The problem that I, and a lot of other critics, have with modern electropop doesn’t have anything to do with the artists responsible for its ongoing success. My issue is that, unlike Migrant Motel, so few of the project’s contemporaries inject their music with the unfiltered emotion that we find in a recording like their latest single, “Shame.” “Shame” rebels against the stoic stylization of the minimalist model while chasing after a club beat that can satiate even the most angst-ridden of dancers this winter, and despite my distaste for the genre, this track has convinced me that electropop doesn’t always have to be as colorless as its early forerunners made it seem.
“I pull my shades down, over my nose / ‘Cause I’m a big rock star that nobody knows / Can’t take my girl back – back to my home / I know my mom would never leave us alone,” sings the sensitive melodic vocal on the other side of a synthesized groove in “Shame,” every word it serenades us with saturated in emotive moxie that ensures the very legitimacy of the singer’s verses. Stewart’s poetry at times feels both elegiac and retrospective, but the optimistic melodies in the background keep the song from breaking apart into a straight-up dirge (a feat that deserves recognition on its own).
The vocal is the cherry on top of an already incredible synth arrangement in this track, which, to me at least, is the real meat and potatoes of “Shame.” The synth parts blend a cocktail of 80’s electronica and a more modern, cosmopolitan pop swagger that spells out absolute pleasure for fans of sophisticated electronic textures and tones, and though there have been some similar efforts from this duo’s peers in recent months, few have been able to capture the kind of potency that this song does without sounding over the top or the least bit recycled in tone.
The drums here need a little more volume, especially in the chorus, where their beats are possibly the most critical in shaping the rhythm. I don’t fault Migrant Motel for leaving the bittersweet serenade at the top of the mix, but still, it would have been a lot more exciting to hear the percussion climaxing alongside the other elements in the song. The grooves are alluring just the same, and I think that in a live performance, this minuscule speedbump in this studio mix of “Shame” wouldn’t be a problem for the audience (or the band) at all.
SMART URL: https://fanlink.to/MigrantMotelShame
I wasn’t familiar with Migrant Motel before hearing this track for the first time recently, but I’m hooked on the smooth sound of the music they’ve released in the past five years. There are so many different ways that these two could develop this project further that it seems almost kind of pointless to speculate about the future of Migrant Motel at the moment, but as far as this winter is concerned, there is not a doubt in my mind that “Shame” is among the cream of the crop in its genre. The bottom line in this review is this single is a must-listen for both the electropop faithful and the style’s pessimistic critics alike.
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