As a chronic overthinker with more than my fair share of anxiety, songs that delve into the more dark and emotional aspects of life have always been a personal safe haven. From the first time that I got hold of a laptop and a good pair of headphones, I discovered that there is nothing so comforting as drowning in an audible configuration of struggles that mirror my own.
For the first time in my life, though, the early months of 2020 have found me turning away from my usual sources of comfort. Faced with a pandemic characterized by uncertainty and change, few have been left untouched by the same feelings of fear and confusion with which I have been grappling. With rising death tolls and plunging employment numbers constantly screaming at us from every outlet, I have found myself scrambling to detach from social media and find musical sources of light to cut through the din.
Rising to the surface in my search for a new sound comes NUJA’s “The Others”. Beautifully constructed to present an upbeat arrangement infused with deeply emotional lyrics, it cannot help but stand out among the others. (Bad pun intended). It is one of those songs that brings an undeniable sound of summer as it breezes in with a slow groove; warm and heavy in a way that you can’t help but sway to. It can be difficult to formulate a relaxing yet upbeat arrangement without coming across as monotone, but NUJA adeptly navigates the subtleties to produce a comprehensive sound.
Expecting somewhat-stereotypical musings of long nights on the beach and hazy hookups consistent with others like it, the lyrics are refreshingly profound. There is an examination of fear and isolation that provides a striking contrast against the usual songs of the summer that focus on lighter material. Weaving images of fear and confusion against the brighter arrangement, the lingering waves of uncertainty that follow us into this summer pandemic are poignantly reflected.
Patterns repeat throughout the song, with lines like “I need my mama” continuously reappearing. When the world feels like it’s spinning out of control and threatening suffocation beneath the weight of invisible forces, sometimes you just need someone else to rely on. Needing your ‘mama’ symbolizes searching for an outside source of comfort, whether that source is your actual mother or some other figure of strength.
As it examines fear and uncertainty, it also tackles the overwhelming sense of isolation that often follows. Caught up in our thoughts, our minds tend to try and convince us that we are alone in our feelings. Diminishing isolation with the repeated line, “I’m just afraid/just like the others/just like the others,” it’s a healthy acknowledgement. Fear, though a deeply personal experience that must be individually dealt with, is a universal experience. An important reminder that we are not quite as alone as we may feel, it is particularly comforting for those of us who are struggling during this difficult time.
A beautiful juxtaposition of summer freedom and fearful uncertainty, “The Others” is highly worth adding to your playlist. Whether you need a bit of brightness on the darker days or are simply looking for something new, NUJA does not disappoint.
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