“Photo” by Christopher Sardegna

Valentine's Day is fast approaching (or, in my case, Forever Alone Day). Regardless of your plans on Tuesday – be it going out for a romantic, candlelit dinner with your hipster crush to the local vegan restaurant or, if you're like me, staying at home with only your cat and Michael Bolton's Big Sexy Valentine's Day Special for company – The Guard's Best Indie Songs has the music that you need to get you in the mood. No, really – featuring Blossoms, Future Islands, Ariel Pink & Weyes Blood, Crywolf, Father and more, there's something here for everyone to fall in love with.



Stranger Things meets Stockport meets The Smiths in the video for “Honey Sweet” by Blossoms. Watch as the British five-piece pay tribute to the Netflix science fiction series by riding their bicycles around their Manchester hometown (“Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before”-style) in search of a time machine in the self-directed clip, which makes for a truly rapturous accompaniment to the Blossoms cut.



Three years after their infamous appearance on Late Show with David Letterman performing “Seasons (Waiting on You),” Future Islands return this 2017 with “Ran.” The first single to be unveiled from their forthcoming fifth album The Far Field, it's yet another life-affirming love song from the Baltimore synth pop trio that's almost certain to leave you pounding at your chest in the style of frontman Samuel T. Herring.



Left-field icons Ariel Pink (Ariel Rosenberg) and Weyes Blood (Natalie Mering) join forces for the episodic “Tears on Fire.” Featured on their collaborative EP Myths 002 – a four-song collection recorded over a week-long musical residency in the desert in Marfa, Texas in March 2016 – it's a majestic piece of counterculture pop that comes punctuated by acoustic guitars and Mering's operative vocals.



Crywolf does it again. The Los Angeles artist hits listeners right in the feels with “Weight,” a devastatingly beautiful acoustic ballad about the vulnerability that comes from falling in love. “When I truly fall for someone, I can't get them out of my heart for a decade. Sometimes I can almost physically feel the weight of every love I've known, pressing down on my shoulders. I wake up with them, I go to sleep with them. A few extra minutes to get out of bed, a bit more drag on my shoes as I walk. Sometimes I feel they are too much to bear. I love you. I am terrified of you.” – Crywolf.



After a seven month hiatus, Atlanta hip hop artist Father returns to the blogoshere this 2017 with “Hands.” Produced by Meltycannon – who previously teamed up with Father on the stand-alone single “Heartthrob” – the song is three minutes of propulsive rap-trap that hears the Awful Records founder name-dropping everyone from Motorola to Toyota to Coca Cola (“I'm the man, I'm a scam, I'm a brand”) atop a hard-hitting beat.



Ahead of the release of their much-anticipated third album SILK, Australian duo HVOB (Her Voice Over Boys) have shared “The Blame Game.” A collaboration with Mumford and Sons' Winston Marshall, it's a deeply brooding piece of music that opens with HVOB's Anna Müller and Paul Wallner trading haunting lamentations over Marshall's sparse, reverb-laden guitar lines, before unexpectedly transforming into a bass-driven banger.



Having recently featured on DJ Snake's smash hit “Middle,” British singer-songwriter Bipolar Sunshine returns this 2017 with a cover of Coldplay's “The Scientist.” One of the finer songs in Chris Martin and company's discography, Bipolar Sunshine succeeds in reminding us exactly why the A Rush of Blood to the Head cut has stood the test of time (15 years, to be precise) with his faithful rendition, which hears his heartfelt croon paired with minimal piano chords and very little else.



The Guard favorite vōx continues to refine her artful approach to pop music on her first single of 2017, “I Was Born.” Utilizing her voice as her only instrument, the artist delivers an experimental a cappella opus that completely envelops you with its profound narrative about spiritual rebirth (“I think I died this week/The earth slipped away”). “It's naked. It's vulnerable,” vōx tells Pigeons and Planes. “Leaving your past behind to serve a bigger purpose can be painful or lonely. But the most powerful thing you can do is change.”



DENM was without a doubt one of The Guard's favorite discoveries of 2016, and the Los Angeles grunge pop artist looks set to continue his viral ascent this 2017, starting with unlikely cover of OutKast's “Hey Ya!” To say that DENM's breathy interpretation of the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below cut is completely different to the 2003 original would be an understatement, but that's exactly what makes the piano-driven rendition such a dreamlike listen. Oh, and did I mention that it's on our label?



Introducing Bernache, the solo venture of Men I Trust's Emmanuelle Proulx. The Canadian singer-songwriter has completely enraptured me with her debut single “Your Name.” Opening with a spread of percussion and reverb-drenched guitars before surging up into an arpeggio synth reverie topped by crystalline vocals, Proulx says that “Your Name” “talks about a relationship that takes so much space, that it slows everything else around.”


Happy Valentine's Day. x

Photo” by Christopher Sardegna is licensed under CC0 1.0 (cropped and resized).

About Jess Grant

When Jess Grant isn't writing on music, she can be found playing it – on her guitar, on her ukulele, and on her recently acquired mandolin. Playing it hideously, she ought to add. Jess also studies. She studies the English language, to be precise. Jess is currently on her way to a degree in the subject, and enjoys starting and never finishing novels, screenplays, and poetry in her spare time. She also likes dogs. Lots of dogs.