Maximalism is all the rage in 2020, but as of this writing, I don’t believe that I’ve come across another singer/songwriter in the burgeoning millennial movement towards melodicism that has combined elements of this aesthetic with the insularity of quarantine pop quite as brilliantly as Ruby Ryan does in the new video for her single “Phosphenes.” Blending a sense of urban surrealism with a smothering soundtrack that seems mixed with the sole intension of pressing against the speakers it’s being played out of might sound like a complicated scheme, but in this release, Ryan actually makes it look pretty easy.
There’s definitely an R.E.M. element to “Phosphenes” that feels almost ironically retro, as if the artist is trying to poke fun at how modern many of her contemporaries are attempting to be, thus making themselves look and sound quite similar to the preceding generation of iconic players in the American underground. It’s not all a joke about the state of music culture among alternative types, though; the melodic substance of this single is defiantly strong from the jump, and with Ryan’s soft vocal serving as the centerpiece, you can rest assured that the poetic value of her other releases is just as hearty and powerful in this release as well.
A compelling listen from an artist with a lot of untapped but nonetheless mad potential, there’s not a doubt in my mind that “Phosphenes” has the right stuff to get people excited about Ruby Ryan’s music in 2020. This is a transitional point in the history of independent pop, but through the quick-witted songcraft (and, by extension of her videos, visual artistry) of an artist like this one, I think there shouldn’t be much of a debate as to the genuine excitement we deserve to feel about the future of quality underground music.