Silent Shout: PC Music’s Sinister Spawn, Austra’s Soothing Sterility & Another Stunner From Sweden

Silent Shout is our recurring dispatch from pop’s fringes. It may not be music for the masses, but — to paraphrase *NSYNC — this might be pop.

You guys we did it. We made it through the last of the televised presidential sewage floods and now get to cleanse our palates with horror movies and artificial pumpkin flavoring for the next three weeks. And also with music. And I’m so happy about this that, instead of the usual five-song roundup, I’ve thrown in a bonus sixth track, at no extra cost. You can decide which one is the bonus one below. Free stuff and no wrong answers — take that, Trump’s America.

TALK ABOUT POP MUZIK

Austra — “Utopia”

The masters of elegant, operatic synth-pop return with “Utopia,” and as always, Katie Stelmanis delivers goosebumps like a goth Florence Welch over sounds of silver. It’s the first cut off the group’s forthcoming third album Future Politics (out January 20), and the project’s focus is on “a commitment to replace the approaching dystopia,” which is noble and terrifying.

Clarence Clarity — “Same”

British musician Clarence Clarity had one of the best weird-pop albums of 2015. And now he’s followed it up with the Same EP, which consists of the title track repeated five times (the press release describes this project as “five internet ready tracks that sound exactly the same. Or do they?”) The song/s is/are as busy as anything on his last LP, but noisier. Any time an artist matches meta commentary about digital music consumption (hey it got me to stream one song five extra times) with gonzo digital compositions, I’m all for it. See also: the entirety of PC Music, Father John Misty‘s MIDI album stunt.

felicita — “A New Family”

Speaking of PC Music, the collective’s latest product is uncharacteristically sinister, more Crystal Castles than kawaii. “A New Family” is the title track of felicita’s new EP, out tomorrow (October 21), and it’ll also appear on PC Music Vol 2 on November 18.

Wildhart — “Shake Off” Do you think Sweden ever gets tired of providing the world with pop’s most captivating music? Like are they sitting there wishing just for once they could half-ass it at work and chuck out some Chainsmokers fare? Anyway here’s another spectacular track from Sweden. Now, look, I’m going to do something here. I’m going to invoke Radiohead. I realize that 99% of the time it’s crazy irresponsible to do this, but fuck it I’m playing that card. At 1:30 for a few sweet seconds the interplay of everything screamed “Radiohead” to me — particularly the stuttering drums (“Bloom”) and doomy keys (“Everything In Its Right Place”). I’m not saying this sounds like a Radiohead song. This is its own thing. And that thing swells and contracts with its own internal logic. It’s off the trio’s debut album, Shine, out November 11.

Grace Lightman — “Repair Repair” She’s onto something, this Grace Lightman. So far, her music exists in this dreamspace that’s equally comforting and creepy.  This one starts out on the creepy side, sounding like some warbly thing that would play on a gramophone in BioShock (anybody?), but then it turns into a dead-eyed disco number spiraling around a mantra about people never changing.

Emily Reo — “Spell” Some beautiful Bon Iver x Purity Ring x “Wolves” robo-vox-pop stillness. This will sound great in the reboot of The OC when Marissa shoots Trey (spoiler alert I guess?).