Summer records just have a different sound to them, no matter what the genre is, and in this way, you could say that Heartour’s Divert the Asteroid isn’t that much different than its peers. What really sets the EP apart has less to do with its familiar charms and everything to do with how they’re put into use; case in point, “When the Lights Go Down.” “When the Lights Go Down” takes simple pop elements and twists them into something a little heavier and more dependent on texture to make the feelings in its words real, and to me, it’s one of the smarter songs of its kind out this month.
The catharsis in this single isn’t limited to the chorus but spread across the first half of the song as to make the latter half a little more intense and vulnerable in tone. Heartour doesn’t just want us to listen; we’re being asked to feel something that breaks away from what poetic verses would be able to impart on their own, and though somewhat experimental, it never fails to feel entirely right the entire time that we’re listening to “When the Lights Go Down” play out.
This vocal is actually kind of subtle for what the lyrics would seemingly call for on paper, but I think this is part of what gives this song such a signature Heartour feel. If other bands or solo players would have gone hot with something, the odds of this act playing it could are substantially higher than you might think, but not simply for the sake of being unruly. There’s magic to be found between the lines, and when you go out of your way to live in that space, you tend to become an aural wizard after just a couple of major LP releases.
The way this was arranged gives us generous amounts of percussion (and makes “When the Lights Go Down” a very danceable number), and best of all, there isn’t a single bit of drum noise going unutilized as Heartour forms a wall of tension in the mix. Overindulgence isn’t becoming for any artist, and it’s completely missing from the scene in this performance, making it possible for us to hear the natural components of the material as opposed to anything even potentially artificial coming between the narrative from the artist and the eager ears of the audience.
Once again, Heartour has blown me away with the versatility of the submitted work, and “When the Lights Go Down” deserves every bit of the praise it’s been getting from the critics and beyond. There’s so much love from the indie media for the cerebral side of surreal pop music, but not enough is being said about what focused assaults ala this kind of sound can do for an audience deprived of any dancefloors for over a year now. I definitely believe that Heartour is going to get hotter than anything he experienced pre-pandemic, and this single does a lot to prove it.
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