The Best New Songs: Caroline Polachek, Fana Hues, Rema and More

Get the context behind On Rotation, our curated weekly playlist of new releases

On February 15, 2022

Our Best New Songs series is here to give you context on what we’re spinning each week in VMP’s On Rotation playlist — curated by VMP staff, no algorithm needed. Listen and read along below to find out why these artists should be on your radar. 

Caroline Polachek: “Billions”

On the latest single from Caroline Polachek, “Billions,” she sings, “Cornucopeiac / Yeah, my cup overfloweth.” In the music video for the track, directed by Polachek and Matt Copson, that image becomes literal, as she pours water onto herself in the bath from an actual cornucopia. A symbol of abundance and nourishment, a cornucopia also appears on the single’s album artwork, and earlier in the video overflowing with grapes.

Clearly fixated on plenty and wealth, “Billions” is excessive and captivating psych-pop produced by Danny L. Harle and featuring London’s Trinity Boys & Girls Choir. In a statement about the track, Polachek said, “The overabundance of this world overwhelms me. Sometimes it seems like ultimate tragedy, the earth being pillaged and destroyed for it. Sometimes it seems pre-human, beyond morality, sublime. I don’t pick sides, I just live here, with you. How does it feel, being so rich?”

The ambivalence of the statement is reflected in the lyrics of “Billions”; for the most part, the lyrics are more impressionistic phrases (like the opening, “Psycho, priceless / Good in a crisis / Working the angles / Oh, billions”) than complete thoughts.

Polachek released “Billions” with the B-side “Long Road Home,” a rework of her collaboration with Oneohtrix Point Never (which appears on Magic Oneohtrix Point Never). The two tracks will be available on a 7” vinyl, currently available for pre-sale.

“Billions” is Polachek’s first new music in 2022, following 2021’s “Bunny Is a Rider” and her collaboration with Christine and the Queens on Charli XCX’s “New Shapes” — a single from Crash, Charlie XCX’s upcoming record.

Fana Hues: “wild horses”

Fana Hues is a fan of wordplay, especially in naming: Her self-titled debut in 2020, Hues, sounds like her family name, Hughes, and also signifies her desire “to capture all the different shades of one idea.” For her upcoming album, flora + fana, out March 25, plays on the nearness of “Fana” and “fauna.”

Hues announced flora + fana with the release of “wild horses,” a smooth and somewhat lyrically distant track; at the beginning, Hues sings, “All of the grass has turned / You don’t come round no more / Not sure if I care / you never there / Go be a rolling stone.” This near-apathy is a tone shift from Hues, which was an emotive breakup album.

Fitting to its title, Hues described flora + fana in an interview with office magazine in naturalistic terms: “The music I make is an ecosystem,” she said, “It has all of the fixings to be sustainable on its own. My goal is to leave you full after listening. All needs met.”

The visuals for “wild horses” — billed as a lyric video but seemingly a music video — paint a picture of that ecosystem, with Hues ambling near a mountain range, with other nature imagery spliced in and, of course, wild horses.

“wild horses” follows the late-2021 single “breakfast,” which was also released as A COLORS SHOW live performance. Hues also appeared on Tyler, The Creator’s CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, featured alongside Brent Faiyaz on “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE.”

Rema: “Calm Down”

Rema, born Divine Ikubor, is a rising Nigerian pop star who garnered international attention as a teen. Back in 2020, when he was 19 years old, he told FADER, “I only put out music when I need to say something. My music might convey things about girls and beautiful ladies, but it’s still a statement about how talented you are, how diverse you are, and how far you’re gonna take the industry. I just speak when I feel like it’s time.” 

Now 21, he’s back with the single “Calm Down,” with something new to say about beautiful ladies. In a statement about the song, Rema said: “‘Calm Down’ is about the events that led me to finding love at the time. It started at a party where I saw a girl who stood out from other girls so I felt like shooting my shot. We spoke and danced... but her friends didn’t let me get any closer which killed the vibe, but afterwards when they weren’t there, we stayed in touch and hit it off.”

In the visuals for “Calm Down,” Rema woos the song’s girl in a yellow dress (“I see this fine girl, for my party she wear yellow / Every other girl they do too much but this girl mellow”), winning her over in the end.

“Calm Down” is the second single, following “Soundgasm,” set to appear on his debut full-length, Rave & Roses, out March 25. Earlier in 2022, Rema featured on FKA twigs’ track “jealousy,” a standout from CAPRISONGS.

You can get the VMP edition of ‘The Three EPs’ — a compilation of Rema’s EPs ‘Rema,’ ‘Freestyle’ and ‘Bad Commando’ — here.

Ibeyi: “Sister 2 Sister

“Sister 2 Sister” — following “Made of Gold” with Pa Salieu — is the second single from Spell 31, the forthcoming third album from twins Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz as Ibeyi. Lisa-Kaindé told Rolling Stone, “‘Sister 2 Sister’ is the first song we’ve written about our relationship as twins … Despite sharing a womb for nine months and being born with her, I truly met Naomi when we started creating music together. Ibeyi has become our language, our clear connection, our fate, the place where the yin and yang of our personalities meet. It’s a place for us to honor our heritage and our sisterhood and to connect with others. This song is dedicated to everyone who also has a special connection with another human in their life.”

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘Spell 31’ here.

Jordana: “Catch My Drift”

Following her collaboration with TV Girl, 2021’s Summer’s Over EP, Jordana is back with the single “Catch My Drift.” The single is the first release from Jordana’s upcoming album Face The Wall, and is accompanied by a Tess Lafia-directed music video. Jordana said in a statement: “This song is about going back and forth with your feelings for someone when they make you question whether they are even reciprocated. The song is about realizing you shouldn’t be emotionally dependent on anybody, and that it’s just a waste of energy.”

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘Face The Wall’ here.

Orion Sun: “dirty dancer”

“dirty dancer” is the second single, after “concrete,” from Philly artist Orion Sun’s forthcoming Getaway EP, the follow-up to her 2020 debut, Hold Space For Me. The track is plaintive, catchy and mesmerizing, with a music video to match, directed by Courtney Loo. It’s a groovy love song, and the messaging is straightforward: At the chorus, Orion Sun sings, “I just wanna be the one you want to dance with / Forget all that bullshit / Let’s just focus on this / I just wanna be the one you want / To move with.”

Empath: “Elvis Comeback Special”

Empath released the final single for their upcoming album, Visitor, “Elvis Comeback Special,” with a partially animated music video directed by Halle Ballard. The band’s Catherine Elicson said in a press release: “‘Elvis’ started as a discarded voice memo. Sometimes I’ll play little guitar parts and melodies into my phone and then not think anything of them until many months later. When I listen back it’s like listening to someone else’s music and I can hear the song more clearly ... The lyrics deal with the feeling of uncertainty in yourself when you’re caught up in someone else’s world and you have to disentangle fantasy and cold reality.”

Barrie: “Jenny”

“Jenny” is the latest single from Barrie’s upcoming record, Barbara, following “Dig,” “Frankie” and “Quarry.” In a statement about the track, Barrie said, “I was looking to James Taylor for the guitar and the Band for the organ to try to capture an Americana feel for ‘Jenny.’ … I wrote it while reflecting on a memory from tour, when I met my wife. We had a day off in Austin, and a group of us went swimming in a creek. I was picturing that day, before I was aware of any connection between us, and imagining how it would have played out if I had been. I wasn’t devoted right away, I wasn’t sure.”

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘Barbara’ here.

Orville Peck: “C’mon Baby, Cry”

“I can tell you’re sad boy — just like me / Baby, don’t deny what your poor heart needs,” masked country artist Orville Peck sings on “C’mon Baby, Cry.” The song, pleading for emotional vulnerability, is the first track from Bronco: Chapter 1, the follow-up to his 2019 debut Pony, which will be released in three installments. In a statement, Peck said, “This is my most impassioned and authentic album to date … Bronco is all about being unrestrained and the culmination of a year of touring, writing in isolation and going through and ultimately emerging from a challenging personal time.”

You can pre-order the VMP edition of Bronco here.

Destroyer: “Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread”

“Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread” is the second single — following “Tintoretto, It’s for You” — from Destroyer’s forthcoming LABYRINTHITIS, out March 25. LABYRINTHITIS is the 13th release from Daniel Bejar as Destroyer, after 2020’s Have We Met. As expected from a song title like “Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread,” there’s humor and irreverence to the lyrics, with lines like, “I piss on the floor, the band sets up on the floor / I piss on the floorboards, the whole world’s a stage.” Toward the end, Bejar just cycles between variations of “I eat the bread / I eat the wine / I drink the bread,” etc.

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘LABYRINTHITIS’ here

Honorable Mentions

 


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