Let Em Riot Returns with the Fantastic Single ‘Something Real’

Let Em Riot is one of those synthwave acts that was around before the genre had a name (or anyone really thinking about what to call it). What has always set him apart after nearly a decade is a preternatural ability to write damn good pop songs and a voice to back it all up.

SoCal-based Alan Oakes, the man behind the project, knows intimately how to write a chorus in a way that is both rare in the genre and in pop music at-large today. In general, he knows how to structure a song for maximum impact. Blending sounds that remind you of the 1980s with a flush of modernity, Oakes’ vocals, guitar riffs, shiny synths, and gated-verb snare all stick to your neurons for days, easily providing sustainable joy.

New track “Something Real” counts high among his best songs. The cut is the first of several in a series entitled GRID Singles, which will be periodically released leading up to a full-length album planned for early 2020, according to Oakes.

“Lyrically, the song is the search for something to believe in,” Oakes told Vehlinggo in a recent email exchange. “I have memories of my favorite record shop or my first infatuation with a girl. However, eventually I would see the shop close and learn that desire can be fleeting. For me, it’s a constant struggle against becoming a full-time cynic.” Amen, brother.

I’d also like to add that the guitar work and production quality remind me of the guitar pop of the ’90s, bringing that decade and the ’80s together in a fusion of sentimentality without ever bleeding an iota of cynical nostalgia ploys. I fucking love Let Em Riot.

Here are the song’s lyrics:

Getting tired all the time
“Passion never lasts,” I tell myself
I’ve got nowhere else to be
Keep me becoming someone else

There’s a sign above the window
Out of business, everything must go

You could be my something real
You could be my something real
You could be my something real
You could be my something real
Save me, won’t you just save me

The way you look so absolute
And when you call my name, so meaningful
Leave it all behind with you
Enjoy the comfort in the ritual

I could keep searching for a reason
But I fear I’m just wasting time

Let Em Riot
Let Em Riot brought the NEON RetroFest to a whole new level on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. Photo by Andrew B. White.

For more Let Em Riot, check out his recent collaboration with Antoni Maiovvi on the latter’s Jason Priest project. Also, read about that time Oakes played the exquisite NEON RetroFest in Rhode Island.

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