Neon Dreams are a power duo that critics on the international level can’t seem to get enough of at the moment, and while I hadn’t been listening to their work ahead of hearing their new collaboration with the talented Mthandazo Gatya, I can say now that I understand why they’ve been stirring up as much hype on both sides of the Atlantic as they have. Right from the moment the first verse joins forces with the melodic substance of the string play behind it, you know you’re in for something special in the new single “Say It Out Loud,” which I’m deeming one of the best collaborations to come out of Neon Dreams’ scene all year long.
Mthandazo Gatya brings a lot to the table as a singer, and he really shines like a diamond in the relaxed performance he offers up in “Say It Out Loud.” Though he’s consistent with the pace of the strings and the percussion, he sounds more than twice as calm in comparison to any other moving part in the song. He’s got a swagger that lends a lot to the harmony, and without having to be particularly virtuosic with the mic he still sounds deeply poetic and groove-oriented in his delivery.
There’s a U2-style, atmospheric element to the construction of the hook in this track that really took me aback the first time I sat down with it this week, but never does it sound like the percussion is dragging behind the other instruments as they form a cloud-like cushion around our singer. Conflict is a key component of the fireworks in “Say It Out Loud,” but it’s worked into the fabric of who these performers are so well that it never sounds conflicting with any conventionalities in modern pop music.
“Say It Out Loud” is an amazing listen from top to bottom, and if you’re not already a fan of Neon Dreams or Mthandazo Gatya coming into your first listening session, I think it’s nearly three minutes of pure passion in stereo will make you one on the spot. Thanks to the advent of social media and technology in general, the limiting nature of scenes as we once knew them is completely nonexistent anymore, and the potential for players like this to make a big mark on American audiences is high all things considered. Neon Dreams are ready for that next level, and they picked the right partner to make their ascent here.