gAs the darkness descends upon us, I’ve got a couple dance tracks to suggest that might help raise your spirits—as well as a dour Americana ballad about morphine in case you’d rather lean into the misery.
Dua Lipa – “Don’t Start Now”
Dua’s finally following those new rules, strutting away from an ex, head high, over the kind of forthright disco that registers as “defiant self-esteem” with every snare hit. Love those little electro-conga fills and string flourishes too.
La Roux – “International Woman of Leisure”
Let’s keep it in the club. The first new La Roux in five years (you remember “Bulletproof” right? whew, good) slots nicely alongside Dua, with a pitch-bent hook and attenuated Chic rhythm guitar adding seductive detail as Elly Jackson’s spry confidence sets the mood.
Dawn feat. Trakgirl – “Slim Thicc”
The Afrofuturist fka as Dawn Richard released New Breed, her most accessible album (and best, sez me) earlier this year, and the two singles she dropped this week are even more straightforward. Each has a global flair, with the sinuous sex jam “Ay Papi” juicy enough, but the way the beat skitters and Dawn’s voice bounds on dancehall-vibing “Slim Thicc” make that track my pick.
Randy Mason feat. Homeboy Sandman – “Be Okay”
I’m glad I knew zip about this Bronx MC before the algorithm shuffled him my way—a youth counselor proffering a message of positivity and self-acceptance can go wrong so many ways, I might have passed, even with a feature from one of my favorite indie rappers as bait. But unlike most supposed mood-boosters, which try too hard, I can imagine my day brightening a notch after a spinning this.
Gauche – “Body Count”
Featuring members of Priests and Downtown Boys, this band’s sax-y post-punk debut A People’s History of Gauche was less abrasive than either of those esteemed lefty punk groups, and here they’re definitively placing party before politics. You could even twist to this.
The Delines – “Eight Floors Up”
OK, let’s end this week on a mellow, if not melancholy, note. The Delines started the year with a full-length, The Imperial, that I tried to get you to listen to. And they’re ending it with a rumination on morphine addiction laid out in typically unsentimental lyrics. As always Willy Vlautin writes ’em and Amy Boone makes ’em sing.
Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2019 playlist.