March 24, 2023


Without Art It's Really Boring!!!

The Finest Progressive Pop Tunes of 2021

4 min read

Listen: Maandy, “Hivi Na Hivo”


Magdalena Bay: Mercurial Entire world

The world-wide-web-obsessed rollout for Magdalena Bay’s debut album showcased Y2K-design internet sites, meta songs films, and hallucinatory TikToks—playful gateways into 1 of the most unique pop records of the year. The L.A.-primarily based duo of Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin make tunes splashed with markers of the earlier: vaporwave, G-funk, and Max Martin-sized pop are all touchstones for Mercurial Entire world. There are wobbly sugar rushes and glitched-out ballads, but the album reaches its apex on “Chaeri,” a melancholic ode to a crumbling friendship wherever Magdalena Bay provide pathos and electro-pop perfection all at when. –Eric Torres

Hear/Acquire: Rough Trade | Amazon | Apple Songs | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Saddest Manufacturing unit / Dead Oceans

MUNA: “Silk Chiffon” [ft. Phoebe Bridgers]

​​Who’d have guessed that, in the 12 months of our Lord 2021, Phoebe Bridgers would put the phrases “life’s so fun” to tape—unironically? Even indie rock’s phantom queen obtained swept up in the giddiness of “Silk Chiffon,” the to start with solitary launched by alt-pop group MUNA on Bridgers’ very own label. MUNA’s songs generally center queer enjoy this a single, described by the band as something “for young ones to have their initially homosexual kiss to,” is a swirl of stomach butterflies and PG sensuality. But those people demure lyrics are backed by dazzling acoustic chords, fizzy electronics, and a refrain that pops like confetti, creating “Silk Chiffon” incredibly bombastic—a convincing counterpoint in a year of tasteful, understated A-listing pop. –Olivia Horn

Pay attention: MUNA, “Silk Chiffon” [ft. Phoebe Bridgers]


PinkPantheress: “Just for Me”

The aughts revival acquired major this yr. With confessional lyrics together with crushed-out 2-action and garage beats, 20-yr-aged PinkPantheress soundtracked the confessional side of TikTok in 480p resolution, contacting back to the halcyon times of LiveJournal. “Just for me” lingers in the cutely obsessive, a diary entry that indulges the form of vulnerability afforded by the a lot more introverted corners of the world wide web. –Stefanie Fernández

Hear: PinkPantheress, “Just for Me”


quinn: “and most importantly, have fun”

About the earlier two several years, quinn emerged as a single of the faces of digicore by way of her brash, boisterous on-line pop and rap, but in 2021, disillusioned with newfound fame, she commenced to reinvent herself. On her just one-off solitary “and most importantly, have enjoyment,” she navigates this transition with an evil grin. The intro—“You never even know me, you don’t even know me”—feels scornful, but alongside verses describing a wild, drug-fueled bender, it will become an invitation to join her in the eye of the storm. Jagged bits of tradition fly all all-around: G-funk and drum’n’bass, a Kesha lyric, snippets from CDC director Rochelle Walensky and A Tribe Identified as Quest. Like quinn’s on the web presence, the tune results in an illusion of familiarity though trying to keep the listener at arm’s size. –Mano Sundaresan

Hear: quinn, “and most importantly, have fun”

Matsor Jobs

Rostam: “4Runner”

Rostam’s twelve-string tribute to the open up street would make any one swoon, but this really like song might maintain exclusive importance for queer men and women. “Don’t wanna be pretty like a girl,” he sings. “I assume I’m quite significantly your boy.” For anybody who’s ever felt like a foreigner in their individual pores and skin, currently being noticed in the suitable way by the proper person—handsome relatively than stunning, say—can truly feel like a homecoming. In “4Runner,” Rostam and his enjoy make a new residence for by themselves on the freeway, leaving the acquainted at the rear of and driving forward into a upcoming that once seemed extremely hard. –Peyton Thomas

Hear: Rostam, “4Runner”


Smerz: “Believer”

Smerz, the digital task of Norwegian songwriters Henriette Motzfeldt and Catharina Stoltenberg, released its debut complete-size, Believer, early this calendar year. The album’s cold, creeping title track is amid the duo’s very best perform: The track teeters on jagged synths and rattling polyrhythms, even though strings surge from behind at gale power. Stoltenberg’s voice is modest and marginally processed, a mechanical purr that somehow feels both equally susceptible and detached. Her clipped dispatches on adore are pragmatic and icy, but beguiling adequate to lure you by means of each and every disorienting curve. –Madison Bloom

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