Every week, John collects a trio of new releases to help you get lifted. This week features an expected return from Miguel, and a more surprising one from N.E.R.D.
Miguel – Told You So
Since Kaleidoscope Dream came onto my radar in 2012, Miguel has made unabashed sexuality the hallmark of his futuristic R&B. He’s got a bit of Janelle Monae’s space-freak sound to him, and that really turns up on new song “Told You So”. We last heard from the Los Angeles native on his 2015 album Wildheart, and his new song continues the progressions we saw there: “Told You So” is laden with electronic funk, a more soulful spin on The Weeknd’s centrist pop. The track bounces around, and Miguel gives the instrumental tons of room to breathe. If this is a sign of what’s to come on his upcoming album War & Leisure (out December 1), I’m all in.
Pinegrove – Intrepid
In the last couple years, we’ve seen a quiet second rise for grown-up emo (or whatever you want to call it). It’s a sound built for ears raised on Blink-182 and Brand New, with a more intellectual grown-up shade, and an ability to tackle grown-up topics. Car Seat Headrest nearly perfected this sound on last year’s Teens of Denial, and now the band du jour to evolve it is Pinegrove. Following up their 2016 album Cardinal — one that built momentum like a freight train — “Intrepid” is their new song, and a lovely bit of guitar-rock. Lead singer Evan Stephens Hall is way back in the acoustic mix, but paints a strained picture in just a few words — “If we learned to love ourselves better, maybe / We could commit”. Stay for the harmonies, and wait with baited breath — Pinegrove is no longer a secret, and their new album promises to be great.
N.E.R.D. & Rihanna – Lemon
Pharrell has been omnipresent in the pop music scene for damn near 20 years, and one of his most popular side projects — N.E.R.D. with Chad Hugo and Shay Daley — made a surprise return this week with the Rihanna-featuring “Lemon”. You’ve got all the glitching of a classic Neptunes production here, an unsteady, but funky beat, and Pharrell jumps all over it with a now-super rare verse. The real hero here, though (duh), is Rihanna, who has reached Beyonce-levels of swagger. The song doesn’t start until her verse gets going, and basically finishes when she’s done. It’ll be interesting to see whether N.E.R.D. goes the Calvin Harris route of super-features like this one — they have that kind of clout.