In the ever-evolving dance of human interaction, separation can subtly alter the familiar rhythms of two souls. A chance encounter with an old acquaintance on a bustling avenue or during a night on the town might require a delicate reintroduction. Or…perhaps you might prefer to remember them as they were, safely tucked away in your heart, before it all went wrong. How does wisdom and time shift our perspective? Do we truly change?
In a recent melodic collaboration, dream pop talents Stray Fossa (under Born Losers Records) and kelz (from Bayonet Records) elegantly muse upon these very introspections in their bittersweet new single, “Playing Strangers.”
In disparate nooks spanning from Los Angeles to Munich, from Boston’s brownstones to Hamburg’s charm, Stray Fossa and kelz created a gorgeous dream-laden call-and-response track: the song resonates with wistful echoes. In its poignant core, Playing Strangers encapsulates that heartrending instant of clarity: the understanding – and slow acceptance – that a relationship might have reached its denouement. Once-intimate murmurs now echo with the vastness of an expansive gorge separating two souls. Your childhood playmate, who kept all your secrets, adopts a different clique. Watching your best friends marry off and have children, never to be seen again except in social media updates. Watching the partner who once promised you the moon, now ignoring you as he blankly stares a football game, shoveling nachos in his mouth. This song evokes all those rueful moments of clarity and realization of change into a four minute meditation on the beauty they once brought to your life.
Central to this musical tableau is the gentle cadence of kelz, known offstage as Kelly Truong. Her vocals, rendered in muted whispers, serve as a diaphanous tether to the song’s emotive depth.
“Playing Strangers” weaves a complex musical narrative with its meticulously arranged rhythms, synthesized harmonies, and intricate guitar riffs. The track unfolds like an introspective reverie, mulling over the sentiments and the relentless forward march of moments. With an allure reminiscent of the ebb and flow of the tide, it hearkens back to melodies of yesteryears while constantly looking ahead.
Playing Strangers is out now via Born Losers Records and Bayonet Records.
Brothers Nick and Will Evans formed Stray Fossa with Zach Blount in early 2018. With collaborative songwriting on scattered iPhone notes and shared project folders, the band managed to virtually re-create their attic studio.
“We made a conscious effort to let the initial emotion become the final product,” Will Evans reflects on its production. “This often meant mixing in audio from the original demos, instead of re-recording anything.”
The album is a bold evolution sonically and thematically from the band’s quarantine-era debut, With You For Ever (2021, self-released). If their first album struggles with the collective anxiety, isolation and confinement of that period, the band’s dancier, more expansive follow-up, could be considered a reemergence; a cautious shift towards anticipation.
kelz’s frothy dream-pop music is an introduction to the mind of Vietnamese-American producer and multi-instrumentalist Kelly Truong. Written and recorded in her Orange County, California home, her songs tell a nostalgic yet hopeful story in effervescent electro-pop.
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