Baker's Dozen: Juice WRLD, Y La Bamba, 100 gecs, Lucy Gooch, and Why I Don't Like Dua Lipa

Baker's Dozen: Juice WRLD, Y La Bamba, 100 gecs, Lucy Gooch, and Why I Don't Like Dua Lipa

If you’ve been reading this newsletter regularly over the past four weeks, you’ve probably noticed some sort of natural posting rhythm that I’m trying to establish: critical essay-ish stuff on Tuesdays, interviews and/or “Here’s some music I’ve been listening to” ruminating on Thursdays. When Thursday posts are exclusively the latter, they’ll be called Baker’s Dozen (the name of the newsletter isn’t explicitly referencing actual donuts, but might as well go along with the theme I’ve unwittingly chosen for myself). Also, in the future, there won’t be a long italicized intro like this. Sorry about that. Anyway, there’s a playlist at the end too.

FET.NAT, “Your World Is My Mystery Gift”

From 2019. These guys seem like real weirdos in an early-to-mid 2000s way, the album this is off of goes in a few different directions (some I like better than others) and it’s pretty surprising overall. Can’t ask for anything better than a lot of surprises. This song sounds like if Damo Suzuki-era Can was produced by Maurice Fulton, which is very cool.

Dua Lipa, “Cool”

I still…don’t…get Dua Lipa. I like this song, though—it reminds me of the best moments from Carly Rae Jepsen, another near-cultishly critically beloved pop artist that I still…don’t…get (I love “Call Me Maybe,” the saxophone that opens “Run Away With Me,” and “Boy Problems,” have tried with the rest of it and it hasn’t stuck but please don’t start yelling at me I’ll try again at some point in the future). As it is with so many pop artists these days, she sounds best to me in this kind of glowy ‘80s synth-pop vein (see also: “Genesis” and “Be the One,” from her last album). Her true peak, to me, so far was the Calvin Harris collab “One Kiss,” an exquisitely trashy club song that I’ve listened to on repeat for at least 40 minutes at a time.

A lot of Future Nostalgia—even the parts I like—sound like an exhibition of decent taste and not much else. (The White Town sample arguably serves very little purpose beyond offering a necessary reminder that “Your Woman” is an incredible song.) When done right, Trevor Horn-isms and savvy executions of dance-pop variants from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s is always a winning combination when it comes to garnering praise, and while the album is inoffensive at its worst I think its greatest crime is not pushing anything in pop forward in any real way. Part of me suspects it’s so easy to embrace because its clean-lines clarity of intent stands in opposition to the murky and melismatic pop music that’s so dominated youth culture in the last few years—music that sounds ugly and purple, moving at a slug’s pace. There’s nothing ugly about what Dua Lipa does, and I have more trouble trusting the product as a result.

Katie Pruitt, “Normal”

A lot of really stunning moments on Katie Pruitt’s debut album—extremely affecting songwriting that touches on a wide range of emotions. Hard time picking the one I like the most but this song kind of feels like the album’s emotional core.

Charlie Puth’s Subway Jingle

Puth kind of freaked it on this, don’t front. It works great on a loop, too. I woke up with this jingle in my head the other day and it didn’t leave for several hours at least.

Y La Bamba, “Bruja de Brujas”

The production on this is so hypnotic and textured, I love it—a little like Animal Collective in the Ark-Sung Tongs era. Lots of things going on throughout this album from last year, sounds like Luz Elena Mendoza and her band throwing every idea at the wall and watching all of them stick.

Pavo Pavo, “Mystery Hour”

Another entry in the burgeoning 2004 revival from the last two years—when chamber-pop was starting to emerge as a sonic force in indie, with some stretched-out Delgados/Dave Fridmann-associated-bands soft psychedelia to match. This album from last year kind of lost me midway through, but this is a hell of an opening song.

Will and Jada Smith, “Entanglement (iMarkkeyz Remix)”

One of those brain-breaking things where a piece of popular culture that might have otherwise disappeared (this whole thing feels like it happened years ago now) but is now lodged in my brain forever due to an internet thing. Not even sure if this is “good” as it is the first thing I saw to re-meme this whole thing, so now, in my brain, it’s the only thing.

Lucy Gooch, “My Lights Kiss Your Thoughts Every Moment”

Spellbinding, from the top of this year. Reminds me of Julia Holter, or what I take away from Julia Holter’s music, at least.

Magdalena Bay, “Story”

Something about these two seems super sinister to me, which I’m into. Had no idea until I looked up this video that they’re signed to a record label run by Gorilla vs. Bear. Interesting! He has good taste.

Juice WRLD, “Righteous”

This song and the posthumous album it’s attached to makes me think about what Liza Womack, mother of late rapper Lil Peep (whose music swam in the same lake as Juice WRLD’s), said about the necessity of legacy management at a time when it feels like young artists are dying young at a rapider rate. All of her words are here; they’re worth reading and—two years before this album’s release—prophetic. I wrote a little bit about the ethical politics of posthumous releases here, along with some thoughts about hearing artists describe pain and death after they’ve already succumbed to both.

Move D and Benjamin Brunn, “Magnetically Levitated Train”

Seventeen minutes of trickle-down-your-back ambient techno from two masters at work. Love when these guys are in the zone.

Machine Girl, “Kill All Borders (2020 Worldwide Fucker)”

The feel-good hit of the summer.

100 gecs, “ringtone (umru remix)”

It’s not really a “work” that needs any sort of critical evaluation, but it seems like 1000 gecs and the Tree of Clues could end up being a pretty crucial document as far as collecting some of the most fascinating artists working across underground (and in one or two cases, overground) pop and electronic music circa 2019-2020. This remix seems genius to me, particularly how the song’s reconstructed as pure rock music at the end. 100 gecs: their music is more versatile than you might think!

Subscribe to Last Donut of the Night

Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
Jamie Larson