Happy Halloween! My favorite spooky holiday is on Wednesday, but I know a lot of activities went on this past weekend. If you braved the night to get into some ghoulish fun, I hope you had a great time and have recovered by now. If you’ve still got things coming up, I hope you’re safe and a ton of people compliment your costume. If Halloween isn’t your thing or you didn’t have any plans this year, I hope you’re having a good stretch in your life anyway. Come Thursday we can all get discounted candy, so there’s really something for everyone to love this week. There’s a little something for everyone in Take 5 as well, so let’s dive in.
Maggie Lindemann – Human
We’re going to stay on the Halloween vibes for a bit to start Take 5 this week. Pop music does not have to be bright and cheery. In fact, it can be as dark and brooding as it can get. For proof of this, look no further than Maggie Lindemann’s single “Human.” Built on whistling synths and minimal percussion, “Human” is downright creepy in the best way. Lindemann delivers the vocals with a mix of pop precision and anguished lament that she can’t be “human” and see the world from a normal point of view. On its own it’s an interesting take on having an unusual point of view, but combine it with a haunted mansion and contortionists in the music video and “Human” takes a much more monstrous meaning. No matter which way you look at it, “Human” is a dark and spectacular single from Lindemann.
Thom Yorke – The Universe is Indifferent
I have not yet seen the new remake of Suspiria. From what I understand, it’s an incredibly tense and fraught watch, not something you might consider “fun.” I love horror in that vein. I dig some jump scares as much as the next guy, but an experience that fills me with dread and makes me shift uncomfortably is some prime horror goodness. The same can be said of a horror soundtrack, and Thom Yorke’s Suspiria soundtrack delivers in spades. I could point out a ton of songs as proof, but I’m going with “The Universe is Indifferent.” There’s a huge sense of scale in the composition, like you’re walking into a cavern. Yorke has created a piece that makes enough musical sense to function as a song, but with enough discordant elements to create the distinct sensation something is horribly, dreadfully unwell. Just listening makes me want to see Suspiria, which is the sign of a great movie soundtrack.
Naomi Banks – Anything
There is a lot going on in “Anything,” the most recent single from Naomi Banks. There are warbling electronics, a piano line that could be straight from a jazz bar, and a beat that wouldn’t be out of place on the biggest rap albums of the year. Any one of these elements would be enough to create a fine song. That Banks is able to do all of it as well as she does–and do it at the same time–makes for an incredible listening experience. The electronics slide smoothly into the piano, the beat kicks in right when it needs to in order to signal a transition, and Banks supplies heartfelt and emotionally raw vocals over top of the whole thing. It takes a skilled artist to pull something like “Anything” off, and Banks has proven she has those skills.
Robyn – Ever Again
Robyn’s first album came out when I was 2 years old. I’m 25 now, and Robyn just released another new album, Honey. Over those decades, she’s only gotten better. Honey may very well be one of my favorite releases of the year. “Ever Again” shows why. No matter when she’s released an album, her music has always been 100% Robyn. She may incorporate trends from a specific time, but she always does her own thing. “Ever Again” contains a timeless charm, a pulsing dance track that winds and weaves all over the place. Robyn worked extensively with Joseph Mount on Honey, and his touch can be felt on “Ever Again” in a good way. That being said, the affecting writing about steeling a heart against breaking and the vocal flourishes are all Robyn. Whether it’s 1995, 2018, or 2030, Robyn is always going to be great.
Jon Samuel – Dead Melodies
The message of Jon Samuel’s “Dead Melodies”–which he talked about in our premiere last week–will resonate with anyone who is a creative for a living. Sometimes we pour all we have into a project, and it just doesn’t work out. Maybe it does work out, and then nothing happens with it once it’s out in the world. This can be hugely frustrating, but Samuel has gone and turned it into a rallying cry. There’s a defiant triumph in “Dead Melodies,” an encouragement for everyone to keep on making the things they love. No matter what it is you are creating, put on “Dead Melodies” and keep at it. It’s going to be worth it.
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