Earlier this week, Louis Tomlinson released a Spotify playlist of influences for his newest single, “Kill My Mind.” While sometimes artists’ influences can seem tenuous at best, on a first listen of the new song, audiences can immediately chart the clear progression from The Killers, The Smiths and Catfish and the Bottlemen.
The song opens on a familiar pop punk motif: a sudden start that slowly builds. Although Tomlinson begins singing from the first note, it isn’t until the pre-chorus that the song truly develops. Similarly, his voice feels new and unfamiliar in this early verse, and it isn’t until the key change that his signature British twang appears. After a few listens, it’s clear this new sound is an effort to capture the style, cadence and tone of earlier pop-punk artists.
Following the slow build in the early stages, the song explodes at the chorus. It’s an upbeat and catchy refrain, something you’re ready to sing along to before the first iteration has even ended. Even better, the slow pace of the lyrics, mixed with the quicker tempo of the backing track creates a thrilling sonic dichotomy.
The song truly shines on its bridge though, when the beat slows and Tomlinson repeats part of the hook over a steadily building track. Here, the track incorporates a vaguely Western vibe, like it’s the type of music that would overlay a standoff in a film. But even with this dramatic shift, the song’s genre doesn’t seem to change, and the sound is still cohesive and compelling.
Although it marks a departure from his earlier solo work—besides perhaps 2017’s “Miss You“—Tomlinson believes “Kill My Mind” fits more closely with his personal sound, and admits, “I was recording music that I thought would get me on the radio.”
Indeed, even without Tomlinson pointing to his influences, it’s clear from his unique sound that he was impacted not only by idols like Oasis and The Rolling Stones but also previously successful pop-punk bands like All Time Low and the All-American Rejects. This 90s-inspired, 00s-bred ballad is simply updated for 2019, and will hopefully fit into the current musical canon.
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