Thursday, December 08, 2022

mUmbo release new single showcasing strong vocals and earworm-worthy guitars

Some artists like to play around and defy the boundaries of genre, experimenting with instrumental arrangements and vocals alike to produce something immediately recognisable, with a voice that can add as a perfect introduction and catch the attention of new listeners immediately. 

This is precisely what mUmbo – the moniker adopted by a collaboration between UK artists Emma Semple and Doug MacGowan – are doing with their latest single release, ‘Rollin’ Over’. The track is a surprising experimentation, sounding like pretty much nothing else is currently, in the chart and beyond. 

The general feeling is energetic and bright, a much welcome mood-booster for the cold season; but it is truly the uniqueness of the sound that jumps out. 

This is conveyed first and foremost by the vocals; it is always a pleasant surprise to find a vocalist with such a unique, recognisable timbre, and mUmbo use this asset to the greatest possible advantage, building the track around the voice, leaving it ample room to shine and become the true protagonist of its sound.

That is not to say that this single doesn’t have plenty of interesting instrumental arrangements. Repetition is another tool used to great effect here: particularly when it comes to the leading guitar riff, a dominant element that provides almost a red thread binding the whole track together. The interplay between the unexpected harmonies of the vocals, the regular scanning of time provided by the guitar, and the steady tapping of the drums is one of the most clever pieces of music writing here; it is this interplay, most of all, that elevates the track well above being yet another easy-listenable indie rock piece, into something much more artful and complex. The classic rock and even Britpop roots are still recognisable, but the finesse of the guitar playing has something to it that dips its roots into a more folk feeling, and there is a hint of blues in the way that the vocals interact with the instrumentals.

There is, most certainly, an easy mood with ‘Rollin’ Over’ that works well, thematically, with the generally uplifting atmosphere the track is working on conveying; those who are frequent visitors to the more experimental corners of the contemporary indie scene might have recollections of the types of sound explored by artists such as, for instance, Prima Queen. When one is faced with a sound that leverages so strongly its most unique assets and features, however, striking a comparison proves hard, and it is this one-of-a-kind nature, most of all, that makes mUmbo’s work stand out. An excellent combination of artistry and listenability, this track is a testimony to a very high level of craftsmanship and an ability to explore the unexpected.

Chiara Strazzulla


Image: Rollin’ Over’ Official Single Cover

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