Stronger – Arklo (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Pop music is an ever-changing beast, something that quickly moves in and out of various shifting fads and fashions as taste dictates. But the smart pop creator knows that whilst they need to build something that is appealing to the audience of today, pop music is always built on some pretty strong basic tenets too. Infectiousness, groove, accessibility, melody, as well as that largely undefined factor…coolness.

No matter what new sounds and styles technology opens up to be utilised by today’s artist, it is to those long-established basic requirements that they should still look to create the winning combination. The perfect song for the moment will always look slightly to the past whilst striding confidently forward into new sonic potential. And that is exactly what Arklo does on this latest release, Stronger.

Whilst it is a song built of cutting edge electronica, liquid bass pulses, chiming piano and a sort of slow, sultry sonic vibe, it also embraces all of those aspects which have always made good pop music stand out from the crowd. It runs on a cool and confident beat, one which creates a wonderful dynamic by building and regressing, ebbing and flowing allowing other sounds to get their moment in the spotlight too. Electronic rhythms create a robust middle ground, edged and etched with delicate musical motifs and deft peripheral sounds. And then on top of all of that, the vocal is the perfect blend of pop poise and dancefloor diva, gently anthemic one moment, lulling and loose the next, rising and falling as the musical waves take it.

It’s a song that will appeal to the mainstream pop-picker and the more discerning underground clubber alike, as perfect for late-night relaxation as it is for creating early-hours, chill room, club vibes. Its blend of modern sass and timeless pop poise means that the young, contemporary groover will love it as much as those who are fans of pop of all eras.

And that is what happens when you understand how pop works. It isn’t about following the rules, it is about being familiar enough with the rules so that you know which ones to follow and which ones to bend, break or disregard altogether. Do that and you end up with a song that is both of the here-and-now but which also has broad appeal. Do that and you have a song that crosses boundaries of style, age, era and genre and does so effortlessly. Do that and you’ll have a song like Stronger.

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