The best new songs we heard this week.
Friday Five
KESH, Billie Eilish, Saint Etienne, Durand Jones & the Indications, and All Time Low
| Credit: Kelia Anne MacCluskey; Ebru Yildiz; Elaine Constantine; YBNL Nation; Hopeless Records

Every Friday, EW's music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today's edition, Billie Eilish is happier than ever (or is she?), All Time Low and Pale Waves are anxious (or just bored?), and Saint Etienne samples Natalie Imbruglia (wait, what?).

"Happier Than Ever" — Billie Eilish

Stuck in a situationship? Billie Eilish is here to help. On the title track of her new sophomore album (co-written and produced by her big brother Finneas), the 19-year-old star proves once again how wise beyond her years she is. The soft airiness of her voice at the start of "Happier Than Ever" belies her scorn as she begins to shed a bad romance. "Do you read my interviews?/Or do you skip my avenue?/When you said you were passin' through/Was I even on your way?" she sings, her lyrics as much about her newfound fame and lack of privacy as they are about a careless, cavalier paramour. As the song opens up and Eilish starts to accept the truth — that this dude is a total loser — it explodes into a grungy breakup anthem drenched in crunchy electric guitars and distorted Sleigh Bells–y drums. If she logs on hurt but determined to heal, she signs off in a fit of unhinged rage: "I don't relate to you, no/'Cause I'd never treat me this shitty." The lesson here? It's okay to be pissed, as long as you let it all out. —Joshua Edwards

"Mind Maze" — KESH

It's so easy to get lost in the eerie, byzantine production of KESH's mesmerizing new single that its lyrics escape you entirely. Those clanging industrial beats and warped wraithlike vocals must be conveying the anguish and tragedy of a wounded lover, right? Actually, the only person breaking KESH's heart is herself. "'Mind Maze' is a song about getting in your own way," says the musician and visual artist (whom Moschino tapped to create and star in a campaign for its 2020 Picasso collection). "Knowing you have so much to give. So much to live for and contribute to things bigger than yourself. Yet being consistently drained by emotions and trapped in the narratives of past traumas." The track swells and swells until her inner turmoil reaches its dramatic peak at the halfway mark, as the singer succumbs to a chilling assault of ricocheting synths reminiscent of the Knife's haunted house classic "Silent Shout" that take hold and envelop her. Because sometimes the only way out is through it. —Jason Lamphier

"Private Space" — Durand Jones & the Indications

There's plenty of silky retro soul making the rounds these days, but Indiana quintet Durand Jones & the Indications have the stuff on lock. Their just-released third album skirts gimmickry and pastiche for the real deal: Lush strings, twinkling harp, a sprinkling of woodwinds, a steady pitter-patter of drums, and Aaron Frazer's feathery falsetto come together for a funky, disco-laced trip down memory lane. If Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak invited us in for some domestic bubble bath nookie, the Don Juan on the title track off Private Space longs to whisk us away to someplace even more special. Paris? Capri? Doesn't matter. All he needs is the moon, two hearts that "beat as one," and a night that stretches long into the morning. —Jason Lamphier

"PMA" — All Time Low feat. Pale Waves

When a song is able to meet you where you're at it, you feel it — like, really feel it. Given the existential dread that's seeping back into the air, the standout line in All Time Low's latest — "Doing your best while you die inside" — hits you like a semi. Railing against the world with British indie rockers Pale Waves, fronted by singer and guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie, the Maryland pop-punk vets (and rosé lovers) can't tell if they're bored or depressed or just hopelessly cynical. Watching Jeopardy doesn't help (sorry, LeVar), their therapist apparently hates them, and, as Baron-Gracie admits, "I don't think the melatonin works at all." Much like life right now, "PMA" (short for "postmodern anxiety") offers no resolution. But after the grim week we've just had, its pissed-off Emo Nite energy brings some much-needed catharsis. —Marcus Jones

"Pond House" — Saint Etienne

Acclaimed English trio Saint Etienne have been churning out consistently solid Balearic-style dance-pop for three decades, and this September they'll release their 10th studio album, I've Been Trying to Tell You. The twist? Accompanied by a film directed by fashion photographer Alasdair McLellan, the record is made up largely of samples culled from the years 1997 to 2001, a period defined by the Labour party's election victory and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "It's about memory," says founding member Bob Stanley, "and how it can fog and play tricks on you. Specifically, it's about the late '90s, and current nostalgia for the '90s." Hence the sneaky snippet of "Beauty on the Fire," a deep cut from Aussie singer (and David Schwimmer ex) Natalie Imbruglia, that anchors the LP's first single, "Pond House." Propelled by massive trip-hop percussion and dotted with the sounds of seagulls crossing the sky, the languid track unfurls with the ease and luster of an Ibiza sunset — one you may have watched years ago but that you'll never forget. —Jason Lamphier

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