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“Gumball” by Luna Grey

Slowly but surely, a charming melody comes slinking out of the shadows in “Gumball,” the brand new single from acclaimed pop newcomer Luna Grey. Nothing is menacing about its euphoric melody, and yet its amiable disposition is rife with an underlying emotionality that will soon be further explained in a graceful lead vocal from Grey, who pulls out all the stops in this song to put us in that highly-desired optimistic mood. The harmonies are nostalgic, as is the bassline’s gentle sway, but the spicy structure of the verses makes “Gumball” immediately recognizable as the handiwork of a young musician who isn’t as concerned with replicating her influences as she is building on what they left behind. 

The first stanza has a rather reflective tone to it, but the improvisatory nature of the instruments and their minimalistic backdrop makes the song feel very off the cuff, unrehearsed, and wildly spontaneous. The freeform construction never devolves into scattered nattering set to a gilded groove, but it does boast a certain amount of whimsy that I haven’t heard in a mainstream pop track for years. “Gumball” is a very literate composition, with all of the right ingredients to engage its audience on multiple levels while steering clear of ambient accentuations that would make it generally inaccessible to anyone other than pop aficionados. There’s nothing volatile about its experimentalism, but it’s different from what you’ll hear outside of the pop underground this winter. 

Right when we’re least expecting it, the central hook in “Gumball” comes slashing through the even-keeled rhythm of the drums and pulls us as close to Luna Grey as possible for a reverent climax that isn’t as theatrical as it is sensuous and unassuming. There have been a lot of pop and crossover singers trying to create a sound similar to Grey’s in her new release, but few – if any at all – have been able to cut something even slightly as languid as this piece is. She’s self-conscious in her lyrics but not the least bit shy about putting all of her feelings on the table in this song, which in itself sets her work apart from the cryptic content that her major label brethren have been releasing in the last few years. 

“Gumball” concludes with a haunting tone that seems to be even grander than the track is on its own as a compositional work, and though it’s a rather short song – coming in at just a few minutes and change in total length – its catchy harmonies leave an impression that will bring listeners back to the track time and time again. I never know what I’m going to hear when I get ahold of a new underground single, but every once in a great while, an artist like Luna Grey comes along and makes the entire process of creating an original, contemporary pop song look incredibly easy. “Gumball” is pop for the most discriminating of music buffs, and it’s making a big splash for its skilled songstress this January. 

Mindy McCall



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