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

5 new releases we love: Tierra Whack and Dizzee Rascal both bring the flow

Tierra Whack (Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images) and Dizzee Rascal (Screenshot: YouTube)
Tierra Whack (Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images) and Dizzee Rascal (Screenshot: YouTube)

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. Unless otherwise noted, all releases are now available.

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Dizzee Rascal, E3 AF

[Dirtee Stank]

What’s great about having the old Dizzee Rascal back is that he’s learned a thing or two from his days crafting pop-leaning hits. Sure, he’s reveling in the grime and rattling beats that first brought him acclaim (opener “God Knows” is pure abrasive intensity), but there’s an appealing sense of studio savvy in all the stuttering hi-hats. Just listen to the wah-wah pulses that inflect the rudeboy bass of “That’s Too Much,” or the washes of bright synth soundtracking the breathless flow on “Energies+Powers,” and you’ll hear how the years of mainstream success have given the London rapper a clever knack for fusing the hooks of his latter-day work with the grime of his youth. This album sounds as confident and engaging as the best of Rascal’s work, the result of a three-year process of recording in his hometown. With exemplary guest verses (from P Money and Ocean Wisdom, among others) and burbling production that ripples across genres and styles, E3 AF brings grooves enough to last until the next Dizzee Rascal record. [Alex McLevy]

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Oneohtrix Point Never, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never

[Warp]

It’s tempting, each time Daniel Lopatin releases new Oneohtrix Point Never music, to view it through the fashionably gaudy prisms and cracked CRT viewscreens of previous OPN projects: Nodding with recognition and appreciation at each Betrayed In The Octagon synth drone, any R Plus 7-esque Windows 3.11 blurt, every crunch of Garden Of Delete overdrive. From its title on down, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never might be the first to intentionally court those associations, playing like a broadcast day from OPN’s imaginary namesake, a radio station whose programmers share Lopatin’s taste for copy-paste techniques and interest in garbled memories. Aided by the likes of fellow Uncut Gems alumnus Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye (who gets a co-executive producer credit) and Arca, the album also collects Lopatin’s finest song-based work to date, threading Tesfaye’s turn on the slow-dance ballad “No Nightmares” and the OutRun-at-sunset anthem “I Don’t Love Me Anymore” between cheeky, sampled allusions to “background music” and lost connections to old musical loves. Based on the triumphant, legacy-girding results of Magic Oneohtrix Point Never, the latter clearly isn’t something that’s affecting Lopatin. [Erik Adams]

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Sofi Tukker/Icona Pop, “Spa

[Ultra Music]

Everyone’s got something they daydream about doing once the pandemic is over. And if your fantasies involve fluffy robes, deep-tissue massage, and cucumbers over your eyes, “Spa” will either cool your passions, or get them hotter than the steam room you so desperately miss. For electro-pop fans, of course, “Spa” holds an entirely different appeal, given that it represents a collaboration between two titans of the genre: Florida duo Sofi Tukker and enigmatic Swedes Icona Pop, who haven’t released a full-length record since “I Don’t Care” topped the charts back in 2013. The addictive chorus on “Spa” echoes the inescapable earworm that anchored that track, combined here with cheeky innuendos about “slap[ping] my body with a birch” and “stay[ing] forever young, with a mask made of”—well, you know. Laid over disco beats that are slipperier than a hairy chest covered in soap, it’s a song about relaxation ironically made to get the dance floor hyped. [Katie Rife]

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Teen Daze, Reality Refresh 4

[Flora, November 6]

The older I get, the more I relate to John Cusack just wanting something he can ignore.” I felt that extra hard this week, when election anxiety consumed every part of my brain not already immersed in work. Thank goodness, then, for Teen Daze, the long-running electronic outfit of Jamison Isaak, whose music has by and large radiated soothing rays of starlight. Today, Isaak dropped the final installment of Reality Refresh, a four-part series of instrumental EPs flush with warm textures, meditative loops, and placid field recordings. These final four tracks aren’t as bouncy as their predecessors, their curved edges and soft beats instead serving as a stabilizing come-down, a slow walk home on a clear evening. You won’t ignore them so much as surrender to them; this is music that does the work for you. [Randall Colburn]

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Tierra Whack, “Dora

[Interscope]

Tierra Whack could not have chosen a better time to offer up a quick shot of cartoonish whimsy. “Dora” is a playful, thoroughly catchy example of what the Philly standout does best—that is, infusing her sharp delivery with heaps of personality. And with some bouncy braggadocio in the form of lyrics like “Skin tanned ’cause we livin’ on the beach now / Shinin’ like a diamond, fine dinin’ / Forty thousand, turn that shit to fifty thousand,” the track is also a worthy celebration of just how far the rapper has come since 2018’s Whack World, from taking the Coachella stage to collaborations with Beyoncé. Fans won’t be met with the same acidic flow that can be found on singles like “Unemployed” and that’s perfectly okay: The laid-back ease of Tierra’s lyricism here is the sign of a woman simply enjoying the career she’s cultivated for herself and inviting us along for the wild ride. [Shannon Miller]

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