Given the last ten days we’ve all had, we could all probably use a little more positivity in our lives.
No, not that an impending pandemic or a world on the verge of collapse can be fixed with a snappy pop song or a few quippy lines, but every now and then, it’s nice to be distracted from the madness, if even for a little bit.
Hailing from Kentucky, Ian Johnson (better known by his stage name Arrested Youth) performs a blend of alternative and hip-hop music that isn’t exactly unique anymore. Certainly it was pretty revolutionary at some point, especially back in the days of Twenty One Pilots‘ Vessel, but these days it feels like every young male artist is doing some variation of it, and for the most part, “Brightside” isn’t exactly a standout track. It’s easy to write this song off quickly as a Twenty One Pilots rip-off, with the jangly ukulele and rapid-fire sing-talking about mental health. But with that said, there’s something about it that’s interesting, and that’s the chorus.
Arrested Youth could make a very compelling alternative artist if he wanted to. The choruses of this song are polished and well put together — reminiscent of Blink-182 during their Neighborhoods days. Distorted guitars and pounding drums work well with his voice, and in general, the alternative-rock scene has been a little dry, especially in the way of radio-friendly singles and new artists. While most rock fans are still hanging on to whatever scraps of content their old favorite bands are giving out, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of fresh blood — and Arrested Youth shows shimmers of a sound that could be very interesting, if developed correctly.
Unfortunately, this current single tries too hard to marry too many things together and ends up being confusing when it isn’t boring. The jangly Twenty One Pilots-inspired verses just don’t mesh with the heavier choruses, and the transitions between the two are more than jarring. Genuinely, it sounds like “Brightside” wants to be two different songs.
Of course, Arrested Youth is still, well, young, and he has a long way to go. There’s a lot of potential in his work, and hopefully in time, he’ll find his own voice and a little bit of direction. He could be really big.
Featured Image: Lowly