Reviewed by Vaibhav Thomas & Staff
In the words of the great Ennio Morricone, pop music is often "standardized and made to please the largest audience possible." The latter part of this statement is a major reason why pop music can be so polarizing. However, with the right mood, arrangement, and a lyrical theme capable of establishing an emotional connection with the listener (a quality that seems to be diminishing in our era), a well-written pop song can pluck at one's heartstrings while boosting energy levels. This is the essence of Atlanta-based singer-songwriter Katie Belle's newest track, titled 'Symptoms', which mercifully avoids mawkish banalities.
Written in the key of C# minor, 'Symptoms' is a mischievously lively midtempo pop number. It features a disco-themed bassline and a well-mixed kick running in parallel, set over a four-chord progression. The lyrics revolve around the theme of love at first sight and the subsequent emotions, giving rise to the title. The lyrics are incredibly relatable and fun, without becoming overly sentimental or ponderous. They are delivered with a no-nonsense precision that Belle excels at. For instance, lines like 'Cold sweats, tight chest, my head’s a mess, you give the best when nothing has' (which coincidentally appear on the artwork) are sung using a partial section of the C# minor scale in the same octave. This guarantees an energetically playful and relatable vibe. The arrangement perfectly complements these qualities. The tone is set from the outset with syncopated pluckings from the electric guitar, providing a mischievously joyful backdrop to a performance that draws its soul from the songwriter's vocals. Belle's vocals strike a balance between breathy enigma and sparkling resolve.
The creative decision to compose the topline using only six notes within a single octave of the C# minor scale is a masterstroke, aligning well with the lyrical theme. Belle's vocals, brimming with dynamics on the softer side of the volume spectrum, reinforce the emotional nuances of the lyrics. The bassline plays a crucial role in maintaining the spirited dynamic of the song, with its octave-jump bassline over the aforementioned four-chord progression. It's skillfully supplemented by ambient and plucky synth textures. The absence of a lyrical bridge further emphasizes the no-nonsense approach in addressing the theme of love at first sight. Credit is due to the sparkling mix engineering, crafting a mix where each element has its own space to shine, in a nearly anthemic manner. This effect is further accentuated by the vocalist's counterpoint vocalizing towards the latter part of the song.
With a runtime of three minutes and six seconds, 'Symptoms' makes a zestful contribution to the pop genre. It serves as a more-than-worthy example of how to make pop music feel personal and appealing to the masses. Katie Belle has truly showcased her artistry with this exceptionally crafted, jauntily mesmerizing track that will entice listeners for more.
About Katie Belle Hailing from Georgia, USA, the gifted pop sensation Katie Belle has undeniably arrived into her own with her most recent drop, "Symptoms," unveiled to the world on July 25th, 2023. Boasting over 9 years of honing her songwriting craft and a trove of Independent music awards, Katie Belle's artistic odyssey has unmistakably resulted in this remarkable songwriting acheivement.
For more about Katie Belle and her musical journey, visit her official website: https://www.officialkatiebelle.com.