Indie pop tends to be more emotional than straight-up pop music is, but this genre provides a platform for contemporary balladry that is virtually unmatched in western music today. Players like The High Plains Drifters are giving audiences quite the revolution in melodic songwriting in 2023, and despite a plethora of synthesized content coming down the pipes from mainstream artists, the indie pulse is winning over listeners with purist harmonies ala singles like the stylish “He Reminds Me of You,” currently out everywhere pop is sold and streamed. The High Plains Drifters’ latest release is a thorough combination of both retro and modern pop/pop concepts, and it perhaps summarizes the main reason why music of its type has been seeing such a strong uptick this year.
The arrangement of the instruments in this single is honestly a little more complex than I would normally expect from an alternative pop song, but even the dissonance it contributes to the music has a purpose within the narrative. Instead of simply using poeticisms to create an emotional connection between themselves and the audience, The High Plains Drifters are using everything from the beat to the interactions between their vocals and the guitar to drive home a sense of intimacy in this master mix. Leading the way with the melodic presence of their play, the substance of their story in this track starts and ends with the heart they’re putting into the performance, and not the bells and whistles one would come in contact with in most FM pop music this season.
There’s an eagerness in the lead vocal that doesn’t translate to undue aggression in “He Reminds Me of You,” but instead something a little more frustrated than the lyrics would initially imply. The High Plains Drifters at times sound like even the retrospective commentary they divvy out behind the mic is more of a statement of facts than it is a comforting memory, and it’s only through their pushiness with the beat that we’re able to appreciate how much angst they’re carrying on their shoulders. Several unspoken emotions are lying just beneath the surface in this song – yearning, melancholy, and reflection – but as subtle as they are, they never remain obstructed by instrumental frills in the performance at all.
Raw emotion is the order of the day for The High Plains Drifters in “He Reminds Me of You,” and I didn’t need to have ever heard their music before to understand how much they’re putting on the line in this single. At the end of the day, this is a power ballad made of both simple and sophisticated ingredients, and if it were performed by another band, I can’t picture it having the same effect it’s going to inevitably have with them at the helm. The High Plains Drifters are likable to no end; I would even go so far as to call their style universally relatable from a pop perspective, and though their style probably won’t dominate the charts this winter, it doesn’t have to – it’s already a credible hit.