In their latest single, titled “Baby Girl,” Ashes & Arrows shine as a band capable of staying focused on a singular theme while directly highlighting specific elements in their sound that some might not have noticed in the first couple of singles from their debut EP. Ashes & Arrows’ harmonies in this song are immediately evocative and strong enough to shape the rhythm of the track as well as the melodic direction of the music. The instrumentation, the vocals, and even the production style itself are used to generate an authentic moodiness in this release, and though I wish I could say the same for the bulk of mainstream content I’ve heard lately, the truth is that this is quite the gem of a release.
From a lyrical point of view, “Baby Girl” is a provocative song that could be interpreted through a couple of different lenses, but I look at it from a balladic perspective more than I do any other. The tone of the lead vocal here is what inevitably puts a stamp on the emotions in every verse, and I don’t know that the narrative would feel the same if they had presented it in front of a heavier, more rock-influenced format than this one is. This band does not seem interested in making one of their peers’ singles here, and that’s obvious even in a casual listening session.
There’s not as much bass in this mix as others might have introduced beside the vocal, but I don’t see where there would have been any room for additional low-end textures given how much space is already committed to the singer and his balance with the beat. Ashes & Arrows need to control the lion’s share of the focus in this track around the lyricism not to promote a self-centered image of our vocalist but to instead show us how fragile they can remain while straddling an otherwise blunt rhythm.
The drums lag behind the melodic elements in a couple of spots here, and as strange as it might sound on paper, I think this too was a necessary component of making “Baby Girl” distinctive and a little artsier than the other songs in Ashes & Arrows’ new extended play. When you have the talent to get as experimental as they did with the concept in this release, going for it is a good way to get critics excited about the possibilities an album might have in store.
Definitely harmony-laden and outside-the-box in all the right ways, “Baby Girl” has made me a fan of Ashes & Arrows – and I can understand why they’re been attracting the level of buzz they have been this year. This single diversifies their profile and suggests some big things ahead of them in the future, and with minimalist indie rock surging in popularity once again, Ashes & Arrows have chosen the right moment to release this kind of material. I’m impressed, and I doubt I’m the only critic with these sentiments heading into this January.