Lana Del Rey, “Video Games.” If only Lizzy Grant were actually born Lana Del Rey, her self-proclaimed “gangster Nancy Sinatra” shtick and choice of genre (she calls it “Hollywood pop” and sings of “living for the fame”) would seem even more preordained. Someone has to take the retro baton left in the wake of Amy Winehouse’s so-expected-it-was-unexpected death, and “Video Games” proves Grant has the chops to give Adele a run for her money. A minimal arrangement of harp, cinematic strings, and a soft military-style shuffle, the sultry torch song finds the NYC singer-songwriter toeing the line between smitten and over it, but the way she sings “It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you, everything I do” leaves absolutely no doubt that she’s sincere when she offers to drop everything and play his silly video games. Sal Cinquemani
Björk, “Virus.” The title of “Virus,” the latest taste of Björk’s Biophilia album/multimedia project, is misleading, as the song’s gently clinking water glasses, soft beats, and lovelorn lyrics (“I’m starving for you,” she sings) don’t sound remotely unsettling or sickly. The shimmering climax is somewhat muted, with the Icelandic singer focusing on the interplay between the organic and the artificial. As Biophiia is said to stress this juxtaposition, “Virus” does an excellent job introducing the idea in a warm and wondrous manner. Michael Kilpatrick
Best Coast, “How They Want Me to Be.” With diehard fans damn-near foaming at the mouth for any word on a second Best Coast LP, frontwoman Bethany Cosentino recently took to her blog and dropped a fresh track along with a somewhat lengthy love letter to supporters. Regardless of its demo status, “How They Want Me to Be” is quite alluring in its current form. The band sounds terrific, even amid the downtempo range of this syrupy paced lullaby. Cosentino’s songwriting has evolved from the many girl-wants-boy anecdotes of Best Coast’s debut, Crazy for You. Here, she takes the outwardly simple concept of peer pressure and turns it into something much deeper, managing to prompt introspection: “All of my friends stick up their noses/Ask me where my money is/Where does it go once I’ve spent it?” Mike LeChevallier
Cymbals Eat Guitars, “Definite Darkness.” As leaks of the upcoming Lenses Alien have proven, NYC indie-rock quartet Cymbals Eat Guitars’s second album is something of a Room on Fire to their debut’s Is This It—a solid, mature follow-up to an unexpected triumph. “Definite Darkness” is the album’s halfway point, sneaking in slowly after a string of hard-hitting tracks with a gentle, stealthy guitar hook before exploding into a twangy riff accompanied by chiming keys and Joseph D’Agostino’s newly softened vocals; the musicality of the track is no doubt an advancement from the lo-fi landscapes the band’s debut. “Definite Darkness” is a goldmine of D’Agostino’s trademark weirdness: Incandescent spires, dirty hypodermic needles, a frozen moon, moaning alarms, a sinewy leviathan, and scattering V’s of geese are just some of the abstract items contained in this early standout from what could be one of the year’s best surprises. ML
House Playlist is a series dedicated to highlighting our favorite new singles, leaked songs, and album tracks.