It is no secret that within each broader category of music there are innumerable facets of subgenres and sounds. There’s no precise blueprint for what makes a song its genre, but rather a few threads of commonality within structure, lyric, and arrangement that are found. When it comes to the bubble of indie music, this is especially true. Largely comprised of a loose tying together of elements focused around a certain brand of earnestness, independence, and storied arrangement, I am startled every time that I find another unique sound that falls under indie while also incorporating undeniable elements of “otherness”.
George Boomsma is one of those artists who has managed to surprise me with yet another unique sound to fit under the umbrella of indie. With a blend of effortlessly smooth, crystalline vocals and a rhythmically consistent and poetic flow in his newest single “Chinatown”, he has created a compellingly intriguing sound. I have yet to run across another style quite like his, and it just may be that Boomsma has pioneered his own subgenre of indie-crooners.
“You wanted me to fall clear in love with you / What could I do / But feign defeat from winter’s heat / Through open doors my heart was yours”
Simplistic in message, there is an air of poetic simplicity to this love song. While the traditional crooning we know is characterized by campy lyrics and rhythmically basic arrangements, Boomsma pulls away from the traditional sound with an overall lack of campy-ness that is apparent right from these final lines in the first verse. With a glowing honesty, there seems to be a peachy wholesomeness and comfort to his message.
“I wanted you / You wanted me to stay here / In Chinatown / To hear the sound / Of rain that falls”
As it progresses, though, the rosy glow of easy comfortability initially felt seems to slowly fade away. With a subtle shift in vocal and lyrical tone, as the listener you begin to feel a sense of foreboding creep in. What started as warm and comforting begins to sound melancholy, the nostalgia of the past tense becoming warily despondent. The soft and unbothered tone is slowly dissolved, diminished by an undercurrent of uncertainty.
“And in the morning as the sun comes up / I’ve known that I should never push my luck / I kiss you once and then I take my leave / There are no words that we have left to speak”
With this final verse, the full wave of bittersweet nostalgia that was waiting to burst washes over. What started as a fond beginning to a longer story slowly turns to a melancholic remembrance. As he speaks the final words and the song abruptly ends, the arrangement takes its cue from the lyric. He lets the final “no words that we have left to speak” linger in the air as the song draws to a close. Exiting as compellingly as it came, “Chinatown” leaves a pleasant sense of wanting more of not only the song, but of what else Boomsma has to bring to the genre of indie.