outro, awash in overlapping guitars, as if even Hater themselves have surrendered to a power they can’t define, let alone overcome. Sincere is one to anticipate for those who like their music dreamy. —Scott Russell

MJ Lenderman: “Hangover Game”

Possibly the only track here about Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals (but don’t quote us on that), “Hangover Game” marks MJ Lenderman’s first release since 2020, as well as the lead single from his forthcoming album Boat Songs. “It wasn’t a pizza that poisoned him in Utah,” Lenderman argues over clashing guitars as the track reaches a crescendo, claiming that Michael Jordan’s infamous bout of severe illness wasn’t due to food poisoning, but simply a bad hangover: “Yeah, I love drinking too/I love drinking too.” It reads like a five-second conversation based on zero solid evidence you might have with friends, but Lenderman transforms it into a funny, almost poetic two minutes of alt-country bliss. —Elise Soutar

The Smile: “The Smoke”

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, and Sons Of Kemet’s Tom Skinner are back with their latest single as The Smile, “The Smoke,” accompanied by a lyric video created by BAFTA-winning writer/director Mark Jenkin. It’s the supergroup’s second official release, following their January debut track, “You Will Never Work In Television Again.” Where The Smile’s first song was a relatively straightforward rock track, “The Smoke” is more of a curveball, with Yorke’s ghostly vocals (“We set ourselves on fire,” he repeats) taking a backseat to funky low end and horns a la Fela Kuti, with all of the above drenched in atmospheric reverb. Spidery guitars sneak into the track’s bridge and outro as Yorke chants, “Smoke wakes me from my sleep.” —Scott Russell

Tess Parks: “Happy Birthday Forever”

After spending the last seven years working with Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe, Toronto native Tess Parks has announced her first solo full-length since 2013’s Blood Hot. “Happy Birthday Forever” is our first glimpse into what Tess Parks has in store for 2022, a hypnotic, itching drone that works its way into your head without you realizing it, lulling you into a trance and pulling you in even as Parks repeats the line “Get me out of here” over and over again. It recalls sounds of the past while also sounding completely unique to the aesthetic world she’s created, and only builds the hype around what And Those Who Were Seen Dancing will deliver when it comes later this year. —Elise Soutar

Tomberlin: “idkwntht”

Singer/songwriter Sarah Beth Tomberlin, best known simply as Tomberlin, is back with her first new material since 2020. Her new single “idkwntht” (short for “I don’t know who needs to hear this”) is out now, featuring guest vocals from Told Slant’s Felix Walworth. “idkwntht” is a spare, yet lovely indie-pop tune that pairs folksy acoustic guitar with jazzy keys and horns. Tomberlin and Walworth trade gentle vocals over the former’s fingerpicking and the latter’s electric bass and drums, while Philip Weinrobe’s una corda piano, Shahzad Ismaily’s electric guitar, Stuart Bogie’s tenor saxphone, and spoken-word recordings all flit in and out of the mix. Over a timeless set of chords known as the ‘50s progression, from which the chorus-less track never deviates, Tomberlin encourages whoever may be listening to express themselves through song so that others might find solace in their sounds: “I don’t know who needs to hear this / Sometimes it’s good to sing your feelings / And every time I open my mouth / Hope something halfway helpful falls out.” —Scott Russell

Your Old Droog & Tha God Fahim: “Wall St. With a Briefcase”

When rappers from different worlds join forces, special things can happen. Just take New York City’s Your Old Droog and Atlanta’s Tha God Fahim, who dropped “Wall St With Briefcase” Wednesday, the opening track from the forthcoming sequel to their 2021 collaboration Tha Wolf On Wall St. Over a downright serene sample of The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” Fahim and Droog document their hard-earned opulence via no-nonsense boasts about eating cheesecake on yachts and “rock[in’] ice that shine bright like police chase,” and dismiss any peers out there living lies (“You all cap like a knee brace / Most cats in the game are straight deepfakes”). The track pairs the laid-back swagger of a victory lap with the laser focus of a mission statement, with “Tha YOD Fahim” combining contrasting flows to create a standout sound. —Scott Russell