Starting the new year with a new single, Reed Gaines’ “Ok!” felt like a quintessential indie-pop song. Its rhythmic soundtrack effortlessly combined the electric piano and drums to create an upbeat baseline that felt perfect for pop listeners. The quiet, deep lyrics and vocals, on the other hand, created a darker vibe that balanced out the higher energy soundtrack. The balance that Gaines can achieve is incredible and creates a song that is perfect for whatever mood one’s in.
Gaines describes his newest song as: “what I [Gaines] like to call "Windows-Down Indie," capturing something equal parts freeing and melancholic, nostalgic and fresh.”
“Ok!” opens with an electric piano that is later joined by drums. The instruments create an upbeat, head-bopping beat. Gaines’ style of music creates songs perfect for driving, and “Ok!” doesn’t veer away from that at all.
Gaines’ vocals began at the perfect time, adding another layer to the soundtrack and “Ok!” His voice stands out from the background of the soundtrack. The vocals are backed up by an echo that’s sung in a higher register. The mix of Gaines’ lower vocals and the higher-pitched echo created a small conflict in my head, where my brain couldn’t concentrate on both at the same time and didn’t know which one to pay more attention to. However, the overlaying echo added another layer to the song. The echo felt like it validated being not ok as well as adding more musical complexities to “Ok!”
In the chorus, Gaines sings: “Would you tell me it’s ok if I’m not ok? I’m going off the deep end. What can I say? I’ve been feeling low.” His chorus struck a chord with me and felt extremely relatable. Through his lyrics, Gaines conveys the struggle of feeling like needing to pretend that you’re okay, while simultaneously breaking down that idea by explicitly stating that he wants it to be okay to not be okay. Additionally, by posing these thoughts through questions, Gaines highlights that it’s okay to ask for help or reach out to others when one is feeling down. You aren’t alone, and there are people there to support you.
Ending “Ok!” with one last chorus, Gaines backs up his lyrics with a stripped-down soundtrack. The lyrics are backed by a quiet strumming. The quiet minimalistic instruments emphasized and highlighted what Gaines was saying. Additionally, it evoked a sadder, lonelier emotion from the rest of the song as it was missing the more upbeat drums and electronic soundtrack.
“Ok!” is perfect for any road trip playlist and fans of Lucy Dacus, Del Water Gap, The Killers, and Briston Maroney. It’s a song whose lyrics and beats get stuck in your head and all you want to do is sing.
Reed Gaines is from Nashville, Tennessee, and began releasing music in 2020 with two singles and two EPs. Following four singles in 2021, Gaines is releasing his first single of the new year. Gaines focuses on pop, synth-based indie music, and indie rock as he creates music that’s “quiet, understated lo-fi rock, mixing the subdued synth sounds of the 80's and the lyrical vulnerability of current-day indie.” He is influenced by artists such as The National, Phoebe Bridgers, Del Water Gap, and Andy Shauf.
Written by Anne Friedman