In his new single, titled “Underneath the Ground,” Jeremy Rice delivers what just might be his strangest and most aesthetically revealing performance to see widespread release yet. Unashamedly steeped in the hybrid stylings of a bizarre post-Ween approach to melodicism, “Underneath the Ground” almost feels like a song that never quite takes off in the way it initially sounds like it would, yet its sense of anti-catharsis is somehow a badge of honor it wears with pride. I doubt I’d be the first person to call this singer/songwriter a little out there, but from how it would appear in this single and its video, I think that’s what he’d appreciate.
The music video for this song is a little overindulgent for my taste, at least from a visual perspective, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see the creative value in what Rice was trying to accomplish in getting as far to the left of mainstream pop modeling as he could. There’s a juxtaposition between the oddness of the imagery and the simple pop hook beneath all of the cosmetics in this track that suggests duality and self-assuredness where I don’t believe other artists would have any, and to me, that’s something in itself.
I will say that I find Rice’s nasally vocal harmonies to feel really forced in a couple of this single’s most climactic moments, and rather than hearing his impression of a winded Tom Petty it might be nice to experience what his natural singing style might produce in a piece like this one. You don’t have to be a professional critic to pick up on the hesitation in his voice here, and if he is able to break away from that in his future work I absolutely believe he’s going to do a lot better with American audiences than he has so far.
Jeremy Rice is admittedly not going to be everyone’s cup of tea with this sound, and while the music video for “Underneath the Ground” debatably places him even deeper inside the alternative bin, I think it’s in the fringe element of rock that he’s going to find himself developing into the best sort of singer/songwriter he can be. This is a restrained look without question, and with more room to breathe, I think the framework of “Underneath the Ground” will yield some really big moments for Rice’s career in the future.
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