Essential Tracks This Week: Fever Ray, Pile and more

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Fever Ray

The year’s over in just a matter of weeks, though while there’s still some time left on the clock, this is likely our second to last Essential Tracks column of the year. (We think? We’ll see if there’s a new songs dump in December, but that tends not to happen very often.) The upside is that in December you’ll get to see what ended up being our favorite songs of the whole year. But for now, here are four of the week’s best new songs, including the return of some of our all-time favorites as well as a previously unreleased gem from the archives and another banger from one of the best new doom metal bands in the game.

Check out this week’s Essential Tracks, and listen to our ongoing 2022 Essential Tracks playlist.

Fever Ray – “Carbon Dioxide”

The return of Fever Ray has been one of this year’s highlights, though to a much more muted degree than when Karin Dreijer finally releases new album Radical Romantics, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2017’s Plunge. It features contributions from Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, as well as former partner in The Knife, Olof Dreijer, which is reason enough to freak the fuck out, but new single “Carbon Dioxide” (the second single from Radical Romantics, following “What They Call Us“) proves that as much great music that Fever Ray has given us, there’s still plenty of thrilling material left to reveal. “Carbon Dioxide” is one of Dreijer’s most immediate and accessible songs, albeit one that’s rich in layers of synthesizers and pulsing beats, a climactic dancefloor banger that’s just as appropriate for headphone vibing. This year’s not done yet, but Fever Ray’s offering the best reason yet to look forward to 2023.

From Radical Romantics, out March 10 via Mute

Pile – “Loops”

Pile’s Rick Maguire has been revisiting the Boston post-hardcore group’s material in new arrangements and more stripped-down form recently, so it’s an exciting thing to hear the band back to delivering the sharp, abrasive punch of their most urgent moments on “Loops.” It’s at once tense and among their heaviest material, driven by a menacing snare crack and understated guitar melodies. But as Maguire’s voice grows increasingly more harried and shredded, Pile increasingly reveal just how much damage they can do as a band, and here, as ever, it’s a glorious thing to behold.

From All Fiction, out February 17 via Exploding in Sound

Dream Unending – “Song of Salvation”

The songs that Dream Unending create don’t necessarily lend themselves to easily digestible singles. For instance, the title track that kicks off their newly released album Song of Salvation spans a meaty 14 minutes, but it gets to the action pretty quickly: “I wanted it to immediately suck you in. Like alright, we’re taking you for a ride,” guitarist Derrick Vella recently told me. But there’s still a lot going on here. Psychedelic textures, a lurching death-doom pace, majestic guitar riffs and melodic glory galore. While this song is longer than all the other featured Essential Tracks this week combined, it’s a smorgasbord of dazzling moments of towering doom metal, an emotionally affecting piece that rips and transcends in equal measure.

From Song of Salvation, out now via 20 Buck Spin

Beauty Pill – “Fugue State Companion”

Eclectic Washington, D.C. group Beauty Pill are preparing the release of a double-LP compilation of material from the early-mid 2000s, titled Blue Period. It will contain their full-length LP The Unsustainable Lifestyle and EP You Are Right to Be Afraid along with other material, including the previously unreleased “Fugue State Companion.” We can hear the transition from Chad Clark’s previous post-hardcore records with Smart Went Crazy into the more eclectic, prettier and ambitious material he’d create with Beauty Pill later on. While it opens with some raucous guitar riffs, it never returns to that climactic roar, instead easing into a spacious and deceptively catchy piece of sparse pop music that gives Clark’s nuanced songwriting some room to breathe.

From Blue Period, out January 20 via Ernest Jenning

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