Come rain or come shine: your March Press-Playlist

Jaeden Pinder, Arts Editor

March marks an odd transitional period in New York City, as the weather fluctuates from frigid overcast skies to warm sunny days, all in a matter of 24 hours. Some days, you’re confident you won’t even need your coat for a relaxing day in Seaport, and the next, you’re pulling out the heavy-down puffer jacket your parents bought you out of fear of catching a cold.

But regardless of this capriciousness, March also marks the start of Daylight Savings Time, which for many New Yorkers is the elixir to their seasonal depression. This month’s playlist revolves around this literal and metaphorical breath of fresh air and the overall relief of knowing the city won’t be shrouded in darkness. With excitement quietly bubbling from the thought of summer being just around the corner, add these electronic and experimental pop cuts to your spring mixtapes, from newer releases by artists like Charli XCX and Magdalena Bay to songs from influential artists in the 2010s like Kali Uchis and Jamie xx.

Charli XCX – Lightning

Pop icon Charli XCX is back with her newest album since releasing the raw and futuristic sounds of “How I’m Feeling Now,” and instead took a step back to admire and pay homage to the pop landscape of the ‘80s and ’90s. “Lightning” has been a clear fan-favorite among Charli’s “angels,” and many have taken to social media in the attempts to hypothesize and debate the scientific reasoning behind its addictive quality. While The Pace Press doesn’t have any concrete data to back ourselves up, we have made our own checklist for what constitutes the perfect pop song. Vocoder processed vocals? Check. A hard-hitting snare drum during the chorus? Check. Synths so gargantuan and diverse that your ears and brain can’t physically handle it? Check. “Lightning” excels in providing these three basic concepts and then some to create one of the best earworms of this year.

The Avalanches – Oh the Sunn!

Despite having released only three albums in their 25-year career, The Avalanches are masters in sound design and have created tracks that are as equally danceable as they are to strip apart. The Australian group is known for spearheading the genre of plunderphonics, where songs are built upon preexisting music and sound bites from public broadcasts, films, television segments and more. Their latest effort from 2020’s “We Will Always Love You” pulls away from this genre and instead builds upon only a sample from a choir and employs Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction for impassioned spoken word heard in its two minutes. It presents itself so earnestly that it can be cheesy, but nonetheless, you can’t deny the grooviness of this transition track.

Jamie xx – SeeSaw

Known for bringing U.K. garage back into the spotlight, Jamie xx is a producer based in London who has credit in producing for artists like Drake (“Take Care”), Miley Cyrus (“Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”) and Tyler, the Creator (“RISE!”). Like the weather this month and bleeding into April, “SeeSaw” remains relatively steady and unchanging in its progression, save for the sparkling outro, where the breakbeat-influenced drums fade out, almost symbolizing the clearing away of rainy weather. For students looking for an extended remix of “SeeSaw” to add to their study playlists, check out Four Tet’s remix of the song, who is set to perform in Queens with the DJ and Floating Points this September. 

Kero Kero Bonito – Well Rested

As the second installment to their “Civilisation” compilation, “Well Rested” closes out the project as a sprawling seven-minute suite discussing environmental preservation and collapse. It’s apocalyptic, as if in another universe this song would play as aliens descended onto our planet. Sarah Bonito sings in Japanese and English, prophesying about the state of our planet in the Anthropocene (“The resurrection will come/Only when Gaia requires it/It will not come soon/If we care for our mother”). While the sudden jumps to warmer weather have been refreshing at times, it remains integral for us to address and consciously recognize the effects of climate change on our planet.

Kali Uchis (feat. Tyler, the Creator and Bootsy Collins) – After the Storm

The most straightforward of songs on this playlist, “After the Storm” is in a word, encouraging. Right around this month, many students come head first with the dreaded mid-semester slump, and that burnout is exponentially more difficult to handle compared to the fall semester. Managing to encompass both the hardships and triumphs of everyday life, Uchis’s song is empowering in its subtlety; instead of a high energy motivator, it is a gentle hug of reassurance. Every lyric on this song could easily be found on a kitschy sign on your parents’ patio or on a daily affirmations Instagram account, but that doesn’t take away from any of the emotion felt in the song in lyrics like: “The sun’ll come out, nothing good ever comes easy/I know times are rough but winners don’t quit/So don’t you give up.” Summer is closer than you think it is, so whatever your “storm” is, put on this song as a pick me up for a bad day.

A.G. Cook – Idyll

While slightly disarming upon first listen, “Idyll” is a cover of the Life Sim song “I.D.L.,” another project A.G. Cook has been involved with. Cook is known for founding the PC Music record label, which has focused itself mainly on hyperpop artists and subverting traditional artist promotion through a satirical eye. Built almost entirely around the vocals of Caroline Polachek, “Idyll” is as hypnotic as it is haunting. Unlike other songs within the hyperpop genre, the song is quiet and subdued, far from the abrasiveness of artists like 100 gecs and Ashnikko. For someone looking to get into hyperpop and the roster under PC Music, “Idyll” is the ideal place to begin on his sprawling debut “7G.”

Vince Staples – Rain Come Down

Recently, this Long Beach native opened for Tyler, the Creator at Madison Square Garden (alongside Kali Uchis and Teezo Touchdown), and has continually broken boundaries in hip-hop throughout his career with his experimentality. Featuring Ty Dolla $ign, “Rain Come Down” closes out Staples’s record “Big Fish Theory,” which relied heavily upon house and techno music. Both ominous in its production and songwriting, with staccato percussion punctuating the song and dark lyrics discussing racial injustices, “Rain Come Down” personifies the dreariness that comes with darkness and stormy weather. 

Magdalena Bay – Dawning of the Season

The Pace Press has already written about our infatuation with this pop duo, and we can’t help but bring them up one more time with this mellow track from 2021’s “Mercurial World.” Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin originally played in a progressive rock band before the curveball decision to leave the rock scene to test their limits by creating their own pop music. This is exactly what makes their music so intriguing, as it is limitless in its potential and ultimately a highly progressive pop song.

Porter Robinson – Look at the Sky

From his critically acclaimed sophomore album “Nurture” comes the single “Look at the Sky,” a song about endurance and determination. “Look at the Sky” contains multitudes, as it feels like the type of song from another world in the distant future, but also contains so many elements of early 2010s EDM that is so comfortably familiar. What sets Robinson’s production apart from his electronic peers is his inner reflection within his lyricism, which often is evaded in most EDM music. The song, while sonically optimistic, is doubtful in its lyrics, but in the end, shows a glimmer of hope, albeit bittersweet, with Robinson singing, “Look at the sky, I’m still here/I’ll be alive next year/I can make something good/Something good.”