Singles feature classic, definitive sounds

Chris Nguyen

Beach House — “Myth”

On their first single, “Myth,” off their soon-to-be-released third album, Bloom, Beach House doesn’t stray too far from the sound that has come to define them: airy melodies that soar. That may be playing it safe, but then Alex Scally begins playing his twinkling and mesmerizing guitar chords and you fall deeply into this dream-pop landscape. Yet, as always, Victoria Legrand’s vocals leave the biggest mark. Heavy, smoky and deep with the weight of expectation and hope all bottled in there, her vocals swoon, as she calls out to “help me make it.” It’s simply sublime.

Nas — “The Don”

Nas proclaimed that hip-hop was dead in 2006, seeing the genre overcome with ego and greed, and that was saying something from a rapper of his intelligence. However, on “The Don,” Nas doesn’t make too much of a case for being able to save it himself. Nas doesn’t want to talk about politics or societal issues when he could very well talk about himself.

He declares at one point, “Bottles on bottles with sparklers surround my team.” It’s familiar ground for hip-hop and done better before (see: “Watch the Throne”). However, the sound of the song is hypnotic. Produced by Salaam Remi, Da Internz and Heavy D with samples from Supa Cat, “The Don” is a slice of dancehall against hard, classic hip-hop beats.

Garbage — “Blood for Poppies”

Though they once dominated alternative radio in the ’90s, there’s something a bit jarring about hearing Garbage unabashedly return to that decade on their first single in seven years, “Blood for Poppies.” Instead of merely returning to their own sound, Garbage has instead coopted ’90s pop-rock.

The industrial beats of past Garbage songs are still there. But the guitars chug along with power chords. On the chorus, the guitar soars and Shirley Manson almost begs you to sing along, repeating, “I don’t know why they are calling on the radio.” It’s a hook that recalls Smashmouth of “All-Star” fame. And yet, it works for Garbage. As they head into their third decade, they’ve surrendered and just want to have some fun — ’90s style.

Rascal Flatts — “Changed”

Does there come a point when you should stop badmouthing something so terribly awful? Because no matter how painfully obvious Rascal Flatts’ music is and no matter how much criticism is thrown at them, they’ll still release songs like “Changed.” Lead singer Jay DeMarcus continues to wail out saccharine lyrics — this time about being a better man — against slow and clean country-tinged guitars and drums that are free of grit or tension.

Of course, they aren’t doing anything differently than any traditional pop act would do by repeating a successful formula. But maybe Rascal Flatts could have taken some advice from this song and actually shake it up.