The 5 Best Songs We Heard This Week: Perfume Genius, Shabazz Palaces

It’s Friday, thank god, because history may well remember this as the week the world finally went irretrievably, batshit crazy. What a time to be alive! Anyway, there were some songs released amidst the madness, and here are five good ones: the triumphant return of Perfume Genius, along with another taste of the new Shabazz Palaces record, a fantastic collaboration between Jenny Hval and Susanna, Grouper guesting on a track by The Bug, and Clams Casino producing Lia Ices. And now: the weekend.

Perfume Genius — “Queen”

Mike Hadreas is back, and dear lord, if the rest of his new album is as good as this hugely emotive backhander to people who are intimidated by his sexuality, I can’t wait to hear it. Hadreas’ explanation for the song is pretty spectacular: “Sometimes I see faces of blank fear when I walk by. If these fucking people want to give me some power — if they see me as some sea witch with penis tentacles that are always prodding and poking and seeking to convert the muggles — well, here she comes.” (Also, his new press shots are amazing.)

Shabazz Palaces — “Forerunner Foray”

The new Shabazz Palaces record is one of the few other releases due out over the next few weeks that I’m really looking forward to, and this new track only serves to heighten the anticipation. Like all the band’s work, it’s strange and psychedelic and fascinating, the vocals sprawling languidly over a backing track of synths and samples and a lazy, loping hip hop beat.

Jenny Hval & Susanna — “I Have Walked This Body”

This is an all-star Norwegian collaboration, and if anything it’s better than the sum of its parts. It pairs Flavorwire favorite Jenny Hval with Susanna Wallumrød, better known as Susanna of the Magical Orchestra, and it’s fantastic — the song starts as an example of the sort of plaintive minimalism that Wallumrød does so well, but slowly evolves into a pretty intense storm of feedback and droning guitars. Apparently they’re doing a whole album together, which may well be the best news I’ve heard during this whole benighted excuse for a week.

The Bug — “Void” (feat. Liz Harris)

Liz Harris is, of course, better known as Grouper, and this track marries her characteristically ethereal vocal to a backing of pretty ominous and occasionally pounding techno. It works a treat, although c’mon, please, can we have a new Grouper album already?

Lia Ices — “Higher”

The main point of interest here is that it’s a pop song produced by Clams Casino, which means that it’s a curious and fascinating piece of work — it’s superficially a sort of latter-day piece of Spector-esque girl group bubblegum, but it’s undershot with a decidedly ominous bass sound, and the chorus comes with lashings of distorted guitar. If only all pop songs were this… interesting!