See more of the story


Sabrina Carpenter, "Please Please Please"

It's looking more likely than ever to be the summer of Sabrina Carpenter, with the announcement of an upcoming album, "Short n' Sweet" (out Aug. 23), and the release of a feathery new single. Rippling synthesizers, crisp percussion and Carpenter's layered vocals give the track (produced by Jack Antonoff, who was also one of its writers) a unique feel, like a yacht-rock tune crossed with a country ballad. "Please, please, please don't prove 'em right," she implores a bad-boy beau (played in the music video by her actual boyfriend, Oscar-nominated actor Barry Keoghan), though her pathos quickly gives way to gentle humor: "Don't bring me to tears when I just did my makeup so nice." Like her current smash "Espresso," "Please Please Please" shows Carpenter's precise knack for comically enunciated lines, like her swoop down from her fluttery, girlish register to grumble an unprintable if hilariously pronounced threat. But this less-caffeinated effort also allows Carpenter to show off another side of herself, smartly timed to suggest she's not just a one-hit wonder but a pop star interested in playing the long game.


Halsey, "The End"

Halsey has recently revealed continuing medical struggles with lupus and lymphoproliferative disorder. In "The End," a fingerpicked acoustic guitar accompanies lyrics about visits to doctors and chances at love: "If you knew it was the end of the world, would you like to stay awhile?" Halsey sings, "Maybe we could build an ark." Even amid infirmity, craft is paramount.

JON PARELES, New York Times

Charli XCX, "Girl, So Confusing"

In snaking melodies atop shimmering club beats, Charli XCX pivots between cool-girl braggadocio and raw confessions of insecurity on her new album, "Brat." "It's so confusing sometimes to be a girl," she sings on the chorus of one of its most vulnerable songs, which explores her ambivalent relationship with a certain unnamed pop star doppelgänger. "People say we're alike, they say we've got the same hair/We talk about making music but I don't know if it's honest." In an era of empowerment pop and girl's girls, Charli's unabashedly messy, run-on candor is especially refreshing.


Moses Sumney, "Vintage"

Born when the 1990s began, Sumney is unlikely to remember 1993, a year he specifies in "Vintage." But pop has a stronger sonic memory. He plugs in old drum machines and synthesizers for a slowly swaying track that wishes he could rev up a time machine, while he deploys 1990s-style keyboards and voices. It's a technical exercise that turns passionate as he insists, "I want that old thing back, baby."

JON PARELES, New York Times


Carly Pearce, "Truck on Fire"

The spoiler is in the title of "Truck on Fire," a swinging country revenge song from Pearce's new album, "Hummingbird." Her voice seethes as she recalls "the way that you laughed it off when I was catching on/Said it was in my head," and there's a dark glee (and a product placement) while she watches the "flames rolling off of your Goodyear tires."

JON PARELES, New York Times

New releases

Luke Combs, "Fathers & Sons"

Normani, "Dopamine"

Meghan Trainor, "Timeless"

Carly Pearce, "Hummingbird"

The Decemberists, "As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again"