Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Tom Walker – Leave a Light On

That’s wasting electricity, Tom…


Alfred Soto: Because if she doesn’t leave the light on, Tom will yell some more.

Austin Brown: The Imagine Dragons template (or did nu-Fall Out Boy start it?) of applying the post-chorus pop drop to walloping blown-out drums has trickled downwards, I see. Walker doesn’t seem to get, though, that the trick with “Thunder,” “Believer” or “Centuries” was, melodic annoyance aside, to carry the rhythm through the song and drag you along kicking and screaming. When you instead shoehorn the rock-drop (that’s what I’m calling it, shut up) in between piano-driven….. (someone help me here — Sheeran isn’t quite right, but I don’t know who does the Scottish affectation thing a lot. It’s not that he reminds me of Frightened Rabbit, is it?), it not only jars aesthetically, it fails as pop machinery. In terms of trend synthesis, it’s possible this will be the “Sound of 2018” — it brings together the hi-fi Brit singer-songwriter and the cathartic stadium pop-rock sound together serviceably. But it’s a synthesis that makes Walker’s no doubt benevolently intended “my friend is on drugs” song feel overconfident, even condescending, in its presumption of holding salvation.

Crystal Leww: Honestly how many ways can the U.K. redo Alex Clare…

Scott Mildenhall: An unfortunate misremembering of Alex Clare that will probably be bigger (or bigger first) in Germany than in the UK. That was the way with Rag’n’Bone Man, and he seems like a possible blueprint for this, excepting one thing: why would you pair everything else about the song — almost a parody of Tom Grennan-style Serious Music — with such comically flubberish dropnoises? It’s as if they were sent to undermine him. Perhaps they should add it to more of these kind of songs.

Iain Mew: The latest British melding of grizzled rock bloke vocals and electronic drop is a victory for a different Walker, since the only distinctive element is that the drop takes after Alan‘s treacle trance rather than something less sleek.

Julian Axelrod: I don’t have the full backstory on this song, but I’m pretty sure someone in the studio said “Zeds Dead Sheeran” and Tom Walker made it into song instead of tweeting it.

Joshua Copperman: I didn’t fully understand Craig Jenkins’s article about pop music’s regression toward the mean in the 2010s (isn’t the whole point of pop to be accessible to everyone?) until I heard this song. “Leave a Light On” splices in a bad Hozier impression, then some triplets that Imagine Dragons got to first, then what people who hate Bastille think Bastille sound like, then some trap skitters, then it repeats. Only the distorted pre-chorus reprise at the end registers, while the piano afterwards just makes things worse. In a Scooby Doo-esque twist, the producer of this “gritty” song is Steve Mac, co-writer of “Shape Of You” and “What Makes You Beautiful,” and suddenly Jenkins’s thesis makes sense. He nails this song without even hearing it; “Why give time to prim midtempo love songs that cynically call up tasteful hip-hop beats for momentary tension release when real street rap is delivering on hooks, style and attitude?” 

Maxwell Cavaseno: We spent enough time talking about a non-entity such as the millennial whoop, so can we talk about another weird trend of the late part of the decade in pop? I’m talking about the white dude howl. You can see it right here in “Leave a Light On,” where Tom Walker slurs in a pinched feathery affect in his verses but then makes sure you know he’s got some “real soul, man” by hollering with all his heart to prepare you for the big stomp of earnestness that comes from having nothing to say. It’s a gaudy record we’ve heard a dozen times before, the most skeleton crew elements of Rag’n Bone Man, Mumford & Sons, Imagine Ambassadors (wait, shit, two different bands there), and a bunch of other guys I can’t be bothered to remember because 89% of them are going to go out with the VH1 bathwater by 2020, and thank goodness. The offensive quality of a dude like Tom Walker isn’t even the painfully patronizing cynicism of making the same song as everyone else, he doesn’t have a choice with as little talent and as few thoughts in his head as he does! It’s the fact that someone thinks he deserves this momentary success just because he can raise his voice a decibel or two.

Stephen Eisermann: Heavy-handed, sure, but the production on the chorus plays so well with Walker’s husky, rugged voice that I can’t help but submit. This is a song you sit down and ugly cry along to when you think of that person, that friend, that family member, or hell, even yourself, and how far you’ve come in fighting off the darkness. Scream along with Walker, I promise it’s cathartic.

Katherine St Asaph: Despite producing maybe five things last year, only a few of which were hits, Jack Antonoff really does have outsize influence on everything. I mean, listen! He’s completely changed AWOLNATION!

Reader average: No votes yet!

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

Leave a Reply