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Death makes sad teens horny in this week’s Go Slow No

Billie Eilish, Juice Wrld

Billie Eilish, Juice Wrld Album art

In our latest album roundup: jazz-but-you’ll-like-it, the first bona fide pop star born in the 21st century, an Australian master craftsman’s autumnal reveries, rock’s longest-toiling Marxist-ish punk-folk collective, and, yuck, the perpetrator of my least favorite 2018 hit single returning to the scene of the crime.

The Comet Is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery

Despite the album title’s cosmic vagueness, there’s nothing spaced-out or occult about this sax-synth-drum trio, featuring the mighty British-Barbadian hornman Shabaka Hutchings, reigning here under the name King Shabaka. His attack is blunt and focused, communicating emotion in sharp, staccato bursts and repeating strands of upwardly arching melody, his tune-sense holding strong even when he’s telegraphing a series of single note dot-dot-dashes. Drummer Max “Betamax” Hallett can sprawl out with trippy accents but prefers a steady backbeat or heavy unshifting patterns, and synth maestro Danalogue (aka Dan Leavers) is a versatile mood-setter, contributing minimalist ripples that nostalgically echo ’70s futurism, new-wave chord vamps, and a synth bass I bet you’ll feel in your pancreas if you see them at the Turf in June. (Related: Go see them at the Turf in June.) If Kamasi Washington’s sprawling spiritual ecstasy ever strikes you as just maybe a little bit extra, here’s some brassy improv as down to earth as the volatile hunk of gaseous interstellar ice Hutchings and his pals are sure will one day destroy our planet. GO

Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

This breathy showbiz kid’s skull-emoji trap-pop has apparently triggered premature midlife crises in several millennial media pros who Can’t Figure Her Out, but really, what’s not to get? Death makes sad teens horny, a timeless truth Eilish is precocious enough to exploit for dark lulz where she might be expected to strike a supposedly gender-appropriate pose of somber, witchy melancholy. Her flashlight-under-the-chin, creepy-crawly shtick hardly trivializes the lives she’s seen lost or deaths she’s imagined for herself (that’s not how jokes work), and even in her more sincere and subdued moments she shows up the manipulative nihilizzzm of the Soundcloud nothings whose beats her producer bro Finneas bites and bests. Hope the Eilish sibs Ouija’d for permission to jack the Doors hook on “Bury Your Friend,” if only because I’m sure Jim would be tickled by the idea. A pop star who I suspect is constitutionally (not to mention physically) incapable of belting out a Number One ballad about Believing in Yourself? Maybe Gens Z and X will learn to coexist after all. Just don’t ask Y. GO

Robert Forster – Inferno

Forster is the surviving half of Australia’s greatest pop songwriting duo (with no Go-Betweens studio compilations currently streaming, I’d say start with Tallulah or Oceans Apart if that claim makes you curious or skeptical) and he’s notoriously unprolific—three new songs a year is bumper crop, the 61-year-old says. He’s gone as long as 12 years between solo albums, so let’s appreciate that it only took four for him to crank out these nine songs—or, OK, eight if setting Yeats’ “Crazy Jane on the Day of Judgement” to a languid guitar riff is cheating a little, though there’s something so eminently Forsterian about how his voice lolls over the Irish poet’s “I can scoff and lour/And scold for an hour” I say he earns full credit. Forster savors his words at an aesthete’s leisurely pace and muses on the vagaries of success and the passage of time with an air of earned tranquility—the most intense song here is about how often he had to mow the lawn last summer. (Granted, he does still sound pretty traumatized by that Brisbane humidity.) Yet the slight quaver when he sings “Time to walk around, time to hit the ground/Time to do my thing/Eat only what I eat, breathe only what I breathe/Well that's me” on “One Bird in the Sky” offers a reminder that his contentment isn’t so much achieved as practiced. GO

Mekons Deserted

This mad, ancient gang of lefty Brit expats holed up outside Joshua Tree to commune with the dust-choked phantoms of imperialism, and on that site as-yet-unheard folk songs were revealed to them in fever dreams. “In the Desert” rewrites “Ozymandias” from the perspective of a Middle Eastern puppet-state’s deposed patsy, prosperous coffee trader Rimbaud emerges as “Haile Selassie’s father’s friend,” and “Lawrence of California” is an excuse for the gang to LARP about wildly in the sand and shout “Soon I’ll be the king!” at each other. With all respect to Sally Timms’ lovely stoicism and Jon Langford’s gregarious bellow, the crown here belongs to Tom Greenhalgh and his beleaguered-wayfarer warble, the voice of a man clutching a rope he already sounded like he’d reached the end of 35 years ago. Sometimes their crypticism is mystical (“I am the pipe that others play/Sounds and silence crumble away”), sometimes it’s expressed in a shared language as private as early Wu-Tang, sometimes it sounds like a prophecy of a distant revolution. Yet the most beautiful song here has the simplest lyric: “How many stars are out tonight? How many stars? How many stars?” SLOW

 Juice WRLD Death Race for Love

In a plot twist nobody except everybody could see coming, the 19-year-old who decided last year life was meaningless because you stopped fucking him returns as a 20-year-old who decided life is meaningless because fame hasn’t solved all his problems. The least Mr. WRLD owes us is a snippy line or two complaining that the bulk of the royalties from “Lucid Dreams” went to buy Sting a new castle; instead he burrows into plaints like “My world revolves around a black hole/The same black hole that's in place of my soul/Empty, I feel so goddamn empty” so shamelessly you’d think he’d bet a pal he could make Robert Smith blush. I get why Jarad Higgins’ husky Auto-Tuned sulk sounds genuine to frazzled kids who have every reason to be: There’s no poetry or elaboration to his gloom, just mainlined despair and frantic lashing out at the nearest target, including himself if no one else is available. But take it from a depressed 21st century adult who was once a depressed 20th century teen: It’s never too soon to demand that art compensate you for your misery by transforming despair into something beautiful instead of merely serving as a mirror to the ugly, wrenching tedium of your own pain. Oh, and also, when the drugs start to make you sadder, ask someone how to stop. NO

Go Slow No is a weekly survey of new, newish, and overlooked album releases. The rating system is pretty self-explanatory: GO means listen to this now, SLOW means check it out when you get a chance, and NO means run screaming from the room if you hear so much as a note of it.