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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

5 new releases we love: SZA and Ty Dolla $ign break it down, and Lomelda builds it up

SZA and Ty Dolla $ign
SZA and Ty Dolla $ign
Screenshot: YouTube (Other)

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.

Noga Erez, “You So Done

[City Slang, August 26]

There’s always something unavoidably unsettling about calling a song outlining a volatile relationship an energizing jam. But similarly to how Billie Eilish has managed to distill trauma into lauded, defiant pop hymns, Tel-Aviv-based artist Noga Erez has set violent uncoupling to a dubstep-inspired backbeat. “You So Done” strays from the singer-songwriter’s usual political voice and into something more vulnerable, signaling a person who is at the end of their rope. Erez’s calm delivery is bolstered by warped, imposing electronics that culminate in something taunting and intense. Up against stellar singles “Views” and the effervescent “No News On TV,” “You So Done” is a darker pivot for an artist who typically exudes a self-possessed brand of cool. But her willingness to dig into a more introspective place and sing candidly about humiliation and love lost makes her infinitely cooler. [Shannon Miller]


Lomelda, Hannah

[Double Double Whammy, September 4]

“Hannah, do no harm,” Hannah Read sings on “Hannah Sun,” the second song on an LP called Hannah. There’s plenty of self-reflection happening on Read’s fourth record as Lomelda, clearly, but there’s also a sense of reclamation, with Read using her name as a vessel of self-reckoning. A sonic departure from last year’s trim and sparse M For Empathy, Hannah wraps its 14 songs in wooly acoustic strums, warm woodwinds, and the occasional wave of dissonance, resulting in a sprawling and endearingly idiosyncratic listen. Some cuts luxuriate in their sounds and detours, while others satisfy on a more traditional level—the low-key Americana of “It’s Infinite” and “Hannah Happiest,” for example, soothes like a country drive on a summer day. But it’s on tracks like “Wonder” and “Hannah Sun” that the album really comes alive, with Read locking into lyrical spirals—some fiery, some resigned—that illustrate the intensity of her self-actualization, the ways in which she’s straining to will these words into action. [Randall Colburn]

SZA, “Hit Different (ft. Ty Dolla $ign)”

[September 4, TDE/RCA Records]

It’s been three long years since SZA’s masterful Control made our list of the best albums of 2017, but her first new music as a lead artist since then finds the singer in a deeply introspective and soulful place. Backed by Ty Dolla $ign’s ebb-and-flow singing of the title phrase, the musician offers up a vulnerable admission of anxieties and insecurities about the dark fears that can attach to a relationship. And while the Neptunes-produced track rises and falls like tides washing over the listener, it’s in the ways that SZA wields her voice that the track comes alive—the octaves she jumps back and forth between just before the second verse doubles the emotional see-sawing she outlines in the lyrics. And then, just as it’s settling into a groove, everything changes; it goes from longing to regret, as she worries she “wasted the best years of my life” on the very thing she was just agonizing over. It’s a pivot you rarely hear in the same song—and further evidence that SZA is always one step ahead. [Alex McLevy]


Sprain, As Lost Through Collision

[September 4, The Flenser]

There’s a sense of raw, primal intensity that sings throughout Sprain’s new record, As Lost Through Collision. But unlike so many groups that erupt in bursts of noise and then recede, as though spent from the act of stomping on a distortion pedal, Sprain maintains the emotional drive through its quiet arcs of melodic soulfulness just as fervently as in its overdriven blasts of guitar noise. Yes, the Unwound comparisons are apt, given the post-punk explosions layered across the record; but there’s also a different sort of appeal here—that of the thoughtful, minimalist sound of Chicago post-rock as practiced by The For Carnation and like-minded bands. That blend of sturm-und-drang rock fused with spacey, strummed beauty (not to mention the odd time-signature adjustment parsed out with Shudder To Think-like bursts of rhythm) gives the band a heady rush of intellectual inventiveness to match its gut-punch ferocity. Sprain keeps you paying attention even when doling out spare tom-tom pounds, which is a rare talent, indeed. [Alex McLevy]


Jazmine Sullivan, “Lost One”

[RCA Records, August 28]

Nobody delivers devastation with quite as much soul-arresting verve as Jazmine Sullivan. It’s something that is especially noticeable whenever the immovable R&B songstress takes a lengthy sabbatical, like the one between 2017’s “Insecure” (her collab with Bryson Tiller for the HBO comedy of the same name) and her most recent release, “Lost One.” Like the bulk of Sullivan’s discography, this guitar-driven ballad doesn’t shirk honesty, crystallizing the all-consuming regret of losing someone who may have been “the one” with heartbreaking lyrics like “Just don’t have too much fun without me… Please don’t forget about me / Try not to love no one.” Though she knows how to shine against dense production—evidenced by early hits like the string-heavy “Bust Your Windows”—a sparsely outfitted track like “Lost One” is a deeply appreciated showcase of her gorgeous, emotional vocals. With this grief-stricken single, Sullivan manages to provide both the heartsickness and the cure. [Shannon Miller]


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