Before you bust in with your (perfectly valid!) "What about Fiona?", lemme explain.
I try to focus here on tracks that stand alone, the kind we used to call “singles” back when that term made commercial and artistic sense. For me, the songs on Fetch the Bolt Cutters work best heard together as an album—an album I might just have something to say about on this here website soon.
Bob Dylan – “I Contain Multitudes”
He’s a sly old fucker, so he leads you on a bit before landing the punchlines and pratfalls (though hardly as interminably as on “Murder Most Foul”). If the song title and stately accompaniment suggest some kind of career-capping “My Way" statement, the wary will suspect something’s gone awry by the time Bob’s voice dissolves into gravelly goo around “Bally-na-Lee.” The lines about Anne Frank, Indiana Jones, and “them British bad boys” the Rolling Stones have been the most frequently quoted, but some of my personal faves rhyme with the title, especially “I drive fast cars, and I eat fast foods.” Your fave Nobel laureate could never.
Cheekface – “Best Life”
I know, I know, if I write about this band any more we’re gonna have to rebrand as Cheekface Pages. But this is the shut-in anthem we all need and/or deserve, from the intro chant of “everything is normal” to the rallying cry “We are writers! Creatives! We work remotely!” to these words to live by: “It’s your best life if it’s the life that you’re living right now.” Even now? Even now.
Dua Saleh – “Umbrellar”
I wouldn’t exactly say Saleh goes pop here, but the heavy beat that leaps in for the chorus does provide a certain focus you don’t hear much in their earlier stuff. The lyric’s about "falling in love with a gay alien witch”; the track’s from the local artist’s upcoming EP Rosetta (as in Sister Tharpe, the gospel guitar-shredder and rock ‘n’ roll forbear). And I can't wait.
Thiago Nassif – “Soar Estranho”
With production from this Brazilian experimentalist’s regular collaborator and champion, no-wave pioneer turned Anglo samba aesthete Arto Lindsay, these squelches and squiggles and thumps reveal themselves as elements of a song in the gradual way that a hazy vision on the horizon takes corporeal shape. If this makes you curious for Nassif’s upcoming album, Mente, check out its predecessor, Três.
Playboi Carti – “@meh”
The rapper’s slurred inarticulation is up-pitched for further sonic camouflage over a somewhat soothing video game beat. It’s not what he says—it’s how he doesn’t say it.
Jamie xx – “Idontknow”
There are tracks that build, and then there are tracks that splatter, and I’m happy to report that Mr. xxhas jolted himself out of his typical good taste here with the latter. (Sorry for the rhyme.) The track leaps out of its groove with the rhythm accelerating till the drums approximate a breakbeat and voices busting in like background chatter from another wavelength. Next thing you know he’ll grow a mullet and get really into sick bass drops.
Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2020 playlist.