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The best (and worst) new singles this week: Aldous Harding, FERLA and more

Plus new tracks from Jess Cornelius and Robert Forster.

Single of the Week

Aldous Harding 

The Barrel (4AD/Remote Control)

This isn’t a massive leap into uncharted stylistic waters: there’s plucking acoustic guitar, a range of theatrically resonant voices and a sense of leaving behind the 5G glitz and climate emergencies of the present. But ‘The Barrel’ is also a heck of a lot of fun that implants an immediate earworm. It’s like a campfire sing-along, only it’s not shit. Harding and her small ensemble will have you wrapped up in every vocal phrase and accentuating instrumental nuance.

Ferla

I’m Fine (Independent)

Nothing to worry about on Ferla’s new single. Everything is sweet, hey, just don’t fucking mention her name or I will kill you. That’s the general vibe, but substitute the viciousness for an emotionally uplifting power pop number in the vein of Hall & Oates. Ferla’s vocals have never sounded so good, shifting from withdrawn and solemn in the verse to a soaring tenor in the chorus, mirroring the journey from affected calm to bleeding heart longing.

Jess Cornelius

No Difference (Independent)

You can’t bring back the irretrievable but you are in control of your long-term response. That’s the core sentiment of Jess Cornelius’ new jangly pop-rock number. The suggestion here is to push forward and take responsibility for your own happiness. It’s not a condescending “cheer up” song, but more an attempt at actualising emotional equilibrium. Cornelius sounds at home in the simplified arrangement, placing faith in the strength of her songwriting. Chunky distorted guitars rip through the bridge, indicating the positive meditation is taking effect.

Robert Forster

Inferno (Brisbane in Summer) (Robert Forster/Universal)

Weather isn’t one of pop music’s sexier conversation topics, but Robert Forster shows his preeminent literary skills by making stinking heat the focus of a radiant rock’n’roll number. It’s the middle of a fever-inducing summer and Forster is pining for a frozen winter, backed by a four-to-the-floor Velvet Underground groove and swooning backing vocals from his wife, Karin Bäumler.