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House Playlist: Chromatics, Japandroids, Dntel, & Kendrick Lamar

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<em>House</em> Playlist: Chromatics, Japandroids, Dntel, & Kendrick Lamar

Chromatics, “Kill for Love.” I just had a conversation with a gay friend who said he finds pretty much all straight porn tainted by rapey undercurrents. Said friend also loves the Chromatics, and when I listened to their new single, I immediately anticipated having a long debate about these two strands. “Kill for Love,” which is just as speckled with thousands of glittering points of nighttime light as the band’s contribution to the Drive soundtrack, joins a list of ominous love songs—the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” Hall & Oates’s “Private Eyes,” the Smiths’ “I Won’t Share You,” Blondie’s “One Way or Another”—that are, on the surface, enraptured, but more than just a little creepy. It’s a fine tradition. Eric Henderson

Japandroids, “The House That Heaven Built.” If “The House That Heaven Built” is any sort of benchmark for Vancouver’s invariably rambunctious noise duo Japandroids’ follow-up to their acclaimed 2009 debut, Post-Nothing, then it looks like Brian King and David Prowse have successfully dodged the sophomore slump. The song is an absolute powerhouse of punk-rock pride, a throbbing synthesis of King’s passionate, elegiac lyricism and shredding guitar work and Prowse’s boisterous percussion. Listening to the track multiple times reveals a complex from-heartbreak-to-redemption narrative. At one point, King’s words decisively drip with trepidation: “I settled in slowly/To this house that you call home/To blood and breath, to fear, flesh, and bone.” By the time the song reaches its climax, bursting with instrumentation, King has triumphantly stripped away those fears and he’s seemingly infused with a sort of higher holy power and claiming his freedom from whatever darkness seeks to damage him: “If they try to slow me down, I’ll tell ’em all to go to hell.” Righteous. Mike LeChevallier

Dntel, “Bright Night.” Dntel’s 2002 epic “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” (both the skittering, white noise-infused original and especially the driving, tolling Superpitcher Kompakt remix) remains one of the high points of 21st-century electronic sincerity. Now Dntel (a.k.a. Postal Service producer Jimmy Tamborello) comes back with a proggy aperitif for his forthcoming album Aimlessness. If the track feels a little minor with its baroque, throwback synthesizer noodlings, well, I guess one can’t be surprised to find hermetic impulses from the same outfit that once mused, “The crowd applauded as he curtsied bashfully/Your eyelashes tickled my neck with every nervous blink.” EH

Kendrick Lamar featuring Dr. Dre, “The Recipe.” Less a recipe than a pitch for a travel ad that never saw the light of day, this Scoop DeVille production is the lushest entry in his ganj-centric oeuvre. But it bumps through the haze on sure feet, its hook hawking “women, weed, and weather.” This is a victory lap: Kendrick Lamar withholds his provocative parables, trading any political or thematic attacks for varied rhythmic ones instead. Dr. Dre is along for the ride too, as a believable anchor to a territorial g-funk throwback. “Welcome to L.A.,” Dre toasts, and after kind of threatening to buy an ocean, his helium-amped vocal phases into Lamar’s to round out the third verse—passing the torch, perhaps, but that’s not the only thing being lit here. M. Sean Ryan

House Playlist is a series dedicated to highlighting our favorite new singles, leaked songs, and album tracks.