True to its title, Indigo De Souza’s Any Shape You Take is a shape-shifter of an album. The sound can be tricky to describe, but Pitchfork’s Cat Zhang did so wonderfully in her review, explaining how it “seamlessly integrates grungy rock and colorful, hi-fi pop elements.” There are pieces of Snail Mail, Lala Lala, and Sylvan Esso in there, but the record is ultimately doing its own thing. It’s also unmistakably big — loaded with memorable moments and flourishes, from the hypnotic auto-tune of opener “17” to the ever-escalating yelps of closer “Kill Me.” Simultaneously chilly and warm, the songs have been a perfect match for the Early Fall, September-to-October vibe. I’ve added a few standouts to the Hear Hear playlist including dancefloor bop “Hold U,” the outlier of a single that first pulled me into De Souza’s distinct sonic world.
More albums worth spinning
Del Water Gap’s indie-pop perfection. We’ve been on the DWG bandwagon for a while at Hear Hear HQ, so it’s no surprise that singer-songwriter S. Holden Jaffe’s debut full-length is a front-to-back delight. The songs feature sweeping, swooning synths (“Hurting Kind” and “Better Than I Know Myself”) yet still maintain the heart of the folky guitar-rock that defined his early EPs (“Distance” and “Ode To A Conversation Stuck In Your Throat”).
Twin Shadow’s groovy gems. Moving on from the ‘80s new wave homage of his old records, Twin Shadow’s latest hones in on a catchy mix of reggae, psych-rock and soul. Standouts “Sugarcane,” “Get Closer,” and “Johnny & Jonnie” all settle into a charming, head-bobbing groove that’ll make you smile.
CHVRCHES’ synthesizers get a little spooky. Inspired by the classic synth scores of John Carpenter flicks, CHVRCHES’ Screen Violence leans into a horror theme. (Switched On Pop has a great interview with the band about this inlfuence.) And while the songs don’t stray too far from their signature sound, this semi-concept gives the album a focus that the last one (2018’s disappointing Love Is Dead) lacked. It kicks off with a thrilling one-two punch, as “Asking For A Friend” builds into the booming beats of “He Said She Said.”
(And a single to stream)
Sleigh Bells go back to the beginning. After celebrating the tenth anniversary of their iconic debut Treats last year, Sleigh Bells returns to the sound of that album with the scorching “Locust Laced,” full of crunchy guitars, hand-claps, and a disturbingly cheerful pep-rally singalong chorus: “I feel like dynamite, I feel like dying tonight.”
Settling Scores: Succession // White Lotus // Squid Game
Fresh off a Squid Game binge and hyped for the Succession premiere on Sunday, I wanted to take a quick dive into the composers behind these shows, along with another hit from the summer.
Succession composer Nicholas Britell is “at the frontier of movie music.” This narrated NYT article profiling Britell weaves in selections from his music while telling the story of his remarkable career so far. And the backstory is worth hearing — Britell took an unconventional path from hedge fund manager to Oscar nominee, partially thanks to a deep creative partnership with director Barry Jenkins, leading to the beautiful music of Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk, and The Underground Railroad.
Dive into The White Lotus’ “Hawaiian Hitchock” sound, as described by Cristobal Tapia de Veer. If you loved the anxious drums and creepy moans of the summer’s big show, it’s worth reading the composer’s interview with Vulture and hearing his appearance on the Broken Record podcast.
Squid Game’s Jung Jae-il has mastered the sound of suspense. After flying through this remarkable show, I looked up who was behind the music — only to find that it was Jae-il, who also composed the excellent score for Parasite. After that film won best picture, Jae-il shared insights with Polygon about working with director Bong Joon-ho. I’m eager to learn more about his approach to soundtracking Netflix’s surprise hit — and to hear whatever he works on next.
Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
In case you missed it, the magazine’s always-controversial list was refreshed last month for the first time in 17 years, and it’s a great debate-starter. The above playlist from Matthew Perpetua catalogs it from #1 (Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”) all the way down to #500 (Kanye’s “Stronger). Plus, RS writers Brittany Spanos and Rob Sheffield shared their individual ballots: here’s Spanos’ top-50 and Sheffield’s top-10 in playlist form.
60 gems from the ‘60s
Baby Driver and Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright shared this fun retro playlist ahead of his upcoming time-travel thriller.
A Tiny Desk treat from The Staves
The phenomenal folk trio of sisters recorded this lovely session for NPR Music from the house they grew up in, and their trademark harmonies sound better than ever. The songs are from their wonderful 2021 album Good Woman, which is worth a full listen.