Lana delivers summertime sadness, Lil Nas X delivers summertime badness: your Press Play-list for the week of April 5

Bart Carmody, Arts Editor

As the weather gets warmer and optimism for a relatively “normal” summer is flourishing, we’re all getting excited for all the memories and emotions that summertime brings. This week’s playlist is full of new releases that perfectly encapsulate that feeling, from indie rockstar beabadoobee’s new single “Last Day On Earth” being reminiscent of a windows-down car ride through a warm summer night with friends, to Lana Del Rey’s long-awaited album “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” reminding us of the frivolous but poignant heartache of a summer fling. Here’s your Press Play-list for the week of April 5.

Lana Del Rey – “White Dress”

Lana Del Rey’s new album “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” opens on a classically-Lana sweet and somber note. “White Dress” is an up-close-and-personal piano ballad where Lana both recollects upon a time that truly made her feel, in her words, “like a god,” while also pondering upon where she is now, in a very meta fashion. These thoughts are conveyed beautifully through a vocal side of the singer that we’ve never seen before, as she whisper-sings the bittersweet chorus in an extreme falsetto. These vocals, paired with the ever-soft piano speaking behind her, are delicate and gentle, immaculately illustrating the “waitress” character that she’s singing about throughout the track. And the ambiance of the track is brought to life even more by other underlying instruments like a subtle guitar and barely-kicking drums. “White Dress” faultlessly sets the nostalgic and strong tone for the remainder of an amazing album.

Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)”

Rapper/popstar Lil Nas X is no stranger to the spotlight. After shattering records with his hit song “Old Town Road,” he’s rarely not on the charts, and he now finds himself in that spotlight again, with his controversial and undeniably catchy new single “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” The track, by itself, is an array of unique and enjoyable vocal harmonies from Lil Nas, sung over layers and layers of intricate production, with clear influences stemming from genres like flamenco and Latin pop. As Lil Nas delivers these vocals, he cleverly juxtaposes lustful, flirtatious bars with more introspective lyrics of self-realization and acceptance. This message is only further animated in the much-discussed music video for the song, in which Lil Nas cunningly pokes fun at the idea of going to hell for being gay – I mean, he literally takes a stripper pole from heaven to hell. It’s not surprising that the music video would shock and even offend many, but there’s no denying that both the song and video are powerful, fierce and a new chapter of reflection for Lil Nas.

BROCKHAMPTON – “BUZZCUT” (feat. Danny Brown)

Album rollouts for the supergroup and boyband pioneers BROCKHAMPTON are often quite tumultuous. Their forthcoming album “ROADRUNNER” is, according to group member Kevin Abstract, their penultimate album as a group ever. This is the second time that the rapper/popstar has made such claims, but fans are less hesitant to believe him this time around. The group has matured, evolved and grown over time, and many are in agreement that this album would be a fair note to finish on. Their new single “BUZZCUT,” featuring Danny Brown, is a perfect demonstration of how far they’ve come in their career, as it showcases the group’s flair for meshing genres between trippy avant-garde hip-hop with old-school rap aspects weaved throughout. The production is abstract (no pun intended) and weird, Abstract’s shouted opening verse shows the rapper at his apex, and the outro is gloriously ethereal and transcendent. And for a real trip, be sure to check out the music video, too, where the featured Danny Brown crawls out group member JOBA’s mouth – it’s wonderfully BROCKHAMPTON.

J Balvin – “Tu Veneno”

As Latin pop takes the world by storm, growing in popularity and influencing artists across genres, Latin pop icon J Balvin has had quite the past couple of years. With many waiting for the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2020 release “Colores,” J Balvin has returned with another new single, “Tu Veneno.” The song is a raw, hard-hitting reggaetón bop that lyrically explores the trials and tribulations of a toxic relationship. The song is juxtaposition at its best; while the gritty, catchy production is enough to make anyone want to dance, J Balvin sings “Porque yo soy tu veneno, tu veneno, yeah / Te hago mal, pero qué bueno cuando lo hacemo’, yeah;” in English, “Because I am your poison, your poison, yeah / I hurt you, but how good it is when we make love, yeah,” heartbreakingly relatable lyrics about the sweeter sides of a relationship prohibiting those involved from letting their partner go – even if it might be best for them both. Moving lyricism aside, the production and J Balvin’s vocal progressions on this thing are utterly contagious, and we’re excited to see which directions he can explore next.

beabadoobee – “Last Day On Earth”

Up-and-coming indie rockstar beabadoobee is clearly taking no days off. She just released her debut album, “Fake It Flowers,” in 2020, and just recently announced an upcoming EP that’s being executively produced by The 1975. The lead single from the project, “Last Day On Earth,” lives up to its name; it sounds faintly triumphant as if the London-based artist is trying to make the best of her last hours on earth by enjoying all the little things in life. And for beabadoobee, those last hours were a reality, in a way. “‘Last Day on Earth’ is about all the things I would have done had I known we were going into a lockdown and the world was going to change the way it has,” she said in a press release. “It was written shortly after the first main lockdown and lyrically it’s me reflecting on how it would feel if we all knew ahead of time what was going to happen. All the things I would have done if I knew it was the last day of our old normality.” The song is a bittersweet jam that reminds the listener of the days where normality and togetherness were in abundance, while also providing hope that there is light at the end of this once seemingly endless tunnel.

Tkay Maidza – “Where Is My Mind?”

Record label 4AD just turned 40 years old this past week, and to celebrate that fact, the label brilliantly released a collection of covers from their signed artists, titled “Bills & Aches & Blues.” With many standouts coming from this collaborative project, like NYC-based Spencer.’s cover of Grimes’s “Genesis,” and Big Thief’s cover of The Breeders’ “Off You,” one of the most notable covers amongst these is Australian electronic artist Tkay Maidza’s cover of The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” The song wonderfully brings a new sense of light to a previously melancholic ballad, complete with playful synths and rhythmic drum kicks. Maidza breathes life into the vocals of the track; where Pixies frontman sing-shouted his trademark grungy lyrics on the original, Maidza’s voice flutters over colorful electronic production, contrasting the original’s moodiness. Among other talented and promising artists on this project, Maidza truly does “Where Is My Mind?” justice.