Hartlepool-based singer-songwriter James Leonard-Hewitson has released Commercial Vibe, the debut single from his much-anticipated new EP Commercial. The single is the artist’s first release since 2020 debut album Only The Noise Will Save Me. His debut received much acclaim and led him to win End of The Road Festival’s Play EOTR competition.
Commercial Vibe comes with the swagger of an artist with conviction. It also comes with a very timely message. Leonard-Hewitson says of the track “It’s mainly about and inspired by the cold resilience of capitalist thought in society … How, despite disaster, death and tragedy, whims were still being packaged and sent out”. This anger and despair is an ever-present in James’ delivery throughout this track, with the lyrics being sung in a way that perfectly walks the line between the two.
At points is almost sounds as the artist is begging people to wake up as he screams “Commercial vibe, run for your life” across the chorus. The desperation is a constant throughout the otherwise upbeat 80s-esque beats. The end of the track sees James’ repeating the word life over and over again as the music and track fades out, mirroring the singer’s frustration at the repetetiveness of a commercial life and the omnipotence of “Commercial Vibes” in society.
The sound of the track itself is highly reminiscent of the synthpop legends Hot Chip. With an upbeat synth line getting the track off to a groovy start and continuing throughout, marrying well with the over-produced drumline, keys and groovy bass. The track manages to marry this Hot Chip influence with the feeling of a lost The Cure song. There is something about Leonard-Hewitson’s voice and lyricism that reminds me of the legendary Robert Smith and how The Cure were exceptional at combining dark and hopeless lyrics with highly danceable melodies.
Commercial Vibe and the wider EP Commercial was released on the 29th July on Win Big Records. James Leonard-Hewitson is scheduled to play a number of shows and appear at various festivals over the next few months and we would highly recommend getting down to see him where possible. This single sees him elevate his lo-fi pop sound while also convey a message and feeling that I imagine is shared by a great number of people in today’s climate. James’ vibes on this single are certainly contagious, if not commercial.
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Article By Matthew Codd