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The best (and worst) new singles this week: The National, Body Type and more

Arthur Russell takes this week's title of Single of the Week.

Single of the Week

Arthur Russell 

Not Checking Up (Audika)

There are artists whose demos and discarded bits and bobs have little to offer. Then there are those like Arthur Russell whose rough sketches reveal the depth of the project and magnify its idiosyncrasies. Russell released just one album during his lifetime, but several posthumous compilations have shone light on the American songwriter’s astounding versatility. ‘Not Checking Up’, from the Fragments du Monde Flottant compilation, finds Russell intimately respiring behind the cello. It’s a soft and genuinely moving tussle with complex feelings. 

Body Type 

Stingray (Inertia/Partisan)

Bureaucracy might be doggedly wiping out Sydney’s live music culture, but the city’s still home to some talented musicians. Body Type adopt a psychedelic swagger on the lead single from their upcoming EP2. It’s got a retro garage rock feel and avoids becoming a mess of spiralling effects. The chorus is hypnotic: the line “that’s not who you are” repeats over an ascending chord progression and leaves you wondering who it is that you might be. 

The National 

You Had Your Soul With You (4AD)

It’s hard to complain with The National. They’re pleasingly consistent, if not somewhat predictable. It’s all there in ‘You Had Your Soul With You’jumpy drum beat, reflective, slightly philosophical lyrics, electric guitars and a few weird sounds here and there. This one offers a bit of novelty in the form of guest vocals from Bowie’s pal Gail Ann Dorsey, but most of all it sounds like The National.

Grand Pax 

Lapse (Blue Flowers Music)

If you want them, go and claim them. Grand Pax espouses this motto in her lusty downtempo new single. The London musician fills the sonic space with multi-tracked vocals, representing the voices in her head insistent on actualising her desires. It’s set over minimal and reverb-heavy drum programming, which emphasises the singer’s close breathing.