Helado Negro by Eve Sussman
Written by Robert D. Patrick
After crushing my skull with thousands of songs in 2014, I came up with my top 100 tracks, only to chisel them down to an electric ten. Chromeo had the best dance song of the year (“Jealous”), and Caribou had one of the best pure albums (“Our Love”). But, emotionally, artists such as Mas Ysa and TV Girl dug into my subconscious to unearth some pretty distinguished feelings.
10. Basement Jaxx – Never Say Never
Electronic hubris, shot out of a confetti stuffed cannon. “Never Say Never” is messy cake frosting, smeared across the night sky. One of my favorite drink-and-dance songs of the year, Basement Jaxx nails the spirited vacuity of too much serotonin and too little time.
09. White Sea – Future Husbands Past Lives
An ethereal jamboree that summons a kind of airy nineteen-eighties reverie. A haunting delivery dashes, slices, and hews through a hazy soundscape of kinetic emotion. The absolute best female vocal of the year goes about its business without pomp or bravado.
08. Kitty – M0rgan Stop
Pixelated and hallucinatory, Kitty weaves a web of cotton candy dissonance. The blase pride of Millennials waltzes all over the proceedings. Entitlement, indulgence, and laziness. The line, “Prince of Egypt, Prince of Persia, Prince of Paris. You’re the Prince of champagne and sunnin’ on the terrace” is a chilling line that could have been ghostwritten by Harmony Korine.
07. James Vincent McMorrow – Cavalier
A harrowing vibration of melancholia and resignation. McMorrow’s wounded vocals could have been sang from his deathbed. Beauty in the pulp of a memory. Loss has never been so esoteric and yet so tangible.
06. Little Dragon – Pretty Girls
From the minimalist, bruising beat in the intro to the spectral vocals, Little Dragon’s “Pretty Girls” is a bodypillow of emotion. There is a sense of fear, intrinsic to the night, that the band captures within this four minute track. All of the terrifying ebb and flow is here, perforated by only slivers of light.
05. Porter Robinson – Lionhearted
Blips, drums, hushed deliveries- Porter Robinson’s “Lionhearted” is a cat’s cradle of sadness and levity. The brooding but playful composition is able to cull just about every emotion out of someone, within only a few fierce and ghostly minutes. Somewhere between Classixx and MGMT, this is one of the best songs of the year.
04. Mas Ysa – Why
Punctuated by another multidimensional vocal, the free-falling melody and the bruised lyrics are enough to wobble your legs. Accompanied by one of the most metaphorical, brutal, and strangely meditative videos of the year, Mas Ysa’s “Why” raises the emotional bar.
03. TV Girl – The Getaway
The crushed powder makeup and the resiliency of denial circles the proverbial wagon in TV Girl’s “The Getaway.” Anchored by sweeping melodies and self-deprecating lyrics, this is a song about romanticizing your own fiction. The violence of pandering to illusions. Scary and hypnotic, all at the same time.
02. Robert Schwartzman – So Bad
A carbonated drum loop misleads you into thinking the former Rooney frontman’s song, “So Bad,” will be a window smashing rock anthem. Instead, the vocals burn and fizz and the lyrics propel you into a sense of vulnerability and defeat. It’s a song that leaves no survivors.
01. Helado Negro – Queriendo
An inebrieted, staccato drum beat stumbles over itself in a foggy haze. Meanwhile, singer and producer Roberto Carlos Lange expunges some spectral salvos that plants his song, Queriendo, into a sort of cloud-inundated dream. Less than four minutes long, Helado Negro pushes through the mist and foliage of memories lost, to create something totally transcending.