Sometimes love isn’t really love. Abusive relationships take many forms, and it can be hard to see the forest for the trees—especially when the damage done isn’t physical. The subtleties of emotional abuse tend to get worse over time and leave the sufferer blind to the signs. Leaving a relationship like this takes strength, courage, and self-esteem. Rising pop-artist Ryan Nealon has shown that he’s reclaiming his own self-worth with the third single from his debut EP. He’s returned to the virtual stage showing he’s ready to rebuild with “Lights Out.”
Despite its underlying darker theme, “Lights Out” will do anything but get you down. In fact, it’s an upbeat anthem for self-love and independence. It’s looking at the glass half-full and pouring more in until it overflows. Nealon gets the ball rolling with a vaporwave-inspired introduction. Right off the bat we’re offered a cool Miami-Vice tinge. This 80s-esque detuned synthesizer sound is a defining element of great modern pop music and—years from now—will undoubtedly be a defining characteristic of our present era.
“Lights Out’s” greatest achievements are its melody and vocal performance. The high harmonies in the verse are divine—creating a sort of aural, ethereal cloudscape within the track. Nealon makes great melodic decisions that call to mind the styles of Matt Healy and Katie Gavin. He’s spent years studying his craft, and it shows. His voice is both confident and captivating; it really shines in this song when the music drops out before the chorus.
Ryan Nealon is a singer/songwriter based in Los Angeles. Without the backing of a record label, his voice and charisma have helped him amass hundreds of thousands of streams across a catalog of both gripping covers and intriguing originals. Watching him perform will make you smile. He’s been featured on Apple Music’s “Breaking Pop” playlist and has impressively collaborated with several noteworthy artists. All of that said, his most remarkable trait as an artist is perhaps his aptitude.
No matter how old you are, you never stop growing up. Until you’re faced with dissonance in your life, you may not know how to resolve it. Toxic bonds can exist between you and anyone you know: friends, spouses, parents—the list goes on. Make the choice to use your voice. Nealon’s newest single reminds us that it’s important to think about what we really want out of our relationships and does so in the catchiest way possible.
Written by Matt Kalicky