The first time I listened to “Flesh without Blood,” I was completely blown away by its pops of quick, bright thuds combined with Grimes’s airy, effortless voice. It wasn’t until a month later that I realized that its lyrics actually painted a pretty somber picture of heartbreak; “Remember when we used to say / “I love you” almost every day,” she sings, followed by “It’s nice that you say you like me / But only conditionally” just a few stanzas later. Grimes’s limitless energy is what carries the song, refining its complexities into something subtler. The end result is tinged with regret rather than a full on lament.
Some of the following songs are almost flashy enough to be considered party music, like the aforementioned “Flesh without Blood,” while others, like White Sea’s “Bloodline” utilize heavy bass and thick, dramatically rising choruses to give off an almost cinematic feeling. Altogether, they balance joy with grief, bright with dark and love with hate: contrasts that ensure sadness never overpowers the music itself.
“Lungs” by CHVRCHES has many of the same elements as “Flesh without Blood,” such as energetic, higher pitched vocals, an invariably fast beat and similarly heavy lyrics; “You know that / This will break us / But you push us / As far as we can go,” lead singer Lauren Mayberry sings, with a sort of casual hopelessness that pervades the track.
Hey Violet’s “Guys My Age” and Cherub’s “<3” are the most unapologetic of the bunch, and perhaps the most removed from the other songs. Both are celebrations of an end rather than a lament of the past.