Essential Tracks This Week: Jessie Ware, Lonnie Holley and more

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Jessie Ware essential tracks

Another week down and the list of playlist-worthy singles just keeps on growing. It’s one of the most stacked new release Fridays of the still-young year so far, and with it arrives a whole lot more to look forward to: A dancefloor-filling return from one of our favorite UK pop artists, a deep cut from some heavyweights dropping a new album today, some darkly playful post-punk, some eerily gritty punk rock, and more. Check out our picks for the best new songs this week.

Jessie Ware – “Pearls”

When Jessie Ware fully embraced disco on her 2020 album What’s Your Pleasure?, it proved to be an unexpectedly fertile source of inspiration. Last year’s “Free Yourself,” one of the year’s best songs, only kept the party going, while new single “Pearls,” a song that by her own admission “doesn’t take itself too seriously,” revels in hedonic bliss. On albums like her debut, Devotion, Ware crafted pop music defined by a certain subtlety and understatement, but this isn’t that, not even a little bit—the hooks are big, the beats are bigger, and the message offers no ambiguity whatsoever: “Shake it till the pearls fall.” You heard the diva—get shaking.

From That! Feels Good!, out April 28 via PMR/Interscope

Lonnie Holley – “I Am A Part of the Wonder” (ft. Moor Mother)

There’s about a minute at the opening of “I Am A Part of the Wonder” in which Lonnie Holley’s vocal repetitions seem to comprise more a kind of meditation or mantra than a song. It’s not long thereafter that everything shifts, that the music beneath his voice comes to life and starts to move, that the wonder he sings of actually begins to make itself known. And what wonder it is, grooving, pulsing, escalating and expanding, a rich jazz-funk sound whose horizons continue expanding as it goes. Here, Holley is joined by Moor Mother, whose presence feels like a kind of grounding foil to his impassioned vocal flights, a contrast of two inimitable voices each exploring a sort of sacred mystery via two different but parallel paths.

From Oh Me Oh My, out March 10 via Jagjaguwar

Depeche Mode – “Ghosts Again”

Despite their brash, early neon hits like “Just Can’t Get Enough,” Depeche Mode’s made a career of tracing the dark shadows of pop music—never casting melody or immediacy aside, but always acknowledging its haunting nuances. That takes on a certain mournfulness in the context of the release of new song “Ghosts Again,” an immediate but understated elegy that carries a heavy dose of grief after the death of longtime bandmate Andy Fletcher. Against a dark, open-hearted arrangement that feels most aligned with the group’s underrated ’90s-era material, “Ghosts Again” finds vocalist Dave Gahan offering lines like “time is fleeting” and “Everybody says goodbye.” Given the gothic drama of many of the band’s biggest songs, entangled in sex, drugs and religious metaphors, “Ghosts Again” is unusually tempered and touching, a sweetly aching reflection on genuine loss.

From Memento Mori, out March 24 via Columbia

Paramore – “Running Out of Time”

The early singles from Paramore’s latest album This Is Why have been steeped in the jerky groove of dancepunk, an aesthetic echoed by bringing bands like Foals and Bloc Party on tour. “Running Out of Time” doesn’t entirely break out of that aesthetic, but amid Hayley Williams’ lament on being unable to catch up with the passage of time, the group takes an unusual and understated path toward its urgent safety-pin disco chorus, as much Off the Wall as Entertainment! But as cool as everything sounds here, it’s Williams’ vocals that prove to be its mesmerizing focal point, an intoxicating showcase for her range and knack for subtly memorable melodies alike.

From This Is Why, out now via Atlantic

FACS – “When You Say”

Chicago trio FACS have rarely spiraled too far outside the core of their sound—guitars, bass and drums in an abrasive and taut series of permutations that have yet to be exhausted. “When You Say” offers only the brightest glimpse of a realm beyond the basic framework of their artfully abstract post-punk, but it feels like so much more than that. Alianna Kalaba’s murky bass is the element that holds the pieces together, but an arpeggio flutters over everything like gamelan gongs, and melancholy squeals of guitar introduce a subtly powerful surge of emotion that emphasizes the power behind their graceful, minimalist movements. It feels like the beginning of something new and exciting.

From Still Life in Decay, out April 7 via Trouble in Mind

Poison Ruin – “Härvest”

Poison Ruin’s self-titled debut LP, a compilation of two lo-fi cassettes they released in 2020 and 2021, became something of an underground cult favorite due to its blend of dungeon synth atmosphere and driving, lo-fi gothic punk rock. Now signed to metal powerhouse Relapse, Poison Ruin haven’t abandoned their scuffed up and sinister aesthetic on the title track to their new album Härvest. Rollicking and rowdy with a moody intro and a climactic final act engineered for shout-along revelry, it feels like the Philly band’s update of The Damned’s “Smash It Up,” extending anarchic rebellion and youthful unrest into an act of creative destruction. Gloomy as it might be, “Härvest” is as fun as contemporary punk rock gets.

From Härvest, out April 14 via Relapse

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