CEEM’s “Better Than That”

It isn’t that CEEM’s vocal in the all-new “Better Than That” is any different from what we’ve heard the Seattle emo experimentalist before, but rather that we find it in its most mature, fully-developed stage to date in this white-hot single. His words are conveyed through a smoky lens that adds an immense amount of mystique to his lyrical narrative here, and for every sizzling word that he croons we find an equally potent synth melody eagerly waiting to form a pristine harmony in the foreground. CEEM’s angst-ridden voice is only one component of this masterful songwriter’s showcase, but I must say that it’s definitely among the biggest reasons that I would give you to pick up a copy of this track before the summer expires.

CEEM – Better Than That

My new single “Better Than That” (stream or download from bnd.lc/betterthanthat) is a response to a difficult time I was experiencing in one of my relationships. It was a relationship I thought I knew so well, but suddenly and without warning, that relationship was thrown into chaos.

Aside from the vocal, I think that the beats are the real star of the show in “Better Than That,” as they provide just as much expression and emotionality as any of CEEM’s own verses do. There’s a tension present here that isn’t created by the friction in the synthesizers, nor the bulging wallop of the bassline, but through the swinging grooves that shadow our lead singer’s every movement. Where the bittersweet serenade in the eye of the storm is soft and somewhat soothing amidst the occasionally melancholic backdrop, the percussion is rock-hard and faceted with rigid textures that contrast with the melodic elements in the song beautifully. It makes this single not only evocative and brooding but aesthetically provocative, which isn’t something that I can say for the majority of new pop tracks out this July.

These synths grind hard, but they never yield as much discord as the percussive pulsations do. In my initial listening sessions with this single, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of cosmetic similarities in the structuring of the instrumental parts, which ultimately is what gives the backend of this song as much oomph as it’s got. There’s no one component in this track, from the vocal to the drums, that takes a more commanding role over the others, which allows for every element here to formulate a singular harmony in critical moments like the chorus. It’s rather intense compared to what I was expecting to hear in CEEM’s first release of 2019, but a welcome change of pace from the watered-down mainstream pop that I’ve reviewed lately just the same.

CD BABY: store.cdbaby.com/cd/ceem12

CEEM is showing a tremendous amount of growth as an artist in “Better Than That,” and based on the pre-release reception that this single has been getting among the alternative media, I think it’s safe to say that it will be hard for even the toughest of competitors in the Seattle scene to slow his current momentum down moving forward. He’s come a long way since his debut album, which was humbly recorded inside the four walls of an apartment, but his most loyal supporters shouldn’t be wary of this new look – beneath the refined stylization of this song, CEEM is still the same reliable rhythm-maker that he always was and, most likely, always will be.

Clay Burton

The music of CEEM has been heard all over the world due to the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Records. Learn more – musikandfilm.com