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The best (and worst) new singles this week: Jess Ribeiro, Sharon Van Etten, and more

The much-loved Jess Ribeiro leads the way.

Single of the Week:

Jess Ribeiro 

Love Is the Score of Nothing (Barely Dressed Records)

Stepping away from the brooding alt-country of 2015’s Kill It Yourself, Jess Ribeiro returns with a track that sounds like it could feature on a Julee Cruise party album. It’s a simple number that hinges on the titular chorus hook. Ribeiro leaves plenty of space in the jangly pop-rock arrangement for us to muse on the various connotations of love being the score of nothing. Love is a zero sum game? Love isn’t a competition? Love means losing yourself completely? The song ends with the bass player wiling out over the three-chord main riff, implying that love is a silly thing to attempt to quantify.   

Mark Ronson feat. Miley Cyrus

Nothing Breaks Like A Heart (Sony Music Australia)

It’s hard to know what to make of this. Is it Calvin Harris-lite i.e. clinically devised EDM chart-pop? Is it Miley Cyrus asserting herself as a true boss of neo-country pop? Or is it Mark Ronson going troppo in the wake of the huge success (and multiple lawsuits) of ‘Uptown Funk’? It could be all of the above, but while the mixture of country guitars, sterile electronics and show-tune strings suggest an aesthetic nightmare, it ends up provoking a kind of cockeyed amusement. 

Mirrah 

Hold On (Greenroom Sydney)

A slow burning soul number punctuated by some impassioned rapping, Mirrah’s ‘Hold On’ underlines the importance of being thankful for what you’ve got. It goes further than that by urging us to grab hold of the things that define personhood and protect them from apathetic external interference. It’s a powerful song enriched by an even distribution of emotion and pop panache. The rap bars are limited, but enough to illustrate Mirrah’s standing as a formidable MC.

Sharon Van Etten 

Jupiter 4 (Jagjaguwar)

Sharon Van Etten’s lyrics have never possessed acute poetic eloquence, but inserted into a minor key melody and rendered with the singer’s characteristic abandonment, they become impossible to deny. ‘Jupiter 4’ is a statement of one’s love being higher than the tallest tower. And while the idea that my love is better than your love is a touch solipsistic, you’ll be reduced to awe and envy when Van Etten glides into the line, “It’s true that everyone would like to have met a love so real.”