Giving us a few good shots between beats would have been one thing, but the guitars in the new single “Tense” from Dark Below have an even greater part to play in this single. Instead of putting some texture on what is already a physical element of this song, the riffing is giving us everything we can handle right from the start in “Tense,” with the guitar and the vocal tethered together in what feels like the ultimate show of cohesiveness and strength.
The mix is conducive to the different whims our singer wants to take these lyrics on, but the swing of the drums is always hanging over the track, like a rigid arrangement one might expect to hear out of a non-pop single. The melodic componentry is creating a powerful balance in this song, and yet there’s really not a single moment in which it seems like Dark Below is built on an even plane; they’re putting in too much work on the depth of this track to avoid a little angst, all of which can be translated alongside the actual lyrics in this release.
Emotion is at the foundation of everything in “Tense,” whether it be a vocal part or just the way the harmonies are taking control of the narrative long before a proper story has been told at the microphone, but there’s no mistaking what Dark Below is for something that is outright a part of the emo genre in pop/rock. The lyrics aren’t far-reaching enough for this song to qualify, and I would even go so far as to say that the perspective of our protagonist in this quest fails to match up with the ultra-self-aware position you’re going to get out of a flimsier brand of pop music. There’s some pressure coming off of the bassline here, but it makes “Tense” more danceable than anything else, which isn’t something that a lot of other bands probably would have done with this same song (truth be told, it’s quite the opposite indeed).
Rock music is still very much alive, despite what a lot of people might be telling you on either side of the dial right now, and although they’re not broaching it with the same kind of aesthetics that their closest rivals are, that’s one of the many positive elements that I enjoy about Dark Below. “Tense” is a single that gives us a good idea as to what kind of an identity they want to cultivate beyond what’s expected out of them and their brand, and if there’s anything they needed to do at this point in the game, it was this.
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They aren’t letting the surreal indulgences that a lot of rockers are leaning on getting in their way, but rather taking their own interest in cerebral pop music outside of what is quickly becoming the norm in this genre. Dark Below has some room to get even tighter, and they’re already sounding like quite a top-notch unit in this release.