Arcade Fire ignites a new era and 11 more new songs

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Rarely has critical consensus pivoted as quickly and sharply as for Arcade Fire, a band that started the 2010s by landing a surprise Grammy album of the year for their beloved and towering double album “The Suburbs,” and ended the cartoonish decade as out-of-touch rumbles when its 2017 tech critique “Everything Now” left nearly everyone cold. The overwhelming tale of a return to form that welcomed their first new music in five years, from an album slated for May 6, however, suggests that many were simply waiting for the band to once again make songs that sound like “The Lightning I” and “II”. “I won’t leave you, don’t leave me,” Win Butler sings through gritted teeth on the song’s first part, which moves to the beat of someone running against the wind. Then, suddenly, the track launches into a delightful gallop and becomes the kind of urgent, closed-fisted anthem the band was once known for: “Waiting for lightning, waiting for lightning, what will the light bring? Butler sings, again burning with heartfelt, fiery hope. Someone spun the car after all. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Oumou Sangaré has brought a tradition of women’s singing from the Wassoulou region of Mali to a global audience. His first new song since 2017, from an album to be released in April, is the Malian fusion of “Wassulu Don”: the quavering vocal lines and call and response of Wassoulou’s songs propelled by modal electric guitar playing. six beats – echoing Ali Farka Touré – which has been called “desert blues”, topped with an overtly bluesy slide guitar. The song, it turns out in translation, praises regional economic development “thanks to colossal investments”: a prosaic text for euphoric music. JON PARELES

His feature debut is so long overdue that for some people the phrase “Normani’s new album” has come to mean pretty much what “Chinese Democracy” used, or – heaven help us – “#R9” always does. But the arrival of Normani’s new single “Fair” is promising on two counts: it indicates that 2022 could well be the year when she will release this legendary album; and it’s way better than “Wild Side,” Cardi B’s sultry but ultimately sleepy duet of 2021. Harnessing the liquefied sounds of 2000-era TLC or Aaliyah, “Fair” is an angsty ballad with a deep undertow and threatening. “Is it fair that you moved? Normani asks, “because I swear not.” All the while, the moody track throbs with a sputtering but persistent heartbeat. ZOLADZ

Putting aside his intramural reggaeton beef with J Balvin, Puerto Rican rapper Residente returns to grand sociopolitical statements with the furious “This Is Not America,” which is rapped in Spanish but deliberately titled in English. It’s a darker hemispheric sequel to “Latinoamérica” ​​by Residente’s former band Calle 13: a far-reaching accusation of repression, corruption and abuse across North, Central America. and the South. Driven by deep harmonies of Afro-Caribbean drumming and choirs, he insists that “America is not just the United States”, with a video that recaps the brutal violations of human rights, nation after nation. Talk

A three-part sequel, ‘Cogs in Cogs’ sits at the center of Brad Mehldau’s new album, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, which brings together 12 complex, hard-to-rock tracks: an attempt to use the tools of progressive rock – his first musical love – to explore how a worldly life could have both shaken and strengthened his Christian faith. Mehldau, who continues to build from his fixed identity as one of the nation’s top jazz pianists, plays almost every instrument in “Cogs in Cogs Part 1”: piano, Rhodes, harmonium, mixed percussion, and Moreover. He sings it too. Underpinned by the syncopated rhythm and woven harmonic progression it describes at the start, the track works as a patient immersion, bringing some balance to the heady overload of much of this album. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Everyone in this dystopian moment wants something better. Here’s a song for whenever, ultimately, the situation might feel right: a bit of stripped-down electronic funk topped with gritty human vocals, set in a digital grid but hoping there’s a warm, real physical space beyond- of the. Talk

On the brink of a new romance, Syd – Sydney Loren Bennett, the songwriter and producer who emerged from Odd Future – expresses her apprehensions in ‘Cybah’, whispering a question to a potential partner: “Could you break a heart?” Lucky Daye responds with his own terms: “Promise me you’ll always keep my heart safe.” The hesitation is built right into the track, three slowly descending chords atop a bassline that occasionally falls into complete silence, keeping the next step uncertain. Talk

Valerie June’s “Use Me” is not Bill Withers’ 1972 song. He offers a kinder, less exploited version of the same feeling of generous love: “I’ll let you use me when the world hurts you,” she promises. It’s a soulful waltz that gathers a circus-like momentum from an oom-pah-pah beat, slightly delayed snare rolls, and jolly horns that sound like they’ve wandered into a bar and decided to stay. Talk

A delicate, understated piano arrangement serves as a sonic red herring for the hottest song Rosalía has released to date. On the surface, “Hentai” is painfully beautiful, as sparse and intimate as anything the queen of flamenco-pop has ever done. “So, so, so good,” she sings ecstatically on the chorus, starry-eyed and accompanied by nothing more than a few winking notes – the sound of one multi-faceted performer revealing another. facet of itself. ZOLADZ

Two meticulously bewildered songwriters and producers — Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Ethan Gruska (producer of Phoebe Bridgers) — collaborated remotely on “So Unimportant.” It’s a waltz that mixes an argument and an apology, with Gruska finally deciding, “It’s so not important what started the fight.” What could have been a folksy, intimate waltz is overlaid with hazy sonic ghosts – echoes, altered vocals, electronic tones, a floating string arrangement – ​​that hint at the emotional complexities of everyday friction. Talk

As the founder of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston, the famous Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez has a utopian goal, framed by his own experience of jazz: he sees music as a tool for international solidarity and a path towards a kind of sonic language. . Pérez’s Global Messengers are a transnational group that grew out of his work at Berklee and seeks to put evidence behind ideas. “Al-Musafir Blues” is part of the “Fronteras (Borders) Suite”, which contemplates the pain of forced migration. “Al-Musafir Blues” is an 11-minute epic in itself, beginning with a lovely, labored motif by Palestinian cellist Naseem Alatrash that slowly merges into a full arrangement; at the end, Pérez’s trotting piano guides the conversation. RUSSONELLO

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