Fri. Jan 27th, 2023

Sasha Geffen is a writer living in Denver and the author of the book Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary (University of Texas Press, 2020).

1
SHYGIRL, NYMPH (Because Music)

Shygirl’s debut LP taps into the shades between her previous extremes. Her eros makes room for fear, humor, and failure; there’s more sex in what goes wrong, in what punctures and leaks, than there is in action glued to a script. The gouged, muddied vocals and sagging, detuned notes throughout Nymph play at libidinal obliteration: sex that mutates, sex that melts.

2
ALEX G, GOD SAVE THE ANIMALS (Domino)

Each Alex G album scares me more than the last. On God Save the Animals, he does his most provocative vocal work, stretching and compressing his voice, shoving it down a clogged drain until it gurgles out the other end, grazing the sublime.


Still from Alex G’s 2022 video Runner, directed by Aldo Fisk.

3
NOSO, STAY PROUD OF ME (Partisan)

NoSo’s debut album came to me wide open on first listen. “Parasites” is one ofthe purest expressions of transmasculine manifestation I’ve heard on record. On the breezy “David,” the LA-based songwriter longs to be “serene and blank,” theirdesire for emptiness burning at the sametemperature as their more quotidian desireto be filled.


Still from NoSo’s 2022 video Parasites, directed by Abby Hwong. Sophie Anastas.

4
JASMYN, IN THE WILD (Anti-)

Former Weaves lead Jasmyn Burke went solo this year with a record that’s as panickedas it is perfectly fun. Her playful, register-leaping vocals straddle jubilance and frenzy, as if at any moment her pleasure may stack too high and topple.

5
JOCKSTRAP, I LOVE YOU JENNIFER B (Rough Trade)

On one of the slipperiest records of the year, the UK duo pours lessons from PC Music, Terre Thaemlitz, and Hype Williams down a dizzying waterslide. One of the best tricks here is that of mixing fidelities, dunking pristine vocals into damp sawdust and then shining them right up again.

6
ARIEL ZETINA, “HAVE YOU EVER” FEAT. CAE MONA¯E (Local Action)

The Chicago techno producer forges tracks that, like the cyclorama in the title of her first album, point to some distant, spacious horizon and box you in at the same time. With Mona¯e on vocals, Zetina converts terror into power, casting light so bright it breaks the stage.

7
ORVILLE PECK, BRONCO (Columbia)

Fake America is the most cinematic place. The punchy, tragicomic Bronco, the second album from pseudonymous country crooner Orville Peck, unfolds across the samelandscape Sergio Leone stitched together from the wrong continent. Peck hails from South Africa originally, but all his tracks are love songs to the US he absorbed from TV westerns like The Lone Ranger, dripping with absurdist shine.


Cover of Orville Peck’s Bronco (Columbia Records, 2022).

8
PLANNINGTOROCK, “GAY DREAMS DO COME TRUE” (Human Level)

It’s easyto mock the vocal tone of Eiffel 65’s “Blue(Da Ba Dee),” harder to dig down into its alien magnetism. Jam Rostron, aka Planningtorock, gets it exactly right on this disco spin. Desire changes on fulfillment; Rostron tracks that shift with the unnatural bend in their voice, launching jagged, distorted words up into an ecstatic key change.

9
YEULE, GLITCH PRINCESS (Bayonet)

These chilling exercises in disembodiment creep up on the sinister margins of vulnerability: voices so broken their edges cut, guitars that squeal as if strangled, delicate piano lines that erupt into squalls. I have trouble locating the human inside this project, even though I’ve seen them perform in front of me: The perceived absence only drags me deeper into the dream.

10
BEYONCÉ, “BREAK MY SOUL,” HONEY DIJON REMIX (Columbia)

Dijonco-produced two other tracks on Beyoncé’s Renaissance, but her take on “Break My Soul” is where she really lets loose. She doubles down on the maximalist gut-pummel of Bey’s romp through dance history, inflating and lubricating the beats, blowing them open to the night sky. 

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