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“SETIA” from Shadow Puppet Theatre

Gentle and a bit reserved in comparison to the rollicking string play it backs so beautifully, there’s no getting around the importance of the beat in the new single “SETIA” from Shadow Puppet Theatre. With lyrics presented to the audience in both Malay and English, “SETIA” makes it awfully difficult for us to overanalyze its multidimensionality from a poetic standpoint; that said, this is an instrumentally complicated single that demands at least a couple of spins to fully enjoy its contents. Shadow Puppet Theatre might have a zany handle, but they cut a one of a kind piece of seamless pop/rock here worthy of any pop fan’s time this year.

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Make no mistakes about it – the lead vocal in this track is ultimately what makes everything work on a melodic level, but it’s never stacked against the instrumentation in some crude competition for our attention. There’s a fluidity to the construction of the hook that leaves me hypnotized by the larger than life harmony in the middle of the song more than anything else possibly could have, and when considering just how little this kind of a concept is utilized by Shadow Puppet Theatre’s peers, this is quite a refreshing experiment indeed.

I’d normally go for less minimalism in this master mix, but at the same time I can definitely understand why it was essential to the creation of “SETIA” this spring. In removing any and all traces of fat from this song, there’s nothing but the raw tonality of the instruments and our lead singer left for us to get lost with. It’s romantically bold and strikingly complementary of the imagery we see on screen in the music video for the single, skewing the simplistic with the heartfelt in a manner that has become synonymous with only the biggest names in the pop genre.

Indie pop has already been feeling like the must-listen genre of 2021 this past month, and a song like “SETIA” only contributes to this notion. Shadow Puppet Theatre have a lot of different directions they can take this style of play in that they’re cultivating right now, but if they were to stick with the fundamentals of this track’s charm, I don’t have any doubt in my mind as to whether or not they’ll find a most welcome home waiting for them on the college radio scene as the year continues to come into focus.

John McCall

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