Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

Luke Hemmings – Starting Line

Reluctantly crouched in his solo debut…


[Video]
[5.12]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: This shattered all expectations that I had of a song by the former frontman of 5 Seconds Of Summer. “Starting Line” most obviously borrows from Harry Styles’ post-boy-band, soft-pop rockstar drag, but at moments it invokes the romanticism of vintage Coldplay, the Peter Pan syndrome of Fall Out Boy, and the cinematic lustre of M83. “I’m missing all these memories/Maybe they were never mine,” Luke Hemmings croons. The sound of youth discovering its own mortality never ceases to sound thrilling and pure. 
[7]

Tobi Tella: I think the context actually helps this one: discovering the secret that you can release solo music without breaking up the band and sending the 14-year-olds against you. I can buy that a member of everyone’s second-favorite mid-2010s boy band would feel this way, and this framing makes feeling better an immediate life-or-death issue. But as a whole, this is too schlocky. Maybe it’s his overwrought performance, or the strange Mario jumps he’s doing in the music video, but there’s something on the page that the music doesn’t live up to.
[5]

Harlan Talib Ockey: What if Pink Floyd’s “Time” was an insurance commercial?
[3]

Nortey Dowuona: Luke’s sickly pastel voice crackles between the synths and soft, pliant piano. Then the tumbling bass and rushing drums come to a halt in the eye of the storm. The strings smother the light, and Luke chases the sunlight amid neatly tucked guitars, anguish shaken from his voice. His legs pump with the drums, and he is freed, speeding into the sun, blind and excited, speeding past the sunspots, the solar flares, and the core, and into the —
[8]

Ian Mathers: It’s weird that this kind of has the structure (if not necessarily all the sonics) of an early Bloc Party song, right? But that kind of throws what’s unimpressive here into sharper relief: Kele Okereke is a distinctive and powerful vocalist, whereas you could sub Hemmings out for what feels like a dozen or two other current singers and not really notice. That’s not a fatal flaw — the well-worn structure is the focus — but it does mean that “Starting Line” falls into the bucket of songs I wouldn’t hit the skip button on but would never seek out.
[5]

Katherine St Asaph: The surging finale is much better than the lilting ballad before it, which flaunts its obvious melodic template like the least secret of chords. But in its defense, it gave me a beautiful revelation: “She looks so perfect standing there in her American Apparel underwear” fits the meter of “Hallelujah.”
[5]

Mark Sinker: Some of the backdrop ornament and riffage is pretty enough, but once you hear Hemmings’ big noisy snatched intake of breath — for example just after a minute in — you dread the chesty bellow that’s about to follow, and then you can’t stop hearing the same snatch over and over as the volume rises.
[4]

Oliver Maier: All of this bombast in service of what? Melodies that slide off the brain on contact, another nice boy to take you to the same firework show you see every year. Towering and absolutely pointless.
[4]

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