Because he has nothing better to do with his time, each Friday, Micah Peters riffs on the most awe-inspiring, confounding, addictive, or otherwise hilarious moments from the week in music. This week: PUP exorcises some demons, Kevin Abstract peels an orange, and Megan Thee Stallion runs us over.
Stefan Babcock’s Scream-Singing on PUP’s “Bare Hands”
Stefan Babcock’s voice sounds as if it has exposed veins on it, but also like it’s powered by its own renewable energy source. It’s nasal and scorned and mighty; it’s so full-out that you’d assume it wouldn’t be able to last. And somehow PUP have spent more of the last half-decade on the road than off it, playing ever larger venues.
The Toronto rock band returned from a three-year hiatus last week with Morbid Stuff, and I’m happy to report that the album is infinitely more fun than its title. Like 2016’s The Dream Is Over—which managed to make the demands of growing fame and constant touring … cathartic?—Morbid Stuff thrashes around in your queasiest feelings, leading you to experience them in a mess of color and sweat, and then, emphatically, expel them. It’s momentary freedom from a dull and sucky existence in the form of chanting choruses, riffs that sound as if they’re burning up on reentry, and Babcock’s vocal performances, which all carry a scream-along energy. Occasionally, Babcock abandons melody, and it’s always rewarding: “I was getting high in the van in St. Catharines / while you were rubbing elbows in the art scene” he yells on the title track.
In “Bare Hands” it’s almost as Babcock is remembering stuff he’d forgotten he was mad about until just now. Just before the chorus comes back around for the third time, the guitars thin out and you can hear him shout, “AND I’M ALWAYS TIRED!”
Kevin Abstract’s Thinking Aloud on “Georgia”
In the trailer for “Georgia,” posted under the title “I Got Georgia on My Mind,” Kevin Abstract slowly peels and eats an orange. In the song itself, he references his old troubled home in Houston, Texas, where teachers had weapons, and his newer troubled home, in Hollywood, where he’s trying to figure out what to do after gaining near-universal acclaim. Before Brockhampton scored a no. 1 album with last year’s Iridescence—before the whole Brockhampton thing—Kevin Abstract was a solo act. By the time the group had released All-American Trash in 2016, Abstract was already on his second solo album, American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story. The thinking was that ARIZONA baby would be the follow-up, and it still might be: Earlier this week Abstract posted a picture of his hands around the orange to Instagram, along with three dates. With the first date (April 11) came three songs. Logically there should be three more next week, and three or four the week after that.
The first offering was “Big Wheels,” which sounds like what Abstract, Jack Antonoff, and Romil Hemnani might come back with if you sent them off to make their own bite-sized version of “Bombs Over Baghdad.” But the most complete song feels like “Georgia,” an appropriately moody and mellow coda to a scattershot blast of new music that has a particularly anxious feel to it. Listen for the panicky falsetto near the end, as the song doubles back on itself: “My troubled home in Hollywood, what the fuck am I doooooing??”
Kaytranada’s Taking VanJess to Outer Space on “Dysfunctional”
he first time I heard Kaytranada’s music, I thought about how much it sounded like new-millennium music video aesthetics looked. Imagine that Puff and Mase’s iconic tunnel shot was actually high above some megacity in the far-flung future; what does the nightlife sound like there? Janet Jackson’s “What’s It Gonna Be?!” and Liquid-Metal Busta Rhymes are inextricable, but “Scream”? What kind of music would they actually be listening to in that space station?
Probably something that sounds like “Dysfunctional,” the first piece of new music from the producer that released the NOTHIN LIKE U/CHANCES EP last year, and his last album, 99.9%, in 2016. For “Dysfunctional,” he pairs up with Nigerian American pop duo VanJess, who are a little tired of going back and forth with a lover that doesn’t seem too sure whether they want in or out. It’s a joy to hear their soft insistence turn hard in the second verse, as the beat spreads itself out—“I hate arguing, yeah yeah / no ties left to break.”
Lil Uzi Vert’s Reminding Us How Broke We Are on “Sanguine Paradise”
This is one of two new Uzi singles (the other is “That’s a Rack,” which is not as good). “Sanguine Paradise” borrows liberally from Mykko Montana and K Camp’s 2011 street single “Do It.” You could even call it a “Do It” freestyle. I’m a large fan of Uzi’s recent Drought mixtape energy.
But I’m the largest fan of Uzi’s absurdist boasts, and there are some great ones here. On a verse that he begins with “Side note: You will never reach my goals,” he also cracks on his own height, while stressing just how broke you are. “In reality I’m 5’4” / stand on my money now I’m 6’6”.” A helpful Genius annotator would like you to know that would take about $325,600 cash which, sure, I’m willing to believe he just has that lying around.
Everything About This Megan Thee Stallion “Still Tippin’” Freestyle
Here’s all you really need to know: Megan Thee Stallion is a wildly dextrous rapper from Houston, Texas; she will neither confirm nor deny that she is hopping on an “Old Town Road” remix; and one day soon—a day that cowards dread and believers await eagerly—she will devour the earth. Here she is smashing “Still Tippin’” to pieces, alluding to The Amanda Show, Danny Phantom, and the three nameless men she has in rotation. Enjoy the hell out of your weekend.