2019 has been a whirlwind year for young Szandra Mayer, and even though we just finished raving over what she did in the single “Never Ever,” she’s already back at it again with another surreal jam in the stellar “Never Really Good Enough,” which was recently released to massive critical acclaim from the indie music media. Mayer doesn’t try and placate her fans with predictability here, nor does she patronize critics with a likeness of postmodern pop that we’ve come to expect out her scene. Instead, she tries the untried and gives us a sprawling sonic masterpiece worthy of her highly respected moniker.
I hear a lot more of a melodic hip-hop influence over these beats than I had in other songs by Mayer like “Never Ever,” but the incorporation of these new and improved grooves didn’t take me by surprise. I’ve always thought that she had a talent for urban rhythm more than she did EDM-style club material, and this track exploits her streamlined style for every drop of melodic magic that it’s worth. It’s not as tight as her last single, but it’s a gripping listen that will engross audiophiles and casual pop fans alike just the same.
The bassline has a lot of layers that I might have arranged a little differently in the master mix, but I don’t find the bass to be an overstated element in the song at all. If you were to remove its quintessential textures from the intro and the chorus, I actually think that you might end up with a completely different narrative in the lyrics than you do leaving them right where they are. Mayer isn’t coming to us with some pretty words and a stock melody here; she’s painting us a vivid picture with her verses and the instrumental gusto that reflects the depth of their passion.
When I said that I’ve found Mayer more skillful at managing a slower song than a feverish club track, I didn’t mean to suggest that she can’t rock either style with as much panache as she would anything else, but there’s something to her balladic songwriting that is so much more engaging for me as a fan and a critic. She’s so in her element here that it’s hard for me to believe that she is only twelve years old. You could have told me that she was pushing thirty and had spent nearly a decade and a half in the studio and I easily would have believed it.
There’s a lot of amazing music out right now from artists spanning every genre under the umbrella that is pop music, but “Never Really Good Enough” stands out at the very top of its class for anyone looking for a lively indie pop anthem that has as much heart as it does bass-driven heat. Szandra Mayer keeps getting better and better, and going off of the momentum that her career is currently enjoying, I think her runaway train isn’t even close to slowing down anytime soon.
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