Music

Hustle and Drone Take Pop in a Dark Direction Via "Stranger" (premiere)

Photo: Natasha Fagan / Clarion Call Media

Former Portugal. The Man keyboardist's synthpop band Hustle and Drone look back to the surgical pop of the 1980s to bring the music of the teens one step forward.

Hustle and Drone, featuring former Portugal. The Man keyboardist Ryan Neighbors, will issue their new album, What an Uproar, this October. "Stranger", the new single from the collective, gives us a taste of what's to come.

With crystal-clear lyrics, an infectious chorus and production that recalls the Top 40 glory of Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby, and others of their kind, "Stranger" brings together progressive music with pop in a way that's insulting neither to the heart nor the intellect. We should be more than lucky to have Hustle and Drone around for years to come, making these sophisticated and alluring sounds.

"This song is the product if toying around with and reversing some mellotron sounds and loops," Neighbors says. "The big influence on the drums was going for an 1980s Phil Collins vibe. The lyrical content eludes to filling your voids with so much noise and busyness. Avoiding the issues that are painful for you until you eventually start to become somebody else. It gets you to a place that you no longer recognize who you are anymore. You're more or less sharing your body and headspace with this other personality that is starting to take over."

Neighbors established a writer partnership with Andy Black and ultimately accumulated more than 25 songs in a two-year period. The pair brought producer Sonny DiPerri (Animal Collective, the Drums, My Bloody Valentine), who'd previously worked on the release Holyland, back to the fold. DiPerri encouraged the team to expand their palette and work with new samples, new software and a fresh perspective. The result is What an Uproar, which promises to be a bold new step in Hustle and Drone's ongoing evolution.

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