The Weeknd’s Disco Fever, and 9 More New Songs

NYT Music

What would Barry Gibb do? The disco thump, electric piano chords and call-and-response falsetto vocals in “Take My Breath” hark back to vintage Bee Gees by way of a Max Martin production. But leave it to the Weeknd to sketch a creepy bedroom scenario: “Baby says take my breath away/and make it last forever.” He seems to shy away from strangulation — “You’re way too young to end your life,” he warns — but the chorus keeps coming back. Maybe it’s a Covid-19 metaphor. JON PARELES

“Volví” is the kind of mythical collaboration first theorized in group chats and Twitter threads, written about in all caps. This is the world’s greatest bachata boy band and Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, after all. The dream comes to life with a bachata-reggaeton hybrid that bursts with late summer joy. But it also contains the slow-burning envy of bachata: familiar themes of jealousy and possession, the kind of toxic melodrama that makes the genre so addictive in the first place. ISABELIA HERRERA

And to think you spent the last week theorizing about Limp Bizkit. Here is the real text to decode: “Absurd” is the first single from Guns N’ Roses in more than a decade. It’s amped-up and nervy, a lightly filtered version of the speedier mayhem that first made them famous. Axl Rose sounds a little bulbous, but all around him, things are moving exceptionally quickly. JON CARAMANICA

As surely as Nelly brought Midwest melody to hip-hop and seeded more than a decade of imitators, he did the same in country music, thanks to his “Cruise” remix with Florida Georgia Line. His Nashville inheritors have been rapper-singers, Black artists who are beginning to find success close to the center of the Nashville mainstream. Here, Nelly teams up with a couple of them, Breland and Blanco Brown, and all together, these three country performers — to varying degrees, but all sincere — somehow arrive at pristine disco-country. CARAMANICA

A pair of light-up platform stilettos and a bubble gun make appearances in Isabella Lovestory’s “Vuelta” video, helping turn a minimalist clip into a hyperpop dream. Lovestory’s lyrics are all singsong playground rhymes: “Baby, I’m lonely/Why don’t you hold me?/All I want to do tonight is dance.” The track is simple but coy, enough to remind you of the joy that Y2K girl groups like Dream and in-store soundtracks from Limited Too brought you back in the day. HERRERA

“Bade Zile” is a traditional Haitian voodoo song that calls to spirits. It gets an electronic update on “Leave the Bones,” an album-length collaboration by Lakou Mizik, a band from Haiti whose long-running project has been to preserve traditional songs by modernizing them, and the producer Joseph Ray, who shared a Grammy as part of the dance-music group Nero. Men and women toss the traditional chant back and forth, then unite and echo; hand-played percussion rides a four-on-the-floor beat, and the energy multiplies. PARELES

The Dominican drill artist Red 6xteen unleashes “Armageddon” with a cadence that lies low to the ground. But it doesn’t take long for her to stunt: Her voice mutates into squeaky, high-pitched taunts, only to transform into a breakneck dash. An orchestral outro finds her meditating on loyalty and her place in the game. The two-and-a-half minute track functions like an exhibition of Red’s potential, a promise to infuse Dominican hip-hop with the edge it needs. HERRERA

In the American musical record, the composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Brian Jackson has been too easily overlooked. As the other half of Gil Scott-Heron’s musical brain throughout the 1970s, Jackson helped create some of the most lasting (and perpetually relevant) music of that era. But since he and Scott-Heron parted ways in the early ’80s, Jackson has rarely put out recordings of his own. When Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge started their Jazz Is Dead project, a series of collaborations with elder musicians, they sought out Jackson first. The fruits of that 2019 session have now been released as “JID008,” a short album of instrumental pieces, all composed collectively, carrying hints of Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew” and “Get Up With It” sessions, and of more recent work by the guitarist Jeff Parker. On the buoyant “Baba Ibeji,” whose name refers to a pair of holy twins in the Yoruba religion, Jackson’s Rhodes shines with the same quiet magnetism that defined it half a century ago. Nothing’s overstated; close listening is rewarded. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

The warmth of waltzing piano chords, supportive cellos and “ooh”-ing backup vocals accompanies Aimee Mann in “Suicide Is Murder.” But her lyrics are clinical and legalistic, considering the physical practicalities and weighing “motive, means and opportunity”; instead of proffering sympathy, she coolly reminds a listener that a suicide is a “heartless killing spree.” PARELES

Amelia Meath’s quietly confiding voice usually gets cleverly minimal electronic backup as half of Sylvan Esso. Working instead with the guitarist and producer Blake Mills, she’s backed by brushed drums and syncopated acoustic guitar, along with electronic underpinnings and what might be horns or simulations, in a waltz that conjures the elusive allure of a smoky bar crawl. It’s the cozily experimental first release from Psychic Hotline, a label run by Sylvan Esso with its manager. PARELES


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