Big Black Delta ft Debbie Gibson - RCVR


Stream RCVR here (SoundCloud)

It's increasingly common for artists and record labels to "pull a Beyonce" and surprise fans with new music released onto the internet without nary a word of warning. When that song, however, is as much a surprise collaboration as the release of music then it is all the more jaw-dropping. Thursday 1st October saw Stereogum exclusively premiere the new single from Jonathan Bates of Mellowdrone, performing as Big Black Delta - and teamed up with none other than Debbie Gibson on his new single RCVR. Apparently, a song Jonathan was working on for Big Black Delta was inspired by Debbie's debut smash hit single Only In My Dreams - and when he reached out to the singer this collaboration was birthed. It's particularly gratifying for me, as a massive Debbie Gibson fan, to see acknowledgement of her sound. Her 9 USA top 40 hits defined what it meant to be a teen singer who was creatively responsible for her career - an achievement that seems all the more important when you see songs with 5+ songwriting credits for one tune battle it out for a space at the top of the charts. RCVR is a loving tribute to her sound - reverently keeping the ethos of her pop vision whilst creatively fusing it with a contemporary sheen. It makes it a song that's all too hard to resist - a cornucopia of sounds that tantalise, challenge and ultimately delight.

RCVR is a song about the end of a relationship - the things you do when you know it should end but don't necessarily want to be the first one to end it. Every little action, spoken word or gesture between the couple takes on a new heightened interpretation by the other. The song begins with a compelling synth riff, dark and dangerous percussion and guitar effects that texture together to add to the ominous foreboding nature of the song. You might think it's a darker song that Debbie ever released as a single - and you might well be right, but do check out album tracks like Play The Field and Over The Wall which absolutely seem now like eerie precursors to this musical moment. Debbie and Jonathan make great duet partners, dancing around the inevitability of the separation that is looming like a dark shadow. What's particularly brilliant about the production values is that it sounds like a song Debbie would have recorded back in 1989, with homages to Human League and Simple Minds (those bombastic, theatrical drums leading out of the "we don't talk about it talk about it" segments are reminiscent of Don't You Forget About Me) filtering through like echoes of long forgotten radios through the ethers of time. The middle 8 instrumental beautifully and bewilderingly encapsulates the confusion of the song with an off kilter selection of sounds designed to obfuscate and titillate. There's shades of Abba's The Visitors in there and it makes for a magnificent minute. Ultimately, it's a stunner of a song that should appeal to a wide audience and remind people of how good both these artists are. And hey, if Jonathan wants to work with Debbie on her new album - I'm down with that.

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