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Song of the Week: Remi Wolf Is Ready to Ride in “Toro”

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Our weekly column Song of the Week spotlights the greatest new tunes each week. Find these new favorites and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist, and for other great songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Remi Wolf runs with the bulls on “Toro.”

If Remi Wolf has one secret weapon when creating her playfully off-center version of pop tunes, it’s her embrace of the unexpected. It’s a thread that ran through the CoSign alum’s 2021 debut album, Juno, and it’s one that’s remained consistent in her music since. Melodies don’t quite go where the listener anticipates; no moment of silence is wasted, and her ability to leverage funk turns what might otherwise be a straightforward track into a full-on playground.

Today, “Toro” has arrived as a dual drop alongside “Alone in Miami,” with the former epitomizing the vibrant, layered sound Wolf does best. It’s details like guitar flourishes in the pre-chorus and particularly raspy vocal on the second verse that make it more than a sunny, windows down listen — Wolf demands full attention.

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“You’re a bull, and I can’t help but saying ‘toro,’” she sings over a pulsing bass. There’s also a subtle sincerity to the song, with confessions of wanting more snuck between blatantly lustful quips. It’s three-dimensional and honest, as fun as it is thoughtfully designed and mixed — and shouldn’t that be our standard for pop music, rather than an exception?

In a time when the sentiment of “let people enjoy things” has run amuck, it feels like standards for pop stars have started to flatten, too. Remi Wolf is the much-needed jolt of lightning to the space, serving as a sharp reminder that creating music that is fun and enjoyable shouldn’t prevent it from being interesting and expertly-constructed, too.

Mary Siroky
Associated Editor

Honorable Mentions:

Dora Jar — “She Loves Me”

Dora Jar has returned with “She Loves Me,” a romantic indie rock gem that’s as delightful as it is weird. Built almost entirely from an octave-heavy bassline, Dora Jar outlines a relationship with… a ghost? A lover? Some unknown female entity? Whoever it is, once again, she’s keeping all of us under her spell — rather than dial up the volume and throttling the song’s momentum, like her last single “Puppet,” Dora Jar segues into a bizarre outro, with ghostly coos and seemingly-improvised mutterings. She’s proven her excellence for a while now, but one thing that consistently separates Dora Jar is her inimitable vocabulary, her irreverence, and her otherworldly spirit. — Paolo Ragusa

Half Waif — “Big Dipper”

Half Waif’s latest is a cut off her forthcoming project, Ephemeral Being, a title that aptly captures the mystical energy “Big Dipper” exudes. Her dreamy vocal performances dips and dances over twinkling instrumentals, which are then grounded by the contrasting heaviness of drums and driving guitar chords. It’s a summer song, built for the reality of the modern age. — M. Siroky

Jordana — “My Idol (feat. Paul Cherry)”

Remember when Twee was supposed to come back a couple years ago? Jordana does! On “My Idol,” the now L.A.-based singer and songwriter teams up with Paul Cherry for a sweet and sour, mid-tempo indie folk jam. “Sometimes it hurts to get the thing you desire/ What if it’s all just a lie?,” Jordana and Cherry ask in harmony like they’re in conversation — though there’s a feeling of loss and inertia depicted in the lyrics, not to mention some solemn violins, “My Idol” is assuredly warm and simple. Sometimes a sad song is so pleasantly-crafted that it feels both wrong and right to smile as you listen. — P. Ragusa

Oso Oso — “all of my love”

For the first time since 2022, Oso Oso is back with a brand new tune, and just as we’ve come to expect from songwriter Jade Lilitri, it’s catchy, irresistible, and damn near perfectly constructed. At just two minutes and change, the song opens with slick guitar lines backed by a surprisingly lush indie rock instrumental. Just about halfway in, Lililtri breaks into the “all of my love/ (singing) all of my life” refrain that takes over the rest of the song. And honestly? It’s so good that he could have ridden that outro for twice as long and it’d still be too short. — Jonah Krueger

Origami Angel — “Fruit Wine”

In 2022, Origami Angel dropped two surprise EPs, the acoustic Re: Turn and the hard-as-nails Depart. Last year, they came through with an excellent full-length project, The Brightest Days. Now, the band has finally entered 2024 with their latest ripper, “Fruit Wine.” One part melodic power-pop, one part beatdown-esque hardcore, the tune opens and closes with summery, energetic passages of vocal harmonies and driving guitars. Sandwiched in the middle, though, is a breakdown fit for some truly gnarly two-stepping. It’s the best of both Gami worlds in one song. — J. Krueger

Sour Widows — “Staring into Heaven/Shining”

Serving as the epic, eight-minute closer to their upcoming release Revival of a Friend, Sour Widows’ “Staring into Heaven/Shining” is a slowcore-influenced indie rock wonder. Unlike most eight-minute album-enders, “Starring into Heaven/Shining” doesn’t lean on a grand dynamic shift for catharsis. Rather, it’s more akin to a wander through the forest, one with gentle ups and downs that have you periodically stopping along the way to kick a rock or admire a bush. With vocal melodies and guitar work this compelling, the tune is a path I’d hike again any day. — J. Krueger

Vayda — “Baby Baby”

Atlanta-based rapper Vayda loves to mention that she’s unique in the scene, and just one listen to “Baby Baby” is enough to know she’s not exaggerating. In just over a minute, Vayda introduces the listener to a flow that demands attention, while her whole persona simultaneously feels entirely unaffected. It’s bar after bar of cleverness and heat, while Vayda floats through like it required no effort from her at all. — M. Siroky

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