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music: essential tracks

Dirty Projectors


Dance For You, Dirty Projectors, from Swing Lo Magellan (forthcoming from Domino Records, streaming at

You can dance to this alright, but the Projectors want much more than a good party. The first track from their much-anticipated summer album is a swinging declaration of interest in answers to big existential questions, with a wide-arching melody, an easy backing of guitar and hand claps, and a smeary instrumental break.


Bitch Bad, Lupe Fiasco, from Food & Liquor II (forthcoming from Atlantic Records, streaming at

Lupe's brooding five-minute analysis of a much-abused word looks at what the mainstreaming of "bitch" may mean to young girls and even younger boys. The smoothness of his delivery, over a butter-soft bass, contrasts sharply with the clash of meanings he describes.


Sunshine, Little Dragon (streaming at

The Swedish electro-pop quintet greets summer with a nimble rising beat and singer Yukimi Nagano's best impersonation of a vintage soul singer who knows how to chill in the desert. Surprisingly good for a song commissioned to flog a vodka cocktail.


Rocksteady, The Bloody Beetroots (Ultra Records, streaming at

This pounding dance floor banger from Italian producer Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo grinds a modal, quasi-medieval tune through a dozen seething variations, saturated with grainy keyboard sounds. Wyatt Neumann's wild-thing video is like Easy Rider with a happy ending.


National Anthem, Lana Del Rey, from Born To Die (Interscope, streaming at

Del Rey takes the Mad Men hypothesis – that every woman is either Marilyn or Jackie – to extremes, by impersonating both. She romances a black president (rapper A$AP Rocky), poses placidly for family photos, and rides through motorcade footage that eerily resembles a fateful amateur video from Nov. 1963. Love it or hate it (or both), this Anthony Mandler cinematic fantasy gives some hard twists to turbulent American mythologies.