When I first heard the opening lines of Brooke Sierra and LALAKI’s “Separate Hearts,” I knew Sierra reminded me of someone. I couldn’t figure out who I was thinking of though. Was I detecting something that sounded like Billie Eilish had a couple of years ago? Was I thinking of Milk & Bone? Banks?
Everything clicked for me when the chorus dropped. I wasn’t thinking of one artist in particular; I was thinking of all of them simultaneously. “Separate Hearts” is a universal song in so many small ways that my brain had trouble considering it as a unique entity. That isn’t to say that it isn’t an enjoyable track, which I do think it is. But, the fact is, it sounds like a song that any number of people could have sung at any given moment in the last decade. The familiarity overpowers the promising elements of the song by a hair.
A lot of people fault pop music for having weak lyrics. Pop is for the radio and engineered for the largest possible audience. As a result of this, pop songs have lyrics that are nonspecific. This is a function of the music industry more so than it is a reflection of the talent that lives in the genre, unlike some would have you believe. All that said, it feels like a cheap shot to fault a young and promising pop artist like Brooke Sierra.
“Baby take a look where we are, somehow, so far.
Looking like we’re back at the start, both apart, separate hearts.”
Again, you can pluck the chorus of this song and place it any number of other places. It’s as good (if not better) than all of the stuff on the radio right now. Many pop singers on the scene started by selling hits to bigger artists (SIA for example). If Sierra followed suit, I might be writing about Selena Gomez or Camila Cabelo right now. This is one of her first releases, so it’s an opportunity for her to tell her new audience who she is and why we should be paying attention. We’d love to see more of herself and her story in these lyrics.
The lyrics are combined with an echoey backing track used heavily in similar pop subgenres. It’s slow, but not too slow, with a hazy atmospheric vibe. I really enjoyed multiple aspects of the instrumentation. In particular, I thought the effect on the guitar was a really nice element. I can easily picture this song in the background of a small kickback or on a Spotify playlist called “Good Vibes.” People have maybe heard songs like this one before, but people also seem to really like songs that sound like this. It isn’t original, but it’s inoffensive and groovy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
The most unique feature of this song is the fact that the two collaborators are close childhood friends. This is their first official release together, but they’ve been writing together for years. On this track, the two follow a formula well established by songs like Katy Perry and Juicy J’s “Dark Horse.” Sierra sings the introduction and the first chorus, and then LALAKI drops in with a smooth blend of rapping and singing to offer a counterpoint to her perspective. As a duo, they clearly have good chemistry. But, given their history together, I would have loved to see them exploit their chemistry with a more complex song structure and more personal lyrics. I genuinely believe that there is something interesting about two old friends talking about love and breakups. Their dynamic relationship and history could offer any number of songs with a new point of view. I’d really like to see these two dive into deeper waters on a more complicated tune. They both have the talent and the ear for what has historically made successful tracks, but to shed the curse of déjà vu they’ll need to hone in on something a little more unique to themselves. We’re excited to watch them both grow.
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