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Song of the Week: CHVRCHES and Robert Smith Write the Handbook on “How Not To Drown”

IDER, LUMP, Hayley Kiyoko, and Nation of Language also dropped essential tracks this week

Chvrches How Not To Drown
Photo by Sebastian Mlynarski & Kevin J Thomson
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    Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Scottish trio CHVRCHES recruit The Cure’s Robert Smith for their latest single.

    The concept of “screen violence” might sound abstract, but CHVRCHES mean it quite literally: we are surrounded by constant aggression, on screen, by screens and through screens, more than ever before. This is the thesis of Screen Violence, the upcoming fourth album from the Glasgow-based pop group. The LP, slated for release on August 27th, is preceded by this week’s “How Not To Drown.”

    The track is aching and indulgent, over five minutes long, and pulls in a feature from The Cure’s Robert Smith. The imagery of screens is also heavily present in the accompanying music video, directed by Scott Kiernan, which doesn’t feel like an accident: disillusionment and loneliness linger everywhere as the world has slowly started to rebuild out of the many pieces left in the catastrophic wake of the past year and a half.

    Despite the promises of better things to come, overwhelming loss is (and should be) hard to ignore — and this is the kind of feeling CHVRCHES conjures and sings towards. Some things shouldn’t be left behind through sheer escapism. How, then, does lead singer Lauren Mayberry instruct the listener to avoid drowning in these all too human emotions? Even she isn’t so sure; “Tell me how/ It’s better when the sun goes down/ We’ll never escape this town” isn’t exactly optimistic. But at least it’s honest.

    — Mary Siroky
    Contributing Writer

    Honorable Mentions:

    Hayley Kiyoko – “Chance”

    What better way to kick off Pride Month than the return of Lesbian Jesus herself? “Chance” serves as Hayley Kiyoko’s second offering off her forthcoming follow-up to 2020’s I’m Too Sensitive For This Shit. The romantic ballad explores the tentative uncertainty of newfound love from an unapologetically queer perspective, as the singer questions: “Does she feel the energy the way that I do/ In the air whenever we get in the same room?/ ‘Cause I don’t know how to read her mind/ And I don’t wanna cross the line” over dreamy pop production.

    Add in the swoon-worthy cottagecore fantasy of the music video, co-starring newly-out actress Alexandra Shipp, and Kiyoko delivers a perfect recipe for longing that will keep her disciples fed well beyond Pride season.

    — Glenn Rowley

    Marshmello & Eptic – “Hitta (feat. Juicy J)”

    Electronic superstar Marshmello and rising Belgian DJ Eptic have joined forces for a song that hijacks your nervous system and forces your toes to tap. “Hitta” is built around a snippet of Three 6 Mafia’s “One Hitta Quitta”; a sample of DJ Paul shouting the hook is sandwiched around new verses from his fellow mafioso Juicy J. You might be more familiar with Marshmello’s radio-friendly production, but “Hitta” has Eptic’s fingerprints all over it, with sharp brass stabs creating urgency and texture. Perhaps surprisingly, this ode to a one-hitter stays fresh bump after bump.

    — Wren Graves

    DREAMERS feat. Big Boi, UPSAHL & All Time Low – “Palm Reader” (All Time Low Remix)

    Pop-rock trio DREAMERS stir up a mystical mash-up of genres by tapping All Time Low to remix their latest single “Palm Reader.” Featuring guest turns by UPSAHL and Outkast’s Big Boi on the second verse and philosophical bridge, the track marks the first remix of the iconic pop-punk band’s long career as they reimagine the danceable beat of the original song into a hard-charging magic potion full of crunchy electric guitars and relentless, crashing percussion.

    — Glenn Rowley

    IDER – “Bored”

    What’s the best way to beat the system? According to IDER, it might be to tear the system down entirely. “Bored,” the latest release from the London-based duo, was “written in a stream of consciousness” according to best friends and bandmates Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville, and it certainly sounds that way. The track is steady, with quick and conversational verses, listing off the many aspects of the music industry and general power dynamics that have Marwick and Somerville fed up.

    They’re not even angry, though — just worn out and exhausted by the archaic systems that don’t serve the creative process. Bold to put out a diss track towards so many parts of the industry in which these artists function, but if this inclusion is any indicator, it worked.

    — Mary Siroky

    Nation Of Language – “Across That Fine Line”

    Nation Of Language have an affinity for contemplative synth pop, but their new track “Across That Fine Line” brings a whole new level of confidence to their ‘80s-inspired sound. The fast-rising Brooklyn trio mixes new wave sensibilities with a modern twist, and the result is a euphoric anthem about the moment a platonic relationship becomes something more. Led by a slinky bassline, a driving drum machine beat and frontman Ian Devaney’s booming voice, “Across That Fine Line” is a perfect introduction to Nation Of Language — and one that will keep us dancing.

    — Paolo Ragusa

    LUMP – “Climb Every Wall”

    LUMP, the duo comprised of London singer-songwriter Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay of the band Tunng, continue to exist on their own wavelength. While the title might initially indicate a direction geared towards this recent era of boredom and stagnancy, one step further might have the listener thinking of the ending of classic film Sound of Music — namely, the sweeping, epic finale of “Climb Every Mountain.” The latter was actually the source of inspiration for Marling, who learned in a recent documentary that there were corners of the world that cut the song from the end of the film due to its inherent thematic proclamations of individuality and expression.

    Sonically, though, that’s where the similarities end. The song walks the line between eerie and cutesy, existing on a razor’s edge and juxtaposing the psychedelic with the traditional. As with recent album title track “Animal,” LUMP continue to dig into the theme of hedonism — and we are indulgently along for the ride.

    — Mary Siroky

    Top Songs Playlist

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