5. A Long Walk Home for Parted Lovers – Yumi Zouma
Cavalier and cold as a flickering liquor store light, Yumi Zouma’s “A Long Walk Home for Parted Lovers” is, deep down, a pyre of nuanced emotion. Detached, ethereal samples bore through the song, like the white noise of memories lost. The delivery bounces and sways, confidently, but the lyrics are bruised fruit. It’s a carousel of sadness and nighttime misadventure. Does the flame ever really take to the wick of closure?
4. Mistress America – Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips
The chilling reverberations of Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips’ spectral, enigmatic theme of Mistress America carves a road map into the forbidden fog of old cities and young adventures. The electric circulatory system of this particular song, ribbed with excitement and confusion, embeds the mind with thoughts of warm breath on cold nights. Fingerprinted scarves and eternal, aorta thumping dissonance. It’s the feeling of being 21 at night in a metropolis; the Ark of dreams past.
3. Breezy – Reptar
“Woke up reaching for the edges of your phone, I don’t think I’ve ever been down this low before” may be the most compulsory, teeth masticating battle cry of the technical age. To begin a song with the the bladed edge of that vulnerable knife takes a truth to new levels. The spiral, orchestrated seamlessly by lead singer Graham Ulicny, takes on a brutal texture as he calls out “miss you”, repeatedly, into the abyss. “Breezy”, the title of the song, sounds like the saccharine and soda water, but the undercurrents call out to our primordial inability to process emotion.
2. Take Care of Me – Briana Marela
The lyric “I dropped the beat and cannot tell if you’re mine” is the most visceral, endorphin crushing combination of words in music this year. Simple, clean and calling to our contemporary method of communication, Marela tenderizes the words with crestfallen urgency. The starry refrain, tilled with lines like “you take care of me like I’m somebody that matters”, puts an ellipsis on confidence and comfort in a world where something as easy as being loved is oddly esoteric.
1. Feel You – Julia Holter
Culled from the swell of some uncharted waves, Julia Holter draws in phantasmal memories so distant and staccato that they become a sort of weathered flipbook with missing pages. Succinct and yet open to interpretation, the lyrics, sung here with beauty and despondency, are written with the ashes of old confidence; the shadow of a familiar stranger’s resilience. Who are we waiting for? And even if we’re well-versed in the topography of life, does self-preservation truly exist? It’s a cat’s cradle of defeatism and feigned assurance.