In June, Pittsburgh avant-pop artist Andrew Muse released the split All Your Friends Are Dead, Pt. II/Ain’t Nothing New To Me. The first song is a glitchy, whimsical kiss-off, while the disconcerting second track places foreboding imagery atop jaunty strumming.
If you use your fingers to plug your ears partway, so that all noise comes swaddled in a layer of gauze, and listen to “Ain’t Nothing New To Me,” you’ll hear a sunny, albeit muffled, burst of acoustic pep, complemented by screeching harmonica and jangling bells. If you unplug your ears, you’ll hear frank lyrics about the experience of being queer and black in America, as well as calls for spiritual cleansing and the hope for a better future, one in which justice is served to homophobic murderers and a black woman sits in the Oval Office. A blunt chorus speaks for itself: “Cops are like cemeteries/You hold your breath every time one comes by/You hold your breath/And then you die.” “Ain’t Nothing New To Me” is undoubtedly a more cheerful listen when your fingers are jammed in your ears. So, take them out and absorb Muse’s words, because cheer is not what we need right now.