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Single Review: The Rocket Summer – “M4U”

The Rocket Summer has released a string of albums that, all puffery aside, blaze a singular trail through the modern musical landscape. No one else produces the sort of music Bryce Avary does on a regular basis. The multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and all-around one-man creative dynamo has garnered considerable critical acclaim as an inexhaustible imaginative force free to pursue his Muse wherever she beckons.

She continues beckoning him down rewarding byways. The latest avenue of his artistic pursuits is the album Shadowkasters and its lynchpin track “M4U” is a worthy single certain to captivate new and long-standing fans alike. Little prepares us for the bewitching way Avary mingles traditional instrumentation in fresh ways, putting acoustic guitar to use as if he’s crafting some sort of alternative hip-hop gem, and employing percussion with such a bright step that it carries us away with its energetic hop.

It builds through accumulation. Avary doesn’t lay out all of his musical cards at once but, instead, piles one element upon another until the song reveals its full tapestry. Its effects are not immediate. Listeners aren’t bearing witness to the song at its fullest stride until its conclusion and it ends sounding almost exhausted. Passion sparks from every passage, however, even from the outset, and it’s crucial to the track.


Avary has penned a fevered love song. It’s love that consumes, there’s nothing half-hearted and leaves its mark on every aspect of the artist’s life. He is nothing without it. It even leaves him in pain, pointed out in its lyrics. “everything inside my body screams/inside my mind is reeling”. This is no mere infatuation. It’s love as intrinsic as breathing for the singer.

His vocal delivery borders on the unhinged. It’s a highly artful performance, however, as attentive listeners will note how he tailors his singing to the song’s arrangement. There’s nothing haphazard about this. The production provides the best possible frame for experiencing the track as a clear and warm snap distinguishes the assortment of instruments powering the cut. Nothing sounds disjointed or obscured.

Avary’s ability to orchestrate this handful of disparate musical elements into a coherent whole is a rare gift. It’s a skill that’s on full display with each new Rocket Summer release dating back to Avary’s debut and he’s grown as a songwriter, producer, and composer with each new outing. “M4U” promises that Shadowkasters will outstrip even Rocket Summer’s remarkable predecessors. He breaks new ground with each new collection.

The song’s video reinforces the track’s power. It’s an eye-popping collage of compelling imagery filtered through a dizzying array of jump cuts. He times the performance aspects of the video with the music in a spot-on fashion. Some music videos are afterthoughts and it shows, tossed aside in a half-realized attempt to promote the release. Avary, however, clearly envisions the video for “M4U” as part of the listening experience, an indispensable companion piece, and few viewers will disagree. Ready yourself for a wild ride when you play this song, but rest assured that you won’t regret a single second of the journey.

About Michael Stover

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