Baker's Dozen: PinkPantheress, Lana Del Rey, and Misguided Pop-Rock Cynicism

Baker's Dozen: PinkPantheress, Lana Del Rey, and Misguided Pop-Rock Cynicism

Baker's Dozen is a weekly thing for paid subscribers where I share music I've been listening to along with some thoughts around it. Thanks to all for the feedback earlier this week, every single one of you is far too kind and I'll be replying personally soon. As ever, all revenue from the newsletter is currently going to the National Network of Abortion Funds, and we've raised over $750 so far.

SAULT, "Little Boy"‎

Another SAULT song, if I like the new one when I get around to it (counts on fingers) next week I'll likely feature something from it in the future. One thing I appreciate about this project beyond the general aims and messaging is the sonic versatility, feels like they very rarely do the same thing from track to track. Nothing wrong with being surprised!

PinkPantheress, "Pain (Powfu Remix)"

If you've been a longtime subscriber to this newsletter, you probably remember when I shared "Break It Off," like, six months before everyone started actually talking about PinkPantheress. Look at you, keeping ahead of the curve! OK no more cutesy shit, anyway. Plenty of very good remixes from the remix LP that came out earlier this year, including one of my favorite songs of 2022 so far; this isn't that (wait a few weeks) but I think this is an interesting and generationally-specific remix from Canadian bedroom pop kid Powfu. He looks like Rex Orange County, he sings like Rex Orange County, and that style of music compliments PinkPantheress' own "I am alone in a room" bedroom pop style as well.

Leech, "Bit Rot"

Brian Foote's a great and kind guy from the many emails we've exchanged over the last decade, although I'm a few mailing lists removed from the last time we spoke. He's been behind the Kranky label since the mid-2000s, which has put out so much good left-of-center music over the last several decades, from Deerhunter and Atlas Sound to Low and Labradford. He's also got his own electronic-focused label Peak Oil where he puts out records from his Leech alias, among others. Good dusty IDM going on here, feels like a brain massage.

Lana Del Rey, "Blue Banisters"

Would you believe me if I said I'm wearing Blue Banisters merch while writing this very paragraph? Yes? OK. Not that hard to believe, I suppose. What a stunning song, top-10 Lana for me at this point, she is truly operating on another level at this point. A while back I saw a (lapsed?) music critic ‎(no names!) on Twitter talking about how critics are being hoodwinked by her or something—how she's a glam-obsessed centrist (the second part might be right, but the Sexism Dog is barking very loudly at the first assertion) and they're going to be embarrassed in the future for praising what is clearly a virtuosic period for an incredible singer-songwriter. Needless to say, I think he's wrong about who's going to end up embarrassed.

Forest Drive West, "Time"

Pugilist, "Undulate"

Figured that I'd offer these two tracks with the same blurb pairing—they're both Whities singles, after all, a label that has generally put out a lot of interesting stuff over the years. Just some hypnotic bass-slash-techno, a lot to get lost into.

Purple Pilgrims, "Tragic Gloss"

Weird thing going on here, two sisters from New Zealand on Flying Nun who don't jangle or fuzz (well, not noticeably) but are ‎instead doing a spacey, languid thing that reminds me of, in no particular order, Cate Le Bon's whole deal, a smidge of Ariel Pink's sickly psychedelia, some of the avant-pop Puro Instinct dipped their toes in, et al. Can't say I loved the album, but I think this tune sticks the outro at least.

KYLE, "Perfect"

This is the weirdest reinvention of the year so far, no doubt. Rap doofus KYLE (who I've previously shared around these parts, wholly because he sampled the Drums' "Let's Go Surfing") used to be a Sailing Team affiliate with a failed Netflix comedy and twice as many failed attempts at releasing a hit album; now, he has another failure on his hands, his latest album It's Not So Bad, which everyone promptly ignored. I have a friend who I've implored to listen to it, and they refuse to based on the fact that it's KYLE. Fair point, but I think there's something a little more interesting going on here‎ than most would expect—he's gone full UKG on some tracks, adopting that PMR-esque romantic house music sound elsewhere (like on this song). He follows up a Craig David feature with a Craig David cover. Bold? Ill-advised? Let's just be thankful we have pop music released in 2022 that invokes those adjectives to begin with.

Young Mountain, "9406"

Typically I'd be a sucker for the phrase "Swedish post-hardcore gloom," but Young Mountain's Infraröd just didn't do it for me for the most part. This track is nice though, sounds like an M83 interlude.

Tuns, "Keeping Options Open"

This band counts Sloan's Chris Murphy ‎as a member, and it certainly sounds as such. At its best, Duly Noted is effective and muscle-y power-pop that mostly relies on the strength of its hooks—but that's all power-pop, right? Not a bad thing when it's executed well.

Liam Gallagher, "Glimmer"

The broken clock of British rock music hits the right time yet again. Simple and stupid, not as good as any of his press quotes but what could possibly be?

Lillie Mae, "Didn't I"

Just some simple Nashville music, sounded nice to me.

Bad Suns, "Life Was Easier When I Only Cared About Me"

I can't ever figure out where I land on this otherwise hooky potential hit from festival-rock himbos Bad Suns. The cynicism seems disgusting when you consider that its primary audience, presumably, only cares about itself; this is, after all, vainglorious and empty-headed music made for people who would line their house with mirrors if they had the option. I sense there's some humor in the lyrics and overall titular sentiment here, lampooning how gross our generation has become when it comes to selfishness and desensitization—but, also, I don't think that really captures our generation as a whole, just a specific subset, like people who might set aside time to see Bad Suns at one of the many 3 p.m. festival sets they doubtlessly have booked. Do we have another "Waiting on the World to Change" on our hands here, or is this song Listen to it enough and you'll kill enough brain cells to forget what we were talking about, that's a fact.‎‎‎

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Jamie Larson