Bush Tetras’ Defiant Return, and 10 More New Songs

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new tracks. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at [email protected] and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage, and The Amplifier, a twice-weekly guide to new and old songs.

Bush Tetras, ‘Things I Put Together’

Jagged, funky and scrappy, Bush Tetras emerged in 1979 as a quintessential Lower East Side post-punk band. They found a new round of respect with a 2021 retrospective, “Rhythm and Paranoia.” Its surviving founders, the singer Cynthia Sley and the guitarist Pat Place, have regrouped the band — joined by Steve Shelley from Sonic Youth on drums and production — for its first album since 2012, which is due in July. “Things I Put Together” reclaims Bush Tetras’ muscle, dissonance and die-hard contrarianism: “Still I won’t keep those things I put together,” Sley declares, going on to insist, “No never!” JON PARELES

Bethany Cosentino, ‘It’s Fine’

It was a week of good news and bad news for Best Coast fans. First, the bad: the breezy indie-pop group’s longtime frontwoman Bethany Cosentino announced that the band (which is basically a two-person collaboration with the multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno) was going on an indefinite hiatus. But Cosentino also revealed she is releasing her first solo album, “Natural Disaster,” on July 28. The debut single, the light and lilting “It’s Fine,” has the gentle twang of midcareer Sheryl Crow and the bright gloss of Liz Phair’s pop era. “I am evolved, you’ve stayed the same,” Cosentino sings to someone who’s not moving forwards at the same pace that she is. But then with that titular shrug, on the chorus, she throws that caution to the wind. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Q, ‘Sow’

Q Stephen Marsden, who records and produces himself as Q, revisits broody 1980s electro pop — echoing the introspective-verging-on-depressive sides of Phil Collins, Prince and Michael Jackson — in “Sow,” a glum attempt at self-help delivered in a pleading tenor. Over pulsing minor chords, he wonders, “If I have today, should I let sorrow flow?” He urges, instead, “Gotta move on and sow your love,” as if he’s hoping to convince himself. PARELES

Avalon Emerson, ‘Entombed in Ice’

Avalon Emerson has established herself as a top techno D.J. But on her new album, “& the Charm,” she emerges as a singer and songwriter. Her co-producer is Bullion, who has worked with acts like Carly Rae Jepsen. “Entombed in Ice” isn’t as breezy as it sounds at first. Emerson sings about the contradictory impulses of a breakup, trying to cope with old feelings while telling herself to move on: “While one door closes another opens/There are some things you can do for yourself now.” The blippy, syncopated track merges her electronic expertise with pure pop craftsmanship, including nonsense-syllable vocal hooks. Emerson’s calm vocals and the upbeat ingenuity of the music promise to get her through any crisis. PARELES

Ed Sheeran, ‘Curtains’

Ed Sheeran struggles with his demons on the somber but ultimately uplifting “Curtains,” the latest single from the British pop star’s new album, “–” (pronounced “Subtract”). A prickly electric guitar adds some fresh texture to the standard Sheeran sound on the song’s verses, as his relentless vocal cadence mimics the feel of racing thoughts. But a loved one steps in to offer a solution on the chorus: “That’s when you say to me, ‘Can you pull the curtains?’” Sheeran sings with newfound optimism. “‘Let me see the sunshine.’” ZOLADZ

Daymé Arocena, ‘Para Mover Los Pies’

The title of this song translates as “To Move Your Feet,” and the horns-driven band gives it an unbeatable salsa groove rooted in Puerto Rican plena. But there’s more going on than dancing. “Para Mover Los Pies” is a song of exile: Arocena grew up in Cuba but left the island four years ago. She has happily relocated to Puerto Rico, with its own Afro-Caribbean culture, and in this song — produced by Eduardo Cabra from Calle 13 — she denounces Cuba’s dictatorship and urges Cubans to “Fight for your freedom/So that Cuba and Puerto Rico dance again.” PARELES

waterbaby, ‘911’

The emergency number in Stockholm, the home of the songwriter who calls herself waterbaby, is 112. But in this drowsily understated bedroom-pop song, she clearly has an eye on an American audience: “Call me when you need someone/I could be your 911,” she sings, adding “we-ooh, we-ooh” like a two-note emergency siren. It’s a tentative, guarded offer of affection — “Maybe we could go somewhere/Maybe we could be something” — sung breathily and hesitantly, trying to keep expectations modest. PARELES

​​feeo, ‘Iris’

“Iris” unfolds more like a soliloquy than a song, as if it’s extrapolating from the jazziest impulses of Joni Mitchell. The lyrics speak to a longtime, distant friend, as feeo — the British songwriter Theodora Laird — ruminates on the passage of time, on feeling trapped by ambition, on fantasies of freedom and a new start. Caius Williams on acoustic bass grounds, nudges and counterpoints feeo’s voice; electronics and backup vocals materialize and vanish. It’s a complex composition that feels completely impulsive and open-ended. PARELES

Olof Dreijer & Mount Sims, ‘Hybrid Fruit’

Olof Dreijer, from the Knife, has found a new sound source: the steel drum, that remarkable percussion instrument that can also play and sustain melodies. Dreijer and a fellow electronic musician, Mount Sims, have collaborated on an album built from naturalistic and manipulated steel drum playing. “Hybrid Fruit” runs a leisurely 8:10 at a steady, insistent pace. Four-note and eight-note motifs appear, repeat and fall away; low chords and high countermelodies start to well up about halfway through, enfolded in turn by minimalistic, staccato, tuneful steel drum patterns. The track is cunningly repetitive even as it keeps changing. PARELES

claire rousay & Helena Deland, ‘Deceiver’

Helena Deland and claire rousay are both fond of quiet, hazy soundscapes, and their collaboration, “Deceiver,” mixes the folky and the nebulous. It’s an acoustic-guitar ballad swathed in vocal harmonies and distant, edgeless, quasi-orchestral chords. And its seeming serenity belies lyrics about a lover’s quarrel that doesn’t clear the air. “I’m spending my time trying to convince you to believe me,” Deland sings. “You don’t believe me.” PARELES

JFDR, ‘Sideways Moon’

“Museum,” the new album by JFDR — the Icelandic songwriter Jofriour Akadottir — is full of ghostly waltzes, none of them more eerie and vulnerable than “Sideways Moon.” It’s a breathy, tremulous look back at a heartbreak: “Will you know I’m sorry taking what I took?/Will you know I truly gave you all I got?” The quiet piano lullaby at the core of the song is enveloped, almost buffeted, by echoes, electronic orchestrations and vocal apparitions, conjuring the larger feelings JFDR can’t yet control. PARELES

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