The Playlist: Lana Del Rey’s Smoldering Return, and 11 More New Songs - Freeverything.com

The Playlist: Lana Del Rey’s Smoldering Return, and 11 More New Songs


Hear tracks from Kurt Vile, Al Green, Mariah Carey, Gucci Mane and others.

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Lana Del Rey has released the first song from her forthcoming sixth album.CreditAlexandre Schneider/Getty Images

Lana Del Rey’s misery business continues to thrive. “Mariners Apartment Complex” is the first song she’s released in advance of her forthcoming sixth album, and it doesn’t vary much from the woozy grandeur she typically luxuriates in. But there’s a moment late in the song when a new feeling crystallizes: “Who I am is a big-time believer/That people can change, but you don’t have to leave her.” A lesson? A warning? A plea? JON CARAMANICA

Kurt Vile, ‘Bassackwards’

Two-chord folk-rock hypnosis and, of course, guitars running backward are the raison d’être for Kurt Vile’s “Bassackwards.” It’s yet another of his midtempo, semi-spoken meditations on a drifting mind and how the mundane becomes mystical. And it’s an exercise in how a collection of guitar licks can keep revealing new intersections for nearly 10 minutes. JON PARELES

Alice Merton, ‘Why So Serious’

This song, from Alice Merton’s debut album, “Mint,” due early next year, is a rousing take on centrist 1980s pop with a disco tempo and the faintest texture of Southern rock. Which is to say: Haim, watch out. CARAMANICA

Richard Thompson, ‘The Storm Won’t Come’

Richard Thompson has never made a bad album in a career dating back to the 1960s, when he was a prime mover in British trad-rock with Fairport Convention. But “13 Rivers,” his new one, is filled with the spark of his peak moments: a grim urgency, an unflinching gaze, a lean intensity to the music. Maybe it’s because so many of the songs are in minor modes; maybe it’s because his lyrics probe psychological states instead of concocting character studies; maybe it’s because he keeps his guitar playing upfront; maybe it’s because his hardheaded stoicism suits a dire era. In “The Storm Won’t Come” he longs for a cleansing apocalypse over a Bo Diddley beat, and his two-minute lead-guitar finale summons elemental forces. PARELES

Al Green, ‘Before the Next Teardrop Falls’

Al Green’s first solo recording in a decade is a reminder of past glories, particularly “Love and Happiness.” It’s a remake of Freddy Fender’s country hit with familiar landmarks: the kind of 1970s Memphis soul beat that Willie Mitchell used to provide, a churchy organ, discreet strings and emphatic horn interjections. Most important, Mr. Green is his old self: arriving anywhere he wants around the beat, gliding or leaping, importunate and reassuring. The performance, like the song, promises steadfastness, not surprise. PARELES

Gucci Mane featuring Bruno Mars and Kodak Black, ‘Wake Up in the Sky’

Tremendously tender and seductively smooth, this patient, sparkling collaboration is an unexpected turn for all of its participants. For Gucci Mane, it’s an elevated version of the plain-spoken raps he’s been leaning on since his release from prison. For Kodak Black, it’s a more concisely structured take on his roundabout tongue twisters. And for Bruno Mars, it’s an opportunity to showcase his singing silky singing, but with a naughty twist. CARAMANICA

Jacob Banks featuring Seinabo Sey, ‘Be Good to Me’

Handclaps are all that accompany Jacob Banks’s deep, husky baritone as “Be Good to Me” begins, making it sound as if it could be an old traditional dirge. Then the synthesizers appear, throbbing and lurching, dropping out and plunging back in with dubstep impact, pushing distortion into the mix. In one of the silences, Seinabo Sey suddenly arrives: “My stupid heart is always a casualty,” she announces. “If you hit and run, do it gracefully.” The song heaves between overloaded, of-the-moment electronics and soulful voices; it’s definitely remix bait. PARELES

Mariah Carey becomes an angry ghost on “GTFO,” which does not abbreviate the four-letter word in the title when she sings it. “I ain’t the type to play the martyr,” she tells the guy who’s done her wrong. “How ’bout you get the” etc. She uses only a little of her broad vocal range or her power; instead, she sings most of the song in a small, breathy voice, multitracked over a squashed, mechanical-sounding track, opening up only a little more when she reaches the title and refrain. He’s so unworthy that she can dispatch him at a fraction of her strength. PARELES

Now Vs Now, ‘Silkworm Society’

“Silkworm Society” comes from “The Buffering Cocoon,” out Friday, the third album from Now Vs Now. This trio features Panagiotis Andreou on bass, Justin Tyson on drums and Jason Lindner, its de facto bandleader, playing keyboards and effects as if he’s navigating an intergalactic pod. The entire album will make you remember the 1990s for a second — when tech still made us feel optimistic, and space seemed like the place — then it’ll make you ponder the future. For fans of: Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, early Dr. Dre, late J Dilla, the cinema of Fernand Léger, etc. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Lil Tjay, ‘Leaked’ and ‘Brothers’

A squeaky melodist in the vein of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, the young Bronx rapper Lil Tjay only has a handful of songs under his belt but has already honed the sound of exuberance. Sometimes, like on his new single “Leaked,” his sinuous vocals hit peaks while he talks about his newfound success: “I remember last year [expletive] went to Coney/Never thought that this year I’d have a deal with Sony.” And sometimes, like on his rising hit, the stellar “Brothers,” his sweet, twisty vocals mask something far starker:

Bodies drop all the time I don’t feel nothing
Swear to God y’all gon’ make me go kill something
Told my shooters no mercy or chill button
I done been through so much I don’t feel nothing

CARAMANICA

Medeski, Martin & Wood with Alarm Will Sound, ‘Northern Lights’

Here’s a match that was waiting to happen: the eclectic improvising trio Medeski, Martin & Wood and Alarm Will Sound, a 20-piece chamber ensemble with a spirit of incursion at its core. On Friday they released “Omnisphere,” a collaborative album featuring original compositions from members of both groups. “Northern Lights,” a modal piece written by the Alarm Will Sound bassist Miles Brown, centers on a wavering, seven-beat cycle. A marsh of brass and woodwinds set the stage, then John Medeski’s swirling drawbar solo carries everything off into the ether. RUSSONELLO

Jon Pareles has been The Times’s chief pop music critic since 1988. A musician, he has played in rock bands, jazz groups and classical ensembles. He majored in music at Yale University. @JonPareles

Jon Caramanica is a pop music critic for The Times and the host of the Popcast. He also writes the men’s Critical Shopper column for Styles. He previously worked for Vibe magazine, and has written for the Village Voice, Spin, XXL and more. @joncaramanica





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