R&B groups ruled supreme in the 1980s and 1990s, but it’s been some time since the exhibited the same success – and caliber of talent – on this front as it once did. That being said, Final Draft aren’t letting anything stop them from reviving a classic format within the R&B lexicon via their new single “Started,” the latest in a string of releases to bring the trio’s sound to the attention of critics like myself. In the seductive “Started,” Final Draft cut out the middleman and deliver melodies free of unnecessary filler, ultimately producing a sound as dependent on the fundamentals of efficiency as it is the talent of the players.
Instrumentally, this is one of the simpler tracks I’ve reviewed in a minute, with the vocals acting as the main element of complexity. Evocative tonal expressions come from the bassline, but the synthetics tying low-end components together with the verses at the forefront of the mix are mostly conservative in style, thus allowing for the melodicism to sound wholly organic. Final Draft are a vocal group, and instead of thinking about their music through the lens of the audience they’re selling to, they’re composing from a place of comradery that awards unforced chemistry over cosmetic assimilation.
The mix here is tightly focused on the thrust of the bass parts more than it is the rhythm of the percussion, but this doesn’t lead to the backend of the track sounding tinny or devoid of genuine sonic weight. On the contrary, I think it creates some distinction in the grander scheme of things that wouldn’t have existed in “Started” otherwise; despite the calculated feel of the production design, it would still seem as though the vocals were the one element constantly being preserved as a purely raw entity (with spectacular results, I might add).
This single features an underlying groove I would describe as mild in general, and it’s only because of its limited presence in the big picture that the harmonies are able to sport the kind of sex appeal they do. If the rhythm were more aggressive, there wouldn’t be a tenderness to the melodic faceting in this song that, in my opinion, makes it the instant hit it is this autumn. Final Draft aren’t taking the minimalist route, but they’re absolutely determined to reject the mundanely excessive plasticity of their peers both in and outside of the American underground at the moment.
Fans of modern R&B should expect to be blown away by the magic Final Draft have in their new single “Started” and its music video this November, and although it’s but one of a collection of songs in their discography that I would recommend spinning before 2020 is over, it’s become a personal favorite of mine lately. This is solid songwriting with a likeable, easily-accessible performance from singers who aren’t hung up on the trends filling up the charts at the moment. They’re in this for the music, and that’s very clear when listening to “Started.”