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In 2003, The Postal Service released Give Up. If you were an indie kid like me back then, you remember it as a sort of holy book. It was an electro-pop, emo enchiridion, but it’s pièce de résistance wasn’t its substance; it was—in fact—the very way it was crafted. Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello traded ingredients to their songs with each other via USPS. The result was a dream-like introversion, but the idea of collaborating separately is a nightmare to most musicians. It takes a certain chemistry and succinct communication skills to pull off successfully.

In 2020, COVID-19 forced artists to explore new songwriting methods. Producer Sigurd Heimdal and vocalist Anthony Starble formed NIGHTMÅNE: an American-Norwegian compendium of yesteryear’s crowd-pleasing chart-toppers—a promising descendent of pop music from decades past. Their union was evocative of Gibbard and Tamborello’s; after collaborating on a project, the two became inspired to channel their talents into a pop powerhouse with as much dash as it has danceability. Despite being thousands of miles apart, the duo is growing ever closer and showing it with their brand new single.

NIGHTMÅNE is bursting out of the gates with a strong debut. It’s called “FALL APART,” and it’s as addictive as it is fun. Its synth-driven pulse makes it a celebration for pop music of the last forty years. A delightfully familiar style is made even more striking by a thoughtful arrangement. In fact, their songwriting makes the sound more an homage or tribute. They’re like a modern-day Stock, Aitken, and Waterman.

Starble’s vocal performance stands out as he graces audiences with an impressive falsetto. His ear for melody and knack for phrasing make an impact and boast big-time mainstream-appeal. Heimdal creates a lush landscape of hypnotic harmony and electronic percussion that compliments it perfectly. It’s clear that they understand each other, and it results in witting, satisfying writing.

If NIGHTMÅNE were an author looking for a literary agent, “FALL APART” would be a sought-after query. The track is an auspicious glimpse of what the duo can create. Feel the motion of the bass line in the chorus: It’s suited for the soundtrack to a Tron light cycle race. The track is as visually adrenalizing as it is sonically. It could be made more entertaining only by an accompanying music video with matching energy. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get one someday.

Written by Matt Kalicky

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