New Arbitrary Music Genre Alert: Stalkerwave

I’ve been listening to “Cold Nites,” a track from solo producer How To Dress Well’s forthcoming Total Loss LP, out on September 18 in North America, and it’s a real skin-crawler.

HTDW’s whole airily overcompressed R&B in a moldy basement aesthetic has long been considered a skeevy extension of 2010’s chillwave boom (man, remember how chill we were in 2010?), but here he’s hit on an even creepier vibe. It’s what a peeping tom might hear when he pushes aside a tree branch and gets a good look at you in your birthday suit. Ergo, stalkerwave.

This would be the natural evolution of pop and rock’s tendency to staple heart to sleeve, declaring love or loathing or some violent confusion of the two in sharp, catchy terms. Here in a future where we can lazily track the objects of our lust online, the lyrics and metaphors are murky if not terrifying. The punks and Eminem promised repulsive sexual acts, but that’s arch satire next to something like The-Dream’s “Abyss,” which blends desire and death into smooth seduction:

I won’t stop listening to these dudes, but were I a lady, I’d carefully weigh the pros and cons of giving either your number.

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