By Amy Hanna, Production/Radio Promo Coordinator
Welcome back to Mood Ring Music, the best part of my Monday and yours, surely. In this weekly blog series, we focus on five of the freshest song releases of the week, and assign each one a color and a mood. If you’re wondering how I make these assignments, click here to learn about chromesthesia, the science behind the brain’s associations between color and sound.
Now, let’s take a closer listen.
Massively underrated and delightfully evocative Swedish pop songstress Tove Lo has just released her third full-length album, Blue Lips, and you really, really shouldn’t sleep on it. Blue Lips features plenty of dance-pop bangers, unabashed in their expressions of sexuality and body positivity (the fantastically vulgar lead single “Disco Tits” is my personal favorite), as well as brutally personal admissions of love and lust, heard on songs like “cycles”. “cycles” is perhaps the sweetest we’ve ever heard Tove Lo sound, exploring the pain and the exhilaration of falling into a love she can’t see an end to. As an artist who loves flexing her confidence, and even her shamelessness, it’s a treat to hear a more vulnerable side of Tove Lo. Even still, the song’s dance sensibilities reign supreme, with warbling synths and a driving beat that feel just as reckless as the love Tove Lo is singing about.
Tove Lo’s “cycles” is pink for romantic.
Radio Silence is the first album Brooklyn MC Talib Kweli has released in six years, and on it, he gets by with a little help from his friends. And with friends like Anderson .Paak and Kaytranada, the co-pilots on the colorful, exuberant “Traveling Light”, magic happens. Kaytranada’s bed of glitchy, vintage beats lay the perfect foundation for Kweli’s quick spitting and .Paak’s soulful hooks. The piece perfectly blends old school color with new school polish, with fuzzy synth drums and spasms of gospel harmonies bouncing off clear, confident performances from Kweli and .Paak. The song’s production is just as purposeful as the song’s thematics — Kweli has always been an activist in his music and “Travelling Light” is no different. He forces listeners to remain accountable with bars like, “Now who you wanna face?/The sharks in the water or the snakes in the boat?” Commanding and infectious, everything about “Traveling Light” forces audiences to truly listen.
Talib Kweli’s “Traveling Light” featuring Anderson .Paak is deep purple for thoughtful.
Loss is perhaps one of the hardest human emotions to process. Death is as presently painful as it is infinitely complex, and finding the medium to cope can be painful in and of itself. For an artist to take that pain and channel it into a resonant piece of art is earth-shatteringly difficult, but perhaps one of the greatest gifts humans can give to each other. British-French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg is no stranger to loss. On “Kate”, from her latest album Rest, Gainsbourg grapples with pain and confusion in the wake of the death of her half-sister, Kate. However, in the midst of all this grief, the song swirls sparkly synths, graceful vocals, tumbling drums, and blasts of heavenly triumph. “Kate” sounds like a journey through past and present, an obsession with memories as well as an obsession with finding the strength to move forward. It is an atypical admission of grief, but the uniqueness makes the song all the more beautiful, and all the more real.
Charlotte Gainsbourg’s “Kate” is lilac for pensive.
In light of endless scandal and general nonsense within the rock genre right now, Green Day is an honest breath of fresh air. The legendary pop-punk outfit have released “Back In The USA” as part of their new greatest hits album, Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band. The song features classic Green Day energy in the form of angry guitars, equally angry lyrics, and singable melodies that put the “pop” in pop-punk. Green Day do not censor themselves, and never have: their loud disapproval of Trump (portrayed as a zombie in their music video) and their frustration with America’s continued apathy is blatant, and presented with their signature sense of humor in the music and visuals for this song. Truth be told, we’ve always needed a band like Green Day, and so long as there’s something to be angry about in America, we always will.
Green Day’s “Back In The USA” is red for sardonic.
Baths‘ brand new track “Human Bog” could not exist in any other year than 2017. Baths is one of Will Wiesenfeld’s musical outlets, and the music he releases under this name is vast, dark, and fantastical above all else. Baths’ new album Romaplasm is full of songs that feel inexplicably now: songs about identity and ongoing exploration of self, and the pain and the victory within those discoveries. “Human Bog” in particular captures so many of the complexities that queer people face over the course of their journeys. Fluttering pitch modulations represent the fluidity of queer identities. Deep, out-of-grasp reverberation on vocals and instrumentation feel like the vagueness, the struggle for words that comes with figuring yourself out. Music as a medium has been building up to output like this, but the feelings described in “Human Bog” are not exclusively “2017 Feelings” in the slightest. Audiences are so lucky for songs like these from artists like Baths that so beautifully actualize some of the toughest, most confusing parts about being a person.
Baths’ “Human Bog” is dark green for yearning.
Listen to all Mood Ring Music selections below or by clicking here.