Welcome to “Cut Through the Noise,” an entertainment column from the St. Louis Park Echo covering new music releases. Every week, a different Echo staffer takes on the role of writer, reviewing recent single releases from a variety of artists.
Florence + The Machine – ‘King’ ★★★★☆
Released as the first tease single on Florence + The Machine’s newest unreleased album, “King” surprised me with a powerful song. The song describes artist Florence Welch’s emotions as she tries to balance being an world-renowned artist and also fit society’s expectations of a woman’s role. Feeling trapped between her personal world and her career, unable to live in both simultaneously, Welch finally declares “I am no mother, I am no bride, I am King.”
Not only is the message a strong one, but I was impressed with the complexity of the soft vocals and consistent background beat. While the first two minutes of the song had me playing “King” on a constant rewind, the second half of the song left me searching for more. Filled mostly with Welch vocalizing and a mix of various instruments, although none of it sounded bad, it felt far too drawn out. But overall, if you are searching for a late-night driving song that’ll make you turn up the volume in an instant, “King” checks all the boxes.
OneRepublic – ‘West Coast’ ★★★★☆
Taking on a classic 1960s California vibe, OneRepublic’s ”West Coast” is a breezy, feel-good hit. The song had a softer, toned down ”Beach Boys” energy mixed with the cool feel of ‘California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & The Papas. While the ‘60s influence was evident, ”West Coast” was also still easily recognizable as a distinct OneRepublic song. I thoroughly enjoyed the laid-back beat, which fit perfectly with the simultaneously relaxed, lack of depth lyrics. The song is truly an embodiment of a lazy summer day with no worries in sight.
Although I truly have no criticisms, I was also not particularly blown-away by any means. Could I see myself adding it to my playlist and enjoying it while paddleboarding on the lake this summer? Sure. But, I also think that after a few weeks it would quickly become my go-to skip song on Spotify.
Alec Benjamin – ‘Shadow of Mine’ ★★★☆☆
“Shadow of Mine” by Alec Benjamin describes the journey of accepting past mistakes and learning to live even with flaws. I applaud how Benjamin is able to express the feeling of being constantly followed, as the quick patter of the background beat really created an almost paranoid feeling. While nothing about the song could be considered frightening, there is an undertone of hauntedness that I feel really elevated it, and played into the message even more. Even on the first listen, I instantly understood the emotions being portrayed, which I find incredibly impressive. But, although the point was clear, I found the song to be repetitive after just a few listens. It’s good overall, but there was no part that truly intrigued me, or left me wanting to listen to it over and over again.