So love huh?
It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times; and while Dickens never really recorded a song about love – on account of there being no recording technology at the time, a minor impediment to be sure – you can’t help feeling that if he had he would touched on both sides of the romantic equation with alacrity.
Since he’s long gone though, we’re lucky that we have these five artists to touch on the good, the bad and the messy mix of both that is present when love comes a-calling, and we’re caught gloriously, messily, heartbreakingly in the middle.
“Blackout” by Freya Ridings
Much as we all like to think in our more optimistic, Hallmark-clad moments that love is an endlessly wonderful thing, fringed with roses, happy sighs and long moonlit walks, the reality is that it can be damn painful at times.
Londoner Freya Ridings, with a crisp, clear voice that captures every last drop of pain and regretful wondering, has distilled all of the angst-ridden introspection that comes with the end of the hopefulness of romantic love into her song “Blackout”.
It muses on whether we can ever return to the unblemished giddy hope of pre-broken relationship times or whether we’re forever saddled with those scars.
She lands in a place that, for now, at least, recognises she has to go forward, aching sadness and loss and all, unable to black out what led her to this place.
It’s beautiful hearts on sleeves, raw nerves pop at its emotional best, a eulogy to lost love, romantic dreams and the untramelled “undiscovered country” of what could be, and now will never be.
“Petals” by Froth
Hailing from sunny Los Angeles, Froth is a four piece band that’s heavy on the guitars, studied introspection and ethereal vocals that drag into some deep ruminating of your own.
“Petals”, a light, fey title that contrasts with a darker lyrical underbelly, is all hazy thoughts, half-awaken dreams and emotional wanderings that is beautifully enapsulated by its attendant video.
Band member Jeremy Katz explained to Fader how this perfect marriage of visual accompaniment and rich, laconic slice of naval-gazing pop came about:
“I had seen Cloaking to do some live visuals at shows around LA and they were always amazing. We met up for coffee a few times and we’re throwing ideas around about live visuals for tour and we started talking about music videos we liked. Then we decided to combine the two ideas, having a 3D music video and using the same art in the live setting. I think Cloaking did an amazing job of capturing the mood of the song and creating this world to match it.”
“Deliverance” by Rationale
Among the myriad swirling emotions that subsume you in the chaotic maelstrom of a relationship breakup, one of the most poignant, and ultimately heartrendingly tortuous idea that maybe, just maybe this emotionally-cataclysmic parting of the ways may yet be averted.
It rarely is of course, but people are the kings and queens of hope springing eternal, and British-Zimbabwean music artist Rationale is their heartfelt troubadour.
In “Deliverance”, a deeply poetic, near-epic gospel-accented mix of mourning and hopefulness, anchored by vocals that ache with passion and desperate wistfulness, we come face-to-face with how it feels to grapple with painful realities, knowing there is no real hope of reconciliation but hoping and praying for it anyway.
This is powerful, ground shaking pop that cannot leave you unmoved, especially if you have ever watched someone you loved passionately walk away, knowing they will never be yours again.
“Gatekeeper” by Jessie Reyez
Ushered in by one of the most exquisitely emotional pieces of music, “Gatekeeper” is a castigating piece of pop wrapped in a beautiful piece of inventively-created pop.
Addressing horrific misogyny in the music industry, of which Toronto-based Jessie Reyez has personal experience, the song takes on the gatekeepers and their utterly unethical, abusive demands, with lyrical, damn near poetic precision.
It’s hard to listen to this brilliantly-executed marriage of [Reyez’s] “fragile singing voice with raw rapped verses” (We Are: The Guard) and not be deeply affected by the unvarnished truths contained within.
“Say My Name” by Tove Styrke
Hailing from Sweden where they know a thing or 5000 about the marrying palpably honest lyrics and irrepressibly-catchy music, Tove Styrke hits a home run with “Say My Name”.
It’s all about encouraging a new lover to go all out in pursuing whatever the hell is happening between him – “go ahead and feel what you feel / I want you closer to me.”
This infectiously-luxurious song touches on a theme that is common for many artists but a first for the up-and-coming music star, as she told NME:
“There’s a reason why so much music is about sex and love. It is linked to one’s worst and best experiences. I have not written about love before because I didn’t want to write another love song. But I have changed. I am tired of being angry, right now I just need to make music that makes me feel good.”
And you know what? It’s a great feel good song that will have you sashaying along, eager to have someone have your name roll of your tongue.
NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!
Do you want to see a joyously happy gorilla dancing to the manic strains of Michael Sembello’s 1983 hit “Maniac”? Yes … YES you do …
You can see some more animals frantically get their dancefloor groove on at Pigeons and Planes.