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House Playlist Beth Ditto, Fever Ray, & Robin Pecknold

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Beth Ditto, “Do You Need Someone.” I’ve been fairly immune to Gossip’s infectious dance-punk, but with her new solo EP, singer Beth Ditto has put me completely under her spell. The opening track begins with a moderately innocuous midtempo stomp, but then those metallic keyboards, distorted handclaps, and vintage synth squelches kick in. And, of course, there’s Ditto herself, literally begging the insanely catchy hook: “Do you need someone to talk to?” The synth swirls pile on top of one another until they culminate in an orgy of pure mid-’80s ecstasy, and if Ditto’s message wasn’t already clear, her climactic background vocals concur: “Let me be the one.” If her forthcoming album is anything like this, she’s definitely it. Sal Cinquemani

Fever Ray, “The Wolf.” If Karin Driejer Andersson is a master of anything, it’s mood. “The Wolf,” her latest outing as Fever Ray, is taken from the soundtrack to the astonishingly incompetent Red Riding Hood, and it’s some kind of miracle that the single comes away unscathed by its association with that monstrosity of a film. But Fever Ray succeeds where literally everyone else involved with Red Riding Hood failed. From the opening strains of distorted synth strings to its otherworldly percussion, “The Wolf” immediately sets an ominous tone that only grows more oppressive as Andersson shrieks and pants about black eyes, poisons, and forests burned to ashes. Things rarely go right in Fever Ray’s world, and “The Wolf” captures a feeling of dread with a disturbing specificity. When Andersson phase-shifts her voice into a lupine howl, the effect is simply bone-chilling. Jonathan Keefe

Robin Pecknold, “I’m Losing Myself.” “Helplessness Blues,” the first taste of the upcoming Fleet Foxes album, made it plain that Robin Pecknold had improved as a lyricist. When he released a free EP last week containing the Ed Droste-backed track “I’m Losing Myself,” he offered still more evidence. While fingerpicking on acoustic guitar, Pecknold creates parallels between the song’s protagonist and the man who he imagines might take his place in his troubled relationship: the protagonist is “a hairless dog,” and the other is a “smooth talker” that “shaves his face.” It all culminates in the final few lines when Pecknold, with Droste joining a key above, sings “but I do need you…and I hope you’re around and forgiving when you see me losing myself.” Those little details combined with Droste echoing Pecknold’s every word reflects formally the doubling motif that gives the song its heartbreaking power. Ross Scarano