Essential Tracks This Week: Björk, Paramore and more

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Björk Fossora review

We skipped last week’s Essential Tracks for reasons we can’t quite remember, but the good news is that there’s still no shortage of great new music to hear today, on what’s one of the busiest new music Fridays of the entire year. Including a new Björk album, which is naturally taking up some of our attention right now. Including one track on this best new songs of the week roundup, as well as the return of a blockbuster alternative group, a second offering this year from one of the most consistently compelling hip-hop artists, and more.

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

Björk – “Fossora”

The final single that Björk released before finally dropping Fossora is its title track, which reveals a pretty big payoff for all the strange, ephemeral clues she’s been dropping throughout the process of rolling out singles from her new album. It’s earthy and caked in soil, following a trail of dreamy clarinets into a surrealistic fantasy world. “Fiddly time signatures”? Yep. A climax of pummeling gabber techno beats? Absolutely. It feels like Björk being pulled into two separate directions while somehow finding the unlikely harmony between them, opposite poles of aggressive extreme rhythm and whimsical ambience coexisting in an explosive, giddy and fun highlight. It’s been a while since Björk got the adrenaline going like this.

From Fossora, out now via One Little Independent

Paramore – “This Is Why”

Five years ago, Paramore found some of their most dancefloor-friendly grooves on the excellent After Laughter, which only slightly makes the new wave funk of “This is Why” less of a revelation. But only a little—immediately signaling a new post-punk-driven art-pop direction for the band, reminiscent of both St. Vincent and Talking Heads, “This Is Why” packs two years of paranoia and malaise into a fever that can only be cured via twitchy dance moves, scratchy guitar riffs and a chant-along chorus. This one will almost certainly be a live highlight, though their tour sold out in record time so, uh, might need to wait until it shows up on the feed. In the meantime, this banger will have to do.

From This Is Why, out February 10 via Atlantic

dazy – “Split”

On last year’s MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD tape, James Goodson packed 24 songs onto sides of analog, each concise, fuzzy power pop gem feeling like a song-of-the-summer candidate regardless of the season. With dazy’s proper full-length debut OUTOFBODY due in October, Goodson has shared an ecstatic minute and 47 seconds of distortions, hooks and pure sonic joy. Listen to it on headphones and soak in the shoegazey sonic details or just let it loop a few times to refresh the dopamine hit from hearing that chorus again—either way, those first two minutes won’t be nearly enough.

From OUTOFBODY, out October 28 via Lame-O

billy woods x Messiah Musik – “Paraquat”

Only months after releasing the incredible Aethiopes from earlier this year, enigmatic and prolific emcee billy woods surprise-released another new album, Church, a full-length collaboration with Messiah Musik. And from the moment it begins, it feels like we’ve been dropped into the middle of an even more alien and unfamiliar world, with Messiah’s gorgeous synth-laden loops circling woods’ intertwining references to James Harden, a girl named Stacy and inflation: “Prices so fuckin’ high I had to do ’em dirty just to make a profit/Splits like Spotify numbers.” A first listen to this mesmerizing leadoff track is like the first spin of any woods project—it leaves a big impression, but it’ll still be a few more listens yet before reaching any easy conclusion.

From Church, out now via Backwoodz

Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn – “Saffron”

Since announcing their upcoming collaborative album, Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn have been releasing tracks from it in groups of four—their atmospheric, almost neoclassical art-pop pieces seem to work almost more like suites than standalone songs, though within each grouping there seems to be at least one climactic moment. “Saffron” is one of them, an ambient pop dirge built around melancholy clarinet leads and an arrangement in a league with late-era Talk Talk (or the excellent new Beth Orton record, for that matter). But it’s hard not to direct one’s attention to Richard once she begins singing, even though it takes on a dramatically different form than on her solo records. Her delay heavy vocal treatment is commanding but nonetheless interlocking with the arrangement in an intricate choreography—it’s no wonder the visual representation the duo chose for the song is a pair of dancers moving gracefully in a field.

From Pigments, out October 21 via Merge

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