Single Review: ‘NEW COKE’ by HEALTH

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Image courtesy of Health Official Management.

“Life is good” is the lyrical proclamation that leads this song into a chorus of synth drums and choral electronica, leaving the listener breathless. HEALTH’s new single ‘NEW COKE’ is a gritty, visceral pop track that puts Kanye West’s attempt of hardened melody with ‘Black Skinhead’ in its place.

The song ebbs and flows, beginning with a frenetic bass beat that bounces around the soft echoes of vocals and synthesisers before a preliminary drop leading us to the pre-chorus verse. We then retreat back to that same, unstoppable bass beat with the ghostly traces of melody with a dash of extra percussion, before… it stops.

It simply fades away.

And then it bursts back into existence: shocking; huge; foundation-shaking, the song evolves into a beast of musical guerrilla warfare. The proceeding “BWAAH” rumbles from your speakers with gravelly magnitude, grinding to a sudden halt as the song fades away once more-

-only to burst back into the fray, vocals in full flow, HEALTH as a band finally unveiling itself as a tangible unit of musical excellence. They charge their way onwards together: writhing percussion amidst a sea of pulsating, synthetic reflection shaken into a thunderous cacophony by the monstrous bass line.

The intensity builds and dies and builds again, bracing itself for a drop of epic finality, before it simply falls away into nothingness. The ending is arguably anti-climactic – a sign that, after such a promising run, HEALTH didn’t really know where they were going with ‘NEW COKE’ – yet leaves the listener wanting more and feeling rather weary by the experience they have just had.

In my opinion, the song is addiction as a concept formulated by sound: it is an intense development that builds and ebbs and continues on in its vicious cycle. This interpretation would justify the naming of the song, as clearly ‘NEW COKE’ has connotations alluding to recreational substances and their intoxicating properties.

What HEALTH have created here is a hugely intimidating sound. As a listener, I wasn’t always comfortable with the experience it provided, but I was nonetheless hooked from the first drop. The compositional elements of the piece are effective and therefore sound, so critically there isn’t much to say about the song. It does – I think – what it sets out to do.

However, for the casual listener looking for an easy vibe and relaxing tones, ‘NEW COKE’ is not the song for them. My short review for this piece would be intensely unrelenting, and obviously it is down to you, dear reader, whether that is an appealing proposition for your listening pleasure.

Nevertheless: for this reviewer, HEALTH’s ‘NEW COKE’ was a new experience I will be revisiting in the future. It is an excellent addition to my iTunes playlist.

7/10

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