Establishing a smart hook in a pop song takes so much more than a catchy chorus, and in their debut single and music video “Summer Retro,” up-and-coming band Cool Set show off their compositional wit masterfully. While the construction of the release in this track is as close to perfection as I hear out of a relatively unknown act these days, it’s the actual demeanor Cool Set has as a unit that leaves me impressed every time I listen to this song. They’ve got charm that doesn’t live and die by their lyrical abilities, which is really something in 2021.
The synthetic elements in the instrumentation are admittedly simplistic, but there’s no faking the vocal charisma that this singer adds to the harmony. There’s no need to be exceptionally elaborate with his presence, and thus, there’s a rather minimalistic feel to the verses – all this despite there being a lot of driving energy pushing every one of these lines out of the speakers. Juxtaposition in a pop song doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s just difficult to find in the lot of pseudo-alternative content making its way down the pipelines this autumn (and too often polluting college radio airwaves thereafter).
Watch the video for “Summer Retro” below
This beat is ambitious and a little pushy, and yet I’m pressed to describe it as being rather reserved when comparing the tempo of the drums to that of the bass here. It’s almost as if Cool Set are trying to have the best of both worlds without selling out their ideals to the dreaded ‘crossover’ movement critics like myself have been rejecting for the better part of the last year, and from where I sit, they capture the duality of a sexy groove at an introspective pace better than any other act to have attempted as much lately has.
I’m really looking forward to hearing more from Cool Set as they mature with the sound they’re developing in “Summer Retro,” and if there’s anything we can learn about their aesthetical goals from listening to this piece, it’s that they’re as focused on delivering a superbly melodic product as they are giving us something edgy and untethered to trends we’re seeing everywhere in the American underground these days. Their willingness to go off of the beaten path is something that has the potential to lift their brand off of the ground a lot sooner than a lot of their rivals’ will, and right now, “Summer Retro” might be the best way of getting to know who they are as a crew.