Chugging along in the vein of an 80s power ballad, but with a fun modern twist here and there in the production, Only Love Knows the Meaning of Goodbye arrives with the entire story synopsis helpfully outlined in the title!
Starting off with a cleanly-captured acoustic and a searching synth string-line panned hard to one side, Michaels tells a great little vignette here, with a beautifully-mixed and warm bass part underpinning proceedings.
Swells of keyboard sounds (incorporating a subtle twinkling element) lend an organic breathing quality to the rhythm and perfectly complement Michaels’ fine tenor range. The twisty melody explores emotion with a breathy (and at times slightly timorous) warmth that’s unusual – the tune never quite goes where I expect it might – but that’s not to say that its journey is obtuse; rather that it’s wonderfully unusual.
There is a group of stacked backing vocals panned hard to one side, and whilst this might be distractingly unusual when listening via headphones, it sounds fine out in the room.
The chorus packs a real wallop, and from the quality of tone and the vocal range employed, I could easily imagine David Gilmour covering it, swooping a little more than the skilled Michaels needs to (and no doubt adding a guitar solo!).
The way the melody falls away at the end of the lead vocal phrases, the general ‘chug’ of the track and female backing vocals certainly suggest Division Bell-era Floyd to me. That, or Men at Work’s Colin Hay, circa Who Can It Be Now? as Michaels is (vocally) somewhat reminiscent of him, too.
An intriguing build of a track, with interesting melodic exploration, a great vocal, and accomplished songwriting. Nice!