Sibling rivalry remains a rock and roll staple. Conflict between biological brothers litters the genre’s history with such luminaries as Don and Phil Everly, Liam and Noel Gallagher, and The Kinks’ Ray and Dave Davies squabbling with each for decades. Keith and Ryan Gillum are aware of that long tradition running through popular music and make wry use of it with their latest single “Sticky Note” and its accompanying video. The song aims for musical synthesis, bringing various sounds together under one tent, but they co-exist well and make for an even richer listening experience. A stylish video, directed by Will DaRosa, caps everything off with arresting visuals and an understated sense of humor.
Keith Gillum’s piano opens the track with unexpected minor key gravitas and the deliberate tempo is befitting the subject matter. It isn’t often you can say in 2019 that a songwriter has discovered a way to revisit time-tested themes like a loved one leaving you behind and make it fresh somehow, but The Gillum Bros accomplish it. Much of the praise can be directed towards Keith Gillum’s superb arrangement, but the focal point for many will be the pained yet sometimes smirking lyrical content and Ryan Gillum’s vocal delivery.
Ryan does an excellent job of manifesting the lyrics physically as well. The use of actual sticky notes in the music video is a nice touch, but Ryan Gillum gives life to the song’s attitude with his slightly incredulous facial expressions, his mouth veering back and forth from a smirk to an almost sneer, and his interaction with brother Keith Gillum who is cast in the role of his romantic rival during the video. Will DaRosa’s video for the song is significant rather than functional. DaRosa uses color well and the location shots are atmospheric without ever being heavy handed. His reliance on jump cuts is a minor weakness that doesn’t affect the overall quality.
The chorus is the song’s payoff moment and the aforementioned deliberate build of the arrangement is reflected as well in the unrushed way Ryan Gillum explores moments such as this. His vocal delivery is dry, as mentioned before, but not emotionless – the same incredulity we see from him physically comes across in his phrasing as well. He’s taken aback, as anyone would be, that his love has broken up with him via a sticky note and the bewilderment over such a slight comes through during each refrain.
This is heartfelt and classy from the outset. The Gillum Bros occupy their own stylistic niche in popular music and the clear chemistry they share carries the performance. Feuding brothers may be an enduring rock cliché, but they deserve major props for taking that popular trope and making something from it that their illustrious predecessors rarely could or would not. “Sticky Note” shows the brothers’ exponential growth as songwriters and the video released along with the single underlines its overall quality. Listeners familiar with their talents will rejoice and the song will make fans of any newcomers to their work.
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