American pop music has been experiencing a bit of an identity crisis in the last five years, with artists in both the underground and the mainstream experimenting with futuristic sounds, styles, tonalities and textures, but few musicians have been staying as consistent in their output as singer/songwriter TJ Doyle has. Doyle’s new single, the melodic “Lullaby,” is a product of the old school fundamentals of pop music, and while it doesn’t necessarily break the mold in terms of inventiveness, it’s unquestionably among the most sensuously accessible indie tracks to see release this summer.
“Lullaby” has a slick pop stylization, but the vibe of the music is really earthy and uncorrupted by the robotic reverberations of artificiality. The guitars have a classic rock feel, as does the vocal, but the rhythm of the song is a little harder to categorize by traditional genre standards. There’s an almost jazzy sway to the percussion, which contrasts with the slow grind of the bassline just significantly enough to make the ascent in the chorus rather tense. The underlying angst in Doyle’s voice never finds a complete release; instead, we listen to his words through this introspective filtration, further allowing us to feel like we’re seeing things from his perspective.
I would have adjusted the EQ on the string parts to make them pop a little more than they do in this instance, but I can understand why Doyle wanted to keep them situated in the backdrop as opposed to the forefront of the track. This is an impressively multilayered mix, and while I can’t be certain how long it took to construct it to perfection, it would definitely appear as though it was painstakingly arranged as to give every element in the instrumental fabric of “Lullaby” a fair share of the spotlight. The guitars are the bedrock beneath these beats, and from Doyle’s point of view, they serve to extend the narrative in his lyrics as opposed to producing their own.
He’s not a household name, but TJ Doyle is acting like a legit superstar in this searing new single. “Lullaby” bears a surreal bend that makes it unlike any other material that I’ve heard from this artist since he first arrived on the scene over ten years ago, and I think that if he explores the depth of that surrealism in his follow-up to this single, he could find even more success than he has in the past. This is one of his best vocal performances so far, and a definite hit for pop and folk fans alike this summer.