It’s always rewarding to see a band mature and refine their sound, to start from a place of raw catharsis and evolve towards that critical point between pop and artistry where musicians tend to produce their strongest output.
Orange County’s indie electro-pop trio RÓSA have been steadily working towards that sweet spot over the course of their relatively short career. With two EPs under their belt and third set to release in the new year, the lads in RÓSA have been working hard and the results have been self-evident: their new single “Stranger” is their most fully realized work to date.
Each new release has seen a marked evolution in the band’s sound. Their debut Gypsy Queen EP showed the band in something of a primordial stage, producing a kind of 80s new-wave inspired indie rock that sounds something like if Steve Lillywhite produced a Portugal. The Man track, gated reverb and all. RÓSA’s sophomore effort, the Wasteful EP, saw the band introducing more R&B and electronic dancehall elements. The electronic beats are more prominent and the vocal performances are more soulful, and overall gives the EP a more unique sound than one usually finds in a modern indie band. The band credits this shift in sound to the more collaborative writing process they employed for their second release.
“Stranger” sees the band refining these disparate elements of their sound into a more cohesive vision. The R&B elements are toned down, but not turned off; the glitchy beats inflect the melancholic sounds with an upbeat dance-able vibe. The retro production notes are still there as well, but fine-tuned to the point where the kitschy novelty has dissolved. The guitar and bass work also continues to show the band’s reverence for 80s pop and new wave, but vocalist Will Winters’ layered vocal delivery feels unabashedly modern. On the meaning behind the new track he says,
“‘Stranger’ came out of an uncomfortability with the romantic culture of our times. I feel completely lost in it. It’s half a critique of it but half a longing to participate in it. It’s also about my awareness that I am currently unable to love anyone I encounter in any meaningful way juxtaposed with the persistent desire for quick and ultimately vapid sexual moments with them. It’s about the polarity of feeling nothing in your soul while simultaneously being thrown toward another by the impulses of your own body.”
Check out “Stranger” below and be sure to check out the band’s EP release show at The Satellite on February 23rd. The track is the first single released from the band’s forthcoming EP, The Taste of Another, out on February 23rd.