The Playlist: Cardi B Is Stressed, and 13 More New Songs

The more famous Cardi B becomes, the more aggrieved her music sounds. “Press” is her first solo single since the bruising “Money,” and it’s paranoid and terse. Over frenzied creepy-true-crime-show production, Cardi barks her rhymes densely and at a quick clip, emphasizing raw energy over clarity. She’s still feisty, and sometimes funny: “Ding donggggg/must be that whip that I ordered/and a new crib for my daughter.” But there’s none of that signature Cardi cackling, no joy at all. “Cardi don’t need more press,” she insists over and again. Let her breathe. JON CARAMANICA

A new Billie Eilish song from Katy Perry. A new Nowergianish Spotifycore song from Katy Perry. A new Haim song from Katy Perry. A new Pink song from Katy Perry. A new bubble-pop Taylor Swift song from Katy Perry. A new Mumford & Sons song from Katy Perry. A new Abba song from Katy Perry. CARAMANICA

The “Thoughts” Sasha Sloan is trying to control are ones that constantly undermine her: “All I think about is everything I’m not.” Echoey U2 guitars suspend her in insecurity; the beat that arrives, but later disappears, tries to push her toward self-acceptance. Not yet, but there’s hope. And the video clip makes clear that she is performing, not succumbing. PARELES

Matt Mitchell writes music to challenge himself and his fellow musicians, forcing them onto their toes and keeping them there. By his telling, it took years for his quintet, Phalanx Ambassadors, to master the shifting time signatures, oddly overlain harmonies and dyspeptic, misdirected melodies that define its debut album. So what goals should a listener set when taking in something so complex? Follow along as closely as possible, attuned to every ricocheting unison between Patricia Brennan’s vibraphone and Miles Okazaki’s guitar, parsing every mind-defying displacement between Mitchell’s right hand and his left? Or simply revel in the glistening textural play between these instruments (a bassist and drummer round out the group), and the fervor of the improvisers? On “Stretch Goal” — as on the album’s other six tracks — both options work, and there’s nothing mutually exclusive about them. RUSSONELLO

Kokoko is the musical core — electronics, singers, dancers, percussion, a homemade electric guitar — of an arts collective from Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, collaborating with the French electronic musician Debruit. “Buka Dansa” can be translated as “dance till it breaks” or “break the dance,” and this track lives up to both choices. The guitar twangs little riffs, voices whoop and sing and shout, a smooth synthesizer bass line comes and goes; the perky central beat is disrupted from left and right, and sudden key changes add a few more swerves. It’s hyperactive and unstoppable. A full album, “Fongola,” is due in July. PARELES

What would an alien abduction sound like? Maybe this, persuasion with mysterious powers behind it. The song by the Norwegian musician Aurora is a first-contact scenario that offers, “Come as you are/don’t be scared of us, you’ll be protected,” and insists, “You are pure, we have to get you out of here.” It’s posthuman pop. PARELES

Dodie doesn’t detail what “trauma” she was exposed to when “You opened a door that a kid shouldn’t walk through,” and that just makes “Guiltless” even creepier. She realizes that the culprit feels no guilt, so she decides she’ll keep it to herself: “I’ll carry your burden till the day that you die.” With plucked acoustic chords and elfin backup voices, the music stays airy and whisper-light; the implications are anything but. PARELES

Sufjan Stevens offers benevolent sentiments while revealing a musician’s choices on the EP he has released for Pride Month. It includes “Love Yourself” in both a current production — echoey keyboard tones, a looped beat, hovering backup vocal — and a 1996 demo that he built from layered guitars and voices, more physical but still otherworldly. A new, purposefully unambivalent song, “With My Whole Heart,” looks more directly toward pop, with a danceable stop-start beat, evolving synth-pop constructions and vocals that invite call-and-response. Both songs are kindly promises, with Stevens deliberating over how to illuminate them. PARELES

Meza sings from the mountaintop and the riverbed on “Kallfu,” which this vocalist, guitarist and composer wrote after visiting Patagonia, in her native Chile. Its name is the word for “blue” in Mapudungun, the language of southern Chile’s native Mapuche people. And the lyrics — proudly belted, then joyfully sighed — tell of the restoration and clarity to be found en plein-air. Over the crossing and twirling strings of the Nectar Orchestra, Meza repeats a refrain of liberation and conviction: “Vuelve la calma” (calmness returns). The song comes from Meza’s latest album, “Ámbar,” which features the orchestra throughout. RUSSONELLO

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