Merchandise's second single from forthcoming album 'For The Masses' is a laidback slice of pop that forsakes big, brash hooks in favour of a rattling acoustic guitar that better showcases 'Listen Up!'s twinkling synths and toe-tapping piano notes.
While initial impressions of 'Listen Up!' may be that's it's pretty enough, but distinctly underwhelming, its blissed-out rhythms work a slow magic on the listener, and you'll gradually be won over. Merchandise's decision to pair downbeat lyrics with a pleasant, summery backing track, is an interesting one, and it's what prevents 'Listen Up!' from sounding like just another piece of manufactured pop.
The slower groove of B-side 'Lonesome Beauty' is less accomplished. It's a little too stripped-down, and lacks the pop shimmer that made 'Listen Up!' such a charismatic track. This is largely because Merchandise abandon the bright synths in favour of a more driving, electronic beat, which jars against frontman Brad's breathy vocals and the scattering of sparkling synths. However, the sparser arrangement does showcase Merchandise's talent for penning catchy pop lyrics.
'Lonesome Beauty' does thankfully pick up the tempo towards the end, with the help of glimmering, 'Listen Up!'-style synths.
Merchandise have a more sedate take on pop that, refreshingly, eschews the genre's usual reliance on the huge, hook-packed chorus, and delivers something that works on the listener in subtler ways. This two-track single is hardly life-changing, but it's a pleasant jaunt through indie-pop territory that'll lift your spirits and, after all, that's what pop is all about.