It’s still May and the “song of the summer” conversation is already starting to get kicked around. But with tracks as strong as these, it’s kind of hard to keep that argument out of your brain. The stone-cold grooves of Jamie xx, paired with vocal contortions from Young Thug and Popcaan, make their case, but so does the Springsteen-ian new single from Dan Bejar’s Destroyer. There will be plenty more contenders in the weeks to come, but this week, have fun arguing which of these should sit at the top of the ranks.
10. Briana Marela – “Surrender”
“Surrender” was born from the stray parts of two other songs. After Briana Marela flew out to Iceland to record her Jagjaguwar debut, she found herself sitting with two songs based around vocal loops that she didn’t know what to do with. Rather than discard the sketches, she fused them together, and the result is the first single from that album, a gorgeous heave of rhythm and voice. Marela’s atomized voice flits through the track’s atmosphere as her loops coalesce into a smooth drone. Her lyrics shudder from behind curtains of effects and drums and wordless harmonies until suddenly, they’re startlingly clear: “I’ll give you all I’ve got.” Marela’s All Around Us is out August 21st via Jagjaguwar. –Sasha Geffen
9. TEPR – “Never Be the Same”
Formerly one-third of France’s Yelle, Tanguy Destable, aka TEPR, still pushes his electro through an adventurous pop filter. While “Never Be the Same”, from his forthcoming Hypnotease EP, is built atop careful melodies and bright synth builds, Destable balances that softness with a demented bass line and his disorienting vocal delivery. Across this five-minute production, Destable manages to go tropical without losing the grit of the underground — certainly no easy task for his pop-centric contemporaries. Grab the EP May 25th via Partyfine. –Derek Staples
8. The O’Mys feat. Mick Jenkins and Jayln – “Peace of Mind”
The O’My’s are a humble Chicago soul group led by the powerful, peculiar voice of Maceo Haymes, and their latest song, “Peace of Mind”, will strike you somewhere in your spirit if you let it in. “I wake up every morning wondering why/ To myself, I’m always telling half lies,” Haymes sings, evoking a deep sense of woe over melancholy instrumentation. Soon enough, the brainy but smooth Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins and the equally thoughtful JayIn join to capture the moral landscape of their own surroundings. (Jenkins also squeezes in a generous number of golf references.) It’s a song that deals in the fragility of the human psyche, favoring poignant gestures of sensitivity over bold-faced outpourings of emotion. –Michael Madden