Lorde’s Sunburst, and 10 More New Songs


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The last thing to expect from a moody and intense songwriter like Lorde was a lighthearted song about fun in the summer sun. “Solar Power,” the theme song from an upcoming album, is just that, with three chords and snappy acoustic rhythm guitar (and a look back at George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90”) to celebrate landing on the beach and getting suntanned Cheeks and threw away her “cell phone”: “Can you reach me? No! You can’t, ”she sings and giggles. She has a casual but attention-grabbing boast – “I’m a bit like a prettier Jesus” – and an invitation that is completely free of ambivalences: “Come on and let the bliss begin.” JON PARELES

To be sure, I googled and confirmed that no one had referred to Ava Max as Una Lipa. There is still time. (That’s a compliment.) JON CARAMANICA

A beat ticks behind slowly pulsating synthesizer chords when Saint Jhn appears, who claims lovesickness but safely distances her with Auto-Tune. But when SZA arrives after a minute and a half, her voice jumps out. Like him, she announces a desperate, dangerous fall in love. Unlike him, she sounds like she’s serious. PARELES

Infinitely happy lite pop soul, “Favorite Song” is a fluctuating strut by PmBata that switches back and forth between singing and rapping, although it is less hip-hop influenced than his earlier singles like “Down for Real”. The come-ons are a little playful, but the setting is never less than cute. CARAMANICA

Jomoro is the alliance of two percussionists who have become songwriters: Joey Waronker, Beck’s long-time drummer, and Mauro Refosco, a mainstay of David Byrne. Of course they need singers, and they have various guests on Jomoro’s album “Blue Marble Sky”. Sharon Van Etten provides sustain and tension on “Nest” and sings about “the darkest corner, the back of the mind” over a steadfast march of synthesizer sounds structured with bells, shakers and hand drums: physical percussion, around one orchestrate mental journey inward. PARELES

It was inevitable that current bedroom pop songwriters would discover the muted intricacies of predecessors like Elliott Smith and Nick Drake. Clairo hugs both and immediately remembers Smith’s whispering vocal harmonies and, shortly after, Drake’s elegant string arrangements. She sings about an argument between kitchen table lovers and a situation that no man would portray: “Why do I tell you how I feel / If you just look in my blouse?” PARELES

Over a swirling sequence of arpeggios that Corey King plucks on the acoustic guitar, surrounded by the sounds of spring, Esperanza Spalding sings patiently and softly about long-term trauma and the search for support. “Wanna grow up and let go / but really not let go,” she begins. When Spalding comes to the chorus, it usually consists of a repeated line: “Dare to say it”. This track, released on Friday, is part of Spalding’s Songwright’s Apothecary Lab, an evolving project that envisions musical collaboration as a path to healing. (It already resulted in a suite of three powerful tracks created with other prominent musicians and released earlier this year.) She and King wrote “Formwela 4” in response to a simple challenge: “Say what is hardest to say between loved ones is. ”GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

The minimalism-loving Hypnotic Brass Ensemble has rediscovered “Sapphie”, an EP released in 1998 by prolific English musician Richard Youngs and re-released in 2006 by the Jagjaguar label, which celebrates its 25th anniversary with left-wing, interdisciplinary collaborations. Youngs ‘original version was a blatant acoustic meditation, just soft fingerpicking behind Youngs’ high-pitched, breaking voice, with musings like “Sometimes it’s never better than late / and there’s a free time” and “Happiness leaves everything as it is / and the future is not “nothing.” The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble adds inner harmonies and orchestrates them with Philip Glass-like motifs for brass and woodwinds and surreal reverberations, while the perfume genius sings in a rapt falsetto, trading Young’s loneliness for immersive depths. The video – perhaps a reference from the first line of the song, “work around museums”, shows the visual artist Lonnie Holley creating pictures with spray paint, twigs and wire. PARELES

The lanky, bony drum style on this track might be recognizable – especially for Bad Plus fans – as the sound of Dave King when he’s having fun. The drummer can be heard here in a new trio, led by virtuoso guitarist Julian Lage and with Jorge Roeder on bass. “Squint”, the title track of Lage’s Blue Note debut, begins with the guitarist alone and shows causally why he is one of the most dazzling improvisers of all; then comes King and things come together to create that heavy swing feeling held together by Roeder’s steady pace on the bass. RUSSONELLO

Poo Bear (Jason Boyd), a songwriter and producer with Justin Bieber, Usher, Jill Scott and many others, shows his own painful voice in “The Day You Left.” He’s a desperate lover who knows he’s been betrayed for years but still wants his partner back. Production by a team that includes Skrillex keeps opening new electronic spaces around him, with heavenly keyboards in some, shadowy whispers in others. PARELES

Even more glorious yelps from Alabama singing rapper NoCap, who can withstand a few push-and-pulls with a partner on a light blues country guitar. “I could be gone for a while, just write,” he urges, but admits that he is not in the driver’s seat. If she feels compelled to get lost, he says, “just don’t hold on to him.” CARAMANICA



Robert Dunfee