A melody as bright as the sun. A groove that matches its warmth. A soft sway that isn’t all that different from a cool breeze in the heat of the night. If there’s a pop single that captures the essence of swaggering musicality this mid-winter season, it’s unquestionably Better Fires’ “One More,” one of the signature songs out of their scene in 2023 thus far.
From the very start of the track, the music inspires thoughts of calm and insularity the likes of which most aren’t accustomed to hearing this early in the year. Lyrics are lightly seasoned over the gorgeous harmonies between the instruments, and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to get hypnotized by their sprawling size alone. “One More” is a modern take on a vintage sound, and this month, it’s unsurprisingly making it onto a lot of critics ‘Best of the Year’ lists, even though it’s only January and the duo behind its appearance is among the freshest faces currently active in their scene.
Every element in this track acts as an agent of evocation. The bass conjures up a sense of romance amidst the simple grooving of the guitar, whose strings frame Better Fires’ eclectic verses better than anything else possibly could have. The arrangement is at times forlorn and angst-ridden, but its solemn attitude only contributes to the angular narrative in the lyrics. Better Fires spits out some very lean beats in this performance, and I get the impression that cutting out the fat and getting right to the meat and potatoes of harmony is of paramount importance.
This pair is to the point with us, doesn’t waste any of our time on tired platitudes or metaphorical statements that we hear every two minutes on Top 40 radio, and doesn’t appear to have any issues sharing our attention with the mammoth tone of the music they’re conjuring up. I think the drums are the only instrument that doesn’t get as much of a boost from the mix as the other components do, but they don’t need one; they’re already powerful enough as they are, and their fragility doesn’t water down the fluidity of the collective tempo in the least.
Better Fires still have a lot to prove to the pop establishment, but if their collective skillset wasn’t enough to score their critical stamp of approval, then I think that the substance of this single should suffice. Pop requires a lot out of the players who intrepidly dare to approach its legendary school of thought, but Better Fires demonstrates the sort of keen attention to detail that it takes to become one of the style’s reputed hotshots. We’ve never known a time quite like the present in the history of all pop music, but as long as artists like this one continue to experiment with their sound, you can bet everything you’ve got on the best times for music lovers being ahead of us. From what I can tell, this is a band that’s here to stay.