Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

5 new releases we love: Land Of Talk goes deep, Mahalia remixes longing, and more

Land Of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell; Mahalia
Land Of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell; Mahalia
Photo: Joseph Yarmush (Getty Images), Ricky Vigil M (Getty Images)

There’s a lot of music out there. To help you cut through all the noise, every week The A.V. Club is rounding up A-Sides, five recent releases we think are worth your time. You can listen to these and more on our Spotify playlist, and if you like what you hear, we encourage you to purchase featured artists’ music directly at the links provided below.

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Land Of Talk, Indistinct Conversations

[Carpark Records, July 31]

“Shit just gets too weird,” sings Elizabeth Powell, and even if you don’t know exactly what she means, you know what she means. Indistinct Conversations, Land Of Talk’s first new album since 2017’s Life After Youth, is a deeply felt record, moving and unsettling in the best possible way. Lyrically, it’s the best thing Powell has done, finding surprising ways into universal themes like longing, alienation, and confusion while still managing to emotionally devastate. And musically, it’s a Trojan horse: What sounds at first listen too gentle, almost somnambulant, is revealed to be a churning roil of contrapuntal melodicism—music that uses restraint to hold back the force of the lyrics. And when it does get livelier—in the upbeat tempo of “Weight Of That Weekend,” or the driving pop-rock of “A/B Futures”—it deepens the richness of the quieter tracks surrounding them. Aided by snippets of the titular conversations, the atmosphere suffusing the entire record is one of fragile beauty. [Alex McLevy]

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Mahalia, “BRB (feat. Pink Sweat$)

[Atlantic Records, July 24]

R&B singers-songwriters Mahalia and Pink Sweat$ are an ideal pair: Both maintain steadily growing discographies rife with hits that either soothe or break hearts. Their recently released remix of Mahalia’s “BRB” expertly manages to do both: Plinking piano keys and a wailing brass section underscore unfettered longing as Mahalia and Pink Sweat$ croon about long distance love. Though the track—a release from Mahalia’s solid EP The Isolation Tapes— has always succeeded in striking a warm, embracing tone, the addition of Pink Sweat$ imbues the tune with tender romance. Mentions of missed FaceTime chats and red-eye flights anchor the lyrics in modern-day intimacy, but the duo’s soulful pining possesses a timeless allure. What’s more, it’s a loving balm that is so befitting of this time of worldwide isolation, where loneliness is a shared struggle and we’re all aching for human connection. [Shannon Miller]

Liza Anne, Bad Vacation

[Arts & Crafts Records, July 24]

There’s an ebullient sense of mischief running through Bad Vacation, Liza Anne’s new album, that makes the whole thing feel like the aural equivalent of freeing yourself from the negative thoughts it’s all too easy to get trapped in these days. And that’s by design: Despite songs dealing with self-destructive behavior, mental health, and personal failures, her songcraft and lyrical wit keep pushing wry optimism and ironic, self-deprecating exhortations for our better angels to the forefront. It’s there in the dance-pop groove of the title track; in the warped start-stop bubble-grunge of “Bummer Days”; in the electro-rock sing-speak eruptions of “Devotion”; and in the ’90s alt-rock shimmer of closer “Desire,” with its killer line, “Desire feels like too much tequila / And I’ve had plenty.” It shifts fluidly from style to style, but never hits a false note—if only every bad vacation sounded this good. [Alex McLevy]

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Lala Lala and Baths, “€ € € €^^%%!!!!!heaven!!!!!!

[Hardly Art, July 24]

After releasing one of 2018’s best albums in The Lamb, Lala Lala’s Lillie West has immersed herself in collaborations, having recorded singles with the likes of WHY?’s Yoni Wolf and her Chicago compatriots in Grapetooth and Porridge Radio. Last week, West released her latest team-up, a meditative duet with electro-pop whiz Baths called “€ € € €^^%%!!!!!heaven!!!!!!” that finds her dry delivery and Will Wiesenfeld’s tender harmonies clashing against liquid beats as the pair dreams after “one day sooner or later.” It’s as stripped-back and atmospheric as “Legs, Run,” another Lala Lala single from this year, hinting that the songwriter may be laying off the distortion pedal as her sound continues to evolve (with a little help from her friends). [Randall Colburn]

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Kylie Minogue, “Say Something”

[BMG, July 23]

Kylie Mingoue has always effortlessly floated between genres—and, seemingly, time. Starting with her debut single, 1987’s “Locomotion,” Minogue has borrowed from the best of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s while remaining all at once current over the past 33 years. That trend continues with “Say Something,” the lead single off Minogue’s upcoming fifteenth(!) album, Disco (out November 6). The track harkens back to the late ’70s and early ’80s hits that would have fit right in on a John Hughes movie soundtrack while infusing a dash of 2020 electropop to make Carly Rae Jepsen proud. The track works on vibe alone, but the lyrics—which Minogue co-wrote last year—are also a perfectly timed pop message: “We’re a million miles apart / In a thousand ways,” Minogue begins her easy-yet-confident vocals. “Love is love / It never ends / Can we all be as one again?” [Patrick Gomez]

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Alex McLevy is a writer and editor at The A.V. Club, and would kindly appreciate additional videos of robots failing to accomplish basic tasks.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

A.V. Club Editor in Chief...but really just a She-Ra, Schitt’s Creek, Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor, Big Brother, Top Chef, The Good Place superfan.

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