As light as feather but as affirming as a verse can be when coupled with a melody, “Fireflies,” one of the songs included on Andy Michaels’ new record Incendiary Heart, is built around its sharp vocal harmony without question. In this track, much like the other thirteen on Incendiary Heart, harmony acts as the very bedrock to every moving strand of melodicism that we’ll encounter, and when an artist like Andy Michaels is leading the way with his velvety voice, there’s never any need to fear what’s coming around the next bend. These aesthetics are the bread and butter of his latest release, especially in its new single and music video “Darling It Hurts,” and they’re attracting some noteworthy applause from fans and critics alike this month.
There’s not as much definition as I would’ve liked for there to be on the percussion in the title track and “Emerald Eyes” (both of which are accented with vocals from the lovely Tiarna Madison), but that seems intentional on the part of Michaels. In making the drums a limited feature in the master mix, we’re able to focus a lot more on the relationship between the vocal and the other melodic instrumentation here in ways we simply wouldn’t have been capable of enjoying otherwise. Michaels uses a similar scheme with the bassline in “I Can Fly,” drum parts in “Planet 8 (feat. Sharon Court)” and the stoic guitar ballad “Rambling Man,” all of which are quite interesting if you fashion yourself as much of a harmony-obsessed listener as I do.
Andy Michaels’ mission to create a surreal environment in Incendiary Heart doesn’t stop with the songs in its tracklist; in the music video for “Darling It Hurts,” he combines stunning visuals with meticulously minimalistic shots as to avoid an overdone look altogether. The music in the background is already capturing the lion’s share of our hearts long before we’re ever able to fully immerse ourselves in the imagery on screen, and even when the scenes are moving at a steady flow, there’s no getting around the fact that the rhythm is still the most powerful element in the entire video. It’s hard to bring a track like this one to life in that context, but even so, Michaels manages to do a really great job.
If this most recent content is on par with what we can expect to be hearing from Andy Michaels in the 2020’s, I think he’s going to touch on a lot of ground – and subsequently a lot of audience access – that had escaped his grasp in the 2010’s. Scene politics and posing for a premier opportunity to gain clout in the industry just aren’t important to Michaels, and in Incendiary Heart, he makes it abundantly clear what is important to him – the music, and only the music. He’s still coming into his own and defining a sound that will eventually belong to no one else but him, but for the time being, I think we can collectively regard this latest record as his very best, and even more than that, his most honest.
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