AU/Palais, “Tender Mercy.” I’m a big fan of songs that juxtapose pop structures and melodies with macabre takes on the theme of love (the two most recent examples being Summer Camp’s “I Want You” and Purity Ring’s “Belispeak”), the bar for which was set pretty high by Eurythmics’ “Love Is a Stranger” in 1983. On AU/Palais’s “Tender Mercy,” love isn’t just a stranger, “love is a holocaust.” A fluttering synth effect starts things delicately and unassumingly enough before a reverb-soaked drum hit announces the track’s darker intentions and it slowly builds to a driving beat, slick sheets of synthesizers, and a collage of prickly drum programming. “Sometimes it’s good to be a killer” is the very first lyric, and then “I don’t need tender mercy, just someone on my side,” a call to arms from Bonnie to Clyde, from Mallory to Mickey, from Leopold to Loeb. Sal Cinquemani
Phantogram, “Don’t Move.” Phantogram’s 2010 album, Eyelid Movies, was defined by the duo’s ability to mix late-’90s trip-hop with more current sonic trends. On “Don’t Move,” the first single from their upcoming EP, Nightlife, Phantogram continues to evolve their sound, this time in a more straightforward pop direction. After kicking off with some stuttering beats and of-the-moment chopped-up vocal samples, “Don’t Move” transforms into a bona-fide electro-pop jam. Singer Sarah Barthel’s paranoid lyrics betray the track’s bouncy vibe and uplifting melody, making the song worthy of repeated spins. Brad Desmond
House Playlist is a series dedicated to highlighting our favorite new singles, leaked songs, and album tracks.