We kicked off this week with a look back at April 2022’s best albums, begging the obvious follow-up question: What about its best songs? You’ll hear all about them here, where we curate the top tracks of last month—these come to us from hyperpop juggernauts and rock supergroups, pop singer/songwriters and dance music producers, underdog indie acts and established mainstays. Jamie xx, keiyaA and Bartees Strange headline our (play)list of April must-hears, but we’ll let you discover the rest for yourself.
Listen to our Best Songs of April 2022 playlist on Spotify here.
Polarizing hyperpop band 100 gecs are gearing up to add even more “gecs” into the world. While details of their forthcoming album 10000 gecs are fuzzy, the acclaimed duo has followed up the release of their last single “mememe” with “Doritos & Fritos.” Lead by a frenetic electric guitar and backed by infectious bass and drums, “Doritos & Fritos” leans into the duo’s affinity for early ‘00s pop-punk and ska. The song is structured much more traditionally compared to 100 gecs’ more experimental works, with a chorus that begs to be screamed. If this single is any further indication of 10000 gecs, we are in for another delightfully unpredictable album. —Jade Gomez
Another Michael shared their first new single of 2022 this month, “Water Pressure,” out now on Run for Cover Records. The release follows the Philadelphia-based band’s acclaimed first full-length New Music and Big Pop, which Paste praised as one of 2021’s best debut albums. “Water Pressure” is a lovely, acoustic guitar-driven tune that radiates gratitude and acceptance, zeroing in on those small, fleeting moments when everything just feels right. “One thing’s for sure, I sure am lucky / This is who I’m gonna be,” Michael Doherty begins, harmonizing beautifully with Alenni Davis over their cheery strums and Nick Sebastiano’s steady bass. “I’m just burning up some CDs for my friends / Icing up my broken heart again,” Doherty and Davis sing as the song moves through its heartfelt highs and lows, soaking up each flicker of joy while always wondering, “Why do good times sneak up on me?” —Scott Russell
Bartees Strange: “Cosigns“
After breaking out in a big way with his acclaimed 2020 debut Live Forever, Bartees Strange (born Bartees Leon Cox, Jr.) is back with a new album, Farm to Table, coming June 17 on 4AD. “Where [...] Live Forever introduced the experiences and places that shaped Bartees (Flagey Brussels, Mustang Oklahoma), Farm to Table zeros in on the people—specifically his family—and those closest to him on his journey so far,” a press release explains. The new album is said to reckon with Strange’s ascent to indie-rock stardom, looking back on where he came from as he keeps moving onward and upward. You can read Farm to Table’s title as tying into that: He’s been working tirelessly to sow, and now it’s time for him to reap—and feast. That’s cause for celebration, which is where “Cosigns” comes in: The track is a victory lap, set to the kind of stylistic alchemy Strange has made his name on. But it’s also unlike anything he’s released so far, combining electro-pop stomp with an Auto-Tuned hip-hop vocal, synths burbling as Strange shouts out the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, Courtney Barnett and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. Backed by bass pluck, drum machine and spidery guitars, Strange warns, “I’m a thief, when things get big / Look, I’mma steal your fans,” then calls back to Live Forever as he boasts, “On Gomorrah I got cosigns, this advance gon’ ice my teeth / I pull up from 40 feet, at the Beacon for a week / With the Mossblerd pointed at you, bet I know y’all heard of me.” The track soon shifts into propulsive rock mode, crescendoing as Strange recites a poem he wrote in his early 20s: “How to be full, it’s the hardest to know / I keep consuming, I can’t give it up / Hungry as ever, it’s never enough / It’s never enough.” —Scott Russell
The fourth single from Fontaines D.C.’s third full-length album Skinty Fia, “Roman Holiday” kept the band’s killer single streak alive with more than a hint of shoegaze influence, letting a wash of hazy, echoing guitars carry enough weight to let Grian Chatten’s vocal float above them. The lyrics keep with the record’s theme of reckoning with the band’s Irish identity, describing the feeling of London isolation and attempts to stick together with fellow Dublin transplants to create their own band of outsiders: “If the talk’s getting cold, we’ll be chancing none / Well, you know what I’m saying, our day will come.” Though it maintains the atmospheric darkness that every single so far has shared, it also follows its predecessors’ pattern of tackling a distinct musical style that lets it stand on its own. —Elise Soutar
Andy Butler, the brains behind dance music project Hercules & Love Affair, recently announced the project’s first album in five years, In Amber (June 17, Skint/BMG). It marks a reunion between Butler and English-born singer ANOHNI, who sang on the band’s biggest hit “Blind” in 2008. After co-producing In Amber’s lead single “Grace,” ANOHNI takes the lead on “Poisonous Storytelling.” Ominous, echoed drums set a thunderous backdrop for ANOHNI’s airy tenor-contralto. She calls out dangerous misinformation with a captivating urgency, propelled by atmospheric synths and the simplistic drum palette. Butler revisits dance music as a political space, and ANOHNI warns that “we must be careful with new narratives, because everyone is rotted out from poisonous storytelling.” —Jade Gomez
Hot Chip: “Down“
English synth-pop heroes Hot Chip have been on a steady grind for over two decades. 2019’s A Bath Full of Ecstasy arrived right before the world shut down, offering a comforting soundtrack to isolation. It’s only right that as the world opens up for live music, Hot Chip announces their forthcoming album Freakout/Release (Aug. 19, Domino). Freakout/Release was written and recorded in the band’s new East London studio, created by Al Doyle to foster the full-band sound that permeates throughout the whole album. Because of this new space, it marks the first time Hot Chip has worked on a record together at the same time. It also was the band’s first reunion since their pre-pandemic tour in support of A Bath Full of Ecstasy. That rejuvenated sense of unity is heard in the album’s first single, opening track “Down.” It’s a moody romp with buzzing guitars and booty-shaking drums. Hints of funk shine through the clear garage-rock influences, giving listeners a true overarching view of East London’s influential and colorful music scene. Centered around an addictive sample of Universal Togetherness Band’s “More Than Enough” that Joe Goddard had looped, “Down” is Hot Chip at some of their finest and most focused. —Jade Gomez
Hovvdy’s Charlie Martin noted that there was “catharsis in almost every layer” of their newest single in a press release for the track, saying in a statement, “the song’s meaning isn’t terribly specific, but for me it’s about missing your friends and hoping they miss you.” “Town” is the first song Martin and bandmate Will Taylor have shared that was recorded after the sessions for 2021’s True Love, but it bears the hallmarks of the cozy DIY twang they’ve pretty much mastered since their 2016 debut. Mellotron strings and differing melodies sung like a round wash over the outro, letting each new sonic texture communicate the catharsis Martin and Taylor wanted to convey. It’s proof that the duo still have a knack for capturing intimate moments within scenes that are universal, making it seem like you’re tuned into a familiar conversation between friends that you could fall asleep to because of how comfortable it all feels. —Elise Soutar
Jamie xx, the propulsive force of seminal electronic group The xx, has enjoyed further success as a solo act. It has been seven years since the release of 2015’s In Colour, and two years since his one-off single “Idontknow.” Jamie has once again emerged with his latest single “LET’S DO IT AGAIN.” There is a clear house influence that runs throughout the song, which opens with a muffled vocal sample that fluctuates with the body-shaking percussion. Jamie expands upon the sounds he laid out on In Colour with bright production that takes cues from disco and funk. “LET’S DO IT AGAIN” bursts into small sections of enticing build-ups and exhilarating highs, making for a surefire dance floor filler. —Jade Gomez
Chicago singer/songwriter keiyaA has a voice that possesses the powers of time travel, taking listeners back to the neo-soul of the ’90s. With a stunning falsetto and a buttery alto, keiyaA deconstructs R&B and rebuilds it with elements of funk, electronic and hip-hop. “Camille’s Daughter” is a hypnotic wormhole into her creative process. KeiyaA croons over an unrelenting drum beat soaked in watery synths, giving a glimpse into her first new material since her breathtaking 2020 debut Forever, Ya Girl. It’s an exciting indication of the beauty to come, and the necessity of keiyaA’s comforting energy. —Jade Gomez
Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and producer Maggie Rogers recently announced her second album Surrender (July 29, Capitol Records) and shared her first proper single in three years, “That’s Where I Am.” The release follows Rogers’ acclaimed 2019 debut Heard It in a Past Life and her 2020 compilation Notes from the Archive: Recordings 2011-2016. “That’s Where I Am” is a gleaming synth-pop jam in which Rogers celebrates the love of a lifetime over a melodic vocal loop, hand claps (that become loose, upbeat live drums) and synth drone, swearing in its anthemic choruses, “It all works out in the end / Wherever you go, that’s where I am / Boulders turn into sand / Wherever you go, that’s where I am.” It sounds like an artist with one foot in late-’90s, sunny, Sheryl Crow-style radio fare and the other in our electronics-dominated pop present—moreover, it sounds like Maggie Rogers. —Scott Russell
Mallrat feat. Azealia Banks: “Surprise Me“
After releasing several EPs between 2016 and 2019, Australian musician Mallrat is finally ready to release her debut studio album Butterfly Blue on May 13 via Dew Process. Her previous singles “Your Love” and “Teeth” have graced our Best Songs lists, and she continues to break new ground for herself on “Surprise Me.” It’s a fitting song title, and Mallrat digs through her bag of tricks for the best one of all: Azealia Banks. Bright synths and hi-hats pay homage to the minimalist SoundCloud rap that influences Mallrat’s hyper-online, infectious pop. Banks is wickedly funny with her sex-filled rap that is as jarring as it is addictive (“He said the pussy tighter than Nicole Kidman’s face” is just one of many hilarious lines). —Jade Gomez
Quelle Chris is rap’s best-kept secret, and the Detroit-by-way-of-New York rapper and producer is gearing up to release DEATHFAME (May 13, Mello Music Group). “The Sky Is Blue Because The Sunset Is Red” enlists frequent collaborator Chris Keys alongside the king of chill Knxwledge to set the stage for some of the brightest lyricism in the game. Muffled, disjointed vocal samples are sprinkled throughout the lo-fi piano loop as Quelle trades bars with Pink Siifu and Moruf as they form their own connections to each other and reflect on mortality. It’s another addition to Quelle’s recurring themes of life, death and the beautifully tragic freefall into uncertainty. —Jade Gomez
The Smile is a musical recipe for success, composed of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood alongside Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner. They’re one of the better pandemic gifts, and after an eventful 2021 which saw their inception, festival appearances and more, they are finally gearing up to release an album. A Light For Attracting Attention (May 13, XL Recordings) was revealed alongside the official release of “Free in the Knowledge,” which has been performed before by the group. The Radiohead comparisons are inevitable, and the song’s slow acoustic build will turn some heads and tickle some ears. Yorke’s folky croon paints a portrait of nihilism, pointing toward a crumbling world. Producer Nigel Godrich adds in his signature string arrangements, paddling the song into a heart-wrenching momentum. It’s an exercise in restraint, and each member pulls back the curtain a bit more while still leaving enough surprise for one of the most-anticipated albums of 2022. —Jade Gomez
Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Sam Ray has released his first new music as Teen Suicide in the better part of a decade, the six-plus-minute “coyote (2015-2021),” via Run for Cover Records. “coyote (2015-2021)” is a singular entry point to Teen Suicide’s music, a dreamy joyride through atmospheric indie rock, soothing ambient electronic and sound collage, and intimate folk-pop—as ever, Ray refuses to hold any one posture for long, bringing a vital creative energy to some of his most elegant instrumentation yet. Foregrounding the acoustic guitar over drums that roll like hills, Ray and co-producer Sean Mercer incorporate serene piano, horns (by Max Kuzmya) and electronic accents, as well as idyllic audio clips (such as what sounds like a family singing “Happy Birthday”). Only five minutes in does the track’s true form reveal itself, with Ray singing evocatively over acoustic strums: He conjures images of a “coyote lying dead / looks just like the family dog” and an “apple tree in the backyard / the sweetest thing I saw by far” that brim with death and new life alike. —Scott Russell
Former Dead Pretties frontman Jacob Slater went out on his own after the band’s breakup, releasing his debut solo single “Teal” last summer. He’s since shared a few more, including April’s “Butterflies”—perhaps his best track as Wunderhorse yet. Slater’s guitar tones somehow span blues, shoegaze and grunge all at once, while his droning vocals will nonetheless knock you out, his lyrics littered with emotional gut punches. On “Butterflies,” these elements combine to indelible effect: Slater calls the likes of Nirvana and Radiohead to mind with his dark, nervy rock music, looking back on “a sexual experience I had with an older girl when I was still very young,” as he explains in a statement. The memory literally keeps him up at night: “The moon behind a veil / The blood underneath my nails / I just can’t shake the sin / There’s something beneath my skin / And all you left behind / Was a million blue butterflies,” he sings, the track’s titular image tattooed not only on the girl’s body, but also on Slater’s memory. Wunderhorse excavates these painful emotions with grace amid crashing, evocative rock that weaponizes its sonic nostalgia. —Scott Russell
Listen to our Best Songs of April 2022 playlist on Spotify here.