Phantom Vibrations sees former Awolnation member David Amezcua take a step in a notably new direction. Stranger is a smooth and rather nostalgic indie-pop song, bringing through classic or vintage vibes – a colourful backdrop, an uplifting bounce, an infectious rhythm – and on top of all of this, a uniquely characterful and subtle leading voice that delivers the song in a fitting way.
The track is everything the title implies, the stranger is the object of desire, but it’s not necessarily the lyrics that you take away from this at first. More likely it’s the melody – there’s an 80’s aura to the hook that finds itself quickly caught up in your mind. The music supporting the whole thing adds to this effect – the song feels fit to accompany a scene in some classic coming of age movie.
There’s actually a little more to it with each new listen – an effective way to craft a release in order to keeping people entertained over repeated plays. The second time you hear it there’s a certain optimistic reggae vibe to the music, which contrasts with a slightly more melancholy and reflective verse. Things then rise up towards a hook that hits with powerful impact. After these moments, you notice the personality in the bass-line and indeed in the various vocal snippets.
There’s a lot of passion in the way the whole thing evolves. The lyrics have a definite simplicity and a simultaneous ability to appeal to a wider audience. Then after these various build-ups, the middle eight breakaway introduces some superb saxophone work – a simple touch but one that seals the deal, in my opinion.
The song feels brighter and more recognisable each new time that it plays. It’s a hit that brings back memories of a simpler time, yet from a songwriting and production perspective it works perfectly right about now. It’s refreshing to hear a song of this nature, and one that manages to weave its melody and ambiance around you in a fairly striking way.
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