New Music Roundup: Phantogram, M.I.A., and Jazz Cartier
Dark-pop and dancehall beats.
Phantogram, “Cruel World”
Phantogram has always been great at making synth-heavy electric pop that twinkles deceptively over dark lyrics. “Cruel World” is no different. Set to a beat you can’t stop nodding to, the singer accepts that the world is tough place, and decides that trying to see the beauty in it is futile. “Goodbye to my good side / It only ever got me hurt / And I finally learned, it’s a cruel, cruel world.” Tough lesson; great song.—Driadonna Roland
M.I.A., “Bird Song” (Diplo Remix)
Having already heard the original Blaqstarr-produced version of this song, I felt it was my duty to hear its other Diplo-driven half since both tracks will appear on M.I.A.’s upcoming AIM album. I had low hopes for this; I didn’t think anything could distract from the kazoo-built beat. I was wrong. And I should’ve known that since Diplo has been behind the boards for two of this year’s great songs: Beyonce’s “Hold Up” and his own Justin Bieber-assisted Major Lazer creation “Cold Water.” Like those tracks, Diplo’s version of “Bird Song” boasts a dancehall beat and doesn’t nearly rely on that irksome bird-like call nearly as much as its predecessor. Combined with a thumping drum and bouncy ascending guitar riff, this makes for one of the most ear-pleasing, radio-ready songs M.I.A. has had in recent years.—Danielle Cheesman
Jazz Cartier, “Waste”
Toronto‘s own Jazz Cartier is asking why “ni–as moving waste” in his latest menacing single. The dark, edgy production presents an additional layer for the enigmatic rapper, who is known to incite mosh pits, to engage with his audience and provide a crowd-filled experience that is exuberant and wild. Just listening to this single, you know his performance for the song is going to be one crazy time.—Erin Ashley Simon