(Editor’s note: this review was written prior to Halloween.)
As Halloween night approaches, I think about what songs I should add to my fall playlist. There aren’t many songs out there about Halloween, let alone capture the nostalgic emotion I always feel when remembering my time trick-or-treating. As Mark Schwaber displays in his most recent single, “Halloween,” songs about the spooky holiday are not dead like the ghosts that wander the surface.
As soon as I hit the play button on Mark Schwaber’s newest addition to his discography, I immediately felt the atmosphere of years past. I was able to smell the trees and pumpkins of my old neighborhood. The intro immediately puts you in Schwaber’s world with an instrumental that is distinctly nostalgic, almost like how The Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” does. The acoustic guitar strumming, industrial electric lead, and a simple drum pattern join together to induce the spirit of Halloweens past. The melodic lead just before the first verse sounds like it’s being played through a tape deck, or like it’s lost in memory trying to be remembered – a theme throughout the song’s narrative.
The first verse sweeps in with the same rhythm and melody as the introduction with vocals that sound dream pop inspired, further adding to the hazy and distant atmosphere Schwaber is trying to recreate. Lyrics of the separation of two individuals are relatable for anyone listening but the setting of Halloween adds more personality and individuality to the narrative. The costumes of the two that don’t match is a great line used by Schwaber as he consciously understands there is a separation.
The verse explosively develops into the chorus, adding multiple stacks and layers of sounds to push a heavy atmosphere. Strings are introduced again to the mix, an elegant lead conducting the various other layers in the background of the track. The post-chorus is a short instrumental that emphasizes the swooning string section and the combination of the various sounds stacked into the instrumentation. This beautiful merging of industrial and orchestral noise continues before all instruments wind down, easing back into the verse. The second verse continues similar to the first with the exception of a short omission of all instruments except for the acoustic guitar, strings, and Schwaber’s vocals. Here, the piece becomes intimate, as he delivers his most important realization in terms of lyrical content.
The final chorus is more powerful than the first as the layers are more emphasized and faded together. I feel overpowered and completely taken aback by the amount of sonic diversity nearing the end of the piece. The chorus and outro are powerful, nostalgic, heartfelt, and sentimental. Each of the instruments fade together in this amalgamation that focuses more on tone and atmosphere than individual instrumentation and melody. Each piece works together to create a feeling that you can smell: and it smells like pumpkins and loss.