The 15 Best Songs of June 2021

Featuring Yves Tumor, Little Simz, Pom Pom Squad and more

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The 15 Best Songs of June 2021

June was an excellent month for new albums, making narrowing down a list of its 15 best songs a particularly difficult task. As you may have guessed, we rose to that challenge regardless, with standout tracks from art-pop auteur Yves Tumor, London rapper Little Simz and Brooklyn indie-rock breakout Pom Pom Squad making things easier on us. Those and a dozen other stellar June tracks are below—here’s hoping they help you beat the heat.

Listen to our Best Songs of June 2021 playlist on Spotify here.

Faye Webster: “A Dream With A Baseball Player”

Ahead of her new record I Know I’m Funny haha, out now on Secretly Canadian, Atlanta singer/songwriter Faye Webster shared a third and final single, “A Dream with a Baseball Player.” Inspired by her hometown MLB team’s star player, Ronald Acuña Jr., the track finds Webster stuck on both Acuña and the nature of that infatuation: “How did I fall in love with someone / I don’t know?” she wonders again and again. Her murmurs are backed by slinky throwback R&B instrumentation, including spare but purposeful low end and saxophone accents, and her vocals are smoothly layered in all the right places. Webster brings genuine emotion to the track, but also deadpan humor: “There’s so much going on / My grandmother’s dead / And I can’t sleep ‘cause this isn’t my bed / He doesn’t even know those things exist,” she sings, poking fun at the absurdity of her affection for a total stranger, yet refusing to minimize or dismiss it at the same time. —Scott Russell

Geese: “Disco”

There are debut singles and then there are debut singles. Brooklyn five-piece Geese released the latter on Tuesday to mark their signing to Partisan Records, as well as in an apparent effort to make us 30-somethings feel unaccomplished: The band’s oldest member only just turned 19. Their youthful fearlessness explodes through your speakers on “Disco,” which ping-pongs between rock ‘n’ roll touchpoints so fast and frequently, you can never quite get a bead on it. As the song stretches towards the seven-minute mark, it transforms from post-punk slasher a la Omni (its most prominent mode) into dark, synth-forward stomper, psych-rock wave pool, and noise-rock rattle and hum, with flashes of Dove-esque piano-pop and even twee jangle in the mixture. That the band can shape all of these far-flung forms into a song whose vise-grip on you never for a moment loosens is a testament to their preternatural skills and vision. Consider Geese’s concept proven. —Scott Russell

Helado Negro: “Gemini and Leo”

Roberto Carlos Lange, aka songwriter/producer Helado Negro, has announced his new album Far In, out Oct. 22 on 4AD. His first release on the acclaimed label, Far In follows 2019’s deservingly acclaimed This Is How You Smile, a spellbinding and serene record that tracks Lange’s experiences as a Latinx individual reckoning with spiritual awakening. Far In embraces that mysticism, with Lange saying it ”’celebrates the ghosts,’ embracing pleasure and freedom to follow the metaphysical further.” His newest single “Gemini and Leo,” in which “the titular pair stay indoors to discover each other anew with music recalling Roberto’s youth growing up in South Florida listening to ‘80s club songs, and their return sampled in ‘90s hip-hop,” features energetic drums, kaleidoscopic synths and an undeniably funky bass. Helado Negro’s new song guides the listener towards euphoria. —Jason Friedman

Indigo De Souza: “Kill Me”

Indigo De Souza’s second album is officially on its way, and if lead single and closing cut “Kill Me” is any indication at all, Any Shape You Take is going to be a stunner. “Kill Me” arrived June 15 alongside a music video and the details of De Souza’s forthcoming album, the North Carolina singer/songwriter’s first for Saddle Creek, coming Aug. 27. At first blush, “Kill Me” seems strangely sweet—”Kill me slowly, take me with you / Down to the garden where magnolias bloom,” De Souza sings, her vocals lilting over a single electric guitar. A forceful low end propels the song higher and higher into gear, with De Souza outright howling in its choruses—over that dynamic pop-rock framework, she layers lyrics that are at turns harrowing, funny, horny, relatable, or all of the above at once. Even the outro’s explosively cathartic refrain is cleverly understated: “Tell them that I wasn’t having much fun,” De Souza sings, as if making a polite excuse to head home early. It’s a glorious, gut-spilling mess, rendered as an irresistible rock track. —Scott Russell

Lingua Ignota: “PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE”

Classically trained multi-instrumentalist and performance artist Kristen Hayter, best known as Lingua Ignota, has announced her forthcoming album SINNER GET READY, out Aug. 6 via Sargent House. The album, which marks Hayter’s debut on the label, comes after her acclaimed 2019 album CALIGULA that introduced a wider audience to her captivating and intense lyricism that blends classical music with metal. With the announcement of SINNER GET READY comes the album’s first single “PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE.” Compared to the brutality of CALIGULA, “PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE” is delicate, with Hayter forgoing her cathartic shrieks in favor of a gentler operatic delivery. The track calls upon Hayter’s fascination with religious iconography and the unrelenting nature of God’s judgement, as inspired by the legend of an 18th-century iron master whose dogs return to drag him down to hell after he throws them into his furnace in a rage. Hayter self-directed, edited and filmed the accompanying visual, set in the dense landscape of rural Pennsylvania that she inhabited during the album’s recording process. —Jade Gomez

Little Simz: “Rollin Stone”

If you don’t know what to expect from Little Simz’s forthcoming album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, it’s okay, because we don’t either. The London rapper’s kaleidoscope of singles only becomes more colorful with her latest offering, “Rollin Stone.” Her confidence is magnetic as her spitfire bars confront those who doubt her prowess (although we’d advise against that). The pounding percussion is no match for Simz’s larger-than-life performance that evokes auditory whiplash. Moving from grime-influenced hip-hop heavyweight to 808-laced cool girl R&B in under four minutes, Little Simz defies all expectations on “Rollin Stone” and wonders why you even had any in the first place. —Jade Gomez

L’Rain: “Suck Teeth”

“Suck Teeth,” released as a single ahead of songwriter/multi-instrumentalist L’Rain’s new album Fatigue (out now on Mexican Summer), creates a simultaneously groove-worthy and unsettling soundscape. Cleverly drenching many of the instruments in reverb and warbly tape delays, L’Rain uses her voice as an anchor through unknown waters. Meant to evoke “a very Black sound of disapproval, annoyance and disappointment,” as the songwriter explains in a statement, “Suck Teeth” shows how L’Rain’s experimentation with her sonic terrain makes her a powerful and exciting voice in modern music. —Jason Friedman

Mick Jenkins: “Truffles”

Mick Jenkins has quietly risen to become one of the rap game’s most exciting acts with his lackadaisical delivery containing lifetimes of wisdom that he captures with each track. His newest single “Truffles” is no different, with Jenkins sharing that the song attempts “to address the idea that Blackness, no matter what, can always be weaponized. From a young man actually committing a crime, to being somewhere we aren’t ‘supposed’ to be, to even being an agent of change in our own and other communities. It’s a statement that can be heard about Black people of all walks especially when doing something unconventional in white spaces.” Jenkins’ sleepy flow rises into a powerful, passionate sermon that twists and turns between syllables enunciated precisely over the thumping bass. The sparse production is a mere soundtrack to Jenkins’ powerful display of vulnerability. —Jade Gomez

Nation of Language: “Across That Fine Line”

On June 3, Nation of Language announced their sophomore album, A Way Forward, coming Nov. 5, and shared its lead single, “Across That Fine Line.” You can imagine our excitement: The New York City outfit’s acclaimed debut Introduction, Presence ranked among Paste’s top albums of 2020, and we highlighted the band as the Best of What’s Next soon after its release last May. “Across That Fine Line” is a characteristically winning new-wave throwback, powered by an anxious drum machine clatter, twitchy bass and guitars, and singer/songwriter Ian Devaney’s airy vocals, all of which combine to anthemic effect in its thrilling choruses. Nation of Language have a way of bringing ‘80s synth-pop into the present, embodying these retro sounds, rather than simply trying them on for size, and “Across That Fine Line” is yet another example of that knack. —Scott Russell

Pom Pom Squad: “Crying”

Another stunner of a single from one of Paste’s favorite June releases, “Crying” is defined, first and foremost, by its raw emotion. Pom Pom Squad songwriter and bandleader Mia Berrin croons about feeling awful when she feels anything at all (“If I’m a bitch at least someone is”), then spiraling into self-pity and -mockery as a meta-response to her own emotional state (“I’m in hell it feels like home”), laying all her complex emotions on the table with a wink and a sob. Half Liz Phair and half Old Hollywood, “Crying” sits at the stylistic nexus of Death of a Cheerleader, somehow fusing heavily distorted power chords to dramatic string arrangements. Even when she’s this far down on herself, Berrin demonstrates the skill that has her band on the way up. —Scott Russell

Provoker: “Bugs & Humans”

Following the news of signing with their label in May, Los Angeles’ own Provoker has announced their debut album Body Jumper, out Aug. 13 via YEAR0001. The band’s post-punk and industrial leanings make for another exciting act on the eclectic YEAR0001 roster, accompanied by the likes of Yung Lean, Bladee and Ecco2k. The announcement was accompanied by the band’s newest single “Bugs & Humans,” an ode to the optimistic sound of new wave with their darker, R&B-influenced twist. Vocalist Christian Petty structured the song to be from a child’s perspective, eventually shifting into the darker lens of an adult who feels alienated. The accompanying Alexis Gross-directed video captures the track’s descent into madness as it becomes clear that childlike innocence is fleeting. —Jade Gomez

SAULT: “Bitter Streets”

Mysterious U.K. soul outfit SAULT just don’t move the same way as most bands, as most recently evidenced by Nine, their fifth (excellent) album in two years. Released with little fanfare a week or so after its announcement, the album is easily SAULT’s most personal, written around their own experiences growing up in London’s council estates, where the systemically marginalized have only each other to depend on amid plentiful pitfalls (“London Gangs” and “Alcohol,” for instance). “Bitter Streets” is Nine’s loveliest, yet most heartbreaking track: “I remember when we were young / You made friends with a gun / You didn’t leave / Fell in love with the streets,” a SAULT member sings, reminiscing on a loved one lost to the pull of life outside the law. The sweeping, soulful strings of “Bitter Streets” eventually take over the track entirely, displacing SAULT’s vocals with their mournful rise and fall. —Scott Russell

Vince Staples: “Law of Averages”

California rapper Vince Staples has announced his first new album since 2018’s FM!, produced by Kenny Beats and simply titled Vince Staples. Ahead of the 10-track LP’s July 9 release via Blacksmith Recordings / Motown Records, Staples has shared lead single “Law of Averages.” Both the track itself and its unnerving video (directed by Kid. Studio and shot in Staples’ native Long Beach, California) finds Staples surrounded by people, yet apart from them—many in his circle aren’t trustworthy (“Everyone that I’ve ever known asked me for a loan,” he raps over a sparse beat that sounds vaguely like a conversation happening in your next-door neighbor’s place), as evidenced by their creepy fake smiles in the video. “You will never catch me slippin’ out in traffic,” Staples insists, able to rely on no one but himself. —Scott Russell

Wet Leg: “Chaise Longue”

The debut single from U.K. rock duo Wet Leg is a doozy, immediately affirming what Domino Records saw in their new signees. Hailing from England’s Isle of Wight, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers decided to start Wet Leg while at the top of a Ferris wheel—an origin story that actually vastly undersells a thrill ride like “Chaise Longue.” The band’s tongue-in-cheek humor is one thing (“Is your mother worried? / Would you like us to assign someone to worry your mother?” is one of several chuckle-worthy lyrics), but their propulsive, danceable indie rock is entirely another, with guitar riffs as sticky as (if not more so than) their mock-bourgeois insistence on whiling away the hours “on the chaise longue / on the chaise longue / on the chaise longue / all day long / on the chaise longue.” Produced by Jon McMullen and mixed by Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Beach House, Foals), the ear-grabbing track is an undeniable introduction to Wet Leg, who also self-directed its video. —Scott Russell

Yves Tumor: “Jackie”

The next era of Yves Tumor is upon us. The boundary-smashing artist behind 2020 Paste-favorite album Heaven to a Tortured Mind released a new single and video, “Jackie,” and announced a 2021/22 tour of the U.S., U.K. and Europe. “Jackie” sounds like Prince’s emo fever dream, with psych-rock guitar squalls, a massive pop drum track and neon synths swirling around Tumor’s brooding vocals. Even its standard-issue breakup song lyrics manage a certain dreamy depth, with Tumor hoping to see themselves in a lost love’s subconscious: “I said, ‘Hey, Jackie baby’ / When you rest your mind, do you think of me?” The “Jackie” video makes the song’s romantic battlefield (sur)real, setting Tumor’s struggle on an alien world absolutely saturated with the kind of hallucinatory color you’d find in a Panos Cosmatos film. —Scott Russell

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