By Amy Hanna, Production Coordinator
A week has passed, our clocks have rolled back, lots of music has been released, and as with every Monday here at 6/8, Mood Ring Music returns. Thank you so much for checking back in on our weekly series, where we delve into five of the freshest songs released over the past week and assign them a color and mood. This week’s feature is incredibly selective, as so much amazing music has dropped this week. So, without further ado, let’s get straight to it.
If Pharrell’s on the track, it’ll be a banger. If Rihanna’s on the track, it’ll really be a banger. Combine these two unstoppable forces, and you have an infectious, confident, one-of-a-kind experience, the kind of song that Saturday-Night-playlist dreams are made of. N.E.R.D, a collective comprised of members Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, and Shay Haley, have released their first song in ten years, “Lemon”. And if the hype from the funk rock group’s triumphant return wasn’t enough, listeners are treated to a confident, sexy rap verse from Queen Rih herself. “Lemon” is the first single from N.E.R.D’s forthcoming album, No One Ever Really Dies, which is also the backronym of their band name. N.E.R.D actually premiered the entire album to fans this past weekend at Complex Con in California, and the album is said to include insane features from Kendrick Lamar, André 3000, and more. That news, paired with just how fun “Lemon” is, feels like an early Christmas present.
N.E.R.D & Rihanna’s “Lemon” is red for bold.
Speaking of long sought after returns, Gorillaz made a comeback earlier this year with their dark, intergalactic new output Humanz. “Garage Palace”, a brand new Gorillaz song out this week, is a separate entity from Humanz in a way, as it belongs to a new deluxe version of the album which includes 14 brand new songs. However, some fans argue that it does have a place in the overarching narrative created within the Humanz album. The song features up-and-coming British rapper Little Simz, whose sinister delivery is dark, grim, and show-stopping, and pulls together all the creepy, pulsating production on this track. Little Simz also acts as a sort of maestro for the concept of the song; she raps fearlessly, despite outlining her own weaknesses, and her hope for success on the other side. The artist pair work seamlessly together, embedding out-of-this-world style and confidence within a message far more complex, and human.
Gorillaz ft. Little Simz’s “Garage Palace” is grey for mysterious.
This Halloween, Willow Smith gifted fans her second LP, The 1st, on her seventeenth birthday. The album drips with honesty and sweetness across the board, but the song “Boy” is a highlight, with its minimalist yet theatrical instrumentation of cello and violin and not much else. Willow’s vocals have never sounded so syrupy sweet, full of longing as she sings about a love that scares her. When Willow drawls, “Dude, how come this is whack?/Is love just torment?”, it’s a punch to the stomach, hearing someone discover the pains of love for what feels like the very first time. Willow’s lyricism is raw and rich and vibrant, making for a song so unmatched in sincerity, it’s a breath of fresh air. The whole album is a real treat, theatrical and restrained in equal measure, but most of all, full to the brim with honesty about loving others and loving yourself.
Willow’s “Boy” is olive for pensive.
Miguel is back, and instead of serving up something smooth and sexy, like we’re typically used to from him, he serves danceable funk and irony on a silver platter with his latest, and it’s amazing. “Told You So” is the first single from Miguel’s upcoming fourth album War & Leisure, set for release this December. Don’t be mistaken, though: Miguel does bring the sexy on this track, but it’s laced with a feeling of unrest, and is politically charged in a way that isn’t necessarily new for Miguel, but feels fresh in the context of this groovy, sultry track. Everything here is balanced: sexy and smart, theatric and minimalist, old funk and new synth mastery. This duality will likely be beautifully suited to an album titled War & Leisure, as it perfectly treads the line between the upbeat and the painfully real.
Miguel’s “Told You So” is black for sardonic.
New Pinegrove sounds like old Pinegrove, and that’s really not a bad thing. “Intrepid” is the first studio release from the New Jersey alt-rock outfit since their highly praised debut, Cardinal, early last year. This song emotes like a Pinegrove song would, with vocals full of abandon, driving guitars that sucker-punch, and lyrics that linger and reverberate long after the song fades out. “Intrepid” feels easy and reckless, yet all of those moments of sweet release feel skillfully balanced – distortion is balanced with clarity, and simple intents are balanced with a real earnest depth.
Pinegrove’s “Intrepid” is indigo for calm.
Listen to all Mood Ring Music selections below or by clicking here.