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The Playlist: February

The weather outside may be chilled, but these four tracks are hot and steamy.

By / Posted on 27 February 2012

February is not a month particularly associated with increased humidity—at least, not around here in New York. Nonetheless, these four tracks all slid their way under our headphones this month and steamed things up for us all February long. We’re thankful it’s the shortest month of the year, we’re not sure we could’ve kept sweating like this.

Selebrities — Night HeatSelebrities — Night Heat

This dank new wave throwback is no unfamiliar territory for Joy Division-revivalists Selebrities, but it’s a style we hope is on the rise with the popularity of the soundtrack from last year’s Drive. Sultry and steamy shoegaze, “Night Heat” positively drips with 4am bad decisions, the kind you know were just so so wrong, but you can’t help but grin as you remember. The filthy bassline keeps a constant sense of the wrongness of it all, and the distant guitar adds to the air of disaffected ennui. Like a breathy and sensual A Flock of Seagulls, Selebrities craft a dark and cinematic pop gem that, while catchy and entirely likeable, instantly feels larger than a mere pop song.

Santigold — Disparate YouthSantigold — Disparate Youth

Five years, a name change, and a label change over to Jay-Z’s camp later, Santigold is back with her upcoming sophomore album Master of My Make Believe. Lead single “Big Mouth” defiantly drew the line between Santi and her pop idol rivals (specifically Lady Gaga), but “Disparate Youth” stands proud as the definitive statement of why we need Santigold in modern pop. The beat is so simple, with a fairly basic contemporary flourish of snares and clicks, staccato key taps and a three-note bass loop, but the lull of R&B is shuttered by the blasts of guitar and Santi’s signature vocal coos that punctuate each line of the verses. Oh Santi, we did miss you so… Good to have you back.

Ugly Kids Club — My SoulUgly Kids Club — My Soul

Nashville duo Ugly Kids Club roar through this distortion-heavy thrasher of electronic rock. One part the Kills, one part the Raveonettes, two parts booty-bass R&B, “My Soul” threatens to destroy rational psyches with grime and paranoia. The music and lyrics perfectly conform to produce a sense of claustrophobia, hopelessness, and lurid passion. “Music is my lover. She’s a saint. She’s physical. She’s the only lover that can save my soul.”

KupekKupek — This is How it is Now

Between 2002 and 2006, Bryan Lee O’Malley wrote and recorded some of our favorite emo indie rock songs ever. Then, the worst thing that can happen to a sad and self-involved artist happened: he got his Happily Ever After. Mal married an adorable artist with more critical acclaim than himself, made a series of hit graphic novels, got fat stacks of cash money when those books were adapted into a major motion picture and videogame, and he and his wife moved to California, like a good celebrity power couple. Don’t get us wrong, we’re happy for Hope and Mal, and we always look forward to what each of them do next, but damn, it feels good to hear Mal rock out again. He has a lot less to be sad about, of course, but “This is How it is Now” speaks to a whole new set of problems: the kind you get from growing up.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.