Entertainment

New music for this weekend: Burna Boy, Alvvays and renforshort


Star Tracks compiles the most interesting new music from a broad range of established and emerging artists. This week’s playlist features music from Burna Boy, Alvvays, the 1975, Four Tet, Brent Faiyaz, renforshort featuring Travis Barker, and Panda Bear.

Burna Boy: Jagale

Burna Boy’s sprawling sixth studio album, “Love, Damini,” seems to have something for everyone — you’ve got glistening Afropop tunes, appearances from international stars like Popcaan and J Balvin, a couple of neatly packaged radio bops, a club-ready single that makes brilliant use of a Toni Braxton classic and much more, including an ill-advised “Squid Game” sample. Indeed, the broad appeal of Burna Boy’s music has made him one of the most successful global stars to emerge from West Africa’s exploding music scene. But Burna Boy is at his absolute best and most irresistible on tracks such as “Jagale” and “Whiskey,” which eschew the 31-year-old’s recent affinity for crossover appeal in favour of the modern Afrobeat grooves that populated his 2019 breakout “African Giant.” Singing in pidgin, Nigeria’s broken English slang, on “Jagale,” Burna Boy’s thick, jagged baritone rises into a strained falsetto over a tight, syncopated rhythm and a flitting saxophone riff. Like the perfect summer sunset, the three-minute song is a fleeting moment of perfection that leaves a lasting impact.

Richie Assaly

Alvvays: Pharmacist

Alvvays, the indie pop band from Charlottetown, P.E.I., is back with a new single from their first album in half a decade, “Blue Rev,” to be released in October. “Pharmacist,” is a breakup track, or a track about bumping into an old fling, but it’s distant from the sounds of their previous failed relationship tunes, such as “Dreams Tonite.” They seem to have ditched the airy vibes of their last album for a more chaotic yet cohesive mix of bedroom-pop and indie rock on this one. Yet it still sounds like an Alvvays song, just busier, filled with a noisy guitar in the background. I can already hear people having a picnic at one of the city’s parks blasting this tune on a warm summer afternoon.

Alessia Passafiume

The 1975: Part of the Band

Hailing from the United Kingdom and straight to all our hearts, the 1975 have taken a more reserved approach than usual on latest single “Part of the Band,” as the pop/funk sounds fans have grown accustomed to are massaged into a string-led melody about the internet, sex and masturbation, love and self-discovery — all punctuated by lead singer Matty Healy’s nostalgia and memories of his more joyful, younger self. The lyricism is so quick; fleeting thoughts of deep traumas and personal triumphs. It resembles the honesty of their famous song “Somebody Else” but takes a walk off a cliff and goes for it. The band knows a lead single of vulnerability, a place many of us have found ourselves, is exactly the right starting point.

Annette Ejiofor

renforshort: we’ll make this ok (feat. Travis Barker)

“We fight, we f—, we kiss, we hug / We fight, we f—, we kiss, you love”: it’s an unfortunate mantric hook but one that’s a total ear worm. Coupling that chorus with the video-gamelike synths and Travis Barker’s proficient drumming makes for a track unlike any in Toronto singer renforshort’s catalogue. The lyrics are of a typical tumultuous relationship, but there’s strength in simplicity and excellent juxtaposition in production. Most toxic relationships feel like a game, but the complexity of them have very simple roots. Renforshort taps those roots for more of her sticky yet slick songwriting.

Demar Grant

Four Tet: Scythe Master

It’s been an awesome summer so far when it comes to middle-aged electronic producers making exceptionally pretty and chilled-out dance music. At the end of June, Dan Snaith (a.k.a. Caribou) released “Cloudy” under his alter-ego Daphni. This week, we’ve been blessed with a similarly groovy/meditative new track from the legendary electronic producer Four Tet. Built upon a foundation of crispy percussion, brightly plucked harpsichord (I think?) and subtle waves of ambient sound, “Scythe Master” is eight minutes of pure bliss, striking the perfect balance between melody and rhythm, between vibes and atmosphere.

RA

Brent Faiyaz: Ghetto Gatsby (feat. Alicia Keys)

Dark, moody and sly, “Ghetto Gatsby” is an R&B track that Tom and Jerry would gladly tiptoe to. Brent Faiyaz loves violins and the plucky then slippery strings guide an otherwise nude beat that only accentuates Faiyaz’s sweet voice. Brent is living lavish and wants everyone to know it, so much so that Alicia Keys joins in on the fun for an extremely rare stint singing “Good views, good weed, wearing plenty ice / Blew 300 thousand on me yesterday.”

DG

Panda Bear, Sonic Boom: Go On

Coming just months after Animal Collective returned to form with “Time Skiffs,” singer and multi-instrumentalist Noah Lennox, a.k.a. Panda Bear, has announced a new collaborative album with Peter Kember, better known by his stage name Sonic Boom. The project, titled “Reset” and set for release in August, was inspired by Kember’s extensive collection of ’50s and ’60s doo-wop and rock ’n’ roll records, which certainly shows on the album’s lead single, “Go On.” The track adds sleigh bells, hand claps, twangy guitar and Beach Boys-esque melodies on top of a sample from a 1967 song by the English rock band the Troggs. For the full experience, make sure to strap in for the song’s super-trippy video and let it take you to another dimension.

RA

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