There's something to be said for political agency in art. The best art often reflects the political and cultural climate of its time, and there is no shortage of political fodder from which artists can create today. EARMILK has your first listen of Adrian Underhill's "Cruel", a refreshing song that recognizes its political agency. As I sit here writing this, the rest of the world is expressing their outrage at the President of the United States for defending literal Nazis and white nationalists on national television. And as I flip back and forth between Twitter, the news, and this single, as I'm filled with outrage, sadness, and unfortunately a big lack of surprise, I find there is some cosmic symmetry in reviewing "Cruel" at this moment.
"Cruel" is lyrically about love and understanding, something the world needs more of. Underhill writes of the song:
This song means a lot to me. It comes from a place of honestly trying to listen and hear other people’s experience of the world – particularly those who’s voices are often silenced and shut down. I think those are the voices we need to be listening to and raising up right now.
Musically, and on a more pleasing note, the song contains a punchy bass line and layers electronic samples over real instruments. It's an odd, fast-paced dream with licks that just won't quit. "Cruel" is R&B infused indie, and Underhill's hungover vocal provides a nice tension when paired with the upbeat pluckiness of his guitar. The song closes with a gorgeous little bass solo, and the drums don't stop until after the fade-out. "Cruel" keeps pushing you forward even when you'd rather sit back, and is a much needed message of unity especially in the current climate.