Weekend Playlist: Toronto punk group PUP return with angsty new single, Beach House drop another batch of dreamy shoegaze and more music you need to hear


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The Star has compiled the most interesting new music from a broad range of established and emerging artists.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/01/2022 (206 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Star has compiled the most interesting new music from a broad range of established and emerging artists.

This week’s playlist features new music from PUP, Beach House, Rich Brian, RealestK, FKA Twigs, Hot Chip and Earl Sweatshirt.

Click here for the Spotify playlist.

- Gareth Cattermole/ Getty Images, Rick Madonik/ Toronto Star, YouTube This week’s Star playlist includes new tracks from FKA Twigs (top left), PUP (top right), RealestK (bottom left) and Jenny Hval (bottom left)

PUP: Robot Writes A Love Song

Like so many of us during the past year and half, the four members of PUP have, in the words of their lead guitarist on Twitter, “lost our minds.”

That’s probably not healthy in terms of self-care, but it is undoubtedly good for the Toronto band’s music as we get treated to a whole new slate of punk rock angst on April 1 (no April’s Fools here) with “The Unravelling of PUPTheBand.”

And to mark the release date for their fourth studio full-length, the band shared the new single “Robot Writes A Love Song,” along with an accompanying music video (spot the Soundgarden easter eggs!). The track leans softer, but it’s still quintessentially PUP, boasting catchy melodies, intricate guitar licks and self-destructive lyrics about computers struggling with the complexities of human emotions.

And the band is promising that the upcoming LP will be their “most true-to-form” album to date. “You can literally hear the band unravelling,” PUP wrote on Twitter. “There is nothing more PUP than a slow and inevitable descent into self-destruction.” — Justin Smirlies

RealestK: Toxic

RealestK is a 17-year-old R&B phenom from right here in the 6ix. Earlier in 2021 Toronto’s secret became an open one as he exploded on TikTok with his single “WFM” becoming a trending sound for everyone’s glow-ups.

With “Toxic,” the dark and dispirited aesthetic of previous releases gets an update. Between skittering Hi-hats and bouncing 808’s, lay a morose western guitar and his angelic vocals. Lamenting a paramour’s toxic love, RealestK crafts one of the sweetest four word hooks of the 2020s. It’s toxic, it’s vulnerable and it’s uber catchy all in a 2-minute frame that almost always becomes a 10-minute frame.

The track has already racked up over a million views on YouTube, over 4 million streams on Spotify and there’s no sign of slowing down. Although there’s no word on a forthcoming album, in under a year his music has already morphed from an interesting TikTok track from an obscure artist into required listening from an up-and-coming star. — Demar Grant

Beach House: Masquerade

On an album with several tracks that maintain Beach House’s signature shoegaze sound of nostalgia, yearning and contemplation; “Masquerade” is a haunting departure from the norm. Church-bells contribute to the gothic atmosphere in which we learn about a girl whose apparent innocence is but a distraction from an internal malevolence.

“She comes dressed like Sunday/ String of pearls around her neck,” Victoria Legrand sings. “Her eyes masquerade, fade to black.”

The melody is as hypnotic and cinematic as ever.

“Masquerade” is one of 18 songs on the forthcoming album, “Once Twice Melody,” which duo Legrand and Alex Scally will release next month. So far, the band from Baltimore has released 13 songs in three different “chapters.” The first was released in November. The fourth and final volume will be released Feb. 18.

“Our intent was for there to be plenty of space to get lost; within each chapter, and also within each song,” a recent Instagram post reads. “We hope each chapter imbues a mood and that each song reveals more with time.” — Manuela Vega

Jenny Hval: Year of Love

Norwegian singer-songwriter Jenny Hval, who moonlights as a novelist, brings a distinctly literary flair to her experimental brand of music, combining poetry and narration to explore eclectic subjects, from feminism and radical politics to vampires and menstruation.

Hval’s newest single, “Year of Love,” tells the true story of a marriage proposal that occurred in front of her while she was performing — an experience she found “troubling” as an artist whose work has espoused anti-patriarchal values. “It confronted me with the fact that I am also married,” she said in a statement. “What does that detail from my private life say about me as an artist? Do my private actions betray my work and voice?”

“But in the year of love/ I signed a deal with patriarchy,” Hval intones casually, gracefully skipping through swells of percussion. “Year of Love,” a remarkably probing piece of self-reflection, will appear on Hval’s forthcoming album “Classic Objects,” out March 11. — Richie Assaly

Rich Brian: Lagoon

Out of the blue, 88rising’s Rich Brian is back. After ruling the internet’s summer with his joint hit “Edamame” with Vancouverite BBNO$ he’s dropped a surprise EP “Brightside.”

Spanning nearly three minute’s “Lagoon’s” dreamy synths are an interstellar background to some of Rich Brian’s funniest raps with bizarre imagery “I just took a test, it’s sounding like my s–t go stupid” and “These hoes trippin’ like banana peels are raining up and down the road.”

His ratatat raps are only broken up by a BROCKHAMPTON-esque beat switch, making the interstellar trip an intergalactic one. The contrast between Brian’s deep vocals and spaced-out production have always been a fascinating one, Lagoon’s eccentric lyrics only add an enthralling extra dimension. — DG

FKA twigs (feat. Daniel Caesar): careless

In the age of streaming, the distinction between an “album” and a “mixtape” can feel a bit arbitrary. Increasingly, major artists have been using the “mixtape” label to lower the stakes when experimenting with new sounds or styles (think Drake’s “More Life.”)

Indeed, FKA twigs’ latest mixtape bears little resemblance to 2019’s “MAGDALENE” — a sublime and heart wrenching album that sounds like it was recorded by an alien version of Kate Bush. Titled “CAPRISONGS,” the tape features a broad range of collaborators – The Weeknd, Rema, Jorja Smith and others — and dips its toes in various genres, from Afrobeats to trap to UK drill to hyperpop.

One of the several standouts is “careless,” a sultry, downtempo duet with Toronto R&B crooner Daniel Caesar. Floating over a stripped-down beat, the two singers strike a perfect balance on the track’s back end — with Caesar’s wounded cries offering a perfect foil to twigs’ heavenly falsetto. — RA

Young T & Bugsey (feat. BLXST): “Nice”

The track “Nice” off Young T & Bugsey’s latest mixtape “Truth Be Told” is simply a vibe. In the dead of winter at the peak of Omicron it’s easy to forget things can be free, warm and breezy but the U.K. duo has managed to capture the aesthetic.

The smooth dance hall beat with watery synths easily transports us to the islands where Bugsey daydreams “I want a African babe/ With Italian taste/ Put her in those shades/ She gon’ love my world.” The vocals relaxed and the melodies are carefree enough to feel ethereal but catchy enough that they never truly leave.

“Truth Be Told” is filled with a ton of easy grooves and lightheartedness but “Nice” is summer personified. — DG

Nina Simone, Hot Chip: Be My Husband (Remix)

It’s a bold choice to remix the great Nina Simone, a choice that typically debases an original recording (no more “Sinnerman” remixes!) or simply feels inappropriate (i.e. Kanye West’s questionable decision to repurpose a grim song about racist extrajudicial killings for his romantic psycho-drama “Blood On The Leaves.”)

Suffice it to say that I don’t have the highest expectations for the upcoming double album “Feeling Good,” which pairs Simone’s greatest hits with a collection of new remixes (yep, this has been done before.)

But every rule has an exception, and I do have a soft spot for the boys in Hot Chip, who gifted us this week with a tasteful reimagining of Simone’s “Be My Husband,” the acapella opener from the 1965 classic “Pastel Blues.” The English group’s expansive seven-minute remix reimagines the sparse blues track as early-aughts electro-pop, complete with a loping bass line and waves of luxuriant synths. Most importantly, the remix leaves plenty of space for Simone’s otherworldly baritone to do the heavy lifting. — RA

Bonus track

Earl Sweatshirt: Lye

On this breezy standout from Earl’s excellent new album, “SICK!,” legendary producer The Alchemist flips a sample of an obscure 1974 track by the British prog-rock band Riff Raff. As usual, Earl and Alchemist pair together like wine and cheese. — RA

Richie Assaly is a Toronto-based digital producer for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @rdassaly Justin Smirlies is a Star digital producer based in Toronto. Reach him via email: jsmirlies@thestar.caManuela Vega is a Toronto-based digital producer for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @_manuelavegaDemar Grant is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach Demar via email: dgrant@torstar.ca

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