The 15 Best Songs of February 2022

Featuring Caroline Polachek, Fly Anakin, Tomberlin and more

Music Lists Best Songs
The 15 Best Songs of February 2022

Despite being the shortest month of the year, February was chock full of new music. We’ve already conveniently compiled some of the month’s best albums, and it was no easy feat to collect this exciting list of tracks. Some have dazzled us throughout the month like Arlo Parks and Caroline Polachek, and others swooped in at the last second such as Wet Leg. Whatever you may have forgotten to listen to, Paste is here to fill in the gaps with some of the best and brightest songs of the month.

Listen to our Best Songs of February 2022 playlist on Spotify here.

Arlo Parks: “Softly”

London singer/songwriter and 2021 Mercury Prize winner Arlo Parks is back, and she comes bearing gifts: namely, a lovely new single, “Softly.” It marks her first new release since her critically acclaimed debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams (which was one of Paste‘s favorite albums of 2021). Striking the balance of smooth melodies entwined with subtle instrumental flourishes and poetic lyrics that have all become Parks staples, “Softly” picks right up where the best of Collapsed in Sunbeams left off. Even as each chorus demands that you “break it to me softly,” Parks delivers her lyrics with such tenderness that you can tell she would rather you not have to do it at all: “Oh, I forgot myself / I don’t want no one else.” It feels appropriate to dance along even as the track is breaking your heart, getting right to the center of what has made Parks so exciting to watch with each new release. —Elise Soutar

Caroline Polachek: “Billions”

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Caroline Polachek, who last popped up on our radar in July with “Bunny is a Rider,” one of our favorite 2021 tracks, and the first follow-up to 2019’s Pang. Now, she’s returned to show us that our patience was worth it with new single “Billions,” The track begins as what seems like a return to the dreamier electro-pop moments on Pang, but steps apart from what’s expected as it progresses and reaches its final, otherworldly crescendo with the chant of “I never felt so close to you,” sung in a stilted round by a children’s choir. “Billions” sees Polachek attempting to transcend anything that’s tethered her to earth on previous releases, hinting that the view from up there isn’t as perfect as she would’ve expected: “Headless angel / Body upgraded / But it’s dead on arrival,” she sings on the song’s bridge. Each piece of the song adds up to something addictive and ethereal in equal measure. —Elise Soutar

Doss: “Jumpin’”

Doss made her return to music in 2021 after a seven-year period of silence, releasing her 4 New Hit Songs EP. “Jumping’” is her latest endeavor, hopefully hinting at a full-length project in 2022. The single is an intense club banger with slices of diva house, techno and grimy EDM mixed into one. Soulful vocals make way for Doss’ whisper-singing and a nasty, floor-shaking bass breakdown. The ideas all come together for a whiplash-inducing collection of sounds that is the formula for another hit. —Jade Gomez

Fly Anakin: “Black Be The Source

Richmond, Virginia’s Fly Anakin is gearing up to release his studio debut Frank (March 11, Lex Records). Back in January, he shared his Madlib-produced single “No Dough.” Feb. 15, the rapper shared the final preview of his forthcoming album, “Black Be The Source.” Featuring frequent collaborator Pink Siifu and vocalist Billz Egypt, “Black Be The Source” is a lo-fi, soulful track that uplifts Black art as an originator. Anakin raps into a trancelike state with his signature rasp, trading bars with Siifu like two seasoned veterans. Aided by the buttery vocals of Billz Egypt, the three craft a triumphant song of Black innovation. —Jade Gomez

Fontaines D.C.: “I Love You”

Released just a few days after Valentine’s, “I Love You” is easily mistaken for, well, a love song—Fontaines D.C. are counting on it. In truth, the second single from the band’s forthcoming Skinty Fia (after “Jackie Down the Line; a January standout) is “the first overtly political song we’ve written,” said frontman Grian Chatten. In its choruses—two of which it leads with, in an unusual arrangement—“I Love You” finds Chatten professing an undying devotion to the band’s home country of Ireland over cloudy, Echo & The Bunnymen-esque instrumentation. But that love sounds less like a light in his life and more like a blight on it: In dense, spoke-sung verses, Chatten unpacks his narrator’s conflicted feelings about his home, including both his guilt and self-hatred for having succeeded after leaving it (“When the cherries lined up, I kept the spoilings for myself / Till I had thirty ways of dying looking at me from the shelf”), and his rage and disdain for the country’s sins (“This island’s run by sharks with children’s bones stuck in their jaws”). It’s another knockout preview of Skinty Fia, our anticipation for which just keeps climbing. —Scott Russell


Ho99o9 (pronounced “horror”) have finally announced their sophomore album Skin, their long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s United States of Horror. The album is due March 11 via DTA Records. Fully produced by the legendary Travis Barker, who is also featured on lead single “BATTERY NOT INCLUDED,” the star-studded album will have contributions from Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and alternative rapper and poet Saul Williams, as well as Southern rap godfather Bun B. Defined in press materials as “noisier and more aggressive than their earlier work,” Skin’s announcement arrives with the raucous album opener “NUGE SNIGHT.” It opens guns-ablaze, with multiple twists and turns. Staticky feedback makes way for visceral shrieks, guttural vocals and a slick transition into a trap-inspired breakdown. —Jade Gomez

Mallrat: “Your Love”

Pop songwriter Mallrat—aka Grace Shaw—has been releasing music since her senior year of high school. The Australian singer is now 23, and she is entering a new era with her latest single “Your Love.” It’s a glaring stylistic departure for her, easing out of bubbly, electro-pop into darker, sexier territories. Rumbly bass and chopped vocals make way for a surprising Gangsta Pat sample, influenced by the songwriter’s admiration for the energy Memphis rap brings. It’s a song with endless surprises, perhaps the biggest of all being Mallrat’s consistent innovation and risk-taking. —Jade Gomez

PENDANT: “Thorn”

There’s a fearless sort of swagger to “Thorn” that PENDANT is in a unique position to provide. Los Angeles-via-Oakland musician Chris Adams essentially saw his career explode on the launchpad in 2019, when his former label Tiny Engines imploded in public on the day his debut album Through a Coil was set to be released. Harp (April 8), his forthcoming Saddle Creek debut, is something like a second chance, then, and Adams is seizing it with both hands, if lead single “Thorn” is any indication. Over a shuffling boom-bap beat and switchblade synths, Adams shouts invitations to “follow [him] down,” exhorting in the choruses, “Waiting for it all to kick in / Spinning out with a grin / This is my new life to begin.” Between the track’s multi-faceted sound, live-wire energy and voracious sense of perspective (as seen in samples of both a T.D. Jakes sermon and NSYNC hit), “Thorn” is an ode to the joy of being reborn. It might as well be PENDANT’s calling card. —Scott Russell

Real Lies feat. Zoee: “An Oral History of My First Kiss”

“An Oral History of My First Kiss,” the fifth single from Real Lies’ forthcoming sophomore album Lad Ash (April 22), is far from the first to appear on a Paste list like this one. The London dance-pop duo—vocalist Kevin Lee Kharas and producer Patrick King—have been on a roll, reeling off singles capable of transforming any room into a packed club at peak hours. Their latest finds Kharas and London pop artist Zoee tapping into what Kharas calls “that sense of being young and stuck somewhere, waiting for something to happen” over a bouncy King beat, busy drums and claps colliding with synths both ethereal and staccato. Halfway through, the song gets pulled apart and Kharas steps into the silence, speak-singing his way back into that moment with “that girl with the hot pink clipper and the stolen cigarettes, ’round the back of a perfume shop in the rain.” It’s a transportive combination of intimate lyricism and escapist instrumentation, like dancing through the middle of someone else’s cherished memory. “Now I don’t know where you are and I heard you’re digging for the dent / But I still write your name whenever I see wet cement,” Zoee concludes, still channeling that sense of youthful wonder and romance that struck Kharas like lightning. —Scott Russell

Regina Spektor: “Becoming All Alone

Beloved New York City singer/songwriter Regina Spektor has announced her first new album in six years, Home, before and after, coming June 24 on Warner Records. Sweeping lead single and album opener “Becoming All Alone” is out now. The city’s “bars and corner delis” are the backdrop of “Becoming All Alone,” which begins with Spektor narrating a run-in with God over delicately regal synths, strings and piano. Bass and drums kick the song up a notch after its first chorus; meanwhile, Spektor holds the big guy to account, singing, “And I just want to ride / But this whole world, it makes me carsick / Stop the meter, sir / You have a heart, why don’t you use it?” The track’s grand orchestral bridge matches the scope of its existential concept, only to return to Spektor and her piano: “I’m becoming all alone again.” —Scott Russell

Sadurn: “Snake”

The lead track from Philadelphia four-piece Sadurn’s forthcoming full-length debut Radiator, due May 6 on Run For Cover Records, “snake” is a rustic love song whose knots are a delight to untangle. Vocalist, guitarist and bandleader Genevieve DeGroot’s poignant lyrics trace the ins and outs of a troubled relationship, candidly confronting its accompanying shame and temptation, as well as the ever-looming existential threats that render all of the above a moot point: “I looked the snake right in his face, I’ve seen the way he blinks that eye at me / But I am not afraid, I’ve heard we’re all gonna die / In a cascade of system failure or in the blink of an eye,” they sing over loping folk-rock instrumentation, warm guitars intertwined like vines growing together in the sun. DeGroot concludes the song with an eternal oath, repeating, “But my idea of love is that it’s lasting.” Sadurn’s sound, too, is built to last, with a beauty to move anyone left standing. —Scott Russell

Sharon Van Etten: “Porta”

Following the 2019 release of Remind Me Tomorrow, Sharon Van Etten has kept busy throughout the pandemic, most recently announcing the exciting Wild Hearts Tour with Angel Olsen and Julien Baker. Van Etten finally offers a new single, “Porta,” which showcases the singer’s love for electronic music, first introduced on Remind Me Tomorrow. ‘80s synths and drums build the song up into a thrilling climax that ushers in Van Etten’s warm guitar playing. “Porta” is a reflection on the fear of losing herself, as she repeats, “Want to hear myself, wanna be there/ Wanna stay but I don’t want to leave it.” —Jade Gomez

Tomberlin: “happy accident

Singer/songwriter Sarah Beth Tomberlin has announced her forthcoming album i don’t know who needs to hear this… (April 29 via Saddle Creek), her second full-length following her 2017 debut At Weddings and 2020 EP Projections with Alex G. She’s already shared what we now know is the album’s closing track, the beautiful “idkwntht,” and now she’s released another new track, “happy accident,” along with a video for the song directed by Ryan Schnackenberg. Featuring Cass McCombs on guitar, Felix Walworth (Told Slant) on drums and album co-producer Philip Weinrobe on bass, “happy accident” pivots in a completely different direction from “idkwntht,” taking everything that made the latter track delicate, and shoving fuzzy guitars and layers of strained harmonies in its place. The result towers over the lingering not-quite-a-relationship Tomberlin sings about, honoring all the confusion and insecurity that comes with the situation. “I wanna burn it all down / Could I borrow a light? / And don’t you dare me to / I could leave in the night / And don’t you dare me to / ’Cause you know i could fly,” she demands, struggling in her restraints and knowing the enormity of the music around her also exists within her. It fits perfectly with what she describes in a press release as the “theme” of the record: “to examine, hold space, make an altar for the feelings.” By the time the track reaches its defiant conclusion (“I won’t quit / I’m no accident”), you want to kneel down at the altar and honor the experience with her. —Elise Soutar

Vince Staples: “MAGIC

If there’s one thing Vince Staples knows how to do, it’s keep his promises. Following a thrilling Super Bowl halftime performance dedicated to West Coast hip-hop, it’s only appropriate that the California rapper shared the full version of “MAGIC,” his collaboration with famed producer Mustard. The song will be part of his highly-anticipated Ramona Park Broke My Heart (April, Blacksmith Recordings/Motown Records), which he announced in 2021. “MAGIC” is a chilled-out ode to Staples’ beloved Ramona Park neighborhood of Long Beach, California and the complicated relationship with the adversity he’s faced. Mustard’s distinct G-funk production with subdued bass synths and minimalist percussion allows Staples to take center stage as he questions if the euphoria he’s feeling is magic. The single, as described by Staples, “defines the project.” Following his 2021 self-titled album, Ramona Park Broke My Heart further explores the rapper’s more relaxed, introspective side. “It’s symbolic of home,” Staples says of the album’s title. “And everyone has a home. Even though it’s very personal to me, everyone can relate to it. That’s why I thought it would work for this chapter.” —Jade Gomez

Wet Leg: “Angelica

One of the most buzzed-about acts in indie rock right now, English duo Wet Leg, are back with another preview of their much-anticipated, self-titled debut album, due out April 8 on Domino. Wet Leg titled their latest after Teasdale’s oldest friend, and recorded “Angelica” in Chambers’ living room with bandmate Joshua Mobaraki. The song is a sunny psych-rock track with punchy percussion and vocal hooks to spare, and its lyrics about a fun and free-spirited friend have strange shadows playing around their edges: “She brought lasagna to the party” later becomes “She brought a ray gun to the party / Angelica obliterated everybody,” and the narrator struggles with the urge to withdraw from everyone around her, even in the best of times. “It’s laced with disenchantment,” Teasdale says of “Angelica” in a statement. “Even though the chorus is ‘good times, all the time.’ That’s just impossible, isn’t it?” —Scott Russell

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