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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Justin Timberlake’s envious comeback, and 12 more new songs


Justin Timberlake’s single “Selfish” is his first solo release in six years.


Pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on notable new tracks.


Justin Timberlake, ‘Selfish’: “Selfish,” Justin Timberlake’s first new solo song in six years, covers a thematic terrain similar to Nick Jonas’ hit “Jealous” (2014), but swaps that tune’s bravado for muted melancholy. “So if I get jealous, I can’t help it,” Timberlake croons, in a flatter approximation of Justin Bieber’s more successful forays into midtempo R&B. “I want every bit of you / I guess I’m selfish.” A fun, lightly carbonated beat keeps things moving forward — perhaps the only element of the song aware that it’s not quite as deep as Timberlake thinks. — LINDSAY ZOLADZ


Marc Anthony, ‘Punta Cana’: The lilting, understated guitars and pattering bongo drums of Dominican bachata usually carry songs of restrained regret. But salsa singer Marc Anthony isn’t one for restraint. In “Punta Cana,” named after the Dominican resort town, he’s a rejected boyfriend bitterly monitoring the happy photos posted by his ex — a scenario like the one in Maluma’s hit “Hawái.” From the first verse, he works up to throat-tearing rasps, trying to convince himself that one kiss would get her back, eventually deploying a horn section as his desperation grows. No wonder she’s keeping her distance. — JON PARELES


Tierra Whack, ‘Shower Song’: The kaleidoscopically imaginative Philadelphia musician Tierra Whack returns with a bit of minimalistic funk on “Shower Song,” a playful ode to getting clean, ruminating on wild ideas and belting like no one else can hear. “I sound great when I’m singing in the shower,” Whack declares on this single from her forthcoming album “World Wide Whack.” “Soap and water give me power.” As usual, it’s accompanied by a riotously colorful, “Pee-wee’s Playhouse”-esque music video showcasing the singularity of Whack’s world. — LINDSAY ZOLADZ


Hiatus Kaiyote, ‘Everything’s Beautiful’: Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote revels in musicianly games like shifting meters, angular harmonies and leaping, zigzag melodies, adeptly drawing on jazz, funk, rock and psychedelia. “Everything’s Beautiful” is true to form: structurally tricky but ultimately just a romp, still blithely funky above its underlying math. — JON PARELES


Ice Spice, ‘Think U the Shit (Fart)’: Ice Spice has a way with a hilarious, monosyllabic insult hurled like a blunt instrument. First, there was “Munch.” Now, even more to the point, “Fart.” An insistent, skronky beat from producers RIOTUSA (who goes by Riot), Synthetic and Venny inspire the nonplused Ice to go in harder than usual: “I got my foot on they necks / I can’t let up,” she raps, venomously. “She all on the floor / Told her, ‘Get up.’” — LINDSAY ZOLADZ


Jade Bird Featuring Mura Masa, ‘Burn the Hard Drive’: Jade Bird sings about trying to leave behind both human and digital memories in “Burn the Hard Drive,” singing, “There’s nothing left to do but erase moments one by one.” A nimble, triplet-driven, nervous-energy track concocted by producer Mura Masa has instruments popping in and out like those stubborn, unwanted thoughts. — JON PARELES


Pillow Queens, ‘Gone’: The Pillow Queens are a four-woman rock band from Ireland that can be chiming and consonant — but not in this song. Fuzz-toned guitars create a tolling, churning backwash as Pamela Connolly sings about a decisive breakup with someone who lied and took her for granted: “I was in your top five things to do,” she recalls as she moves on. Now she gloats, “I’m someone else’s problem.” — JON PARELES


Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, ‘Revelations’: River Shook matter-of-factly describes mental health turmoil in “Revelations,” a minor-key roots-rocker laced with twangy guitar and steel-guitar lines. “Good days I levitate off the ground / Some days I can’t get out of bed,” they sing, later adding, “Baby, I barely get through each day.” There’s no happy ending, just perseverance and a steadfast beat. — JON PARELES


John Leventhal Featuring Rosanne Cash, ‘That’s All I Know About Arkansas’: At 71, longtime musician, songwriter and producer John Leventhal — who has worked with Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn, Sarah Jarosz and with his wife, Rosanne Cash — has released his first solo album, “Rumble Strip.” In “That’s All I Know About Arkansas,” Leventhal constructed a mandolin-topped string band in the studio to support a modal, Appalachian-tinged melody. Cash joins him on vocals, sharing a laconic narrative about a woman who just “took her dress and the shoes she wore” and left Arkansas behind, perhaps to become a singer; the outcome is unknown, but the music is stoic and sure-footed. — JON PARELES


Megan Moroney, ‘No Caller ID’: Rising country upstart Megan Moroney receives a disruptive, middle-of-the-night phone call from a troublesome ex on the wrenching, well-written “No Caller ID,” which finds her wrestling with her own reaction. “Why do I want to? I shouldn’t want to,” Moroney sings with warmth, grit and a self-deprecating sigh. — LINDSAY ZOLADZ


Phosphorescent, ‘Revelator’: Country-rooted indie-rock singer-songwriter Matthew Houck — aka Phosphorescent — went quiet after the 2018 album “C’est La Vie.” His return, the title song of a coming album called “Revelator,” stays true to form: leisurely, layered, desolate but resigned. “Hey, I told you before, I needed you more,” he sings, “but you couldn’t even turn around.” The track puts a string section behind a country band topped with pedal steel guitar, while Phosphorescent stays serenely inconsolable. — JON PARELES


El Perro del Mar, ‘Between You and Me Nothing’: El Perro del Mar — the recording name of electronic songwriter-singer-producer Sarah Assbring — questions a self-destructive obsession in “Between You and Me Nothing.” She sets up weightless electronic tones and faraway vocal harmonies as she wonders, “Why do I keep returning to something that’s long gone?” The sound is meditative; the mood is both analytical and bereft. — JON PARELES


Gary Clark Jr., ‘Maktub’: Tuareg electric-guitar music, from the nomadic North African people who live across the Sahara, has long been known as “desert blues.” Texas bluesman Gary Clark Jr. reinforces the connection in “Maktub,” Arabic for “it is written”; it’s from his exploratory, style-hopping new EP, “Jpeg Raw.” The modal, six-beat, distorted guitar riff echoes Tuareg musicians like Tinariwen and Mdou Moctar, and Clark sings and raps lines about being persecuted and mobile: “We gotta move in the same direction,” the chorus declares. — JON PARELES

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