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AJ Smith Drops Apocalyptic New Single

Every now and again, someone with a brave voice comes around to say the things that need to be said the most without even batting an eye, and for fans of harder-hitting pop/rock, AJ Smith could be that someone in 2022. His new single, “We’re All Gonna Die,” takes a somewhat basic bassline, shy synth melodies, and a white-hot vocal and adds in some lyrics that are as sharp as a butcher knife, all in the name of putting a stop to mundanity at every stage of the track. AJ Smith means serious business with this single, and he throws down some serious tonality to prove it.

There’s an intergenerational appeal in “We’re All Gonna Die” that hasn’t been present in a lot of pop music in the 2020s. I hear classic pop roots in the beat, contemporary adrenaline in Smith’s delivery of the verses, and a really experimental bonding between the two that sounds unlike anything I’ve heard in the surreal soundscapes making noise this summer. Harmonies of the grandest quality are around every corner, and there aren’t any of the Millennial snobberies that many indie aficionados have grown quite tired of in the last year and a half.

Black and white percussive tones are the key ingredient to this song’s swagger, and Smith loads us down with as many as his drummer can muster in the several seductive minutes that the track goes on. The textures in the synthesized parts make everything gel together as though it were a part of some classical symphony, and there’s never any disconnect between the vocal track and the instrumentation (a feature that essentially dismisses any notion of Smith trying to appease R&B crossover fans exclusively with his particularly soulful singing). “We’re All Gonna Die” is surreal, but it isn’t ambient eclecticism at all.

I might have liked a little more of a push from the synth as we get into the chorus and less of the overdriven bass in this single, but were I hearing the song in a club somewhere, I don’t believe that I would make the same adjustment. The bottom end in the hook here is what gives “We’re All Gonna Die” its danceable feel, and were it not as enveloping of the vocal in the transition, the track would be a lot more depressing in nature than it was ever meant to be. AJ Smith is full of surprises, but his skilled arrangements are going to become something that I imagine I’ll be hearing a lot more of this fall.

Mindy McCall



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