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“to be alone” – hü | Review

There’s a modern sound of Los Angeles, and hü is channeling it in his latest single. It’s a drive down Ventura Boulevard with the roof off and sunglasses on. It’s a carefree summer day under bright lights and palm trees. Like the soundtrack to a critically-cherished coming-of-age dramedy, “to be alone” is as visually-inspiring as it is aurally.

Its sound is a nod to 80s electro-pop with percussive, synthetic bass and a sharp, hard-hitting beat. Despite its retro feel, hü has created something that still feels fresh and captivating. It’s an exciting, genre-bending movement we’re seeing from this part of the country. L.A. based up-and-comer girlfriend is another artist cultivating this sound and trying to bring it to the mainstream. It’s cool in the same way that Ryan Gosling as The Driver is cool.

hü lets the listener make the song their own. The vocals blend into the music in a way that makes their message more about a feeling than the lyrics themselves. They’re skillfully layered and muzzy—a testament to hü’s abilities as a producer. The vocals are performed in a style that calls to mind M83: the project of contemporary electronic artist and fellow Angelino Anthony Gonzalez. The intent of “to be alone” is all about what you (the listener) hears. The performance allows you to identify with its sound in your own way.

Listen to the words, though, and hear about a situation you may relate with: being with someone who doesn’t bring out the best in you. It’s about feeling more alone despite being with someone than you would if you were all by yourself. The subject matter adds to the song’s honesty. It feels like a real piece of the artist. You can feel the passion in the production—see him vibing behind the glow of his computer screen—working in his DAW late into the night—finding the perfect snare sound and sample.

Fresh off his debut EP, Boomerang, hü is closing out 2020 with a grand slam. His breakout year gave audiences six self-produced, alt-pop tracks to sink their teeth into. Although based in L.A. now, he’s a native of Boston. As a fellow New-Englander myself, a peek through his eyes out into the sunny streets of L.A. is an escape amidst news this week of winter storm warnings, heavy snowfall, and frigid temperatures.

The juxtaposition of somber lyrics over lively music makes “to be alone” a dark pop victory. Its sound lets the audience withdraw from the present and time-travel back to everyone’s favorite decade. hü’s newest masterpiece is nothing short of a harbinger signaling more great music to come in 2021.

Written by Matt Kalicky

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