Beck's new single is neither sad nor silly

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'Dear Life' is one of the best new tracks of the week.

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Beck – ‘Dear Life’

It’s not the forlorn folk of his Grammy Award winning latest album Morning Phase. Nor is it the colourful, hyped up pop of the two singles – ‘Dreams’ and ‘Wow’ – that he has released since. Beck’s new single ‘Dear Life’ sits somewhere in between.

An upbeat, kinda jazzy piano does most of the musical heavy lifting, providing a strong foundation for what can only be called a ‘classic Beck’ melody – not too weird, not too sad, and enormously likeable. It sounds like there's a hint of Elliott Smith in there, if you're in need of a reference point.

That said, Beck has thrown countless elements into the mix here – synths, backing vocals, classic rock guitar solos (think George Harrison’s ‘Something’ tone) and an incredibly taut rhythm section. It’s full-scale Beck, without being too silly, and it’s great to hear.

Beck’s tenth studio album Colors will be out on Friday 13 October. We still have no real idea what it sounds like, but hopefully there’s plenty more tracks like ‘Dear Life’. 

Neil Finn – ‘Second Nature’

In case you hadn’t heard, Neil Finn is making his new album in front of the eyes of the world. He invites people to his studio every Friday night, plays some classics, records a new song and streams the whole thing online. What a guy.

‘Second Nature’ is nothing short of classic Neil Finn pop genius. A chorus you’ll never see coming, a weird electric drumbeat, and the regular dose of oblique but relatable lyrics that we’ll have great fun extracting different meanings from in the coming weeks. 

Amber Mark – ‘Heatwave’

You might have heard Amber Mark’s amazing voice on Double J recently, thanks to her turns on tracks from DJDS and Wilma Archer. ‘Heatwave’ is a hasty cut of exotic house with a distinctly Latin sound. There’s nothing too complex about it, but you can’t deny that rhythm, and her vocals are just as strong as on the aforementioned guest spots. 

Hercules & Love Affair – 'Rejoice' (ft. Rouge Mary)

Disco house favourites Hercules & Love Affair return with a new album, Omnion, in September. ‘Rejoice’ is a particularly optimistic track, which is something we could all use around about now. Rouge Mary, who Hercules… fans will recognise immediately, helps turn it into a part-industrial/part-gospel play on the indie-dance genre, while its hard hitting beat suggests it’s best experienced loud. 

Jordan Rakei – ‘Nerve’

We love Jordan Rakei and we love how his sound and career is evolving with every new track. ‘Nerve’ is from his first album for Ninja Tune – Wildflower, out next month – and sees him further refine his combination of soul, pop and slightly warped jazzy electro. His voice is richer and more impressive than ever and we reckon this new record will see him connect with more people than ever before. 

Christopher Port – ‘Nobody Chose You’

Beautiful, dark, downtempo stuff from Melbourne producer Christopher Port. ‘Nobody Chose You’ is one of those songs that unfolds more as each second passes. What starts as nothing ends up exploding into a strange but beautiful cut of groove-driven soulful electronica. 

ALTA – ‘Fix It’

Melbourne’s ALTA provides yet another stunning cut of ultra-modern, inventive electro-pop that somehow lodges itself in your brain despite its relatively complex arrangement. You can thank Hannah Lesser’s brilliant hook for that; it adds a kind of accessibility to Julius Dowson’s powerfully skittering beats. 

Benny Walker – ‘Ghost’

More brilliantly executed pop from regional Victorian singer Benny Walker. His voice is stronger than ever, his diverse sound is reined in to a very pleasing shade of soulful pop-rock, and that chorus is an absolute showstopper. This is perhaps his finest moment yet. 

Angus & Julia Stone – ‘Chateau’

More luscious pop from Australia’s favourite siblings Angus & Julia Stone. Everything here just sounds flawless, proving that the siblings have really stepped up their production nous after working with Rick Rubin on their 2014 self-titled effort. Brace yourself for the inevitable clap-along that will happen when they play this one at their forthcoming live shows, too. 

Verb T & Pitch 92 – ‘I Arrived Late’

Very cool, laidback British hip hop courtesy of London rapper Verb T and Manchester producer Pitch 92 (of revered duo The Mouse Outfit). Neither artists are household names, but both are masters of their craft as you’ll hear on ‘I Arrived Late’; it’s the kind of jam that’s so perfectly constructed it sounds effortless.