Jul 15, 2021
By Caleb Campbell
Photography by Andrew Ryan Shepherd
Dallas and Philadelphia-based duo Welcome Center returns tomorrow with their latest EP, Talk Talk Talk. Since debuting in 2018 with their Disorder EP Jesse Smith & Aaron Sternick have turned their long-distance collaboration into a reliable electro pop partnership, sharing another 2020 EP, This House Will Be Filled With_____. Ahead of their latest EP though, the band is sharing one last taste of the record with their new track, “Burn,” premiering early with Under the Radar.
“Burn” sees the band exploring into some of their most lush territory yet, accompanying feather-light vocals with spacious washes of synths and a gentle guiding acoustic melody. The band takes their time, letting the song imperceptibly build over its rather lengthy runtime into a sweet symphony of synths, warm melodies, and hazy vocals. The result could fit well on a The War On Drugs record, with its velveteen vocals and lush soundscapes.
Yet, the band’s serene musical approach underscores a hint of melancholy. The pair’s wistful lyrical reflections place them as narrators, watching the remnants of the world they’ve known burn in the wake of the upheavals of the past year. As Smith and Sternick watch everything burn, they seem neither joyous or heartbroken, merely resigned and perhaps a little hopeful that something better can rise to take its place.
Smith says of the track, “I initially wrote the track on an acoustic guitar in a couple of hours. I sent it over to Aaron, and he wrote the synth/drums/bass the next day. I must have listened to that first demo 100 times. I was in love with it immediately. Annie Clark said the first time she felt like she may have written somebody’s favorite song was after she wrote ‘New York’; I don’t have a clue what that feels like. But this is the first time we’ve written a song that I could see a mid-30s parent putting it on at their kid’s summer birthday party while they knock back a craft beer or drink a glass of iced-chardonnay. That’s a win in my book.
Lyrically, the song is about peeling back the layers of what was happening last year in America. I think for a lot of us, our idea of what America is and what it represents was challenged—rightfully so. What the narrator is watching burn progresses as the music builds: A candle in a church, a partner’s cigarette, a broken America.”