The 6 Best New Songs of the Week: PJ Harvey, Ariana Grande, Garbage, and More

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So much new music is released each week that it’s impossible to hear it all. Not that you’d want to; a lot of it isn’t so hot. But let us help simplify your search for new sounds with a roundup of the week’s 11 best new songs. Trust us. We have good taste. (And check out last week’s collection if your hunger has still not been sated.)

PJ Harvey – “The Ministry of Defence”

Last week, PJ Harvey, one of the most important, interesting and challenging musicians and artists of the last forever, released The Hope Six Demolition Project, her first album in more than five years. The often-difficult album documents Harvey’s travels to Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Washington, D.C. while maintaining a few of the same sonic and thematic threads that carried 2011’s Let England Shake to unanimous critical acclaim. Hope Six has been met with some criticism (much of it quite lazy, but that’s a story for another day), but, for now at least, I think we should simply fête the existence of a new PJ Harvey album after a long, long dry spell. I knew from the very first album teaser that “The Ministry of Defence” would be a standout, and the full cut does not disappoint. Over a bone-crushing guitar riff, Harvey and her not-so-merry band of male backup singers sing of ruins littered with “balanced sticks in human shit,” “a white jaw bone,” and “the ghost of a girl who runs and hides.” Despite the stark, shocking imagery, the song is disturbingly catchy. It’s the end of the world, indeed. And what a way to go out. – Matt

Pink – “Just Like Fire”

Pink is just one of those artists that effortlessly makes really, really catchy songs. Her latest, a track a track for the upcoming film Alice Through the Looking Glass, is no different. Between the clapping and the “fiyah” hook, this one is sure to get stuck in your head. – Gabi

Ariana Grande (Feat. Lil’ Wayne) – “Let Me Love You”

Despite not being able to undersand a quarter of the words in the song, this is a great little Ariana Grande slow jam. Wayne doesn’t show up until about the two minute mark, but he brings the typical swagger to the song that you’d expect. This is going to be the first real hit off of her new album. – Michael

Garbage – “Empty”

My taste in music (and most things) has changed quite drastically since I was a young man, but Garbage is one of the few bands that has stayed with me from my impressionable pre-teen years through (nominal) adulthood. And so it’s good news indeed that a new Garbage album — their first since 2012 and only their sixth overall — is imminent. As promised, first single “Empty” is closer in sound to the band’s first album, which they toured last year in honor of its 20th anniversary. It’s heavy, bittersweet, and hopefully indicative of more good things to come. – Matt

PJ Harvey – “A Line in the Sand”

Yes, I’ve included another track from Harvey’s new album. Sorry, not sorry. I waited five years for this, and it’s all I’ve listened to this past week. “A Line in the Sand” is the track immediately following “The Ministry of Defence,” and it paints a bleak picture, via reported speech, of an unnamed refugee camp, where a family was seen “eating a cold horse’s hoof” and where people killed each other just to get to supplies first. Again, despite the subject matter, “Line” is an earworm, so while the lyrics will likely haunt you, the melody will stay with you too. Over spurts of saxophone, the song ends: “What we did / why we did it / I make no excuse / We got things wrong, but I believe we also did some good.” – Matt

A$AP Ferg (Feat. Missy Elliott) – “Strive”

All that’s missing from this track in order to qualify it for certified Zumba-star status is the Pitbull rap component, but A$AP Ferg does a fine job of filling in for him. This is a nice little taste of the mindless summer music that’s abound even though Missy Elliot’s sneeze of a contribution is arguably the best part of the song. – Mia

Come back next week (and not a moment before then! JK!) for another batch of fresh music.