In his latest single, “Sunday Afternoon,” Mychael Gabriel delivers what could be his most relaxed yet lyric-driven tracks to date. At a moderate total length, “Sunday Afternoon” doesn’t appear on the surface to be the most ambitious indie pop tune out this winter – but inside its efficient structure, this song is sporting some of the most ambitious verses this player has recorded in his career thus far. Gabriel’s vocal is at the top of the mix from the jump here, but even had it not been afforded such a chic position in the arrangement, his statements would ache with sincerity nevertheless. He’s all heart and heady harmonies in this single, which is a nice change of pace from what his contemporaries have been dishing out lately.
The strutting instrumentation that guides Gabriel from start to finish in “Sunday Afternoon” is indeed quite stirring, but our leading man’s lyrical wit is always the main draw here. There’s scarcely a moment where it doesn’t feel as though the melodies were designed to accommodate the pendulous dispensing of words more than they were a steady drumbeat, which isn’t to discount this song’s grooves at all. Whether intending to do so or not, Gabriel demonstrates a remarkable amount of showmanship as a poet in this single, and though it’s not the first time he’s shown off some muscle in this capacity, it’s some of his sharpest work to reach my speakers.
There’s no unutilized space in this master mix – in fact, I would even argue that it’s a little tighter in construction than it needed to be. The guitar parts mesh into the bassline brilliantly, and when the tempo kicks up later on in the song, there’s no discordance between the percussive thrust and the melodic facets keeping the vocals joined with the strings. This isn’t the most streamlined piece of material in Gabriel’s discography, but despite its rough edges, there’s nothing here that suggests a general departure from traditional alternative songwriting that has benefited him thus far. Gabriel is headed in the right direction, at least in terms of what I look for in an indie musician, and with a little more development in the studio, he’ll be ready to turn out a polished answer to the music his rivals have been releasing as of late.
He’s still growing into his own, but as of this moment, I think fans of captivating alternative pop beats need to be following Mychael Gabriel in 2023 and beyond. This singer and songwriter are showing some tremendous maturation here, and given the short amount of time that he’s been in the spotlight, his accelerated adaptation to the game is nothing to scoff at. This is a particularly competitive era for indie musicians of the psychedelic persuasion given the renewed interest in the aesthetic, but from where I sit, I think this is going to be one artist that won’t have any trouble holding his own in the future. “Sunday Afternoon” is a fun listen, and one I’d recommend this month.