John Mayer’s Retro Moper, and 10 More New Songs

Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and movies. Just need the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify right here (or discover our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at [email protected] and join our Louder e-newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music protection.

John Mayer, ‘Last Train Home’

If the seamy synths and seamier guitar on John Mayer’s new moper “Last Train Home” — the primary single from a forthcoming album, “Sob Rock” — are any indication, he could also be only a few years away from making his model of “The End of the Innocence,” maybe the main post-sleaze, decaying-rock album of the 1980s. Strong approve. JON CARAMANICA

Noah Schnacky that includes Jimmie Allen, ‘Don’t You Wanna Know’

The traditional nation boy seduction of town woman, besides in 2021 Nashville, the nation boy certain does have the air of a metropolis slicker. Noah Schnacky has a cinched-tight pop-friendly voice and a rhythmic method to singing indebted to Sam Hunt, deployed right here in service of smooth-talking a girl who’s left Los Angeles — and presumably 1000’s of males who sound identical to this — behind. Jimmie Allen, considered one of nation music’s few Black stars, arrives within the second verse and sings a couple of pretty and restrained bars, as if to not overwhelm. CARAMANICA

Liz Phair, ‘In There’

On “Soberish,” Liz Phair’s first full album since 2010, she examines a divorce in all its bewilderment, ambivalence, resentment, nostalgia and tentative steps forward. She additionally circles again to work with Brad Wood, who produced her three definitive 1990s albums. “In There” ticks alongside on digital drums and pulsing keyboards, as Phair notes, “I can think of a thousand reasons why you and I don’t get along” but in addition admits, “I still see us in bed”; it’s not a clear breakup. JON PARELES

Wolf Alice, ‘Lipstick on the Glass’

The British band Wolf Alice makes rock that’s generally dreamy, generally spiky. “Lipstick on the Glass,” from its third LP, “Blue Weekend,” falls on the woozier finish of its spectrum. Over a wash of synths and an undulating riff, the singer and guitarist Ellie Rowsell sings about reconnecting with a companion who’s strayed. The bridge makes clear that it’s a highway effectively traveled, as Rowsell lets her glowing soprano climb with every repetition of the part’s solely lyrics: “Once more.” CARYN GANZ

Billie Eilish, ‘Lost Cause’

Billie Eilish is leaning into slowgaze R&B, croaky dismissals, trendy burlesque, 1950s jazz, sentiments that smolder however don’t singe. She’s peering outward now, and her eyes are rolling: “I used to think you were shy/But maybe you just had nothing on your mind.” CARAMANICA

Sofia Rei, ‘Un Mismo Cielo’

The Argentine songwriter and singer Sofia Rei can be a professor at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute, the place she created the course New Perspectives in Latin Music. “Un Mismo Cielo” — “The Same Sky” — is from her new album, “Umbral,” It’s completely international world music, utilizing looped vocals, jazzy clusters on piano, Andean panpipes, a cool bass line and a keyboard solo that hints at Ethiopian modes. Echoing the best way she melds music, Rei sings about lovers who’re separated, but they nonetheless see the identical sky. PARELES

Seinabo Sey, ‘Sweet Dreams’

In “Sweet Dreams,” a quiet gem from Seinabo Sey’s new EP, “Sweet Life,” she sings about “beautiful pain” and how she’s “longing for peace/but won’t see it soon.” Sey was born in Sweden and raised in each Sweden and Gambia, her father’s birthplace; her low voice radiates a serene melancholy with a backdrop of hovering keyboards and the barest inkling of a beat. She’s singing, maybe, a few 12 months of isolation and contemplation: “Maybe some things needed a break for people to change,” she muses. PARELES

Mndsgn, ‘3Hands / Divine Hand I’

On his new album, “Rare Pleasure,” the producer, composer, keyboardist and vocalist Mndsgn enlisted a top-flight crew of L.A. improvisers, together with Kiefer Shackelford on keys, Carlos Niño on percussion and Anna Wise on backing vocals. These tracks scan as a matte collage of Southern California radio moods from the previous 50 years: 1970s religious jazz and fusion, smoother ’80s stuff, the comfortable rock that ran alongside all of it. But on “3Hands / Divine Hand I,” he’s principally splitting the distinction between Thundercat and Stereolab, singing affable absurdities in a distant falsetto: “Three hands is better than the two that you were born with.” GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Yendry, ‘Ya’

“I want it all,” Yendry raps matter-of-factly, in Spanish, as she begins “Ya” (“Already”). Yendry was born within the Dominican Republic and raised in Italy, and “Ya” displays musical tastes that embody Radiohead alongside reggaeton. The beat is Caribbean; the slidey hook and puffy chords are digital, and Yendry sings and raps about conquering fears, self-reliance and selecting to reside as if she’s immortal. “Ya” is equal components sultry and brash. PARELES

Cavetown, ‘Ur Gonna Wish U Believed Me’

The ghostly, deliberate, double-tracked whisper and subdued acoustic guitar of Elliott Smith have been revived by Cavetown: the English songwriter Robin Skinner, who has additionally produced fellow bedroom-pop songwriters like mxmtoon and Chloe Moriondo. Like Smith, Cavetown cloaks self-doubt and melancholy in misleading calm and hints of Beatles melody. In “Ur Gonna Wish U Believed Me,” he sings about “The fraying threads of recovery/Crushing me from above and underneath,” and ultimately Cavetown makes the underlying tensions explode into noise. PARELES

Gerald Cleaver, ‘Galaxy Faruq (for Faruq Z. Bey)’

The esteemed jazz drummer Gerald Cleaver was principally alone when making “Griots,” an digital album that he recorded final 12 months through the top of the coronavirus pandemic. But he saved in shut contact along with his inspirations: Almost each monitor is titled for a mentor or collaborator. The sparse and pointillist “Galaxy Faruq (for Faruq Z. Bey)” is his dedication to a Detroit saxophonist who impressed Cleaver early in his life. But on this monitor and others, he’s reaching means past the jazz tribe, conversing with an off-the-beaten-path lineage of digital musicians with roots within the Midwest: the D.J. Theo Parrish, the post-house musician Jlin, the pianist Craig Taborn’s Junk Magic mission. RUSSONELLO