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Mitski’s Sharp Take on a Creative Life, and 12 More New Songs | tnewst.com Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mitski’s Sharp Take on a Creative Life, and 12 More New Songs

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Mitski monumentalizes an artist’s self-doubts — the creative impulse versus the editorial knife — in “Working for the Knife.” The track begins as a trudging march with stark, droning synthesizer tones, but Patrick Hyland’s production expands into ever-wider spaces with lofty, reverberating guitars. Mitski sings about missteps and rejections at first, but her imagination perseveres: “I start the day lying and end with the truth.” JON PARELES

This unexpected collaboration just had to happen. Sia has a memorably broken voice and a songwriting strategy of victim-to-victory that has brought her million-selling hits, both on her own and behind the scenes. Arca, who has made music with Björk and Kanye West, has an operatic voice and a mastery of disorienting electronics from eerie atmospherics to brutal beats. In “Born Yesterday,” Sia wails, “You took my heart and now it’s broken,” confronting a partner’s betrayal. Arca twists the electronic track all over the place, bringing in and warping and subtracting a four-on-the-floor beat, pumping up the drama as Sia decides whether she’ll be “your baby any more.” The twists never stop. PARELES

Cynics might see a Tainy-produced track featuring Bad Bunny and the beloved pop-rock icon Julieta Venegas as the type of collaboration engineered in major label conference rooms. But “Lo Siento BB” is a seamless matchup that leverages both artists’ capacities for pointed vocal drama. Venegas’s sky-high melodies and funereal piano transitions into El Conejo Malo’s signature baritone. Sad boys, sad girls and sad people, consider this your new anthem. ISABELIA HERRERA

The Black church has been close to the center or at the very root of many big changes in American popular music; and over in the jazz world recently, gospel has been reasserting its influence. The pianist and bandleader Robert Glasper is a main driver of the trend, and this week he released “Shine,” an early single from the forthcoming “Black Radio 3,” featuring the rising M.C. D Smoke and the vocalist Tiffany Gouché. Glasper gifts the session with a signature sparkly harmonic vamp, and D Smoke projects farsighted conviction on his verses; Gouché’s vocals are beatific. This is the trinity that made the first “Black Radio” a smash, and has fed Glasper’s star formula: a gospel core, backpack-generation rap wisdom and bravado performances from female singers. But the track’s low-key showstopper is the bassist Burniss Travis, who’s doing more here than you might at first realize, which is exactly the intent. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

This is one of the standout tracks on “Then I’ll Be Happy,” the new collaborative EP from the rising hyperpop stars glaive and ericdoa. At the beginning, it has some of the parchedness of early emo, but then lightning-bolt squelchy synths arrive, and fraught vocals that sound like they’re being microwaved in real time. JON CARAMANICA

James Blake is smart to let SZA upstage him in “Coming Back.” It starts as one more slice of his usual keyboard-and-falsetto melancholy, but when SZA arrives she challenges both his morose narrative — “Don’t you have a clue about where my mind is right now?” — and his stolid music, as she bounces syllables around the beat and brings new zigzags to the melody. Blake rises to the competition, chopping up the production and pepping up his tune. Even so, the song may not convince her to come back. PARELES

It has been clear for a long time, but just to spell it out: Justin Bieber is the world’s savviest beat-shopper. While the lyrics of “Red Eye” flaunt the prerogatives of glamorous bicoastal American living — “You should be hopping on a redeye”— the track, by the British producer TroyBoi, plays with electronics, reggaeton, Afrobeats, dubstep and dembow: so digital, so professional, so perky, so slick. PARELES

Latin pop’s geographical borders are dissolving. C. Tangana, a rapper turned singer from Spain, and Nathy Peluso, an R&B-loving singer from Argentina, find a meeting place amid the light-fingered guitar syncopations of bachata, a style from the Dominican Republic. “Ateo” translates as “atheist,” but the song quickly makes clear that desire and bachata add up to “a miracle come down from heaven”; now they’re believers. PARELES

Kelis’s first new song in seven years sneaks up on you. Full of whispered astral funk and understated steaminess, it’s a welcome return for one of R&B’s left-field luminaries. CARAMANICA

Tambino lets genres slip through his fingers like fine grains of white sand. On “Estos Días,” a sliced-up baile funk rhythm blends into dance-punk verve, only to burst into the soaring drama of a pop ballad. The track is a meditation on the protests that spread across the world last year, and the police violence that continues to plague marginalized communities. “Nos mata la policía,” he intones. “The police kill us.” But in the trembling fragility of the Peruvian-born artist’s voice, there lies a kind of radical hope. “Yo voy hacer mejor/Dejar todo el dolor,” it quivers. “I’m going to do better/Leave behind all the pain.” HERRERA

Susana Baca, the Afro-Peruvian songwriter and folklorist who has also served as Peru’s Minister of Culture, marks the 50th year of her career with her new album “Palabras Urgentes” (“Urgent Words”), connecting age-old injustices to the present. “Negro del Alma” is a traditional Andean song commemorating a complicated past, when Andean natives met Afro-Peruvians and fell in love. Baca complicates it further, meshing disparate Peruvian traditions of marimbas, hand percussion and horns. But her voice carries through the song’s anguish and determination. PARELES

Suzanne Ciani’s “Morning Spring” is the first taste of “@0,” a new charity compilation showcasing the works of ambient creators past and present. Here, orbs of synth bubbles float to the surface like a cool carbonated drink, while others wash beneath, ebbing and flowing like the low tide. Ciani — a synth pioneer recently celebrated in the documentary “Sisters With Transistors: Electronic Music’s Unsung Heroines” — renders an aquatic concerto, its symphonic movements receding and transforming at every turn, like the curling crests of ocean waves. HERRERA

As his contribution to “Relief,” a forthcoming compilation benefiting the Jazz Foundation of America’s Musicians’ Emergency Fund, the esteemed alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett provided an unreleased outtake from the sessions for his standout 2012 album, “Seeds From the Underground.” With a teetering melody and a swaggering mid-tempo swing feel, “Joe Hen’s Waltz” pays homage to the saxophonist Joe Henderson, nodding to his knack for slippery melodies that seem to move through a house of mirrors. In Garrett’s quartet at the time, much of the energy was being generated by his partnership with the pianist Benito Gonzalez, whose playing is rooted in Afro-Latin clave and the influence of McCoy Tyner, but has an effervescent phrasing style of its own. RUSSONELLO


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