Song of the Week delves into the latest hits we just can’t get out of our heads. Find these tracks and more in our Spotify Top Songs playlist, and for our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Childish Gambino returns with swarm EP and “Sticky”.
It’s rare for such a mischievous song to conjure up such a menacing aura – and yet, that’s exactly what KIRBY and Childish Gambino achieve with “Sticky.” The song arrives under the name of fictional pop star Nega, the central character in Donald Glover’s new Prime Video series, swarm. newly released swarm The EP is led by pop songwriter KIRBY, whose credits include work with Kanye West, Ariana Grande, and Beyoncé.
high point of swarm The EP arrives at its final track, “Sticky”. Built on an irresistible hook that feels lifted from a fairytale nursery rhyme, the song blooms with brightness. A banjo cuts arpeggios below Childish Gambino’s and KIRBY’s chants as lush harp drifts along – a perfect display contrasting with the darkness that swims beneath.
swarm She follows one of Najah’s most devoted fans as she becomes increasingly annoyed that she kills anyone who disapproves of her pop star dominance. Although there are some obvious characters being mocked in Ni’jah – the easier comparisons are between Beyoncé and Taylor Swift – “Sticky” and the rest swarm The EP does not sonically align with any of these artists. Instead, it’s more akin to the insular funk and cinematic R&B found in Childish Gambino’s latest project.
“Sticky” thrives on obsessive lyrical perspective and subtle vocal chaos. Glover’s expressive blunder warns the listener, “I’ll come and find you/Keep you on the right track,” a line that’s as bizarre as it is amusing. When the second chorus hits, you can faintly hear a chorus of childish voices screaming behind the hook, and when Glover shouts, “Look at the mess we’ve made,” he conjures up an army of manic attitudes with sharp, sinister grins.
witty swarm’The final track, “Sticky” provides a sense of ultimate destiny – no choice but to succumb to chaos. KIRBY and Childish Gambino have set the bar high, not only for their obscure songs about a fictional pop star, but for their combination of horror and pop. You shall not survive against swarmDeranged protagonist Dre, so… Stan is a survivor!
– Paulo Ragusa
Madlib, Meyhem Lauren, and DJ Muggs – “Wild Salmon”
“Life is a nice barbecue,” says Mihim Lorraine to close out “Wild Salmon,” the smashing new song from his collaborative album with Madlib and DJ Muggs, Champagne for breakfast. Sometimes the coals get too hot, sometimes they burn, Lauren suggests, but as long as you have friends and family, you’ll be fine. He also sings about a bull named Guicci who “eats better than your mother,” and in fact, the only person who eats better may be Mehim Lorraine, who hums the beats of two of the greatest who ever did it. – Wren Graves
Bella White – “Flowers On My Bed”
Bluegrass and folk seem duly apt to address the feelings of loneliness that come with change. On “Flowers on My Bedside,” Canadian-born singer Bella White bends genres to her will, producing a fresh sound that explores a melancholy all too familiar. Here, her light vocals reflect the guts that quickly build and fade in the face of an ex-lover, as her gentle acoustic guitar sways through the wreckage. Honest and stately, “Flowers on My Bed” elevates familiar ballad style, showcasing White’s knack for minimalism. – Maura Fallon
Stolen Jars – “I Won’t Stay Forever”
Your daily dose of broken-in beauty comes from Brooklyn band Stolen Jars. “The day you died / I thought I heard you were coming home,” singer Cody Fitzgerald sings, before joining Sarah Covey on the longing hook, “I won’t stay away forever.” Assembly lines sway beneath them, as double bass swell with rising emotion, piling on new harmonies and melodies until song and listener are ready to explode. – WG
L.A. Priest – “That’s You”
The first single from L.A. Priest’s upcoming third studio album Luna phase, out on May 5th is the delightfully funky “It’s You,” and it’s great to have the psych-pop artist back in the mix again. He certainly has a penchant for clear, tight, impeccable sounds, as shown in his clean guitar work, rambling bass lines, and powerful percussion. His warm baritone is further emphasized on “It’s You,” as he hits a vocal note akin to both Mac DeMarco and Perfume Genius. It’s a undulating, laid-back track, occasionally offset by a blissful vocal hearth or guitar that intentionally gets out of tune, and a welcome return to what L.A. Priest does best. – Public relations
Friko – “Crimson to Chrome”
The trio of frontman Nico Capitan, drummer Billy Minzenberger, and bassist Luke Stamos continue Chicago’s great musical tradition of unpretentious fun. Friko switches between loud and quiet, thoughtful and self-deprecating, while never expressing anything less than the unbridled joy of noise. “I’m sitting here writing the same sad song / With the gears ablaze / Spinning constantly,” El Capitan sings, as the rhythm section growls and roars back. With youthful exuberance and seasoned chops, few bands build up to such furious crescendos. – WG
Flycatcher – “Rust”
Active since 2017, Flycatcher has found indie rock a new tool by tapping into a different kind of emotion: rage. “I had a really strange experience that left me extremely angry and confused and not sure how to direct it,” vocalist Greg Pease said in a statement. “I fancied writing something fairly intense but had no idea how far we could go.” The results lead to Hardcore Sound’s Turnstile Wall performance silent alarm-The Bloc Party era, referring to a great new era for the band. – WG
Alice Phoebe Low – “Shelter”
As “Shelter” opens, lead guitar rises, rhythm guitar drops, and Alice Phoebe Lou moves on to her next technical phase. The lead single from a soon-to-be-announced album finds the world-class songwriter teasing the tension between selflessness, self-protection, fresh air, and shelter. She sings “picking flowers” and urges, “Open the door and let the air in” before turning inside. I decide to “I’m going to take refuge / I’m going to run for shelter,” ending on a darker note that contrasts with the sunny guitars: “I’m going to have to find myself.” – WG
BLK Odyssy and Bootsy Collins – “Honeysuckle Bone”
There is something special about the cooperation of the old and the new guard. With “Honeysuckle Neckbone,” the latest track from BLK ODYSSY featuring the legendary Bootsy Collins, the magic is no different, as the pair come together on the edge of funk and rap to dance the listener along a cliff. It’s the musical equivalent of swimming in waves – with a floating baseline, melodic background vocals that engulf you, and the subtle driving force of BLK ODYSSY’s verses, you’d better lie back and let the song take you wherever you want it to go. – FM
Love Island – “Fed Rock”
Love Island brings back two of rock’s great pastimes: guitar fireworks and nonsense talk. The first band signed to Third Man Records London wrote “Fed Rock” about some of their rivals on the music scene, and the results are amazing. “They all look the same, I don’t know how they get away,” co-lead Linus Munch sings, “they all have shitty names.” Without good music to back it up, all the lyrics would be pretty empty, but the verses and chorus rip, and at the bridge, Love Island let the pithy guitar riffs do the talking. – WG