The most controversial we’ll ever get about EDM…
Iain Mew: Dubstep breakdowns: it turns out you can still do other things with them! This one’s fused seamlessly with a candy synth breakdown to create a stuttering pleasure ride into a sweet future. Which is just where the rest of “Strangers” goes too, in a more casual way. If Tove Lo’s presence rose above anonymous, it would be an incredible track.
Alfred Soto: Not a single interesting EDM trope despite the polysyllabic credits.
Maxwell Cavaseno: *hears dull rehashes marching towards me on that same EDM surge* STRANGER DANGER! STRANGER DANGER!
David Sheffieck: Tove Lo sounds utterly overwhelmed here, the distinctive perspective of her voice quickly subsumed beneath overdriven production and a drop that sounded exciting back when Skrillex was first mashing up pop and dubstep. If there was a hook — vocal or otherwise — the song might be salvageable, but it can’t decide how to treat Lo’s voice, and settles for seemingly endless repetition of a dull synth line instead.
Thomas Inskeep: Boilerplate EDM of the dullest build/drop/build/drop kind, complete with an empty female vocal courtesy of Tove Lo. There’s nothing to recommend this.
Crystal Leww: “Habits” had Tove Lo sounding like muted misery, but being fucked up to keep someone off your mind always ends up sounding like a better idea than it is. Musically, this is true, too; the production of “Habits” was always too cool to convey that sense of misery. “Strangers” is the embrace of that misery, the opposite of cool, the big and dumb and loud way of saying “I’m still in love with you.” Seven Lions and Myon & Shane 54 have gone for big, adding in not just dubstep drops but big stomping house sections to match her pleading. Subtlety is overrated anyway. I don’t know when I will stop feeling young and start feeling old but today is not that day.
Will Adams: Dance lyrics often get ignored and left by the wayside, either for being too dramatic, a product of poor translation, or perfunctory filler amidst the pounding beats. But on “Strangers,” the words matter, outlining the almost surreal relationships that can form in the heat of the moment. Nothing more than strangers, sung over the song’s quietest moment, becomes you’re the universe to me as the synths begin to swirl. Then, Seven Lions’ heaving dubstep barges in, severing Tove Lo’s voice into gasps for air, until Myon & Shane 54 bring in the trance, lifting the song into the stratosphere. By this point, the narrative is complete, and the once-strangers have ascended to a single entity. The music and lyrics go hand in hand, making “Strangers” several cuts above your average club track.
Josh Winters: At its best, EDM love songs illustrate the overwhelming immensity of feeling, blowing up the kind of newfound passion one first experiences in their youth to cosmic proportions. Tove Lo doesn’t sing “you” so much as whistle the word to grab the attention of someone from afar, her voice speckled with equal parts sweetness and sorrow. It’s only when she begins to yell that she harnesses the true power of her emotions, as if she were starting to reach Super Saiyan form. And like that transformation, the drops feel like nothing but explosive catharsis: earth-shattering in its scope and electrifying in its force.
Katherine St Asaph: Seven lambs. Actually, no, not that many.