The 10 Best New Songs

Featuring Caroline Polachek, Hovvdy, TORRES and more

Music Lists Best New Songs
The 10 Best New Songs

Comparing songs is a bit like comparing shells on the beach: Each is beautiful in its own way, but there are so damn many that you can only really afford to hang onto the truly special ones. After walking the metaphorical beach these past seven days and scooping us as many shells as we could, we put just 10 in our collective Paste Music pockets, including an unexpected comeback track from Caroline Polachek, the wonderful title tunes from new Hovvdy and TORRES albums, and the latest single from our July Best of What’s Next picks Provoker, to name only a handful. Dig into the best new songs of the week below.

Caroline Polachek: “Bunny Is a Rider”

Caroline Polachek’s otherworldly presence has made her one of pop’s most intriguing figures, first as co-founder of the synth-pop outfit Chairlift, and now as a solo act. Her 2019 debut Pang was a stunner, making our list of the best pop albums of that year. This week, Polachek returned with her first original piece of music since then, “Bunny Is a Rider.” The single is a sonic departure from Polachek’s dreamy, introspective indie-pop as she veers into spicier territories. Deep bass provided by producer Danny L Harle and whistles transport listeners into a Caribbean paradise as Polachek reflects on operating untethered to anyone or anything. In a statement, Polachek elaborates on her new track: “‘Bunny Is a Rider’ is a summer jam about being unavailable. Bunny is slippery, impossible to get ahold of. Maybe it’s a fantasy, maybe it’s a bad attitude. But anyone can be Bunny, at least for three minutes and 17 seconds.” —Jade Gomez

Hana Vu: “Maker”

Los Angeles-based artist Hana Vu takes a compelling step forward on “Maker,” her first new single since 2019, and her debut release on Ghostly International after Luminelle Recordings put out her first two records, 2018’s self-produced How Many Times Have You Driven By and 2019 double-EP Nicole Kidman / Anne Hathaway. The 21-year-old (!) teamed up with a co-producer for the first time on her new track, writing and performing “Maker” alongside Jackson Phillips (aka Day Wave). The result stands in stark contrast to the sleek pop of Vu’s previous output, with a stylistic sensibility that makes little sense on paper: Her hypnotic contralto stretches across Phillips’ delicate guitar and banjo (?!) plucks, and a bass hum you feel in your gut as she begs her creator for some kind of salvation: “Can you make me / Anybody else? / Maker make me / Taker take it all,” she implores, prostrating herself before a force she recognizes is, like her, imperfect and fleeting. It’s a bold, existential swing of a track, and it connects on a level so deep, you may not have known you had access to it. —Scott Russell

Hovvdy: “True Love”

The lead single and title track from Hovvdy’s new album due out Oct. 1, “True Love” debuted on Tuesday along with a video. True Love, the Austin, Texas duo’s fourth LP and Grand Jury debut, was co-produced by Andrew Sarlo (Bon Iver, Big Thief) and recorded at Sarlo’s Los Angeles studio throughout 2020—in a time when their music’s open-hearted sweetness was most needed. Hovvdy are a long way from their DIY bedroom-pop beginnings on “True Love,” a lush, acoustic guitar- and piano-driven tune with gentle, but firm touches of cosmic Americana. In the interval since their 2019 album Heavy Lifter, Charlie Martin and Will Taylor both married their partners, and Taylor had a child. All that love is a precious gift, but also a huge responsibility: “You comfort me, Rosy,” they harmonize, repeating in the swirling outro, “Do you believe what I said / That I am the man I say I am?” “For each Hovvdy record there’s always been a song that kinda shocks my system, kinda jolts me into a brand new and inspired place. This was definitely that song for me,” Martin said of “True Love” in a statement. “I remember writing it and feeling a rush of excitement—crying a lot honestly. it feels so good to express love and appreciation when you really fucking mean it. but it’s hard to feel worthy of love, of something so rare, and all we can do is try to measure up—that’s what that last part is all about.” —Scott Russell

Mega Bog: “Maybe You Died”

There is something so addicting about the way Mega Bog’s Erin Birgy uses her voice within her music. At times it’s playful, as though it dances overtop the instrumental—but at times it feels vital, like the small pulses of electricity that keep us alive and keep nature operating. On her latest track ahead of her new album Life, And Another, “Maybe You Died,” she functions almost as a grim narrator, sounding ethereal amid the dreamy, hazy instrumentation. Spacious and wide-reaching without feeling disjointed or disconnected, Mega Bog’s talent for wrapping the listener up and swallowing them in a cavern of emotion has never felt more tangible. “Maybe You Died,” like so many Mega Bog songs, feels at once solemn, aching and yet undeniably hopeful, like a sun rising through thick, gray clouds. —Jason Friedman

Provoker: “Rose in a Glass”

“Rose in a Glass,” which premiered at Paste Wednesday, is a fan-favorite Provoker have been playing live for quite some time, as well as their forthcoming debut album Body Jumper’s most cinematic track. Over a ghostly guitar riff and pumping drum machine beat and bassline, the band unspool the L.A. noir-esque story of an overmatched detective in search of a missing girl. “Only seen a single picture but feel like I know her,” Christian Petty sings, his character clinging to that tenuous connection against overwhelming odds, present danger and his own doubts—we’re left clinging to it, as well, as the song ends without a resolution. Meanwhile, in the track’s Alexis Gross-directed visual, a monstrous-looking P.I. (played by Petty, outfitted in some serious b-movie prosthetics) acts out the story, seeking a missing girl (Ale Washington), and at one point, darkly dreaming that he himself is her assailant—in the video’s climax, he comes face to face with her, only to discover she did not want to be found. —Scott Russell

TOBi & Mick Jenkins: “Off the Drugs”

Nigerian-Canadian rapper TOBi’s latest single “Off the Drugs” will probably give you a contact high, enlisting Chicago’s own Mick Jenkins for his jazzy, monotone flow that captures the essence of life’s vices in all their variety. However, contrary to a lot of other artists who deal with drugs, the two expand beyond the physical, touching on getting high off love, weed and liquor. The smooth horns mimic TOBi’s passionate croon, perfect for belting as the summer barbecues edge into the night. Jenkins’ impeccable grasp of language breaks open each word into their individual syllables as he reflects on smoking alone and experiencing love with liquor. Make no mistake, this is not a track riddled with guilt and regret. Rather, it is an ode to unlocking creativity through the usage of these substances, seeking to destigmatize and promote the universal feeling of relaxation. —Jade Gomez

TORRES: “Thirstier”

TORRES’ Thirstier is only a few weeks shy of its release on July 30 via Merge Records and, based on the singles, it’s one of our most-anticipated albums of the month. Wednesday, she shared the title track of the album, which serves as its mission statement: loving as much as possible. TORRES, real name Mackenzie Scott, crafts carefully written tales of love and heartache over dynamic production that boils into heartland rock-inspired choruses. Partially inspired by her love story with partner Jenna Gribbon (who is featured in the “Don’t Go Puttin’ Wishes In My Head” video), Scott reflects on experiencing love and happiness in their purest states on “Thirstier” (and Thirstier). —Jade Gomez

Turnstile: “Alien Love Call” feat. Blood Orange

Turnstile announced their new album Glow On (Aug. 27, Roadrunner Records) on Wednesday, sharing a self-directed video for their new single, “Alien Love Call,” featuring Blood Orange. The hardcore quintet recorded Glow On with producer Mike Elizondo, and co-production from vocalist Brendan Yates. Their surprise TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION EP’s four tracks (included standouts “Mystery” and “Holiday”) are featured on the record, as are “Alien Love Call” and two other Blood Orange (aka Dev Hynes) collaborations, “Lonely Dezires” and “Endless.” Hynes fits right in on the idyllic and unhurried “Alien Love Call,” trading vocals with Yates over splayed-out surf-rock guitars and Daniel Fang’s restrained percussion. The song is just the latest display of Turnstile’s versatility—the band can downshift from “explosive” to “dreamy” without missing a beat. —Scott Russell

Valley Palace: “Friend”

Fresno-based dream-pop artist Valley Palace’s latest track “Friend” is an ’80s time capsule cracked open in the present day. Behind the project, which was signed to Run For Cover Records this week, is 26-year-old Nathan Taylor, whose wistful, subdued vocals tell larger stories of love and desire beyond the lyrics. “Friend” tells of being the self-conscious friend who never feels cool enough, a near-universal feeling. However, Taylor’s skill lies in being self-aware without being self-deprecating, remarking, “I’ll never give up, I’m not in it to lose,” over sparkling, Smiths-inspired guitars. Upon his recent signing, Valley Palace is an act to look out for, and he can only go up from here. —Jade Gomez

Yves Tumor: “Secrecy Is Incredibly Important To The Both of Them”

The only and only Yves Tumor surprise-released a new EP Thursday, The Asymptotical World, via Warp Records. The six-track offering follows (and features) “Jackie,” one of Paste’s top June tracks, and is the artist’s first record since their 2020 standout album Heaven to a Tortured Mind. Like “Jackie” before it, the EP finds Tumor blending psych-rock, neo-soul, post-punk and synth-pop sounds into a musical kaleidoscope with the force of a vortex. London/Berlin industrial dance duo NAKED are featured on “Tuck,” but it’s “Secrecy Is Incredibly Important To The Both of Them” that stands out most—its drums race like a heart near bursting, punctuated by dark-wave guitars as Tumor questions, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?” —Scott Russell

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