From the second we first get in contact with the beat in Harper Starling’s “No More What If” forward, the percussion is the most significant element in the music outside of Starling’s voice. There’s something really icy about its demeanor as we find it ahead of the opening verse, and under the command of this singer’s brooding vocal, it starts to thaw and provide the lyrics a backdrop as stirring as it is unpredictable. “No More What If” poses questions of consistency in its narrative, but its construction is one of the most solid I’ve come across in a long time now.
This harmony is definitely sophisticated, especially beside some of the other pop music debuting at the moment, but the fact that it isn’t at least fifty-percent synthetics is amazing to me. There’s no artificiality binding the different elements together in this mix; on the contrary, I would say that Starling is going out of her way to give us an organic performance that is also as palatable to the club-goers of the world as it is the casual at-home pop fan in the mood for something a little more incendiary and groove-heavy this autumn.
The tempo highlights the remix potential in “No More What If” in a couple of different ways, the most obvious being that it showcases a vocal from Harper Starling that clearly is only a fraction of the potency it could be in the same melodic setting. She can turn up the power when she wants to, and this single largely teases us with the possibilities she’s still got on the horizon whilst turning the primary centerpiece in the track – the vocal – into a showcase for newcomers to her sound to appreciate and hunger for more of her work in the future.
There’s a lot of punch to beat, particularly as we step into the latter half of the track, but there’s scarcely a moment in which Harper Starling sounds like she can’t handle the pressure that the drums create for her verse. She can manage a lot of volatility, and with the seamless production quality also being taken into account, she doesn’t indicate to us that she’s regressing as a performer in “No More What If” at all – truthfully, I think it’s the exact opposite. This is a player who has herself figured out, and sooner than most in her peer group for sure.
“No More What If” is one of my favorite new pop songs of September, and based on how well it captures the essence of who this singer is as an artist, I think it’s only right to call it her definitive identity piece at the moment. She’s letting her hair down and having some fun behind the microphone in “No More What If,” and if we’re able to get more content like this from Harper Starling in the future, she’s going to find herself reeling in even more success and critical acclaim as the years go by.
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