It’s tempting for anyone producing EDM to develop a kind of knee-jerk quantising reflex, immediately beat-matching and gridlocking all MIDI and audio to maximise the tightness of the rhythmic groove. What this cracking production from Jonas Blue demonstrates, however, is how much a track can be enlivened by incorporating deliberately wonky rhythms into this otherwise highly regimented rhythmic context. What makes this particular scenario so cool, though, is that the song starts by establishing a tight groove where there’s no ambiguity at all about precisely where each beat of the bar is supposed to land. So when the lead synth arrives at 1:17, weaving lazily around the grid lines, its effect is all the more startling. However, because the song has also kept its four-to-the-floor kick drum up its sleeve until that point, there’s absolutely zero risk of reducing the section’s danceability. (Dancificness? Dancitude? Oh, I give up…)
Beside this, there’s one other moment that knocked my socks off when I first heard it: the way the producer has made a real feature of the repeated words “hate” and “change” in the verse lyrics (at 0:31 and 0:36 respectively) by accompanying them with simultaneous stutter edits across the whole arrangement. One of the biggest reasons project-studio EDM productions fall short of the market-leaders, in my view, is that they don’t create enough interaction between the different parts — especially between acoustic and electronic elements. It’s honestly so easy to find an evocative lyric or moment of phrasing in your lead vocal, and then mimic (or indeed answer) that briefly with some of the electronic parts, but I can’t tell you how often I hear this opportunity wasted. Speaking of wasted opportunities, though, I couldn’t help feeling mildly disappointed that this stutter trick was simply repeated verbatim at 2:02, where I reckon even the smallest variation on the final “change-change-change” could have wrung even more dramatic capital out of it.