The best (and worst) new singles: Chitra, Anna Calvi and more

The best (and worst) new singles: Chitra, Anna Calvi and more

Words by Augustus Welby

Also featuring tracks from Guided By Voices and Zoe Fox & The Rocket Clocks.

Chitra – ‘Leaving’

Chitra is teasing what could be one of the Australian albums of the year. ‘Leaving’ builds on the strength of last year’s ‘A Kind’, but there’s more of a melancholic country tinge to this one. There’s a natural quiver in Chitra’s voice, which she uses to bounce from vulnerability to exasperation. And with good reason – ‘Leaving’ addresses someone who’s only compelled to express their fondness for the singer when she’s leaving. From a musical perspective, Chitra sounds in full control.

Anna Calvi & Courtney Barnett – ‘Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy’ (Hunted Version)

Anna Calvi’s 2018 record Hunter was her boldest, loudest work to date. Nick Cave and Arcade Fire producer Nick Launay perfectly amplified Calvi’s scrutiny of conventional gender roles and societal perceptions of sexuality. On the companion piece, Hunted, Calvi strips things down and invites some friends to explore these themes with her. Courtney Barnett dips in and out of view on the reworked ‘Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy’, providing a grounded complement to Calvi’s soaring emotionality.

Guided by Voices – ‘Man Called Blunder’

It’s telling that a recent article announcing the imminent arrival of Guided by Voices’ 30th album called it their “first album of 2020″. Robert Pollard and co. put out three records in 2019; the coming Surrender Your Poppy Field will be their 14th since reforming in 2012. So is ‘Man Called Blunder’ any good? Well, it sounds almost exactly like what you’d expect from a 62-year-old school teacher with a thing for distortion and who’s made 14 albums in the last eight years.

Zoe Fox & The Rocket Clocks – ‘Shiny Car’

‘Shiny Car’ really is very shiny. The production gleams with chiming funk guitars and synth arpeggios. Zoe Fox’s vocals are insistently melodic and unaccompanied by strain. But like the car described in the song, there’s more to the story than what greets us on the surface. “All the kids in the street think it’s pretty neat,” goes the song’s chanted refrain. It recalls status symbols that initially bring pleasure but wind up imprisoning us.