SPIN Singles Mix: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘The Blacker the Berry,’ Nic Hessler’s ‘I Feel Again,’ and More
SPIN staffers handpick their can't-miss tracks to get you through the week
Welcome to SPIN’s Singles Mix! The SPIN staff has rounded up their favorite, must-hear tracks for your mid-week playlists. From politically minded rappers to Be Your Own Pet offshoots to spunky power-pop boyfriend-girlfriend duos, these are the songs you need to know right now.
Keath Mead, “Grow Up” (Company Records)
Mead’s dreamy, slow-motion power-pop bubbles to psychedelic heights and his elastic falsetto almost follows. “So you think you’re so appealing / Everything comes right back round to you,” he accuses, but any hint of bitterness is buried under all the musical pillows and hugs. DAN WEISS
Kendrick Lamar, “The Blacker the Berry” (TDE)
Atop Boi-1da’s blistering production, Kendrick returns with emotionally charged takes on ethnicity (“I’m African-American / I’m African / I’m black as the moon, heritage of a small village”), and his detractors (“Excuse my French but fuck you / No, fuck y’all / That’s as blunt as it gets”). It’s throbbing, insistent, and, sadly, all too necessary in 2015. BRENNAN CARLEY
Laura Welsh feat. John Legend, “Hardest Part” (Polydor)
Welsh is one of those mysterious U.K. singers who made a splash as a featured guest on a Big Dance Track™ (Gorgon City’s “Here For You”) but hasn’t quite made a name for herself until now. Next month, she’ll release Soft Control, her debut album, and she’s also featured on the new Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. On “Hardest Part,” Welsh holds her own with rich, soulful vocals and memorable cadence. B.C.
Matt and Kim, “Hey Now” (Harvest Records)
The wonky second track from Matt and Kim’s upcoming album, New Glow, is a horn blaring and happy ode to loving someone despite — or, perhaps, because of — all the headaches and trouble. The duo, a couple themselves, even manage to make “if you died, I’d die right by your side” upbeat and cheeky instead of coming across like morbid emo fare. It’s exuberant, not overly complex, and reminiscent of Matt and Kim’s scrappier early work, but with a little more veteran polish. JAMES GREBEY
Nic Hessler, “I Feel Again” (Captured Tracks)
This happy-go-lucky throwback to ’80s guitar-pop takes a few seconds to get going, but don’t get too anxious with that volume knob: Once Nic Hessler’s jangly feel-good anthem takes form, prepare to be whiplashed with all kinds of posi California vibes. Sandwiching breezy, high-pitched harmonies between cheery Smiths-like chords, “I Feel Again” — taken from the forthcoming album, Soft Connections (out March 17) — is quintessential wind-in-your-hair driving music. Just remember to buckle in for an tidal wave of upper-body car seat dancing. R.B.
Prinze George featuring Misun Wojcik, “We Are Dreamers” (Self-Released)
Beckoning you to the dance floor with swelling synths and springy beats, the fun-loving “We Are Dreamers” has the Prince George, Maryland, natives teaming with vocalist Misun Wojcik to create a strobing, pulsing indie-slanted club anthem worthy of anybody’s bounce-your-way-to-the-weekend playlist. R.B.
Tori Kelly, “Nobody Love” (Capitol Music Group)
Helmed by recent Grammy Producer of the Year winner, Max Martin, this uptempo throwback signals the arrival of a vocalist who’s got the pipes of Christina Aguilera at her peak. It’s got Martin’s trademark horn section — he did produce Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” after all — and even a sultry, slowed down post-chorus that arrives with a whisper. B.C.
Turbo Fruits, “The Way I Want You” (Melvin Records/Thirty Tigers)
Garage-punk Nashville natives Turbo Fruits aren’t what you’d call “introspective” or “polished.” A combination of maturing as a band — they aren’t just a Be Your Own Pet side project anymore — and production help from Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney make sense in this plea from a scorned boyfriend. “It ain’t easy, the way I want you / Cuz I can’t have you, the way I want to.” Punctuated by Cars-ish verses, the song acts as a vehicle for showcasing the boys’ new sensibilities and old knack for sing-along choruses. CONNOR O’BRIEN
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, “Multi-Love” (Jagjaguwar)
Leading with plinky-plunky piano chords and Hot Chip-like falsetto harmonizing, Portland’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra play with psychedelic pop sounds that that verge on disco on this addictive new track. The title song to their forthcoming album (out on May 26 via Jagjaguwar), “Multi-Love” will, as the trio puts it, have you on your knees in record time. R.B.